Norwegian Forest Cat Information

In Norway, winter descends like an icy shroud. Darkness and snow cover the landscape throughout the long winter months with cold to pierce the heart and chill the bone. Imagine for a moment you are there. The snow falls thick and fast around your cabin, but inside a bright fire crackles merrily in the fireplace. In your lap, is a magnificent, purring cat with tufted ears and a long bushy tail. Your feline companion is a Norsk skogkatt - more commonly known as a Norwegian Forest cat.


The Norwegian Forest cat is native to Norway and Northern Europe. It is a very old breed but was not officially recognized as anything more than a common house cat until the last century. The first international association to accept the breed was the Federation International Feline (FIFe) in 1977. They are possibly early ancestors of the Maine Coon and the Manx. In the United States, they have earned an affection nickname, "Wegie", short for Norwegian.


Nature has beautifully adapted these cats to cold climates, and in doing so has also given them their most distinguishable features. Their soft coats are thick and double-layered. A course outer layer protects against moisture creating an almost waterproof barrier, while their dense under coat provides warmth, much like a downy ski jacket. Tufted ears and a long bushy tail complete their cold weather ensemble.

Their gorgeous coats come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Fully mature cats of five years old or more who have been conditioned by more extreme cold weather climates produce an impressive, feathery mane. But don't let their thick coats deter you. A weekly brushing will keep them looking their best.

These cats can grow to be very large with adult males weighing 13-22 pounds. Females are approximately half the size of the males. Curiously, their hind legs are slightly longer than their front legs.


Norwegians are very clever and playful. They make excellent companions and will seek out human company if they are left alone too long. Their easy-going, patient natures also make them wonderful pets for families with children.

"We've had Hamlet for three years. What sets him apart from our other cats is his personality", writes Doug F from Edison, NJ. "Other cats will chase a ball or a dangled string. Hamlet will go get his toys and bring them to you."

Superb hunters, they enjoy being outside. If kept inside, it is suggested owners provide cat climbing trees and mouser-toys. They are active climbers and enjoy looking down from high vantage points. Don't be surprised if you find your Wegie peering from the top of a bookshelf or high cabinet.

If you are fortunate enough to own a Norwegian Forest cat, you have something very special indeed. This is the cat of Vikings and Norse mythology; of ice and snow, tall mountains, fjords and glaciers. They are from the Land of the Midnight Sun - a very old breed with many old stories to tell.

  • Wikipedia
  • The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc. Breed Profile.
  • Special thanks to Steve Duno, pet behaviorist and author of 18 books, who provided background material for this article.

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