5 Things to Know About Norwegian Forest Cats

Norwegian Forest Cats may have been palling around with Vikings back in the day. By: Pixabay

1. Key Characteristics

  • Weight: 12–16 pounds for males, 9–12 pounds for females
  • Life Expectancy: Around 15 years

Norwegian Forest Cats (a.k.a. Wegies) have large, powerful and muscular body supports their triangular head. Their eyes are also large and almond-shaped, and their big ears arch forward. The tail is long and bushy, with heavier hair during the winter.

The water-resistant double coat protects Wegies from the harsh winters and features semi-long hair. The undercoat is dense and thickens during the cold months; it is thinner and shorter during warmer months.

Coat colors and patterns can be any variety — except colorpoint.

2. Where They Came From

The Wegie is an old cat breed from Norway. They are called “skogkatt” in their home country, which translates to “forest cat.”

The cats are believed to have accompanied Vikings on their ships to eradicate rodents, the same job they performed in the Norwegian countryside.

The cats began breeding with shorthaired strays and were in danger of being bred out. So cat fanciers in Norway started a breeding program, but their efforts were halted because of World War II. Thankfully, they restarted after the war and succeeded in breeding.

Designated as the official cat of Norway by King Olaf, Wegies began appearing in cat shows, and the breed was exported to the U.S. in 1979. The Cat Fanciers’ Association recognized the breed in 1987 and assigned it championship status in 1993, while the International Cat Association assigned championship status to the breed in 1984.

Norwegian Forest Cats are affectionate on their own terms. By:

3. How Friendly Are They?

Maturity takes a long time for this breed — around 5 years, in fact.

They are intelligent, natural hunters who adapt easily to new situations and environments. They enjoy being around pets, people and toys. However, their affection levels can vary — they can appear aloof at times.

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4. Is This the Right Cat for You?

Exercise Needs


MEDIUM: Wegies are moderately active and interactive. They love to play and enjoy being on high surfaces; cat towers or trees are a must for this breed. They can also climb virtually any surface and are quite resourceful.

Robust periods of play are normal and are typically followed by long naps.

Keep the cat indoors or in enclosed outdoor play areas. In addition to being susceptible to theft due to their purebred status, the breed’s playful temperament means they might not recognize outdoor dangers.

Grooming Needs


MEDIUM: Brush the coat just once a week. Wegies are considered low-maintenance cats for most of the year, but they need a little extra care after winter.

During the winter, the double coat is really thick, but it will thin out as spring approaches, so you’ll need to brush a lot more at this time (like, up to 3 times a week). Clean the teeth and ears, and clip the nails, on a regular basis.

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Health Problems


LOW: Wegies are healthy cats, but some conditions are common to the breed, including but not limited to:

Learn more about Wegies in this video:

5. Where to Adopt One

Check adoption resources before buying from a breeder. Use our adoption search feature to get started, or search for local rescues.

If you choose to go to a breeder, please be aware that kitten mills do, in fact, exist. Check for a clean environment and request health checks to ensure the cats are being raised with the utmost care provided for their good health.

Additional Resources

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