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Do Norwegian Forest Cats Shed? [Are They Hypoallergenic?]

The Norwegian Forest cat is an impressive, heavy-boned cat breed with a thick double-layer of fur. Their impressive water-resistant coats and dense undercoats are perfectly suited for the harsh Scandinavian climate but are they known to shed? Is this breed a good option for people who suffer from allergies? Read on to find out!

So, Do Norwegian Forest Cats Shed? Due to their long, thick coats, Norwegian cats do shed continuously throughout the year. They also go through an intense shedding period twice a year when the seasons change. In the Spring, these cats will lose most of their undercoat. Compared to other breeds, these cats are considered to be medium shedders.

And while they don’t need as much brushing as other longhaired breeds, they are still not classed as being good for people who suffer from allergies.

So do bear that in mind.

Let us now look at how much this breed sheds more closely before turning to practical ways to manage it, should you decide to ever own one!

How Much Do Norwegian Forest Cats Shed?

Norwegian Forest cats are considered to be medium shedders, which means they tend to shed less than many other longhaired cat breeds but more than the majority of shorthaired breeds.

These cats have a thick double-layered coat which consists of a waterproof top layer with long guard hairs and a fluffy, dense undercoat to keep them warm in the cold Scandinavian climate.

That’s where they originate from and are adapted to, by the way.

But the clue is in the title, really. I digress.

What it does mean, however, is that with such heavy coats, it’s perhaps no surprise that these cats shed!

In addition to the regular shedding that occurs all year round, Norwegian Forest cats go through two seasonal shedding processes in the Spring and Autumn months.

In the Spring, these cats (like all breeds) shed their thick winter coats in order to grow their thinner summer coats.

This is the biggest shedding season which appears to be very pronounced in Norwegian Forest cats.

In fact, many owners claim their cats look completely different after this shedding period has ended!

The Autumn shedding period is not quite as heavy as this is the time when they shed their summer coats in favor of the much thicker fur these cats are famed for.

As Norwegian forest cats are built to survive the intense cold weather in Scandinavia, you are probably wondering if it is uncomfortable for them to live in warmer climates.

The good news is that, despite their long and thick coats, these cats seem to cope well in various climates; however, it is important to turn the air conditioning on in your house in the summer months and restrict outside access to ensure your cat does not overheat.

It is important to bear in mind that shedding not only varies between breeds but also individuals.

Let us now look at the factors that influence the amount you can expect.

Factors That Influence Shedding In Norwegian Forest Cats

Environmental temperature, their health status, and how often they are groomed will all make an impact on how much your Norwegian Forest cat sheds throughout the year. Diet is also a factor.

Let us walk through each one.

Environmental Temperature

A Norweigan cat kept in a warmer temperature will naturally shed more.

That coat is literally designed to keep them warm, so if it is not needed or is causing them to overheat regularly, your cat will instinctively shed more.

Diet

Many cheap or low-quality diets often lack the essential nutrients cats need to maintain a healthy coat which can cause them to shed more.

These diets are usually ‘filled out’ with grains which keeps the cost down, but they are not particularly good for your cat!

Instead, try ensuring your cats’ diet is protein and taurine rich as this will ensure your cat remains as healthy as possible.

Diets containing fish are also a good option as they will help to keep your cat’s coat glossy.

As a guide, the diet of a Norwegian Forest cat should consist of no more than 5% carbohydrates – preferably less!

It is important to note that if you are considering changing your cats’ diet, then you will need to introduce the new variety in stages over the course of a few weeks because immediate switching may cause digestive problems.

Health Issues

If you notice that your Norwegian Forest cat is suddenly shedding much more than usual (and it is not shedding season), then you may want to investigate further as there are numerous potential causes, including certain health problems.

Let’s run through the main ones now:

Stress

This is perhaps the most common cause of excess shedding in cats.

Most cat breeds are pretty reluctant to change, so they may suffer from stress if the furniture in the living room has been rearranged or if their routine has been disrupted in some way.

Norwegian forest cats are also known to be fairly territorial, so they can easily become stressed by the addition of a new pet or human in their home.

These cats love to climb up high, which is where they feel safest, so try adding a number of cat trees or cat shelves into your home to give your cat somewhere to escape to when they feel threatened or anxious.

Allergies

Yes, cats can suffer from allergies too!

Environmental or diet-related allergies often cause the skin to become irritated and itchy (also known as atopic dermatitis).

This may result in your cat excessively licking, biting, or over-grooming the area. It can even result in hair loss.

Parasites

These tiny critters are another common cause of excess shedding in cats, which can also result in inflamed, itchy skin.

Hyperthyroidism

This health issue is caused by a defect in the thyroid gland that leads to the excess production of thyroid hormones.

If you notice your cat losing weight and muscle mass, as well as shedding more frequently, then you should seek the advice of a vet.

The longer hyperthyroidism is left untreated, the greater the risk of your cat developing serious kidney issues.

Are Norwegian Forest Cats Hypoallergenic?

Norwegian Forest cats are not considered to be hypoallergenic due to their long double-layered coats. They are also known to carry the Fel D1 protein, which is often the culprit that causes allergies.

This protein is found in a cat’s saliva and sebaceous (oil) glands which are spread onto your cat’s fur during grooming.

This protein can be present in a cat’s urine too.

Saying that many people claim that Norwegian Forest cats actually carry less of this protein than many other cat breeds; however, this has not been proven.

Interestingly, wild cat breeds such as cheetahs and leopards do not have the Fel D1 protein at all, and it is possible that this breed may carry less of the protein compared to other domestic breeds because of its wild ancestry.

Although Norwegian Forest cats are not considered to be a hybrid breed, they do have a very long history that dates back to the time of the Vikings.

They are thought to have originated from the shorthaired cats that were brought to Scandinavia from the UK and the longhaired cats brought over by the Crusaders.

These cats then mated with local farm and feral cats, which created the breed we know and love today.

It is worth bearing in mind that even if these cats do produce less of the Fel D1 protein, they can still trigger allergies because of how much they shed and groom themselves.

The good news is these cats can successfully live with people who have slight cat allergies, but you will need to groom your cat regularly to reduce any potential reactions.

The fact is that scientists are still searching for a truly hypoallergenic domestic cat breed, but so far, they have had no luck.

The most hypoallergenic breeds we have tend to shed much less than other breeds, so generally, it should be fairly easy to work out if a cat may trigger your allergies.

The best way to live with a cat if you have allergies is to maintain a rigorous cleaning routine and groom your cat regularly to prevent cat hair and dander from dispersing in the air and settling on all your furniture!

There are also medications you can take that will lessen your reactions.

However, if your allergies are severe, then the longhaired Norwegian Forest breed is probably not the right cat for you.

How To Manage Shedding In Norwegian Forest Cats

There is no way that you will be able to completely stop your Norwegian Forest cat from shedding. However, regular grooming will go a long way towards maintaining your allergies and your cats’ coat health.

Norwegian Forest cats have a very thick, fluffy undercoat which is prone to matting if not cared for properly.

The following approaches will help significantly:

Regular Brushing

These cats should be brushed at least twice a week; however, if you suffer from allergies, then it is best to brush them daily.

A benefit of this process (aside from fewer allergic reactions!) is that it is an excellent way to strengthen the cat-owner bond.

If a cat has been brushed regularly from a young age, they usually enjoy it!

Use A Good Quality Brush

Because Norwegian Forest cats have such thick coats, you will need to invest in a good quality brush that is able to reach right down into the soft undercoat.

Stainless steel combs or slicker brushes are your best options, but you can also now purchase de-shedding tools which work wonders for longhaired breeds!

If you are just introducing your cat to being brushed, it is best to be gentle at first.

Especially with kittens, as you don’t want to damage their fragile skin.

As your cat gets older, you can be a little firmer to ensure you reach down into both coat layers.

Consider Bathing

Some people also recommend bathing a Norwegian Forest cat as it is believed to help with the shedding process.

Unlike most other cat breeds, Norwegian Forest cats are known to enjoy playing in the water on occasion, but it doesn’t mean they will like the idea of being restrained in a tub!

For this reason, it is important to take it slow if you are planning on bathing your cat.

You should also refrain from bathing them more than once every couple of months, as too much shampoo may dry out your cats’ skin and cause even more dander to be released.

Regular Vacuuming

If you suffer from allergies, you will need to ensure your home is vacuumed regularly to prevent dander and fur from building up in your home.

A lint roller is also a great investment as it will remove cat hair from furniture and clothes with ease.

Hand-Washing

Another incredibly simple way to lessen your allergies if you own a Norwegian Forest cat is to wash your hands every time you interact with your cat.

Finally

Norwegian cats do shed, and they do so regularly.

And as mentioned above, Norwegian Forest cats can trigger allergies.

However, with the right precautions in place, you may be able to successfully live with one of these beautiful felines depending on how severe your allergies are.

And if you are seriously considering adopting a Norwegian Forest cat, then you should spend time with that individual prior to bringing him home to check how strong your reactions are.

Then you can make an informed decision.

Otherwise, you can always consider another breed, with good low-shedding options including the Russian Blue or Bengal.