The Breed History
These large cats evolved in Norway but their ancient roots may trace back to importation by sailors from other regions of the world, with progenitor domestic cats from countries such as Turkey (perhaps Turkish Angora). They were reported to be distinctive in Norway by about 1000 AD. Natural selection in the harsh climate lead to heavily coated, large rugged cats that thrived as farmer's working cats. In the 1930s the breed was first recognized, and by the late 1970s as first exports to the UK and America began, formal breeding programs were instituted. FIFР№ accepted the breed in 1977, and the CFA for championship status in 1993. Outcrossing is not allowed. These are still rare in North America; CFA in 2000 registered only 561 cats.
Weight: 12-24 lb (5-10 kg); females are considerably smaller than males in this range.
Coat: The very heavy double coat in semi-longhair is more or less dense depending on the season of the year. Water resistant, it is hard in texture. Texture of the hair is a bit softer in non-solid colored cats. Ruff, collar, chops and mane are the furnishings around the neck, full britches are present at the rear limbs. Ears are tufted and heavily furnished. All colors and patterns except those containing fawn, cinnamon sable, (FIFР№) and lilac, chocolate and colorpoint (FIFР№ and CFA) are accepted. Brown tabby and white is the most common color/pattern. The coat is naturally a bit oily. A recent study reported that a separate genetic mutation is responsible for the long hair in this breed.
Eyes: Medium sized, almond shaped, the color is not necessarily synchronized to coat color; those with white in the coat may have blue and odd-eyed colors.
Points of Conformation: The NFC is not stocky, but is very strongly built. The triangular head is large but long and angular, with a long straight nose on profile. The broad ears are medium sized, round tipped. Lynx tipping is preferred. Paws are large and round, with some tufting of hair. Tail is long, tapering and well plumed, especially in winter. Compared to the Maine Coon, this breed has a shorter body.
Grooming: Grooming generally consists of a quick brush every few days and they do not tend to mat like some of the longhair breeds. They may need daily grooming while shedding.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Easy-going, affectionate, calm but some are aloof with strangers, reserved, territorial, love to climb and jump, and are good hunters. Outdoor cats may fish. Not demanding of their owner's affections. Not considered lap cats. Soft voiced. If indoors, a climbing tree will help to keep the cat off the fridge and door tops.
Normal Breed Variations
Considered slow to mature (4-5 yrs).
Blood type B: In one study of American Norwegian Forest Cats, prevalence of blood type B was zero.2 Prevalence of 7% Type B was reported in later references.
Norwegian Forest Cat Kitten Information Project: An Internet based breeder survey to establish normal baselines for reproduction was reported.
49 reporting breeders, 124 litters, 562 kittens.
Nov 2003 - Oct 2004.
October 2004 Report:
Average litter size 4.5
Stillbirth rate 5 %
C-sections: 6 %
Average birth weight: Male 106 g female 103 g
None reported in the literature
Glycogenosis Type IV: (SYN: Type IV Glycogen Storage Disease). This storage disease is reported exclusively in this breed of cat and is an abnormality of glucose metabolism. An autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance of the trait occurs; affected cats are homozygous. This condition carries a very poor prognosis; affected cats will die-either in utero, around birth or by 10-14 months of age. There is no known treatment. Primary signs usually reflect the atrophy/degeneration in muscle and nervous tissues, though cytoplasmic inclusions containing abnormal glycogen deposits are evident in multiple body systems and organs. Type IV storage disease is due to a deficiency of the glycogen branching enzyme (GBE) that, as the name implies, produces normal glycogen branching. The efficient addition or removal of glucose from glycogen stores is dependent on the normal branched structure. Variable expression of the condition occurs, with two main age ranges of onset: at birth, or at late juvenile phase, with presentation ranging from normal appearing stillborn kittens, collapse in neonates (hypoglycemia, cardiopulmonary collapse), and in the late phase form, with progressive neuromuscular and cardiac degeneration in between 5 and 7 months of age, or a sudden cardiac decompensation in cats about 9 months to 1 year of age. In the neonate, this condition might be confused with fading kitten syndrome. Sequencing of the exon deletion producing the disorder was carried out and by 1999 testing for carriers had begun, with subsequent efforts by breeders to eliminate the mutant allele in breeding stock. Clinical signs may initially include muscle tremors and a creatine kinase spike typically occurs with onset at 5 months of age. By 8 months of age, severe tremors, hyperthermia, poor stamina and muscle wasting noted. Mild ataxia (some describe it as "bunny hopping", and difficulties with prehension and deglutition noted. Abnormal EEG, EMG and ECG, and progressively, abnormal echocardiograms noted. Progressive neurological signs (tetraplegia), and tonic-clonic seizures and hypoglycemia preceded euthanasia.8 As the disease progresses, histologic studies have shown that muscle fibers are replaced by fibrosis; this contracture can lead to permanent flexion of digits and carpi, and extension of the tibiotarsal and femorotibial joints.9 According to this same author, pedigree analysis indicates that this gene originated in 2 cats imported to the US from Norway and Germany, but that these two cats were not found by pedigree analysis to be related, though the mutation is the same. Branching enzyme activity was confirmed to be very low in an inbred family of NFC, and a breeding colony to further study this condition was established. Activity was less than 1/10th normal in liver and muscle, and less severely reduced in parents of that cat. Three related cats were closely studied and clinical signs had progressed to tetraplegia, generalized muscle atrophy and contracted tendons by 8 months old. One cat died suddenly before any clinical signs were noted, and another cat succumbed to left sided heart failure at 13 months old. Nervous, cardiac and skeletal tissues were primarily affected by storage products, with degenerative changes noted on histology. GBE activity is 25-75% of normal in unaffected carriers, and is 5% of normal activity (in liver, muscle) in affected cats. In the late juvenile onset version of the condition, progression takes 10-15 weeks, and the concurrent hyperthermia is still poorly understood. Perhaps endogenous pyrogens are released during tissue degeneration, or ongoing general tremors may generate heat. Echocardiographs confirm that fibrosis of the subendocardium occurs (focal hyperechoic areas noted), and there is left ventricular hypertrophy. Mild elevation of alanine aminotransferase activity may reflect hepatopathy but only small amounts of abnormal storage products are found in hepatocytes in histopathology preparations. Cranial nerve function is normal with the exception of a reduced swallowing reflex. For diagnosis of the perinatal onset form, note that abnormal glycogen can be found in ventricular myocytes and in many CNS neurons at that age. In both normal and affected kittens at birth, muscle glycogen stores are depleted-no other abnormalities are found here. Detailed report of histologic changes can be found in this reference.
Neonatal Isoerythrolysis (NI): Proportion of matings at risk for NI was reported to be 0.06.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is of increased prevalence, but not proven to be inherited.
Glycogenosis Type IV DNA Test
Josephine Deubler Genetic Testing Laboratory (PennGen) University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital. Minimum of 1-2 ml EDTA blood should be sent immediately (not frozen); cooling the sample is not essential. Should be processed within 48 hours. Test request form, service fees and other information available online at: http://w3.vet.upenn.edu/research/centers/penngen/services/ deublerlab/gsd4.html. This is a direct test not a linkage test and can identify carriers. The lab will do concurrent blood typing on that sample. One can also submit two buccal swabs.
- Breed name synonyms: "Wegie"; an American Nickname, Forest Cat, National Cat of Norway, Norwegian Cat, NFC, Norst Skogkatt (Nordic for Norwegian forest cat), Skaukatt, Skoggkatt, Wegrie, Norwegische Waldkatze (German), Chat des Bois Novegien (French).
- Registries: FIFE, TICA, CFA, ACFA, CFF, GCCF, ACF, WCF, NZCF (Norwegian), CCA .
- Breed resources: CFA Norwegian Forest Cat Breed Council: http://www.nfcbc.org/
Norwegian Forest Cat Club (UK): http://www.nfcc.co.uk/
Norwegian Forest Cat Fanciers' Association: http://www.forestcats.net/
National Norwegian Forest Cat Club: 17 Ashwood Rd.
Trenton NJ 08610
The Viking Cat Club: http://www.vikingcatclub.co.uk/
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