Over the years the Norwegian Forest cat has found a way into many owner's hearts and homes which is hardly surprising because these attractive, large felines boast very kind natures and they just adore being around people. In Norway, these lovely cats are called "skogkatt" which is Norwegian for "forest cat". The name stuck and the breed became known as the Norwegian Forest Cat in other countries of the world.
However, because of the long name this has been shortened to Wegie which is less of a mouthful. To look at, the Wegie does resemble a Maine Coon Cat and all too often the two breeds are mistaken for one another. In fact, they may share a similar ancestry, but today the two cats are very much breeds in their own right with the Wegie boasting some quite unique traits and characteristics. Sadly, like so many other pedigree cats, they suffer from a few health issues, some of which are hereditary whereas others are acquired which are worth making a note of.
When well cared for and fed a well-balanced diet to suit their ages, the Wegie boasts a long life span which can be anything up to 16+ years, but they are predisposed to certain health issues which are as follows:
This is a type of heart disease that some people think the Norwegian Forest Cat could inherit from their parents although this fact is yet to be established. However, it is known to be a hereditary disorder that's all too often seen in Maine Coon Cats.
Fortunately, this is a pretty rare disorder that impacts the way a cat metabolises glucose in their bodies. The condition is hereditary and while most kittens born with the disease are stillborn, some survive for a few hours before succumbing to the condition. However, there are reports of kittens surviving longer even when they have inherited the disease and they only start to show any symptoms when they are around 5 months old. The sad news is that once the symptoms manifest themselves, kitten typically only live for few months longer.
On the upside, there is a DNA test for this terrible disorder and all Norwegian Forest Cats should be screened before being used in a breeding programme. Cats can be carriers and may not show any symptoms which is why a reputable breeder would regularly have their breeding stock tested and never use a Wegie known to carry the gene responsible for the disease in a breeding programme.
This is another genetically inherited disorder and one that has devastating effects on a cat's kidney function which it progressively and gradually destroys. Sadly, there is no DNA test available at the present time, but if a kitten is tested at 10 months old by way of an ultrasound, a vet would be able to establish if they have the disease or not. The test would show up cysts that have formed on a cat's kidneys and it is these cysts that cause all the damage to their liver function.
When it comes to treatments, it's more a question of managing the condition rather than curing it. A Wegie with the Polycystic Kidney Disease would need to be closely monitored because they are more at risk of developing secondary bacterial health issues which can complicate the condition considerably.
This is an eye disorder that Norwegian Forest Cats are predisposed to suffer from. However, should a cat develop any spots that look like folds or rosettes on their retinas they should be examined by a vet sooner rather than later. On the upside, the condition is not progressive and therefore it would not impact a cat's eyesight as time goes on, but it still important to have their eyes examined by a vet from time to time.
It is thought that kittens when infected or exposed to panleukopenia or feline leukemia both when they are still in their mother's womb or just after having been born are more at risk of inheriting the disorder from their mothers.
The Norwegian Forest Cat is a gentle giant that boasts a very kind and loving nature. Like so many other pure breeds, the Wegie is prone to suffer from certain health disorders many of which are hereditary and which are worth knowing about if you are hoping to share your home with one these large cats. Being aware of the health issues means owners are more likely to pick up on any symptoms earlier rather than later when often a condition becomes that much harder to treat.