Norwich began to enjoy possession of the ball as the match advanced, but it was Fulham who moved 2-0 ahead via Damien Duff after 13 minutes, when the Irishman collected a Dempsey pass before finding the corner.
The away side's best chance of the opening period fell to Kyle Naughton after 24 minutes, but his effort from outside the box drifted wide.
Dempsey came close to the home side's third after 29 minutes, but he headed a Duff cross wide from inside the box.
Zak Whitbread might have cut the score to 2-1 five minutes before the break, before Dempsey rattled the post in the latter stages of the opening period.
Fulham started the second period in much the same way they started the first, and Alex Kacaniklic rattled the crossbar just moments into the second period.
John Arne Riise so nearly added a third for Fulham after 68 minutes, but his effort was pushed away by Ruddy.
Norwich found a route back into the match after 77 minutes when Aaron Wilbraham converted a Hoolahan cross from close range.
The away side pushed for the equaliser in the latter stages, but to no avail, as Fulham held on for a welcome three points.