For some of the most magnificent floof you’ve ever seen, feast your eyes on the Norwegian Forest cat. While the size of this breed is impressive in its own right, coupled with their wild double coat these cats seem almost larger than life.
The impressive stature of the Norwegian Forest cat is befitting of a breed whose past is so steeped in legend. Wouldn’t you expect cats that supposedly traveled with the Vikings and pulled Norse goddess Freya’s chariot to be large, indeed? Sure, there are some tall tales involved—but that doesn’t stop this breed from being as grand as their storied reputation.
So just how big are Norwegian Forest cats compared to other domestic breeds? We’ve got all the answers for you here, so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
The Norwegian Forest cat’s size
Known in Norway as the skogkatt (which means forest cat or fairy cat), the Norwegian Forest cat likely originated hundreds of years ago in cold Scandinavia. Short-haired cats brought to northern Europe by the Romans adapted to the harsher climate over centuries by birthing long-haired kittens.
Along with their dense, water-resistant coats, Norwegian Forest cats adapted by becoming powerful and fearless hunters. They are thought to have climbed sheer walls and waded into water to catch fish—pretty intense for your average domestic feline! Today’s Norwegian Forest cats might not have quite as much bravado, but that doesn’t mean the instincts aren’t there.
The breed’s large size has aided their hunting and resilience to the environment for centuries. They’re also a slow-maturing cat, taking up to 5 years to reach their full size.
With sturdy, muscular bodies, it’s no surprise Norwegian Forest cats can grow quite heavy. In general, male Norwegian Forest cats will be larger than females. Males can weigh 12 to 20 pounds, while females typically weigh 8 to 16 pounds.
On the smaller end of that scale, these kitties don’t sound all that large. When you’re considering the upper end of 16-20 pounds, however, you really ought to be impressed. Many domestic kitties today struggle with obesity—but this breed isn’t big because they’re overweight, but because they’re just, well, big!
The Norwegian Forest cat can be taller on average than other domestic cat breeds, but not always. The height of a Norwegian Forest cat usually ranges from 10-12 inches tall, so the shortest of the breed will be around the same height as most other cats.
Despite their wild fur, Norwegian Forest cats exhibit a certain gracefulness with their long legs and long muzzles. This contributes to their appearance of an overall long body length. The average Norwegian Forest cat measures 12-18 inches long—but where it really gets impressive is when you factor in their bushy tail. With this appendage, the breed can reach up to a whopping 36 inches!
Domestic breed comparisons
Domestic house cats will typically be smaller than a Norwegian Forest cat. The smallest Norwegian Forest cats (usually female) will be around the same size as an average domestic cat.
The average weight of other domestic breeds can range from 6-12 pounds, while a Norwegian Forest cat weighs 8-20 pounds.
Most domestic cat breeds will only stand 10 inches tall, which isn’t atypical for a Norwegian Forest cat. The larger cats of the breed will stand a foot tall.
Norwegian Forest cats can be quite long. Their length becomes obvious when compared to other domestic cats. A typical domestic cat breed will be between 15-20 inches long. On the other hand, Norwegian Forest cats can be double that at up to 36 inches long.
Getting to know a Norwegian Forest cat
Although you might be a bit intimidated by the size and looks of this big breed, the fact is they make fabulous pets. Before you decide to adopt a Norwegian Forest cat purely based on physical attributes, it’s best to take the time to learn about their background, personality, and grooming requirements.
We touched on the origins of this breed earlier, but you may be wondering how this majestic cat went from prowling the forests of Scandinavia to lounging in living rooms all around the world.
Norwegian Forest cats likely began their proliferation as companions of the Vikings, keeping their ships and villages free of vermin. Fast-forward to the modern era, the breed almost faced extinction in the 1930s due to hybridization with local free-roaming Domestic Shorthairs in Norway.
Following WWII, fans of the Norwegian Forest cat worked hard to preserve the breed. These cats were granted full championship status in the European show ring and elected the official cat of Norway in the 1950s, thanks to King Olav.
They came to the United States in 1979. (Some say it’s possible they stepped foot on North American soil a thousand years earlier with Leif Erikson!) Since then, they’ve become a popular cat breed all around the world.
It’s easy to be impressed by the Norwegian Forest cat’s size and history. Perhaps the most underrated aspect of this breed is their winning personality! These cats are unsurprisingly adaptable and independent, but they’re also quite friendly and playful.
Although Norwegian Forest cats can generally entertain themselves, it’s best to offer them a range of toys and environmental enrichment. They’ll enjoy playing with their humans, but have no issues with inventing their own game of climbing around the house—especially if you provide them with cat furniture. Think towering cat trees and playscapes, shelves and sisal scratching boards, all of which simulate the forest from which this breed originated!
This cat will act as the protector and watcher of your household. It’s in their nature to patrol the scene, give strangers a good once-over, and assume the rest of the household is waiting for their seal of approval. You’d do well to acknowledge your Norwegian Forest cat’s hard work with extra playtime and a few treats.
Grooming and care
The laid-back Norwegian Forest cat might not be too concerned with how polished their luxurious mane is, but the fact is their coat needs a lot of care and maintenance. Their double cat can easily become knotted and tangled. You’ll want to brush them a couple times a week, except during shedding season—then you’ll need to brush daily.
While this breed is moderately active, you’ll want to make sure you’re feeding your gentle giant healthy food portions. It’s easy to do so with an automatic pet feeder. And because their long fur can get in the way of bathroom activities, you may want to invest in a spacious self-cleaning litter box that leaves them a clean place to go every time!
If you’re looking to add a big kitty to your pet family, why not go with one that’s loyal, friendly, intelligent, and protective? AKA, meet the Norwegian Forest cat!