The Norwegian Forest Cat is a considerably healthy breed, however there are health issues that have been reported.
Pyruvate Kinase deficiency (PKdef) is an inherited condition affecting red blood cells that have been reported in several breeds of domestic cats, including the Norwegian Forest Cat. PK deficiency can cause anemia in cats, but can be tested for using DNA testing.
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is another inherited disorder that is caused by a gene abnormality. PKD causes cysts to form in the kidneys. This disease is present from birth. As the cysts grow larger, they will cause the kidney(s) to malfunction, and may lead to kidney failure. Like PKdef, there is a DNA test that can test for this disease. This disease is autosomal dominant, meaning that only one copy of this gene will put a cat at high risk of the disease. Two copies may increase risk or make the condition more severe.
Glycogen Storage Disease type IV (GSD-IV) is another inherited disease found in the Norwegian Forest Cat. This disease is caused by a deficiency of a glycogen branching enzyme, and leads to excessive glycogen accumulation and impairs internal glucose production. This condition is so severe that affected cats typically die before or shortly after birth. This genetic disease can be tested using a DNA test. This disease is autosomal recessive, meaning that two copies of the gene are necessary to increase risk.
Hip Dysplasia (HD) affects many cat breeds, including the Norwegian Forest Cat. This condition is not tested for with DNA, but rather by radiographs. Hip Dysplasia is a hereditary condition that affects the socket joint in the pelvis. The socket joint is not as deep as it should be, and the femur does not fit as it should. This defect often causes stiffness, inflammation, and pain, as the cartilage wears down. In advanced stages, the cat can develop osteoarthritis.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is found in many cat breeds, including the Norwegian Forest Cat. HCM causes the heart muscle wall to increase in thickness, eventually leading to heart failure. There is not a DNA test intended for use in the Norwegian Forest Cat to determine if a cat carries the condition or not, as it is unclear how this is inherited. There is genetic testing available for mutations found in Maine Coons and Ragdolls, but these are only known to increase risk of developing the condition, rather than indicate that a cat carries the condition. Furthermore, this disease is not present at birth, but develops very slowly. It can take several years to make a diagnosis for HCM. PawPeds has a health program for HCM that keeps track of echocardiogram results, and publishes them publicly. From a data download that was accessed on December 5th, 2023, 5.7% of the 9,677 participating Norwegian Forest Cats had an echocardiogram result that was abnormal.
Norwegian Forest Cats are known to be friendly, intelligent, and a little silly. They are gentle and loving. They like being close to their humans, though they're not necessarily a "lap cat". They are independent, and their relationship with their people is very much "on their own terms". This breed is widely regarded as a great choice for families with children and other pets. They are moderately active cats and love to climb. Living up to the forest cat name, they prefer to be up high. Norwegian Forest Cats are not very loud, but talk with chirps, meows, and trills.
The Norwegian Forest Cat is a semi-longhaired cat, medium to large, strongly built cat. They are muscular and heavily boned. They stand high on their legs, their hind legs higher than their forelegs. Adapted to the harsh winters of Scandinavia, they have a double layered coat, the outer guard hairs water-repellant, and a dense, insulated coat underneath. Their bushy tail should be about as long as the body. A fully coated cat has full ruff and britches, though in the summer, the coat may be short. The head should be an equilateral triangle, where all sides are equal when measured between the ears and chin. The eyes are large, almond shaped, and slightly oblique. The ears may or may not have lynx tips. From the side, the nose profile should be straight, from the brow to the tip of the nose, with no breaks or stops in the line. Adult males typically weigh between 12-18 pounds, and females can typically weigh between 8-12 pounds. Since the recognition of the breed, the standard has not changed much. There have been minor changes to the verbiage to be more specific on desired traits.