The Norwegian forest cat, even though now a domesticated breed, can take care of itself in the wild. It is a great hunter and absolutely loves the outdoors. Given a chance, it will stay out all the time despite being a house pet.
This cat has been around for a long time. There are tales of it dating back to the early 1900s, and there is a drawing of one that was made in 1910. This breed was not recognized in Norway until the thirties, and by then the war was beginning. This cat nearly went extinct during World War II, but was brought back thanks to some dedicated breeders. It became popular in the seventies.
It is thought to be related to the Maine Coon breed (which is also a forest cat), but there is no evidence to support this. It developed as a breed in Norway, and lived on farms as an outside cat, probably using whatever shelter it could find to stay in. This had developed some interesting characteristics in the breed, such as the coat losing a lot of its fullness during the summer, and then growing back completely during the winter.
This cat has a strong build and is larger than an average cat. It has long legs, and its body is quite sturdy. The tail is bushy. It has a double coat. The topcoat is thick and long. It helps the cat repel water. The undercoat is woolly. Eyes are almond-shaped and can be of any color. Coat colors that are not accepted are chocolate, lilac, and dilutions of cinnamon and fawn. All other colors are accepted. As the topcoat repels water, it is evidently oily, which makes it hard to get the cat wet to the skin. This poses a problem while giving it a bath.
Males are generally heavier than females. Different lines have different sizes, a purebred cat from one line can be noticeably bigger than a purebred cat from another line. This is all a direct result of it being so close to its ancestors and being a natural breed.
This breed is friendly and likes to be petted. It is gentle and affectionate, and gets along well with humans as well as other animals in the house. It is one of the few breeds that can climb down a tree head first due to its large paws and excellent sense of balance.
It needs little coat care as compared to the other long-haired breeds. However, mats and twigs that get caught in the fur need to be removed immediately to prevent any undue discomfort to the cat. This cat is easily trained, something that is always a plus when considering a new pet. It is quiet indoors and does not need as much attention as other breeds would demand.
There are little health concerns for this cat, although hip dysplasia has been reported, which is probably a result of its big size. Kidney and heart disease have also been reported in this breed. One drawback of this breed's size is the fact that it has been mistaken for the Lynx and shot many times.
It needs exercise and a place to run around. Take good care of it and it will give you tremendous love and devotion in return.