Norwegian Forest Cats

Norwegian Forest Cats are one of nature's natural breeds that developed to withstand the harsh climate of the Northern Hemisphere. Large, strong legged cats that are very skilled climbers and hunters, these beautiful long-haired felines reflect their working cat ancestry.

History Of The Breed

Norwegian Forest CatTitran's Aurora - Photo: Pieter & Renee Lanser

Are these the fairy cats described by the Vikings in their legends? The Vikings journeyed the Mediterranean, the Asian rivers and even reached the eastern coast of America.

Cats were on board the Viking long boats to tackle the rat problem. Could the Maine Coon cat share the same ancestry as the Forest cat of Norway? It is very possible.

There are differing opinions as to the age of the breed.

Cats were brought to Norway from warmer climates and some of these went on to live a feral existence in the woodlands and forests, and evolved over time to cope with the stringent conditions. With the passing of the centuries Forest Cats became the working cats of the farmyards.

Around 1930 concern was raised among Norwegian cat fanciers, when it was shown that the breed was in a real danger of dying out through interbreeding with feral domestic short-hair cats.

Norwegian forrest kittenNorwegian Forest Kitten - Wikimedia

Efforts were made to establish a breeding program, this was put on ice during World War two, but in the early '50's an organization of cat lovers worked relentlessly to preserve the Skogkatt.

The Norwegian term Skogkatt means Forest Cat.

King Olaf of Norway declared the Skogkatt the official Norwegian cat and in 1975 Norsk Skogkattring, the first Norwegian Forest Cat Breed Club was established to preserve and promote the breed.

In 1977 the Feline International Federation of Europe accepted the Forest Cat for championship competition. The late '70's saw the first Skogkatts exported from Norway, but Forest Cats did not find their way to the United States until 1979.

Norwegian Forest Cats - Appearance

yellow and white norwegian forest catPhoto: millefeuillekun

Norwegian Forest Cats give the impression of great strength as they are large cats with long muscular bodies, but they are also very elegant, affectionate, playful and seriously shrewd!

The mane of a mature Wegie in winter is breathtakingly splendid, like the beard of a feline Santa.

These cats have double coats. An undercoat that is dense and woolly and a water resisting top coat. The coat does not mat, unless completely neglected, so unlike some long-haired breeds, very little grooming is necessary except in spring time when molting takes place. Tabbies usually have heavier coats than solid or bi-colored varieties.

The head is triangular with a wide and straight nose. Necks tend to be muscular and the chin is on the heavy side. The ears of the Forest Cat are fairly high on the head, long, pointed and proud with long tufts.

The eyes are large, bright and charismatic. Almost almond shaped, set at a slight angle with the outer corner highest. Colors found are green, deep green, gold, copper, and in white cats, blue and odd eyes.

Very sturdy looking cats, sporting broad chests and an ample bone structure.

Their bodies are longish, the legs long, with the hind legs longer than the forelegs, the paws wide and furry. The brushy tail is long, lush and held erect.

Male Forest Cats weigh 14 to 17 pounds, females are somewhat lighter.

Skogkatts can be found in an abundantly wide selection of colors and coat patterns.

Tabbies - classic, spotted, mackerel, patched(torbie) and ticked - in, brown, black, silver, cream, red, blue or blue-silver. Chinchilla - silver, red and golden. Shaded - silver, tortoiseshell and golden. Smoke - blue, cream, black and blue cream. Calico. Dilute calico. Bi-color. Solid. Whites are known as Snowkatts.

Norwegian Forest Cats - Personality

norwegian forest cat in garden

These beautiful longhair cats are intelligent and are incurably curious.

They love to investigate everything, do not easily accept that certain places and rooms may be out of bounds to them, and don't like to miss out on anything.

Because of their intelligence and curiosity Wegies are quick learners. They are often taught to walk on a leash and some will even learn to fetch a thrown toy.

They thrive in the company of other cats, and will almost always happily share their home with a dog.

Norwegian Forest Cats are gentle creatures and full of affection.

They love to stick close by you, but when the weather is hot they are not over fond of sitting in your lap, preferring instead to curl up at your side.

norwegian forest kittenNorwegian Forest Kitten - Photo by Rob124

In general these Forest Cats are not a nervous breed. They tend to take change in their stride and are not easily startled.

This, coupled with their very even temper, makes them a good choice for homes with children.

If you intend keeping a Forest Cat as an indoor only cat you will need to provide a good quality climbing post, or better still two! For these cats love to climb, the clue could be in the name :-)

When outside Wegies regard a tree as an invitation to clamber that would be rude to turn down.

They don't often get stuck though, as they are just as skilled at climbing down as they are at climbing up, and will often come down the tree head first, the only breed of cat known to do so, it's quite a sight to see!

Because they are a natural breed developed in the cold, harsh climate of Scandinavian forests, Norwegian Forest Cats generally have few health problems. These cats are somewhat slow to mature and do not reach their full proportions until around four years.

In general, Wegies have very healthy appetites. Their diet, and exercise pattern needs to be watched to prevent them from becoming overweight

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