Norwegian Forest Cat: Breed Profile, Characteristics, and Care Guide

| Updated: April 26, 2023
Norwegian Forest cat standing in the woods

If you’re looking for a cat that combines a wild animal’s grace and beauty with a domestic pet’s loyalty and affection, look no further than the Norwegian Forest cat. This stunning breed originated in Northern Europe’s cold and rugged regions, where it developed its thick coat, sturdy body, and adventurous spirit. The Norwegian Forest cat is a gorgeous sight to behold and a smart, friendly, and playful companion that will enrich your life with its unique personality.

In this profile, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Norwegian Forest cat, from its fascinating history and origin to its appearance and size, personality and temperament, care and maintenance, health issues and lifespan, and where to buy or adopt one. Whether you’re already a proud owner of this breed or you’re considering getting one in the future, you’ll find this guide helpful and informative. So sit back, relax, and enjoy learning more about this ancient and majestic breed.

Breed Overview

Weight 10 to 20 pounds
Length 24 to 36 inches
Coat Length Long
Coat Colors All colors except chocolate, lilac, or point patterns
Coat Patterns Solid, tabby, tortoiseshell, bicolor, or tricolor
Eye Color All colors except blue or odd-eyed (unless the cat is white or has white markings)
Personality Loyal, playful, adventurous, independent, and intelligent
Lifespan 14 to 16 years
Hypoallergenic No
Good with Kids Yes, if well-socialized and supervised
Good with Pets Yes, if well-socialized and supervised
Origin Norway

History of the Norwegian Forest Cat

The Norwegian Forest Cat is one of the oldest natural breeds in the world, meaning that it developed over time without human intervention or manipulation. There are many rumors surrounding their origin, some claiming that Norwegian Forest cats were roaming the forests of Norway 4,000 years ago, while others include ancient Romans and other civilizations bringing the cats to Norway. These cats – also known as Skogkatt in Norwegian – may have been brought to Norway hundreds or thousands of years ago by Vikings or Turkish traders. No one knows for sure how they arrived in Scandinavia, but they certainly made themselves at home in the forests and farms of Norway, where they honed their survival skills and rugged appearance. We do know that they are an ancient breed which is exciting nonetheless.

To add mystery and intrigue, the Norwegian Forest Cat has a special place in Norse mythology. For example, the giant cats that pulled the goddess Freya’s chariot were said to be Skogkatts. These incredible felines were also believed to have magical powers that could influence the weather and bring good luck to sailors. Some legends even claim that Thor, the god of thunder, was unable to lift a Skogkatt off the ground!

The breed nearly went extinct after World War II due to crossbreeding with other cats and loss of habitat. Fortunately, some enthusiasts came together to form the Norwegian Forest Cat Club in Oslo in 1938 and started a breeding program to preserve and promote the breed. The first Norwegian Forest cats to be imported to the United States was in 1978, and the breed was later recognized by The International Cat Association in 1984 for champion status. The breed was recognized by various other cat associations and has since gained popularity among cat lovers around the world.

Mythology and Norse Belief

The Norwegian Forest Cat has a special place in Norse mythology and folklore, as it was believed to be a mystical and magical creature with a connection to the gods. The Skogkatt was thought to have extraordinary abilities to climb sheer rock faces and tall trees that other cats could not handle. Some people considered the cat a feminine spirit belonging to the forest, while others saw it as a fairy cat that could disappear and reappear at will.

One of the most famous legends involving the Norwegian Forest Cat is its association with Freyja, the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and the home. Freyja was one of the most powerful and popular deities in Norse religion, and she traveled across the sky in a golden chariot pulled by two large and majestic cats. The cats were either white or black, representing the two sides of the night that brought evolution and renewal to nature. The cats also helped Freyja in her role as a warrior goddess, as they carried her chariot into battle with the Aesir, the gods of war and darkness. The cats were loyal and devoted to Freyja, who rewarded them with love and affection.

The cats of Freyja were also linked to luck and fortune, as they could tell the future and shape one’s destiny. The cats were unpredictable and mysterious, just like life itself. It was said that when a bride went to her wedding in fine weather, she fed the cat well and pleased the goddess. On the other hand, killing or harming a cat was considered bad luck, as this would anger Freyja and bring misfortune.

The Norwegian Forest Cat also played a role in Norse magic and divination, as it was one of the animal spirits that could aid the volva, or seeress, on her supernatural journey. The Volva was a woman who had the gift of prophecy and could communicate with the gods and spirits. She wore gloves made of cat skin, white and furry inside, which gave her protection and power. She also used a staff decorated with cat heads or paws, which helped her enter a trance state and travel to other realms.

The Norwegian Forest Cat was not only revered by the Norse people but also by their enemies. The Vikings brought their cats with them on their ships when they raided foreign lands, including North America. Some of these cats may have escaped, been left behind, and interbred with the local feral cats. This may explain why some breeds of American cats, such as the Maine Coon or the American Curl, have similar features to the Norwegian Forest Cat.

Whether true or not, today, these cats retain their wild spirit, charm, and connection to their ancient roots.


The Norwegian Forest Cat is a large, semi-longhaired cat that resembles a wild lynx or cougar. The head has an inverted triangle shape, pointed at the chin and then widening on each side up toward the medium to large ears, which are heavily tufted. The eyes are almond-shaped and can be any color except blue or odd-eyed (unless the cat is white). The nose is straight and long, and the chin is firm.

The body is muscular and solid, with long legs and big paws that have tufts of fur between the toes. The tail is long and bushy, reaching at least to the shoulder blades. The coat is one of the most distinctive features of the breed. It consists of a water-repellent top coat that varies in length depending on the season (shorter in summer and longer in winter) and a woolly undercoat that provides insulation against the cold. The coat can be any color or pattern except chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, fawn, or pointed (like Siamese).

The average height of a Norwegian Forest Cat is 9 to 12 inches at the shoulder, while the average length is 12 to 18 inches from nose to tail tip. The average weight is 12 to 16 pounds, with males being typically larger than females. Some cats may grow even bigger than these averages, making them one of the largest domestic cat breeds.


The Norwegian Forest Cat is a friendly, loyal, and intelligent breed that enjoys human companionship but also values its independence. These cats are not clingy or needy; they will show you affection on their own terms rather than yours. They may cuddle up in your lap or sleep on your pillow when they feel like it, but they don’t usually appreciate being picked up or held when it’s not their idea.

The breed is playful, curious, and adventurous, with a penchant for climbing and hunting. They love to explore their surroundings and chase anything that moves (including birds, mice, or even your toes). They are very agile and graceful; they can easily jump high and balance on narrow ledges. They also have a strong affinity for water; they may splash in the sink or join you in the shower if they get the chance.

The breed is adaptable, sociable, and gentle and can get along well with other pets and children if properly socialized. They are not aggressive or territorial; they prefer to avoid conflict and live in harmony with their housemates. They are also very vocal; they will communicate with you with a variety of sounds, from chirps and trills to meows and purrs.

The Norwegian Forest Cat is not a couch potato; they need physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. They appreciate having access to the outdoors, where they can indulge their natural instincts and explore new sights and smells. However, they can also adapt to an indoor lifestyle if you provide enough space, toys, and attention. They also enjoy having high perches, scratching posts, and cat trees to survey their territory and exercise their muscles.


  • The Norwegian Forest Cat is a beautiful, majestic, and unique breed that can impress anyone with its appearance and skills.
  • The Norwegian Forest Cat is loyal, playful, adventurous, independent, and intelligent, making it a great companion for active and curious people.
  • The Norwegian Forest Cat is adaptable, hardy, and resilient, as it can cope with different climates and environments.


  • The Norwegian Forest Cat is large and active, requiring a lot of space, stimulation, and exercise to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.
  • The Norwegian Forest Cat has a long, thick coat that sheds heavily twice a year, requiring regular grooming and brushing to prevent mats and tangles.
  • The Norwegian Forest Cat is rare and expensive, making it difficult to find a reputable breeder or adopt and requiring a high initial and ongoing investment.

Care and Lifestyle

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a relatively low-maintenance breed, but it does require some basic care to keep it in good shape. Here are some tips on how to provide a suitable environment for your furry friend:

Diet and Nutrition

Feed your cat a high-quality diet that meets its nutritional needs. This breed is large and active, so it may need more calories per day than the average cat. Choose a food that has real meat or fish as the main ingredient, and avoid fillers, by-products, or artificial additives. If you can offer fresh food, your cat will certainly appreciate it. You can also supplement your cat’s diet with occasional treats, such as cooked chicken, cheese, or fish oil. However, be careful not to overfeed your cat or give it too many treats, as this can lead to obesity or health problems. Always provide fresh water for your cat to drink.


Groom your cat’s coat regularly to prevent mats and tangles. The Norwegian Forest Cat has a thick coat that sheds heavily twice a year (in spring and autumn). During these periods, you may need to brush your cat daily to remove loose hair and dirt. You can brush your cat once or twice a week for the rest of the year to keep its coat shiny and healthy. You don’t need to bathe your cat unless it gets very dirty or has a skin condition; its coat is naturally water-repellent and self-cleaning.

Check your cat’s ears, eyes, teeth, and skin for any signs of infection or disease. The Norwegian Forest Cat is prone to some health issues that may affect these areas, such as ear mites, conjunctivitis, dental problems, or allergies.

Common Health Issues

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a robust breed that can live up to 14 to 16 years on average. However, like any other cat, it may suffer from some health problems that may affect its quality or length of life. Some of these conditions may be inherited or influenced by genetic factors, while others may be caused by environmental or lifestyle factors. Here are some common health issues that may affect the Norwegian Forest Cat:

  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Glycogen storage disease type IV

Where to Buy a Norwegian Forest Cat

Buying from a breeder can ensure that you get a purebred Norwegian Forest Cat with a known pedigree, health history, and temperament. Depending on the breeder’s reputation, location, and demand, you may have to pay anywhere from $900 to $1,500 or more for a Norwegian Forest Cat kitten.

We’ve listed a few places where you can begin your search:

Keep in mind, if you are struggling to find a kitten, Norwegian Forest Cats are considered rare in the United States but not in some parts of the world, such as Scandinavia, France, or China. Some colors, such as white or black, are rarer than others.


The Norwegian Forest Cat is a unique and fascinating breed that has a lot to offer to anyone who appreciates its beauty, intelligence, and personality. This breed is not for everyone; it requires a lot of space, attention, and stimulation to thrive. However, if you are looking for a loyal, playful, and adventurous companion that will keep you entertained and amazed with its skills and antics, you may find your perfect match in the Norwegian Forest Cat.

We hope you enjoyed this breed profile and learned something new about this ancient and majestic breed. If you have any questions or comments about the Norwegian Forest Cat, feel free to share them with us in the section below. We’d love to hear from you!

More Cat Breeds

If you’re interested in learning about similar cat breeds, check out:


How much is a Norwegian Forest Cat?

The average cost of a Norwegian Forest Cat is between $800 and $1,500, depending on age, pedigree, location, and other factors. However, some cats from a champion or imported lines may cost up to $4,000 or more.

How big are Norwegian Forest Cats?

Norwegian Forest Cats are large and muscular cats weighing up to 20 pounds and measuring up to 36 inches in length. Males are typically larger than females.

Are Norwegian Forest Cats hypoallergenic?

No, Norwegian Forest Cats are not hypoallergenic. They have a thick, long coat that sheds heavily twice a year, which can trigger allergies in some people. They also produce dander and saliva, which are common allergens.

How long do Norwegian Forest Cats live?

Norwegian Forest Cats have an average lifespan of 14 to 16 years. However, some cats may live longer or shorter depending on their health, diet, and lifestyle.

Are Norwegian Forest Cats rare?

Norwegian Forest Cats are considered rare in the United States but not in some parts of the world, such as Scandinavia, France, or China. Some colors, such as white or black, are rarer than others. The breed is also one of the oldest natural breeds in the world, meaning that it developed without human intervention or manipulation.

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