Norwegian Forest Cat

It's just too much of a mouthful to say over and over again. “Yes. I have a Norwegian Forest Cat.” These big, fluffy, playful, athletic beauties are known by the people who love them simply as Weegies.


While no cat is “just a cat,” the Weegie is truly unique in the feline world. Its ancestors may well have handled rat control on Viking ships, and its blood lines are believed to connect with long-haired cats brought back to Europe by the Crusaders.

Certainly the Norwegian is a very old breed, one that almost went extinct before WW II, which would have been an incalculable loss in the world of cat fanciers. In 1938, the first Club was created for the exclusive purpose of preserving the breed, although Weegies didn't actually leave Norway until the 1970s.

The breed was accepted for show status in Europe in 1977 and in the US, Weegies were granted championship status by the CFA in 1993.

Weegies are now extremely popular in Europe, America, and Canada, and are the official cat of Norway where they are known as the Skogkatt.

Size and Shape

Norwegian Forest Cats are big cats, averaging 14-16 lbs. They are slow to mature, rarely reaching full size until at least five years of age. They have a long lifespan of 14-16 years.

The breed is known for the striking beauty of its expression and facial features. Large eyes are set obliquely in the face, which forms an equilateral.

The profile is straight and clean. The luxuriantly furnished ears compliment the long, flowing whiskers.

These cats are exceptional climbers thanks to their strong and sturdy claws. Don't think you can have a Weegie in the house without a tall, interesting cat tree. The breed is so adept at getting where they want to be, they can even clamber up rocks.

Pick a Weegie up and you’ll be surprised by  just how sturdy its body is under all that lovely fur.

They are well muscled and big boned, with an oddly rugged overall appearance for a cat that looks out on the world with such a sweet and engaged expression.

Coat and Colors

Like their close relative the Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cats have semi-long coats. Although most often pictured as brown tabbies with white markings, all patterns and colors are acceptable except chocolate, lilac, fawn, and cinnamon.

The double coat evolved to withstand harsh winters. It serves as both superior insulation and waterproof protection from the elements. The softer undercoat is protected by a layer of coarse, long, guard hairs.

Even with this magnificent coat, complete with a full ruff, Weegies don't need the kind of constant brushing that characterizes the care regimen of other long-haired breeds.

Although Norwegian Forest Cats are not any more difficult to care for than other breeds, they do go through heavy seasonal shedding in the spring. Then, there will be lots of cat hair on everything and everyone in the house.

That's when you’ll want to bring out a soft brush and help your pet get rid of all that excess fur.

Disposition and Behavior

Both alert and intelligent, Norwegian Forest Cats love to be with their humans, but prefer to keep things on their own terms. They are friendly and inquisitive with lots of energy to burn, and like most cats, they don't like to be ignored.

They are by turns both playful and cuddly, and will certainly be nearby and watching at all times. If you can’t see your Weegie, look up. One of their favorite things to do is to find a high observation station and peer down at the world around them.

With Dogs and Children?

Weegies are very good with children and unlike some breeds don't scurry away from activity. Whatever the family is doing, the cat will be right in the middle of it. They even react well to strangers.

Often termed a “dog lover’s cat,” the Norwegian Forest Cat gets on quite well with dogs, and in some instances will do much better with Fido than with another cat in the house. They have a fine disposition, but Weegies can be jealous if you’re stepping out on them with another cat.

With Other Types of Pets?

It’s worth noting that Norwegian Forest Cats are highly adept hunters. If they are asked to live with animals that in their world view are prey, it takes a lot for Fluffy to restrain his natural urges.

This breed literally is descended from forest cats, and they are renowned as efficient mousers. To your cat, a hamster, gerbil, or guinea pig is just a higher class of mouse.

The same is true of their view- towards fish and birds. Perhaps you’ve seen the cartoons at Christmas time where the cat asks, perplexed, “You put a tree full of shiny stuff in the middle of the living room and you don't want me to climb it?”

Think about presenting your cat with a bird in a cage, a fish in a bowl, or a "rat" in a box. In your cat’s mind, you’re giving him an edible present!

With a breed as talented at hunting as a Weegie, don't even think about keeping a companion rodent, fish, or bird unless everything is locked up hard and tight. You might even think about segregated living with the smaller, more vulnerable pets housed in a room of their own.

Many species of rodents can be literally frightened to death by nothing more than a cat sitting on top of their cage staring at them all day. Put yourself in your pet gerbil’s place. That cat up there looks like exactly what it is, the Angel of Death with Fur!

One Cat or Two?

Generally if you introduce a young Norwegian Forest Cat to a home with an existing cat, the animals will work everything out quite nicely on their own. It's somewhat harder to have a Weegie and then bring another cat into the mix since this is a disruption of your cat's cherished routine.

If you opt to adopt two cats from the same litter and raise them together, you will have an almost ideal situation. Litter mates who spend their entire lives together form a deep and special bond. They remain kittenish with one another throughout life and will be dedicated friends.

Male or Female?

There really is little difference in disposition between the genders with Norwegian Forest Cats.

They are very reliable and good-natured cats that adapt well to change and take most of life in stride. The only major difference in the genders is that females tend to be slightly smaller. The primary concern people seem to have about adopting male cats is the wide misperception that all male cats are given to spraying pungent urine.

Indoors or Out?

Although Norwegian Forest Cats are descended from superb hunters, these cats, like all domestic, cats, should be kept indoors. It is not so much a matter of the cat’s ability to adapt to the outdoors, as the fact that in the modern world “outdoors” is not safe for any beloved pet.

Whether the danger is from wild animals, neighboring dogs, or just vindictive humans, the danger is there, and it is real. The Norwegian Forest Cat live quite happily as exclusive indoor pets, enjoying plenty’ of perches near windows and interesting views.

Although they love to be with their humans, they are not needy cats. Your Weegie will learn your schedule quickly and adapt accordingly.

Gallery of Norwegian Forest Cat