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Norwegian Forest cat health issues and how to manage them

Norwegian Forest cats boast rugged looks and muscular bodies, which makes them appear invincible. Even though resilient, built to withstand harsh climates, and overall healthy, they are still susceptible to a few hereditary diseases. Like other cat breeds, they are also not immune to lifestyle-related illnesses.

Untamed presents all genetic problems and typical acquired health conditions you can expect with Norwegian Forest cats. Health issues frighten new cat parents, so we'll present handy tips to keep your feline fit with proper care and diet.

Common Norwegian Forest cat health problems

Although you can do nothing to prevent hereditary diseases, knowing what illnesses to prepare for can help you mitigate the risks and alleviate the symptoms.

Here are the most common Norwegian Forest cat health problems:

  1. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  2. Hip dysplasia
  3. Glycogen storage disease type IV (GSD IV)
  4. Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD)
  5. Polycystic kidney disease
  6. Retinal dysplasia

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Heart disease is the most common illness affecting domesticated felines.

Source: 5267040

HCM is the most common heart disease among felines, and Wegies are no exception.

This condition entails the thickening of the heart muscle, making it difficult for the organ to function normally and efficiently pump blood throughout the body. As the disease progresses and the heart weakens, blood clots often form, which can cause immobility in the hind legs. The next step is fluid accumulation in the lungs and heart failure.

The prevalent symptoms are:

The bad news is that when you finally notice something is wrong, the disease has already progressed significantly, so scheduling regular vet visits and having your Norwegian Forest cat examined thoroughly is vital. If diagnosed early, the condition is manageable with a controlled diet and adequate medication.

It's crucial to note that obesity is a significant risk factor, so you must control your cat's portions and feed them high-quality food.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia and other joint issues mostly affect larger kitties like Norwegian Forest cats.

Source: Anete Lusina

Hip dysplasia, aka loose hip joint, is an inherited medical problem usually affecting larger and heavy felines, such as Maine Coons, Ragdolls, and Norwegian Forest cats.

It is a degenerative disease characterised by the malformation of the ball-and-socket joint of the hip, often leading to stiffness, inflammation, and pain. In advanced stages, a cat can develop osteoarthritis.

Depending on the severity of the condition, your Norwegian Forest cat may need hip surgery.

A feline may not exhibit any symptoms in early stages or mild cases. If they show signs of hip dysplasia, they usually resemble those of an injury:

  • Lameness or limping
  • Difficulty jumping
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Decreased range of motion in the limbs
  • Loss of muscle mass

Glycogen storage disease type IV (GSD IV)

GSD IV is an inherited abnormality caused by a defective enzyme preventing a cat from metabolising glucose normally.

This condition manifests in two ways:

  1. Affected kittens are most commonly stillborn or die within several hours of birth
  2. In rare instances, a kitten can appear healthy for the first five months and then start showing signs of neuromuscular degeneration. By the time they are eight months old, affected Norwegian kittens begin to suffer from severe muscle weakness, atrophy, and inability to use their limbs. The condition is accompanied by organ dysfunction, and kittens may unexpectedly die from heart failure

This condition cannot be prevented, but there is a DNA test that can diagnose it and identify carrier felines, who shouldn't be bred further.

Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD)

Most cats can lead a normal life even if they suffer from pyruvate kinase deficiency.

Source: thabisfotowelt

PKD is an enzyme deficiency causing damage to a feline's blood cells, reducing their lifespan significantly, and causing anaemia. In most cases, anaemia happens gradually, allowing an affected cat to adapt to it and lead a normal life. Sometimes, it can develop rapidly, which is life-threatening.

This condition is mainly seen in Norwegian Forests, Abyssinians, and Somali cats, so it's wise to have your kitty checked. A complete biochemistry profile is the only way to diagnose pyruvate kinase deficiency, and a bone marrow transplant is the only available treatment.

Early symptoms include:

Polycystic kidney disease

Polycystic kidney disease is prevalent in Persian cats but can sometimes affect Siberians and Wegies.

Many tiny fluid-filled cysts form on a kitten's kidney at birth and grow slowly as the feline matures, making it hard for the organ to function normally. Most cats don't show symptoms until they are middle-aged or seniors, so vet check-ups are advisable.

Although this condition is incurable and irreversible, a change in the diet and supportive treatment can minimise the impact of the disease and considerably improve your kitty's quality of life.

Usual symptoms include:

Retinal dysplasia

Retinal dysplasia is caused by the abnormal development of the retina of Norwegian Forest cats in utero. It is characterised by tiny blind spots and usually requires no treatment because it doesn't cause any serious problems to felines.

If the dysplasia affects a significant portion of the retina, it can lead to cataracts and retinal detachment.

The common symptoms are:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Swollen eyes
  • Unwillingness to walk in the dark
  • Crashing into objects

Acquired health issues in Norwegian Forest cats

I’m not chubby, it’s the fur.

Source: markbakelaar1

Your Norwegian Forest cat's lifestyle and diet can significantly impact their health. If you feed your kitty poor-quality food, and they lead a sedentary life, they can develop various health problems, such as:

  • Dental issues—An inadequate diet without the necessary vitamins and minerals is the usual cause of gum and teeth problems in felines. If you don't brush your Norwegian Forest cat's teeth regularly, tartar build-up can lead to inflammation and infections, in which case tooth extraction is the only viable option
  • Urinary tract infections—Felines fed predominantly dry food often suffer from UTIs, bladder stones, and cystitis. Cats are not keen on drinking water, so it's crucial to keep them hydrated through food. Switching to wet meals can help because cat jellies and gravies contain 70–80% moisture, unlike kibble, which only has around 10%
  • Food allergies—Your kitty may be allergic to various ingredients in their food. The most common allergens are beef, eggs, dairy, grains, and various additives. If your kitty gets an allergic reaction, they may experience the following:
  • Obesity—A diet consisting of carbs, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, as well as a lack of physical activity, can make your Wegie overweight. Excess weight is a risk factor for many illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, liver issues, joint problems, etc. 
  • Diabetes—Diabetic felines can't produce or regulate insulin properly, which causes continual high blood sugar levels. Obesity, age, and gender are the most significant risk factors (older male cats are more susceptible). A high-protein diet and controlled portions can help prevent this condition and manage it successfully

Keep your Norwegian Forest cat healthy with a proper diet

Diet and lifestyle are crucial for your Norwegian Forest cat’s health.

Source: Ali Khalil

A well-balanced feline diet should contain a lot of meat and fish, a moderate amount of animal fat, and not much more.

Check out the table below to see what your Norwegian Forest cat should eat and why:

Nutrient group and ideal percentage

Why is it important?

What are the best sources?

Animal protein (at least 50%)

  • Provides energy
  • Delivers essential amino acids (taurine, lysine, and arginine) necessary for:
    • Normal organ function
    • Healthy skin and coat
    • Strong immune system
  • Provides all the necessary vitamins and minerals

Animal fat (up to 20%)

  • Promotes nutrient transportation and utilisation
  • Supports hydration
  • Ensures cell integrity
  • Delivers irresistible taste

Meat-based meals will help keep your kitty at a healthy weight, which is critical for keeping them healthy and managing many hereditary diseases. You should steer clear of cat food containing sugar and grains because they are high in calories, but it would also be best to avoid vegan protein sources. Although they are not toxic to felines, they can't deliver the necessary nutrients and can cause digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

If you must give your kitty carbs because they need fibre in their diet, only serve them in tiny portions, and pick the following:

Why is Untamed a perfect option for your Norwegian Forest cat?

If you want your Norwegian Forest cat to get perfectly balanced meals and stay healthy and gorgeous, Untamed is the right choice.

We cooperate with vets to ensure our products are suitable for kitties at any life stage—kittens, adults, and seniors—regardless of their sterilisation status. Our meals can help felines struggling with the following health problems:

Untamed single-protein dishes like Tuck-in Tuna in Jelly and Chocka Chicken in Jelly are fantastic for felines with particularly sensitive tummies and severe reactions to common allergens.

We respect your Wegie’s natural eating habits, so our delicacies are made with human-grade meat and fish. Every Untamed product contains two times more protein than the industry standard.

Best of all, you won't have to beg your Norwegian to eat our food. No kitty has yet refused our wet meals, not even the notoriously fussy ones. Untamed jellies and gravies are as delicious as they are nutritious.

Take our online quiz, pick the meals that suit your feline companion's lifestyle and preferences, order your first pack of Untamed delicacies, and see your kitty's health improve in no time!

Untamed meals are made of high-quality meat and fish, ensuring they meet your Norwegian Forest cat’s nutritional needs.

Image (c) Untamed

Getting Untamed for your Norwegian Forest cat

You don't have to jump through hoops to get healthy meals for your feline friend delivered to your door—Untamed makes it super simple.

All you should do is:

  1. Take our Try Now quiz
  2. Pick the products you like
  3. Place your order

The starter pack will arrive in a day, and your Wegie cat can start the taste adventure. Once they pick their favourites, we can send you monthly supplies, and the shipping will always be free.

You can easily change and postpone your order or cancel your subscription from your account.

We gathered valuable feedback from numerous cat parents whose felines have already switched to the Untamed diet. Here are the improvements they have observed:


The Untamed results

After the first week

  • Easy digestion
  • No mess in the litter box

After two months

Within four months

  • Reduced shedding
  • Less frequent hairballs
  • Healthy teeth and gums