While Norway has a rich history of cat legends, the Norwegian Forest Cat was a farmyard animal for many years before its type was described and accepted for pedigree status in 1912. A club was formed in 1938 but World War II intervened and it wasn’t until the 1970s that it was again promoted and accepted internationally. Still relatively rare outside Scandinavia.
Norwegian forest Cats are very large cats, with neutered males reaching 10kg (22lb) and toms and females slightly smaller. The extremely thick coat and neck ruff enhances the massive appearance. Coat patterns include tabbies, bicolours and solids, in all their colour variations. The cats have a spectacular plumed tail and the hind legs are longer than the front. They take two to three years to mature physically.
Owners say they are affectionate but not a ‘lap cat’, and have an active, independent nature. They are intelligent, and do not always like being confined inside.
The thick, non-matting coat, which copes with the harsh northern winters isn’t as well-suited to Australian conditions and will need to be brushed thoroughly each week. At the end of winter it sheds in vast amounts and daily grooming may be needed at that time. Some books suggest that shampooing the cat can be difficult as the outer coat is water resistant.
Most books suggest the cats breed easily with six to eight kittens per litter. Being a new import, Australia has yet to produce a litter. One English breeder reported some have needed caesareans.
Housepet potential, space & exercise
Norwegian forest Cats are said to be agile climbers and quite muscular. Their strong hunting instinct should discourage owners from allowing their cats outdoors. A scratching post is recommended. The long coat will lose hair, peaking in spring as the heavy winter coat is shed. Australian owners believe their cats will suit active people who would enjoy a large, relatively active cat. One owner has trained her Norwegian Forest Cat to accept and walk on a harness. UK breeders say the cats don’t like being left alone for long periods.
There are only a handful of Norwegian Forest Cats in Australia, and more are being imported. Even in their country of origin, Norway, there are only about 1200 registered.
Glucosyl transferase deficiency
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Progressive retinal atrophy
1. Burke’s backyard