Unlike most pedigree breeds, which have been developed to fit breeders' ideas of the "perfect" cat, the Norwegian Forest Cat evolved in the wild in the harsh environment of the fjords and forests of Norway so developed the attributes necessary to enable it to survive in this environment.
The Goddess Freja in her cat-drawn chariot.
Companions of Gods, Vikings, and Fairy Folk, cats resembling the Norwegian Forest Cat have probably been present in Norway for Centuries and feature in Norse Mythology, Folklore, and Fairy Tales. The Goddess Freja is said to have had her chariot drawn by two large cats and Vikings were known to take their cats with them on sea journeys to control the rat population on their ships. The forebears of the Norwegian Forest Cat were probably shorthaired cats which migrated from Southern Europe and spread to Norway and other Northern European countries and then mated with longhaired cats which had been brought from the Middle East by the Crusaders. From these two types of cats evolved a cat which, through natural selection because only the strongest could survive, was able to survive in the harsh Scandinavian environment.
Pedigree cat breeders in Norway first started to take an interest in the semi-wild Norwegian Forest Cat as early as the 1930's but two World Wars intervened and it wasn't until the 1970's that it was realised that, if the National Cat of Norway was to be preserved, a controlled breeding program must be undertaken. A Breed Advisory Committee was formed and later in the 1970's, a Brown Tabby and White male kitten that had been bred from carefully selected "Novice" cats was chosen by the committee to be the blueprint for all Norwegian Forest Cats. It was on this cat, Pan's Truls, that the Standard of Points for the ideal Norwegian Forest Cat was based. The Norwegian Forest Cat was first accepted as a Pedigree Breed in 1976 and in 1977 it was officially recognised as an International Pedigree Breed throughout Europe and Scandinavia. Today the Norwegian Forest cat is recognised and accepted as a Pedigree breed by most Pedigree Cat Registries throughout the World.
Pan's Truls. The cat on whom the Standard of Points for the Norwegian Forest Cat is based.
Photo copyright Nothing Negative Photography.
What is a Norwegian Forest Cat? The Norwegian Forest Cat is a large, strong, active, intelligent, inventive, brave, adaptable, playful and sociable cat - all attributes which have helped it to survive in the harsh environment in which it evolved. The other qualities required are: * A double weatherproof coat with an outer coat of long, sleek guard hairs to repel snow and rain and a thick, soft undercoat for warmth. * A very strong muscular body to enable it to catch and manage prey. * Hindquarters which are very powerful, longer than the front legs, and which are very strong and muscular for running, jumping, leaping through snow, and climbing rocks and trees. * Large, well-feathered feet which act as snowshoes in the snow. * Very strong claws which act as crampons in snow and ice and on rocks and trees. These cats can not only run up trees but can run down head first. * A triangular head with a strong jaw and chin. * Large, oval, obliquely set eyes for a large range of vision. * Large, open ears, set high and well protected with tufts and furnishings. * A very long, fluffy tail which is used to wrap around themselves. They bury their nose in their tail to warm the air as it is breathed in thus conserving energy.
Norwegian Forest Cats today are very strong and healthy cats which don't seem very prone to the common cat ailments such as cat flu. They are highly intelligent, inventive, energetic, brave, playful, and sociable and, although they evolved in the wild, they are by no means a wild cat but love people, including children, and happily interact with other animals. They are lively and interactive and love to be involved with whatever you are doing whether that is gardening, house work, or office work. The Norwegian Forest cat is extremely athletic and agile and is very well equipped both mentally and physically to take care of itself and to survive in the most extreme environment. For this reason it is important to provide an environment in which the Norwegian Forest Cat can be extended both mentally and physically. It is a truly awesome sight to see a supremely fit and muscular Forest Cat in full flight; bounding through long grass or snow and running straight up a tree and then straight down again just for the sheer enjoyment of being able to do so. Of course, while the Norwegian Forest Cat really enjoys the freedom of being outdoors, these excursions should not be unsupervised and, after a session which extends both mind and body, the Norwegian Forest Cat will happily spend time supervising your office work or reclining gracefully on the windowsill observing the wildlife in the garden. They will also adapt readily to doing their running, jumping and playing in an enclosed indoor or outdoor space but very much appreciate having tall cat gyms to climb as they love to be up high.
Norwegian Forest Cats come in a wide range of colours from pure white to solid black and all Tabby colours but do not come in the Pointed (Siamese) pattern. They may or may not also have white in varying amounts from a single locket or tail tip to predominantly white with colour on just the head and tail. In spite of the Norwegian Forest Cat's double coat, the coat is designed to be maintained in the wild so is easy to care for.