About the Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norwegian Forest Cat is a strong, solid, muscular cat that is somewhat similar in type to the Maine Coon. It has been suggested that the Norwegian is an early ancestor of the Maine Coon and perhaps of the long-haired Manx variety, as well. Called the “Norsk Skaukatt” in its homeland, this cat has a long, dense double coat, with a coarse outer layer covering a thick, wooly undercoat that makes it virtually water-proof even in the heaviest of rainstorms. Its tufted, lynx-like ears, ruffed neck and long bushy tail provide additional protection against bitter weather. These are big cats. Adult males typically weigh between 13 and 22 pounds; females weigh substantially less. Their hind legs are longer than their front legs, which is one characteristic that distinguishes them from the Maine Coon. Despite its size, the Norwegian Forest Cat has a certain elegance about it. It has a refined, triangular-shaped head with a long, straight face in profile. Its eyes are large, almond-shaped and slanted slightly upward at the outer corners. This breed comes in a wide range of beautiful colors. However, color and pattern are considered secondary to a correct coat and body type. Norwegian Forest Cats do tend to shed, especially during the summer months, although their coat requires only occasional brushing and combing to keep them tidy.
Norwegian Forest Cats are smart, friendly and playful, much like their probable distant cousins, the Maine Coons. They are inquisitive and have great affection for the outdoors. However, they also greatly enjoy the company of people and other pets. In fact, Norwegian Forest Cats are known to go looking for companionship, if they have been left alone or unattended to by their owners for prolonged periods of time. Norwegians are affectionate but not overly pushy or pestering. They certainly like to cuddle with and be close to their owners, but they are not as clingy or demanding as some other breeds. They also are not an especially loud or vocal breed. Norwegian Forest Cats are patient, stable and even-tempered. They are not easily-stressed, which makes them terrific companions for families with young children.
This is an alert, adventurous, active breed that enjoys the out-of-doors and is particularly well-suited to living in cold, damp conditions. Norwegian Forest Cats are unusually talented hunters of birds, mice and other rodents. They are freedom-loving and strongly independent. Despite their large size, dense coats and outdoor working origins, Norwegians can easily thrive in indoor living environments, as long as they are given sufficient space to stretch their strong legs, take an occasionally frisky romp around the house and indulge their obvious love of sport and exploration.
Norwegian Forest Cats are fond of high vantage points and will seek out high places. Their muscular thighs, large paws and well-developed claws make them particularly good climbers of trees, rocks, walls, fences and other tall structures. If housed indoors, they are frequently found on top of large appliances, bookshelves, cabinets or other elevated surfaces.
The Norwegian Forest Cat is an old breed whose exact origin is not well-documented. Some authorities believe that it descends from Turkish Angora cats, which were brought to Norway and other parts of Europe on trading ships and later mated with native non-pedigreed Nordic shorthairs. Other people suggest that the breed dates back to the days of the Vikings, who describe a “fairy cat” in some of their myths and legends that resembles the modern day Norwegian. Whatever its precise ancestry, the Norwegian Forest Cat surely evolved in the mountains and forests of Scandinavia, where it became well-adapted to the cold climate of the region. These cats were kept as pets and as working animals on Nordic farms. Their size, structure and natural hunting instincts made them prized as talented mousers and hunters of other types of vermin.
It was not until the 1930s that the Norwegian Forest Cat finally began to attract serious attention in the purebred cat fancy. A small group of European breeders set about developing a pedigreed Norwegian Forest Cat that would consistently breed true to temperament and type. The oldest cat club in Norway featured the breed in 1938. Also in the late 1930s, several Norsk Skaukatts reportedly were shown in Germany, where they were favorably received by the show judges. World War II brought an abrupt end to the fledgling Norwegian Forest Cat show industry, and the breed was largely forgotten until the mid-1970s. It took almost forty years for the largest European purebred cat registry, the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe), to formally recognize the Norwegian Forest Cat. That happened in 1977, when the breed achieved full championship status. The Cat Fanciers’ Association of the United States officially acknowledged the breed in 1987 and granted it full championship status in 1993, making it a relatively recent addition to the American cat show scene. Norwegian Forest Cats are now being actively bred and shown in several countries outside of Norway, including the United States.
These are known to be hearty cats, which is not unusual given their history. However, they are reported to have a slightly increased risk of developing a glycogen storage disorder called glycogenosis, which is thought to be genetic with autosomal recessive inheritance.