Breed Focus – The Norwegian Forest Cat

30th July 2015

A peaceful wildcat with a long, thick coat

Country of Origin: Norway

Original Names: Skogkatt, Skaukatt, Wegrie, Norsk Skogkatt

Other Names: norwegian-cat-imageForest Cat

This extremely self-assured cat has a well-balanced temperament. A friendly, easygoing animal, the Norwegian Forest cat is calm, though playful. It readily accepts other cats, dogs and children, and its voice is soft.

This hardy, robust, athletic cat is remarkably supple. He is a good climber and a fearsome hunter. If a Forest Cat is to live indoors, a cat tree is a must. A large yard is preferable, particularly since its coat reaches its full beauty when it lives out of doors. Forest Cats mature slowly, not reaching full maturity until four or five years of age. Regular brushing and combing will maintain the beautiful coats and avoid snarls. During shedding season (the Forest Cat sheds heavily), daily brushing is required.

The Norwegian Forest Cat has wandered Scandinavia for centuries. Many legends depict a large cat with a long, thick tail. According to Norse mythology, Thor, the most powerful god, was unable to lift this cat, and Feya’s (the goddess of love and fertility) chariot was pulled by these cats. Though Norway is considered the country of origin of the “Fairy Cat”, it is possible that the Vikings of the 13th century brought specimens back from Asia Minor (Caucus, Anatoly, etc.) to hunt the rats that infested their drakkars. Or perhaps Central European or Asian tribes travelling to Scandinavia before the Middle Ages introduced the cats. Cats brought in from other regions would have had to adapt to the extremely harsh climate Scandinavid, and therefore, develop a thick, double, insulating, weather-proof coat. Their weight and size would have increased. Norwegian Forest Cats slowly moved from the wild to farms. Around 1930, Norwegian breeders began a selection program to preserve the breed and to combine hardiness and the beauty of its cats.

Several specimens were shown in Oslo. The breed was recognised in 1972, and the first breed club and standard appeared in 1975. The F.I.Fe recognised the Norwegian Forest Cat in 1977. An official standard was written, then modified to avoid confusion with the Maine Coon Cat. For example, the Nrcoon is a cross between a Norwegian Forest Cat and a Maine Coon.

The first Forest Cats arrived in Germany and the United States in 1979, in Great Britain in 1980, and in France in 1982. Sweden is thought to maintain the highest population of Forest Cats. This breed meets great success in cat shows. Its wild, robust appearance and natural beauty are greatly admired.


General: Large. Weight: 3 to 9 kg. Females may be considerably smaller than males. Long, solidly constructed body. Double coat.

Head: Triangular shape with equal length and width. Flat forehead. Straight nose. The muzzle follows the line of the head; no whisker pinch. Nose of medium length. Strong, square rather than rounded chin; never pointed. Early Forest Cats had longer heads and their profile was not as straight as it is today.

Ears: Medium large, well open and broad at the base with slightly rounded tips. Set well apart on the sides of the head so that the base of the ear follows the line from the head to the chin. Heavy ear furnishings. Lynx tips are desirable.

Eyes: Large, almond shaped, and set at a slight angle. Any colour is acceptable, but preferred colours are green or gold. White cats may be copper, blue or odd-eyed.

Neck: Of medium length, muscular.

Body: Massive, robust, with a powerful appearance. Moderately long with a broad, rounded chest. Heavily boned and muscled.

Legs and Paws: Medium in length, muscular, and straight, with hind legs longer than the front legs, making the rump higher than the shoulders. Heavily muscled with substantial bone. Large round paws with long tufts between each toe.

Tail: Long, shaggy, carried high. Tip of tail should reach the neck. Broad at the base and tape-ring to the tip.

Coat: Double coat. Medium long, with a very thick, woolly undercoat. The smooth, shiny, oily guard hairs are waterproof. The coat is uneven; shorter on the shoulders and becoming progressively longer on the back and flanks. The full ruff is comprised of the back-of-the neck ruff, side mutton chops, and a full front bib. All colours permissible, except colourpoint, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, fawn, and Burmese patterns. Any amount of white is allowed.

Physical Condition: An alert, firm, muscular cat.

Faults: Undersized, frail cat. Cobby or extremely long body. Round or square head. Nose break. Small ears. Small or round eyes. Delicate bone structure. Dry coat.


Find out more about our tailored health nutrition range for the Norwegian Forest Cat.

Category: Breed Focus