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The Norwegian Forest Cat

Posted December 16, 2014 in Cat Breeds

True to its name, the Norwegian Forest Cat is built to survive Norway’s cold and snow! 

With a thick coat of warm, water-resistant fur, the Norwegian Forest Cat is a truly rugged cat. In fact, most experts agree that its ancestors belonged to the Vikings and were used to catch and control vermin on Viking ships. It is also one of the oldest breeds: its ancestors were brought to Norway by Vikings over a thousand years ago and interbred with longhaired cats imported to Norway by Crusaders.  

Over the centuries, the Norwegian Forest Cat walked Norwegian forests and farms, honing their hunting skills. In 1938, the first Norwegian Forest Cat club was formed to preserve the breed. However, crossbreeding during WWII almost led to the breed’s extinction. Luckily, another official breeding program saved the breed, which didn’t leave Norway until the 1970s. 

The Norwegian Forest Cat wasn’t introduced into the American Cat Fanciers Association until 1994. Today, it’s one of the most popular breeds throughout America, Canada, and Europe. Read on to learn why!

Cat Facts
Big and fluffy, the Norwegian Forest Cat, often called “Weegie,” is pretty interesting. Here are some quick facts:

  • Some consider the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Maine Coon to share a common ancestor. They are similar in appearance and it’s possible the Vikings brought Maine Coons to America.
  • They are known in their native land of Norway as Norsk Skogkatt
  • The Norwegian Forest Cat’s long, woolen coat double-coat is water-repellant
  • Size: 10-16 lbs.
  • Lifespan: 14-16 years

What are they like?
Norwegian Forest Cats are playful, naturally athletic, and love to climb up high and observe what’s going on down below. Even though they’re very hardy and rugged, they’re also very cuddly and playful and are great for families. They are very reliable around children and like to be included in all family events. And though they thrive in the outdoors, Norwegian Forest Cats are equally contented to be indoor cats. Many people consider them a “dog lover’s cat.” And they actually get along very well with dogs, in fact sometimes better than with other cats!

Norwegian Forest Cats also take new situations in stride and adapt very well, meaning they are good traveling cats. They’re very friendly, too! Strangers are usually welcomed into the home of a Norwegian Forest Cat, and they’re well known for their loud, contented purring. Some are

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Tori has more than 2 years of experience in the pet health industry and is junior editor of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.