This week in our series on Getting to Know Your Cat Breed we are featuring the Norwegian Forest Cat or the Skogkatt as they are known in their native Norway or the “Wegie” as they are affectionately called in the United States.
Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years
Size: The Wegie is a large, well-muscled cat weighing in between 13 - 22 lbs -- about the same size of a Jack Russell Terrier! They mature slowly and don’t reach their full size until almost 5 years of age.
Color: They are found in wide array of colors from white to black and possess thick heavy coats. Their ears and paws are tufted to help keep them warm in those Norwegian winters. Not surprisingly, they are related to the Maine Coon Cat. They typically have a wide ruff of fur that starts around the neck and extends down into a full bib on the chest.
Origins: The Norwegian Forest cat can be found in Norse mythology, so they have been present in Norway for thousands of years. They are said to have accompanied Norse sailors on their fishing trips to help keep their boats free of rats. Despite their lengthy presence in Europe, they weren’t recognized as a breed until 1977.
Personality: Wegies display typical Norwegian restraint and while friendly and personable, can be a bit standoffish to strangers. They aren’t lap cats, unless on their terms, but do like to climb, so cat trees are essential. They like to play and are devoted to their family members with a desire to be with them whenever possible. They are also quite smart and can be taught a few tricks and even be clicker trained.
Health Issues: Like all animals, Wegies are susceptible to genetic issues. A common heart problem with the Norwegian Forest cat (and with many cats), is Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) which can be diagnosed with a echocardiogram. They are also susceptible to Glycogen Storage Disease IV, a rare heritable condition that affects metabolism of glucose.
Native foods for the Norwegian Forest cat: Native foods for the Norwegian Forest Cat are foods found in Norway and include:
Fun facts about the Norwegian Forest cat:
Norwegian myths tell of the skogkatt, a large, long-haired "mountain-dwelling fairy cat with an ability to climb sheer rock faces that other cats could not manage.”
The Norwegian Forest cat was named Norway’s national cat by King Olaf V.
A Norwegian Forest Cat starred in the 2016 film, Nine Lives as Mr. Fuzzypants.Sources: