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norwegian forest

Norwegian Forest Cats are a natural breed which evolved in the cold and wet climate of Norway. Everything about them was designed by Mother Nature to help them survive in this environment. 

While Norwegian Forest Cats are a newer breed here in the United States, Norse mythology and folk tales have long talked about them. The Norse goddess Freya is said to have had a chariot that was pulled by two large cats. Other national fairy tales also talk about huge and furry cats, calling them “Troll Cats”, “Norwegian cat-lynx” or “Fairy Cats”.

While their exact history is unknown, they may be descendants of cats picked up the by Vikings to keep their ships rodent free. Once back in Norway after their travels, the cats made themselves at home in the graineries and woods where the cats most suited to their surroundings evolved and thrived. 

In the 1930s, a few Norwegian cat fanciers began to promote the Skogkatt (which means Forest Cat) and the first Norwegian Forest Cat was exhibited at a show in Oslo in 1938. However, the outbreak of World War Two delayed the breed’s progress in the cat fancy. 

The continued random breeding of the Forest Cat with domestic short-hair cats almost caused the extinction of the Forest Cat. Fortunately, there were those in the Norwegian Cat Fancy that recognized the danger and began working to preserve them. In the early 1970s, Carl-Fredrik Nordane, a past president of the Norwegian Cat Association, began lobbying on the behalf of the Skogkatt. He organized a meeting to design the first cat breeding program in the Norwegian forest, and helped rent Norsk. 

Skogkattring, a NFC breed club. The club held its first meeting in February 1975. 

Nordane saw photographs of a cat called Pans Truls. After seeing the photos, Nordane and the other members of the breed club went to see Pans Truls in person. Truls became the cat upon which the first breed standard was modeled. 

The breeders followed strict rules. In order to control which cats were allowed in the breeding program, meetings were arranged and cat owners were invited to come and show their cats before the breed committee. Only cats recognized by the committee could be registered as Forest Cats. 

The first breed of Norwegian forest cats arrived in the United States on November 1, 1979. The first U.S. litter was born on March 29, 1981. The International Cat Association (TICA) was the first North American cat registry to grant Championship status to the NFC in 1984. The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) granted Championship to the breed in 1993. 

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a large and sturdily built cat with a medium length body. His hind legs are longer than the front legs, helping him to be excellent at climbing and jumping. Mature males are large and imposing, weighing 12—16 pounds on average. Females are smaller at 8-13 pounds. They are not fully mature until three to five years of age. 

One of the most distinctive features of these cats is their thick, double-coated, semi-long fur. The soft downy undercoat insulates them from the cold in the winter, while their waterproof outer guard hairs keep them dry in rain and snow. When the coat is the correct texture, it is surprisingly easy to care for, although the spring and fall shedding seasons requires extra attention and care. Norwegian Forest Cats’ coats can be almost any color and pattern, with the exception of the colorpoints seen in the Siamese or Himalayan. 

The head is triangular in shape with three equal sides. The profile is straight with no break or bump and the cat has a firm chin. The eyes are large and almond shaped, set at a slight angle with the outer corner higher than the inner. All eye colors are accepted, including blue and odd-eyed cats. Their ears are medium sized, set as much on the side as on the top of the head. They are well tufted and often have lynx-like tips. The tail is long and flowing, carried high. 

Norwegian Forest Cats are social and adaptable. They love their people and want to be with them all the time — not usually on them, but nearby to supervise every action. They get along well with children and other animals, adjusting quickly to new situations. They love to play and climb — a tall cat tree is a must in a home with a Norwegian Forest Cat. 

Once you fall in love with a Norwegian Forest Cat, one is never enough!

For more details about Norwegian Forest Cat, click here.

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