Norwegian forest cats were once the companion of Vikings and are often referred to as "warrior cats." If you're not familiar with this large, fluffy breed, there's a lot to learn about their history, personality, and quirks. We narrowed our favorite Norwegian forest cat facts down to our top nine, and we guarantee a few of them will shock you.
1. Norwegian Forest Cats Are a Lesser-Known Breed
If you haven't heard of the cats of the Norwegian forest before, you're not alone. Even though the breed first made its North American debut in Leif Erickson's day, they didn't "officially" arrive in the USA until 1979. It’s believed that this distinctive cat is actually one ancestor of the famous Maine coon cat.
2. They Are BIG Cats
There's definitely a strong resemblance between the Maine coon and the Norwegian forest cat, but Norwegians are a bit smaller. Still, they're way bigger than a normal house cat. These stunning cats weigh up to 20 pounds on average, though some get even bigger.
3. The Breed Originated in Norway
As the name implies, this breed actually lived in the forests and villages of Norway, where it perfectly adapted itself to the chilly environment. In the 1950s, King Olav V even named them the official cat breed of Norway.
4. The Norwegian Forest Cat’s Fur Is Water-Resistant
Norwegian forest cats have coats that are incredibly thick and water-resistant. This was a necessary feature they adapted to survive in the harsh Norwegian winter. Even their ears are covered with distinctive tufts of hair extending from the tips and inner ear flaps that make them resemble a small Lynx. Their feet hold thick tufts of fur between the pads to protect them from snow and ice.
During the warmer months, these cats quickly drop their undercoat, so they are heavy shedders.
5. Forest Cats Are Hunters
You can’t ignore the fact that these cats have strong hunting instincts, especially if there are smaller pets in the home, such as birds and rodents. Make sure these little pets are appropriately housed for their own safety!
Along with being hunters, Norwegian forest cats are also natural climbers, so it's a very good idea to provide them with an indoor cat tree. That way, they can get plenty of exercise and perch themselves high, as they often love to do.
6. They Absolutely Adore People
Forest cats are people lovers and like to spend time lying close to you. That said, they aren't truly "lap cats" because they're incredibly active and athletic. Make sure your Norwegian forest cat has plenty of outlets for their energy, then they'll come to you for a nap when they're tuckered out.
7. Forest Cats Are Nicknamed the “Wedgie”
Many people affectionately refer to Norwegian forest cats as "wedgies." We don't know where this nickname came from, but it's pretty darn cute.
8. They’re a Magical Part of Norse Mythology
According to Norse mythology, Freya, the goddess of love and fertility, rode a chariot pulled by huge, long-haired cats. There were also magical fairy cats, who were likely based on the Norwegian forest cat. How cool?!
9. Forest Cats Come in Endless Colors & Patterns
Although you’re probably used to seeing tabby Norwegian forest cats, this breed comes in dozens of different colors and patterns. You can find them with calico coloring, pure black, all white, red, cream, blue, and even tortoiseshell.
Norwegian Forest Cats Are Special
Whether you’re just hearing about the Norwegian forest cat for the first time or you’re a long-time lover of this breed, it’s easy to see why these cats are so magical. They have a unique history, personality, and appearance. We’re so glad the forest cat is still around.