Norwegian Forest Cat Breed: What You Need to Know

This mythical cat is also known as Skogkatt by the Norwegians. This refers to a myth about a mountain-dwelling fairy cat climbing sheer cliff faces. 

Norwegian Forest cats are known for being adept climbers. It is important to provide them with tall cat towers or cat trees. They use cat hammocks. 

It is advisable to ‘cat proof’ your home as they will climb up high furniture. Owners often install cat shelves. 

Norwegian Forest
Norwegian Forest

Quick facts about the Norwegian Forest

Weight: 13 to 22 pounds Height: 9 to 12 inches
Life span: 12 to 16 years
Intelligence: high Temperament: social | affectionate | brave
Playfulness: high Activity level: active
Vocalness: quiet Coat length: long
Shedding amount: frequent
Good with: kids | seniors | dogs | other cats | families
Traits: Norwegian Forest cats are known for their thick coats and their friendly nature. They are easy to train, but they require lots of grooming. They are friendly to humans, other pets, and strangers.

These cats are athletic and muscular. They have large bodies with long bushy tails. 

Because of their full coats, Norwegian Forest cats often appear larger than they are. They have long shiny coats with dense undercoats. These cats have adapted to harsh Norwegian winters.

Their coats are even water-resistant. They need to be brushed twice a week. And molt heavily in spring. 

These cats come in an array of colors, ranging from white to red and even silver. They come in most pattern types. 

Norwegian Forest cats are friendly, calm, playful, and gentle. 

They adapt well to different types of families and lifestyles. These cats are family orientated. They are good with kids, seniors, and other pets. 

Due to their laid-back and well-mannered nature, they tolerate a lot. 

Norwegian Forest cats love human connection and affection. They do, however, prefer for the owners to come to them. They can be aloof. 

Norwegian Forest

These cats do not mind being alone for short periods of time. That being said, if they are left alone for long periods of time they tend to suffer from separation anxiety. 

Despite their large frame, these cats have a high-pitched meow. They are a quiet breed. 

Norwegian Forest cats are slow to mature. They only mature to adults at about 5 years. This is fun as owners will have an extended kitten phase. 

They love to play a lot and need to be stimulated. 

They enjoy games and toys that simulate pouncing and practicing hunting. It is essential to provide an outlet for their strong hunting skills.
Toys that mimic mice and feather toys work the best. It is a great idea for owners to spend at least 5 to 10 minutes each day playing with their Norwegian Forest cat. 

These cats are sensitive to the heat due to their double tick coats. It is important to keep them cool in summer. 

They are easily trained to walk on a leash and do enjoy outside adventures. They are also easily potty trained. 

As active as they are, Norwegian Forest cats are prone to obesity. They tend to overeat and need to be put on a strict eating plan.

They are prone to some serious health issues and need regular visits to the vet.
 

Origin

Norway

Health

Dr. Adedapo Adisa:

The Norwegian forest cats are naturally bred cats, known for their large and muscular looks and athletic abilities, originating from Norway.

With long and dense haircoats known to be water-resistant, the Norwegian forest cats are built to withstand the harsh winter conditions.

Norwegian forest cats are a healthy cat breed with a life expectancy that falls between 12-16 years.

Despite having an excellent life expectancy, Norwegian forest cats have certain inherited medical conditions. Some health issues associated with the Norwegian Forest cats include; a heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and glycogen storage disease.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in Norwegian forest cats is characterized by the thickening of the heart’s muscular walls, especially the chamber responsible for pumping out blood (Left ventricles).

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is an inherited medical condition in Norwegian cats affecting how the heart performs its circulatory activities. Subsequently, due to the inefficiency of the left ventricle, the upper portion (left atrium) retains blood more than the usual time.

The retention of blood in the left atrium results in the formation of clots and also fluid build-up in the lungs. This leads to congestive heart failure in Norwegian forest cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Some common signs of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the Norwegian forest cats are;

 

● Increased heart rate 

● Noticeable sound of blood as seen in heart murmurs.

● Exercise intolerance in the cat

● Weight loss and lethargy 

● Fluid builds up in the lungs.

It is important to reach out to your veterinarian if any of these signs have been noticed in your Norwegian forest cats. 

A DNA test to identify the mutant gene causing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be carried out. Your veterinarian may also want to carry out more tests to rule out other medical conditions.

Another inherited health condition that affects Norwegian forest cats is Glycogen storage disease IV.  This condition affects glucose. metabolism in the Norwegian forest cats as a result of the defective glycogen branching enzyme (GME)

This abnormality prevents the breakdown of glycogen into glucose and further causes glycogen to be deposited in various organs and tissues such as muscles, liver, and even the brain cells called neurons in affected Norwegian forest cats.

Signs the Norwegian forest cats, with glycogen storage disease IV, may begin to exhibit include. 

● Tremors in the muscles 

● Fever may be present, which becomes persistent.

● Muscle degeneration and atrophy

● Hypoglycemia may be present (reduced blood glucose levels).

● Cats show signs of weakness and may slip into a coma.

 

Kittens of the Norwegian forest cats with glycogen storage diseases IV do not survive more than a few hours after birth or even come out as stillbirths. However, in some cases, cats might age up to 5-7 months before they start exhibiting signs of these inherited conditions.

It is best to screen Norwegian forest cats for the defective gene before engaging them in breeding activities. This is because glycogen storage disease IV is an autosomal recessive condition. Meaning a copy from both parents is needed to cause this health issue in the Norwegian forest kittens.

As with any other inherited condition affecting Norwegian forest cats, always report to your veterinarian if any of the signs are observed.

If your veterinarian confirms, the Norwegian forest cats should be removed from breeding programs.

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