History: The Norwegian Forest cat is an old breed. It is believed that it descended from cats that roamed the forests of Scandinavia 4000 years ago. The Vikings domesticated the cats to defend their grain stores from mice and rats. The Norwegian Forest cats lived on their farms and in their towns. They even traveled with them on their ships keeping the food stores from being eaten by unwanted rodents. It is believed that Leif Ericson brought Norwegian Forest cats with him when he came to North America in ancient times. The progeny of those cats may be the ancestors of the Maine Coon cat and the long-haired Manx.
In the twentieth century, purebred Norwegian Forest cats were dying out due to lots of cross breeding with domestic shorthairs in Norway. The Norwegian people decided to do something about this, and breeders started concentrating on breeding purebred skogkatt, as the cat is called in Norway. Soon breeders were showing the cats in European cat shows where they were very well accepted.
The Norwegian Forest cat was once again brought to America in 1979. It was accepted by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1987 and for championship status in 1993.
Appearance: The distinguishing feature in the Norwegian Forest Cat is its beautiful coat. Its multi-layer coat includes a short dense under coat and an outer coat made of long water proof guard hairs. The coat keeps the cat warm during the harsh Norwegian winters. In the spring, the cats molt losing their guard hairs and undercoat. Norwegian Forest cats come in all colors except points. Their eyes are most often green with a gold band although on occasion they will have brilliant emerald green eyes or gold eyes. White Norwegian Forest cats may have blue eyes.
Their heads are equilateral triangles, and their ears are large but low set to avoid excessive heat loss. They have dense long hair growth in their ears and tufts of hair between their toes. This breed is a large breed. It is slow to mature not reaching adulthood until five years of age.
Personality: The Norwegian Forest Cats is a friendly cat that gets along well with children and other pets. It is not particularly cuddly enjoying lying next to you rather than on you. They love to climb. In their native forests, they often prowled the tree tops and have been seen running down tree trunks head first!
Care: Like all cats, the Norwegian Forest cat needs a continual supply of fresh water, a high quality cat food, and a clean litter box. Despite its long coat, grooming is not as difficult as with some other long haired breeds. In the wild, there were not groomers, so the cat developed to not need a lot of attention. A daily combing should suffice to keep their coats in excellent condition. It is important that Norwegian Forest cats have safe places to climb and scratch. Their long nails are especially developed for climbing trees. Cat sculptures made to mimic trees are excellent for this purpose.