The Norwegian Forest Cat is a breed native to Northern Europe. The cat is adapted to a very cold climate with top coat of glossy, long, water-shedding hairs and a woolly undercoat for insulation. Although this is uncertain, their ancestors may have been short-haired cats brought to Norway by the Vikings around year 1000 AD, and the long-haired Siberian and Turkish Angora.
During World War II, the cat became nearly extinct until efforts by the Norwegian Forest Cat Club helped the breed by creating an official breeding program. It was not registered as a breed with the European Fédération Internationale Féline before the 1970s: A local cat fancier, Carl-Fredrik Nordane, took notice of this beautiful Norse cat and made efforts to register it. Currently, the Norwegian Forest Cat is very popular in Norway, Sweden, Iceland and France.
It is a strong, big cat, similar to the Maine Coon breed, with long legs, a bushy tail, and a sturdy body. Due to its strong claws, the Norwegian Forest Cat is a very good climber. The lifespan is usually fourteen to sixteen years.
The Norwegian Forest Cat is adapted to survive Norway’s cold weather. Its ancestors may include black and white short hair cats brought to Norway from Great Britain sometime after 1000 AD by the Vikings, and long haired cats brought by Crusaders.
The Siberian and the Turkish Angora, long haired cats from Russia and Turkey, are also possible ancestors of the breed. Norse legends refer to the Skogkatt as a “mountain-dwelling fairy cat with an ability to climb sheer rock faces that other cats could not manage”.
Many people believe that their ancestors served as mousers on Viking ships. They lived in the Norwegian forests for many centuries, but were later prized for their hunting skills and were used on Norwegian farms. The Norwegian Forest Cat continued as mousers on Norwegian farms until they were rediscovered in the early twentieth century by cat enthusiast.
Text by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews
Photo by: Flickr/ dbphotofile