Norwegian Forest cat sitting in the garden.

Norwegian Forest Cat Breed

Contrary to its big, tough, and burly appearance, this cat is gentle and well-mannered and loves to stay at home.

Cats have been known in Scandinavia since Viking times, being kept as pest destroyers in homesteads and villages and on board ships. The Norwegian Forest Cat was developed fully as a breed only in the 1970s, but its characteristics are recognizably those of the cats familiar for centuries on Norwegian farms.

These semi-wild cats bred with no human interference and hunted for themselves. They became tough, intelligent, and courageous; only the fittest survived the harsh environment. They featured in Norwegian legends, and today they are officially recognized as the national cat of Norway.

The breed is still large and sturdy; notably, it takes up to five years to reach physical maturity. The double coat, a natural insulation against bitter northern winters, may become much thicker in colder months as the undercoat reaches full density.

Surprisingly, this does not mean extra winter grooming, although shedding is likely to be heavy in spring. Despite their wild ancestry, these cats are gentle and fun-loving.

The Skogkatt

In Norway, folktales and legends featuring enormous longhaired cats have been repeated for centuries. Because of its size and powerful build (as can be seen in the image below), the Norwegian Forest Cat—or “Skogkatt,” as it is known in its native country—was once even believed to be a cross between a cat and a dog.

Despite its long history, by the latter part of the 20th century the Forest Cat was all but forgotten, until a determined project in the 1970s revived interest in the breed.

Origin: Norway, 1950s

Breed registries: CFA, FIFe, GCCF, TICA

Weight range: 7–20lb (3–9kg)

Grooming: 2–3 times a week

Colors and patterns: Most solid colors, shades, and patterns.