Norwegian Forest Cat โ€“ Your Complete Breed Guide

Most of us think of cute little balls of fluff when we think of cats and kittens. However, there are a few magnificent cat breeds out there that are anything but little. If you want the quirky personality of a cat but in a larger package, the Norwegian Forest Cat may be the breed for you.

Norwegian Forest Cats are a breed of cats known for their large build and long, thick coats. They were domesticated primarily for the purpose of rodent control on Viking ships. Today, Norwegian Forest Cats are popular in the large cat breed niche for people who want larger feline companions.

If you are interested in getting your very own Norwegian Forest Cat, you are in for quite a treat. In the sections below, we will go over all you need to know about these giant kitties, from their physical traits to their specific care needs.

What Do Norwegian Forest Cats Look Like?

One of the most striking features of the Norwegian Forest Cat is its large size. However, there are many other large cat breeds, including the Maine Coon and the Ragdoll, that may get you confused.

It also doesnโ€™t help that these cats look like pretty much any other common cat breed when they are kittens. So how do you know that your cat is a Norwegian Forest Cat?

First off, you have to wait until they are fully grown and have developed all their distinguishing features. This may take 12 to 18 months. Once the Norwegian Forest Cat is fully grown, here are some of the features you may expect.

Image from Instagram:@aslantheforestcat

Size And Build

Norwegian Forest Cats are large cats and can weigh between 8 to 20 lbs. Their large size is exaggerated further by their thick and fluffy coats.

What sets them apart from other large cat breeds is their slender and proportional build. They are also very athletic and will maintain this form as long as they are well-fed and stay active.

Face And Skull Features

Norwegian Forest Cats have a bit of a wild aesthetic to them when it comes to facial features. This is due to their strong chin feature and medium-length muzzle. They look more like little lions than they do large cats in this regard.

The ears are triangular and perky, while the eyes are almond-shaped.

Coat Color And Type

Norwegian Forest Cats have long, straight fur that stands at a slight angle to the skin giving the cat the popular fluffy aesthetic. They also have a neck ruff where the fur is noticeably longer especially compared to the shorter facial fur.

When it comes to coat colors, the Norwegian Forest Cat usually has a bicolor pattern but can be a tricolor calico or even a single solid color like black, white, blue or even silver.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Norwegian Forest Cat?

Norwegian Forest Cats have a lifespan of about 14 to 16 years.

It is a typically healthy cat breed, with some of these cats even exceeding this lifespan when they are well taken care of.

However, there are a few common health problems that affect Norwegian Cats that you need to be aware of as a future owner. Here are the most significant diseases you should keep an eye out for.

Image from Instagram:@floki_the_skogkatt

Glycogen Storage Disease

Glycogen Storage Disease is very common in inbred Norwegian Forest Cats. The condition is a result of faulty genes that are passed down from both parents to the affected kitten.

Unfortunately, many Norwegian Forest kittens do not survive past the first few days of life. Those who do suffer from neuromuscular degeneration and a low-quality life as early as five months of age.


Cardiomyopathy refers to a condition where the heart muscles of the Norwegian Forest Cat are damaged and starts to fail at their job of pumping. This is a major cause of ill health and death within the cat breed when the heart eventually and almost inevitably fails.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar Luxation occurs when the patella bone in the knee joint becomes loose. This makes the knee joint very unstable, which can be devastating for the otherwise very active Norwegian Forest Cat. You may notice your cat dragging their affected leg behind or even limping due to the discomfort.

Hip Dysplasia

Due to their large size as well as genetics, Norwegian Forest Cats often develop hip dysplasia, where the socket in the hip joint forms abnormally. This usually results in arthritis later on in the catโ€™s life.

How To Take Care Of Norwegian Forest Cats?

Norwegian Forest Cats require a bit more effort and investment to take care of. This is obviously due to their larger size and thus higher demands in terms of everything from food to exercise. Their often serious health issues also add to their care needs.

Fortunately, taking care of a Norwegian Forest Cat should not be very hard if you know what you are doing. Here are some tips to help you get started off on the right foot.

Feed Your Norwegian Forest Cat High-Quality Food

What determines your Norwegian Forest Catโ€™s health status are its strength and energy levelscognitive capabilities, and even immunity levels. You cannot afford to make the choice of cat food lightly.

We recommend you feed your Norwegian Forest Cat Nom Nom Cat Food for cat food made from high-quality ingredients as well as a perfect balance of macronutrients and micronutrients.

Get The Cat Food Portions Right

Norwegian Forest Cats are big cats with big appetites. You have to feed them not only high-quality food but also in the right amounts.

When they are kittens, feed them about โ…“ cup of cat food every day, divided into two or three meals. However, when they are fully grown, you should increase this to โ…“ to ยฝ cup of food two times a day.

Supplement The Diet With Multivitamins

It is also important to supplement the Norwegian Forest Catโ€™s diet with multivitamins for those rare micronutrients that may not be present in their cat food.

We recommend Vetri Lysine Plus Immune Support Supplements, which are chicken flavored to make them more palatable to the cat.

Invest In Playtime

Norwegian Forest Cats can very easily get overweight. This is why regular exercise is crucial for adequate care of this cat breed.

Due to their independent personalities, Norwegian Forest Cats may not conform to any specific playtime schedule. It is thus best to invest in interactive toys that engage the cat and allow them to run their own playtime when and how they want it.

PetDroid Interactive Robotic Cat Toy is ideal for this and will give up to 8 hours of runtime on a full charge.

Are Norwegian Forest Cats Cuddly? Temperaments Of Norwegian Forest Cats

Norwegian Forest Cats were kept for rat control on farms and ships in Europe. It was only a few decades ago that they gained popularity as companion pets. The cats are very adaptable and have settled nicely into this new role.

Here are some of the Norwegian Forest Catโ€™s natural temperament traits that make them great pets.

Image from Pet Creations


Norwegian Forest Cats are the type of cats that will go out of their way to interact with humans. They are very comfortable approaching and playing even with strangers, especially if they have been exposed to people from a young age.


Norwegian Forest Cats may be large and slightly intimidating, but they are nowhere close to dangerous. The even-tempered and incredibly gentle cats are awesome family pets for families with young children as they are also tolerant of handling.


Norwegian Forest Cats form very strong bonds with their human families and are known for being very loyal. You will notice them following you wherever you go and wanting nothing more than to hang out, whether it is taking a nap together or playing.

Curious And Adventurous

Curiosity is the name of the game, and Norwegian Forest Cats come to play. These cats love to explore new spaces and are happiest when they are allowed access to the outdoors.

If you plan on keeping yours indoors full time, you have to invest in engaging toys and cat puzzles for the Norwegian Forest Cat to entertain themselves with. Otherwise, you will have one sad and frustrated cat in your home.

Are Norwegian Forest Cats Hypoallergenic? Grooming Tips For Norwegian Forest Cats

Norwegian Forest Cats are not hypoallergenic and have very beautiful coats which are a part of their unique aesthetic and appeal. This, however, will come at a price as the cats are very high maintenance when it comes to their grooming needs.

Proper grooming of a Norwegian Forest Catโ€™s coat is a combination of regular practices like brushing and occasional ones like baths. Here is a bit more on these two very important aspects of care for Norwegian Forest Cats and tips on how to get the job done right.

Brush The Coat Every Other Day

Norwegian Forest Cats shed quite a lot. One way to deal with this is regular brushing. Their long fur is also prone to developing mats and knots. Brushing also helps here by detangling while the strands are still loose enough.

It is important that you invest in a high-quality grooming tool in this case. The FURminator DeShedding Tool is the best brush for the job, with its strong metallic bristles and self-cleaning function.

For the few strands that will inevitably get shed, the iRobot Roomba i3+ is a handy tool to have around. What makes it special is the fact that it is designed to pick up fur, including long strands like those from the non-hypoallergenic Norwegian Forest Cat.

Wash The Norwegian Forest Cat Once Every 4 To 6 Weeks

Norwegian Forest Cats can get stinky, especially if they suffer from skin irritation due to issues like allergies or parasite infestation. John Paul Pet Oatmeal Shampoo For Cats is fantastic in these cases as the oatmeal helps with soothing and restoration of the Norwegian Forest Catโ€™s skin health.

How Much Is A Norwegian Forest Cat Worth? A Norwegian Forest Cat costs between $800 and $1,500. They can even cost more than this upper limit, especially in parts of the country or the world where the cat breed is not easy to come by. This high price is due to the unique features of the cat, including its large size, which creates niche demand.

How Can You Tell The Difference Between A Maine Coon And A Norwegian Forest Cat? One of the best ways to differentiate between a Norwegian Forest Cat and the Maine Coon is the coat, as the former has longer and sleeker fur with a neck ruff. Maine coons also stand out with their distinctly high cheekbones and wedge-shaped head. Main coons are also larger than most Norwegian Forest Cats.

Do Norwegian Forest Cats Like To Play In Water? Norwegian Forest Cats are among the few cat breeds that actually like to play in the water. This is probably due to their historical use on ships where they inevitably got wet on a regular basis. Their thick coats also repel water which makes the experience more comfortable for the Norwegian Forest Cat.

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Pete Decker