A travelling cat
The Norsk Skogkatt, literally "Norwegian Forest Cat" is better known as the “Norwegian” in Francophone and Anglophone countries. It is a breed that is ancestral to Norway, and which is very popular both in France and in the UK. Having made numerous appearances in popular fairy tales and mythological stories for centuries, the Norwegians claim that this cat has always existed in their land. This forest cat was used by Viking explorers to protect their ships from rodent invasions. When they discovered America around the year 1,000, it is assumed that they left some Norwegians. Some think that these travelling cats are ancestors of the Maine Coon and the Manx Longhair.
Following crossbreeds with the Domestic Shorthair, the Norwegian breed became practically extinct. It was only after the end of World War II that a group of cat lovers began the task of bringing back the Skogkatt. Their efforts were successful, since the Norwegian became, not only integrated to European exhibitions in 1938, but also designated as the official cat of Norway by King Olaf.
The Norwegian was not exported from Norway before the end of the ‘70s. Marked by a constant effort to differentiate it from the Maine Coon, with which it shares many physical similarities, the breed was officially recognized in 1972. Its first representative to obtain a pedigree was Pan’s Trul in 1976. This cat would later be used as a model to establish the breed standard.
Created to adapt to its environment
If there is any cat that is well-adapted to its environment, it is the Norwegian! Its forest origins have shaped its physique to look much like that of the Lynx. It has developed through many years of natural selection to cope with the long, hard winters of Norway. It is a robust cat with a water-resistant overcoat covering a wooly undercoat. This type of coat is necessary to survive in the snowy climates and cold and damp air of its homeland.
Its ears are tufted, and although moderately large, they are placed relatively low on the skull to prevent excessive heat loss. With strong bones and fine claws, its paws are also dense to ensure a protective thickness of fur between the pads and the cold ground, which is often covered with snow. Its hind legs are very muscular.
These attributes are not the result of change in environment. The Norwegian, in the wild, spends a lot of time in trees and its sharp claws, bones and strong muscles are all needed to easily climb trees.
The Norwegian does not purr, it coos!
The Norwegian’s qualities
Despite its forest origins, the Norwegian is a homebody. It loves the company of humans and other animals. It is an excellent companion for children because it is faithful and psychologically stable.
Very patient, intelligent and naturally curious, it is sometimes called a “dog-cat.” In fact, it can easily be made to walk on a leash or harness. Energetic, it excels in climbing and can climb down trees head first (this is in fact one of the breed’s particularities). Having a garden will allow it to exercise its talents as a jumper and a climber. If you do not have a garden, it will need a support to climb, like a cat tree or tall furniture.
The Norwegian’s shortcomings
Although it is not easily stressed, it can suffer from loneliness. Do not be surprised if it follows you wherever you go, because it loves to attend to the activities of its master, to whom it is enormously attached. During the summer, do not expect it to come lay on your lap. It may be soft and cuddly, but it will be much more comfortable lying next to you.
General appearance of the Norwegian
Although the Norwegian reaches its full maturity at the age of 5, this does not mean that it is not properly developed before reaching that age. As with all breeds of cat, some individuals will mature faster than others. The majority of them will continue to grow during their first 5 years, but if your kitten has a thin frame, it will keep this characteristic. A strong bone structure should be visible, even in young cats. This is a necessary aspect to its survival in the wild.
In order to avoid confusion with the American Maine Coon, Norwegian breeds changed the standard in 1987 to specify the distinctions between the two breeds. In addition, European longhaired cats are sometimes sold as Norwegians. This is why only individuals with pedigree are allowed in competitions.
- Skull: head in the shape of an equilateral triangle with a slightly rounded forehead.
- Stop: none.
- Profile: perfectly rectilinear and long.
- Chin: strong, firm and square.
- Nose: medium length
- Eyes: almond-shaped, set slightly diagonally, they must have an alert and awake expression. All colors are allowed, regardless of the coat.
- Ears: large, wide at the base and placed as extensions of the triangle formed by the head with feathers on the tip and long protruding hairs in the inner ears.
Long, solidly built with strong bones. The Norwegian is large and gives an impression of strength and power.
- Legs: strong and high, its hind legs are higher than its front legs.
- Feet: large, round with large tufts of hair between the pads.
- Tail: long and bushy, its ends should be able to reach at least the shoulder blades or the neck. It is held upright.
Any deviation from the above will be considered a defect which will be penalized according to its gravity and its consequences on the health and well-being of the cat.
- Cat that is too small or frail.
- Round or square head, profile with a break (stop).
- Ears that are small, too far apart, or too close together.
- Short or skinny legs.
- Short tail.
- Dry fur with knots, or fur that is too silky.
When we invite friends to our house, she takes a turn on everyone’s lap. No one is forgotten.Lola
Coat of the Norwegian
The Norwegian’s wildcat-like appearance is loved by many. It has a double coat, consisting of a wooly undercoat covered by a lustrous and water-resistant overcoat. The undercoat forms a shape called “knickers” at the back of the thighs that sometimes gives the impression that the Norwegian is wearing pants. The overcoat can be seen at the level of the collar, and is well present near the throat.
Color of the Norwegian
Almost all color variants are permitted, with the exception of the following: colorpoint, lilac, chocolate, cinnamon and fawn.
Care for the Norwegian
A rustic cat par excellence, it doesn’t require excessive care. A weekly brushing should be enough to get rid of the dead hair. However, if you do not make this a habit, its hair will get tangled and this can be a disaster!
The Norwegian molts once a year. During this period, regular brushing is needed. However, do not go too hard on the tail; its plumes take a long time to grow back.
In Norse mythology, the Skogkatt is considered to be half-cat half-god, so strong that even the god Thor fails to lift it. Freya, the goddess of love, even uses the Norwegian to pull her chariot.
Like any purebred cat, significant inbreeding has led to susceptibility to some diseases, such as cardiomyopathy or glycogenosis.
It is a calm, playful, affectionate, curious and patient cat. As a cat-dog, it can sometimes be a little clingy. It does not like being alone too long. It can live very well in apartments but also loves to go out sometimes. It can walk on a leash.