🐱 LIMITED TIME OFFER: Get a trial box for just £8.00, plus a reusable tote bag and free carbon-neutral shipping! 🐱

25.08.2022

A Norwegian Forest cat—the UK's favourite breed

Norwegian Forests, nicknamed Wegies, steal the spotlight wherever they show up. These ruggedly handsome kitties are a sight to behold and delightful to have around.

They are famous for their friendly attitude, dense fur, and impressive athletic abilities. Wegies are among the largest domestic felines, along with Maine Coons, Ragdolls, and Bengals.

If you are considering adopting this gorgeous kitty, you should learn more about the breed, so you can take the best care of them. With Untamed, you’ll find out how to look after a Norwegian Forest cat in the UK. In this article, we'll discuss their:

  1. Origin
  2. Appearance
  3. Temperament
  4. Health
  5. Care requirements

A Wegie's origin story

Take a pic of me feeling proud of my heritage.

Source: pklaschka

Norwegian forest cats are not only pretty and lovable but come with a veil of mystery.

Some believe that Scandinavian Crusaders brought these felines from Turkey. Others say Wegies evolved from a short-haired breed from Great Britain. They are also thought to have lived on Viking longboats, having an important job as mice hunters.

Whichever version is accurate, the fact is that these beautiful cats have a long history. They even have a place in Norse mythology. Giant cats drew goddess Freya's chariot. Were those Norwegian Forests, perhaps? Most likely.

It’s undeniable that these kitties have always had superb hunting skills and were irreplaceable on boats and farms, as well as in households.

The modern Norwegian Forest cat comes from feral and barn cats. Wegies have been around for decades, but they have faced serious threats more than once. Before the 20th century, these kitties were extremely rare in Norway. During the 1930s, Norwegians introduced breeding programmes to save the national breed from imminent extinction. Unfortunately, Work War II happened, halting the efforts and almost causing the breed to die out.

Luckily, Norwegian Forest Cat Club stepped in in the 1970s and introduced a special breeding programme, ensuring Wegies' survival to this day. Thanks to King Olav V, Norwegian Forests received royal recognition and were pronounced the official cat of Norway. In 1977, Fédération Internationale Féline recognised the breed, and in 1987, Wegies gained recognition from the Cat Fanciers' Association.

Today, Norwegian Forest cats are among the most popular breeds across Europe.

Norwegian Forest cat physical traits

My most dominant trait is that I’m gorgeous.

Source: pklaschka

Norwegian Forests are large felines whose presence never goes unnoticed. Below are the most prominent characteristics of these gorgeous cats:

Feature

Characteristics

Coat

  • Semi-long, dense double coat
  • Warm undercoat and a water-resistant upper layer
  • A thick mane around their neck and face
  • Heavily tufted ears and paws

Colours

  • White
  • Black 
  • Grey-blue
  • Red
  • Cream
  • Silver

Patterns

  • Chinchilla
  • Shaded
  • Tortoiseshell
  • Smoke
  • Tabby
  • Calico
  • Bi-colour

Shedding 

Eyes

  • Green
  • Gold
  • Copper
  • Blue (only in white cats)

Head

  • Triangular with a strong chin
  • Straight nose
  • Flat forehead

Weight

  • Males: 4.5–9 kg
  • Females: 3.6–8 kg

Height

23–30.5 cm

Length

30.5–45.5 cm

Built

  • Big
  • Strong and muscular
  • Longer hind legs

A Wegie's temperament

If you like Norwegian Forest cats' appearance, you will love their personality. These kitties are:

  1. Friendly and affectionate
  2. Intelligent
  3. Energetic
  4. Independent

Friendly and affectionate

Fine. Pet me once. I’ll allow it.

Source: pklaschka

Wegies are loyal, loving, gentle, patient, and considerate—perfect companions for any household. They adore company and get along with everyone. Norwegian Forests play nicely with kids, love meeting new people, and are friendly with other animals, especially if they have had contact with them from early kittenhood. Older Norwegian Forests will accept new pets, but they might need more time to get to know them.

Although these kitties aren't typical lap cats and won't spend hours sitting next to you and cuddling, they will follow you around and watch what you are doing. They enjoy being a part of the family and participating in any game. Your Wegie may not openly show their affection, but they will chirp when they see you and run to the door to greet you when you return home. Do you need anything more?

Intelligent 

Norwegian Forests are highly intelligent and learn fast. You can teach them good manners easily, and they usually enjoy training sessions. As an active breed, Wegies prefer interacting with their cat parents in a more fun way—playing fetch or hide and seek.

Energetic

It’s not that I love going out just to be outside. I look stunning among plants. So, take a picture of me.

Source: Patrizia08

Intelligence and high activity levels seem to go hand in hand.

Norwegian Forests mature slowly, so if you get a kitten, they will remain playful and amusing for a long time. High activity levels mean you will have to allow your kitty to burn extra energy through playtime and a fun living environment. Even when they get older and become lazier, encourage them to continue to exercise. If they don't, your feline friend could start packing extra weight, which can lead to various health issues.

Wegies will also benefit from going out. They love the great outdoors and are exceptional hunters. Unlike most other cats, they adore water. That’s why you must never leave them outside unattended (especially if you have a pool). Your Wegie might have excellent mousing skills, but they are predominantly a house cat. Letting them play outside or swim without your supervision may lead to injury, or they could wander off chasing prey.

Independent

Wegies love attention, but they are not demanding. If you are busy or away, they won't wreak havoc on your home unless they get bored. To prevent that, create a stimulating environment where your feline friend can have fun.

The following should keep your furry friend entertained:

  • A cat tree—The more elaborate the cat tree, the more fun your kitty will have. These structures come with places to hide, jump, climb, and scratch, as well as dangling toys that most felines adore. A cat tree provides a fun and safe place for your kitty to curl up and rest
  • Interactive toys—A floppy fish or electric mouse are perfect for keeping your Wegie engaged. These gimmicks stimulate feline's natural hunting instincts and keep them physically and mentally active
  • Food puzzles—Food puzzles keep your kitty cognitively stimulated and slow down their eating, which is especially important if restraint is not in your Wegie's meowcabulary
  • Perches—Norwegian Forests are incredible jumpers thanks to their long and muscular hind legs. Support this athleticism by installing perches around your home to allow your kitty to jump as much as they like and practice their favourite hobby—observing the scenery from above

Norwegian Forest cat health

Diseases fear me, so they stay away.

Source: mkluthke

Norwegian Forests are generally healthy and resilient, but like most purebreds, they are not immune to hereditary and lifestyle-related diseases.

The most common health issues Wegies are susceptible to include:

  1. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  2. Hip dysplasia
  3. Glycogen storage disease IV (GSD IV)
  4. Pyruvate kinase deficiency(PKD)
  5. Polycystic kidney disease
  6. Diabetes
  7. Dental issues 
  8. Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD)

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a prevalent heart condition in felines. It's caused by the thickening of the heart muscle, hampering the organ's efficiency and ability to pump blood throughout the body.

This progressive disease weakens the heart and often leads to:

  • Blood clot formation
  • Immobility in the hind limbs
  • Fluid accumulation in the lungs
  • Heart failure

The table below presents the prevalent symptoms and risk factors:

Risk factors

Symptoms

  • AgeOlder felines are more at risk
  • Gender—Males are more susceptible
  • WeightObese cats are at a greater risk

When you notice the first symptoms, the illness has already progressed. Taking your Wegie to the vet for routine check-ups (twice a year ideally) is crucial. When diagnosed early, HCM can be kept under control with medication and a proper diet, and your kitty's quality of life can remain almost intact.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is most prevalent in large felines, such as Norwegian Forests, Maine Coons, Siberians, and Bengals.

The degenerative condition is caused by the hip joint malformation and often causes pain and stiffness. In severe cases, your Wegie may need surgical intervention.

It can be challenging to recognise hip dysplasia because symptoms may go unnoticed in the early stages, and when they appear, they often look like an injury.

The typical signs of hip dysplasia are:

  • Limping
  • Lameness
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty jumping

Glycogen storage disease IV

Felines with GSD IV are born with a defective enzyme preventing them from metabolising glucose properly.

Kittens are usually stillborn or die within a few hours of birth. In rare instances, a kitten may survive for about five months and then start showing symptoms of neuromuscular deterioration. They will experience severe muscle weakness, atrophy, and inability to use their legs.

It's impossible to prevent this condition, but a DNA test can reveal carriers of the degenerative gene. These felines should not be used for breeding.

Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD)

PKD is an enzyme deficiency that reduces the lifespan of red blood cells and causes anaemia. When anaemia occurs gradually, an affected kitty can lead a normal life by slowly adapting to the condition. If anaemia occurs suddenly, a cat's life is at risk.

This condition mainly affects:

The usual symptoms are similar to many other health problems and include:

A complete biochemistry profile is the only way to diagnose this condition, and a bone marrow transplant is the only available treatment if the condition turns out to be life-threatening.

Polycystic kidney disease

A kidney disease thought to appear only in Persian cats also affects Norwegian Forests and Siberians.

Felines are born with dozens of tiny cysts in their kidneys that grow as the kitty ages, straining the organ and ultimately leading to kidney failure.

There is no cure for this condition or a way to reverse kidney damage, but it's possible to keep the disease under control. You would have to give your Wegie medication, change their diet, and schedule frequent vet visits to monitor the progression of the disease.

The usual symptoms include:

Diabetes

I’m not chubby, I promise! It’s the fur.

Source: thabisfotowelt

Cats suffering from diabetes can't produce or regulate insulin.

The role of this hormone is to help absorb glucose in the bloodstream after meals and transport it to the cells. Diabetic cats can't control their blood sugar levels, which can lead to two conditions:

  1. Hyperglycaemia—when blood sugar levels become too high
  2. Hypoglycaemia—when glucose levels become dangerously low

Here are the usual causes of diabetes and its symptoms:

Factors contributing to diabetes

Symptoms

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Poor coat quality
  • Bladder infections
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Enlarged liver

Dental issues

A staggering number of felines struggle with dental issues. The most common problems include:

  • Gingivitis—gum inflammation caused by plaque accumulation
  • Periodontal disease—the next stage of gingivitis, an inflammation of the periodontium (the tissue around a tooth)
  • Tooth resorption—progressive deterioration of a tooth resulting in tooth extraction

Good oral hygiene is the only way to prevent dental problems. Some vets also advise feeding your Wegie kibble from time to time to help remove plaque buildup from their teeth.

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD)

FLUTD is a term that encompasses several conditions affecting a cat's urinary tract, including:

Check out the usual risk factors and typical signs of FLUTD in the table below:

Risk factors

Symptoms

  • Gender—Males are more susceptible
  • Diet—Felines fed dry food are at a higher risk
  • Dehydration—Kitties who don’t drink enough water or get enough hydration through food are more prone to urinary tract issues
  • LifestyleCats who live indoors are more susceptible
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Avoiding the litter box
  • Painful urination

Norwegian Forest cat care requirements

The goal of caring for your Wegie is to keep them happy and healthy. To achieve that, you need to:

  1. Keep them active
  2. Groom them regularly
  3. Feed them an adequate diet

Keeping your Wegie active

Physical activity is crucial for feline health. It helps them stay fit and does wonders for their mental health.

Your Wegie will stay active if you:

  • Play with them twice a day for at least half an hour
  • Give them fun toys to play with independently
  • Take them outside (under supervision)
  • Set up a cat pool for your Wegie to swim in
  • Provide a big and sturdy scratching post, so they can file their claws and stretch

Grooming your Norwegian Forest cat

Don’t come near me with those tools from hell! 

Source: DieGambe

Despite being long-haired, Norwegian Forests are surprisingly low maintenance.

Here is all you should do:

  1. Brush your Wegie regularly—These kitties' coats don't mat or tangle easily, so a good brushing session once a week is more than enough to remove loose hair and dander
  2. Clean their teeth every day—If your Wegie doesn't like the toothbrush, you can clean their teeth with gauze on your finger
  3. Bathe them when necessary—Although Norwegian Forests love water, you shouldn't bathe them more often than every six to eight weeks (or when they get dirty). Frequent bathing can mess up their skin’s PH values. It can also be challenging to get their coat fully soaked because it's water-resistant, so a professional groomer's help might be necessary
  4. Nail trimming—Cut the tip of your kitty's claws when you notice they get too sharp 
  5. Eye and ear cleaning—Whenever you bathe your kitty, gently clean the area around the eyes and ears to prevent infections

Feeding your Wegie

Feed your Norwegian Forest cat high-protein food, and they will be healthy and fit.

Image (c) Untamed

The diet is the critical part of caring for your Norwegian Forest cat. Knowing what to feed your kitty, what to avoid, and how much to serve is essential.

The table below presents what proper feline nutrition should be:

Nutrient group

Recommended percentage

Why is it important?

What are the best sources?

Animal protein

At least 50%

  • Provides energy
  • Delivers essential micronutrients, such as:
    • Amino acids (taurine, lysine, and arginine)
    • Vitamins
    • Mineral
    • Antioxidants

Animal fat

Up to 20%

  • Delivers fatty acids
  • Promotes nutrient transportation and utilisation
  • Supports hydration
  • Ensures cell integrity
  • Adds irresistible taste
  • Main sources:
    • Salmon
    • Mackerel
    • Sardines
  • Good as occasional treats due to high fat content:

Carbs

Less than 3%

Carbs should generally be avoided as they can cause obesity and gastrointestinal problems, but they can provide extra fibre if your kitty suffers from constipation

How to keep your Wegie healthy with Untamed

Well, go on, open one tin already!

Image (c) Untamed

Keeping your feline friend healthy, happy, and fit is effortless with Untamed.

Our products are:

We are dedicated to keeping felines healthy and happy, so order Untamed for your Norwegian Forest cat and watch them thrive!

How to order Untamed

With Untamed, ordering cat food online is as easy as 123:

  1. Take our Try Now quiz
  2. Pick the products
  3. Place the order

A seven-day trial pack will arrive in a day. Our delicacies are ready-to-serve, so your Wegie can start sampling the food immediately. Once they choose their faves, we can send you a fresh batch every month, with no shipping fees.

According to our clients, you should notice incredible improvements once your kitty switches to Untamed wet food. Here's what they report:

  1. After a week—No mess in the litter box, easy digestion
  2. After two months—Beautiful coat, reduced shedding, fewer hairballs
  3. Within four months—Better mood, improved muscle tone, healthy eating habits
  4. Life-long—Strong immune system, natural weight management, fewer health niggles