If you’re not acquainted with the amazing Norwegian Forest Cat, here are a few facts just to introduce you to them before we go into the 10 Things You Didn’t Know about the Norwegian Forest Cat. These beautiful creatures are native to Norway and are fairly large for house cats. They are semi-longhaired and present a somewhat rugged appearance that fits their name.
And, in spite of their hardy appearance, they are real homebodies, loving the company of humans as well as other household pets. However, like many breeds of cats, they prefer to live life on their own terms. They do like being perfect little lap cats, but again, only when they want to.
They love spending time near their human families, but they really need to have a kitty tree or scratching post to keep them happy and a nice tall one is preferred since they’re fairly active. They just love to expend all of their energy and then take a nice long catnap. The Norwegian Forest Cat is highly intelligent and adaptable to a certain amount of change. And, even though they’re very social creatures, they can also be a bit sensitive. A warm home is preferable to living outside because it’s the safest place to be. These cats really need plenty of fun and interesting toys to keep them busy. They also love having their own personal perch with a view of the outside world. Last but not least, a close one-on-one relationship with their human family is a must.
1. History of the Norwegian Forest Cat
Over the years, the Norwegian Forest cat had to adapt to survive the cold weather in Norway. The ancestors of this hardy cat could include some shorthair cats that are black and white and were brought From Great Britain to Norway around 1000 AD by Vikings. They could also include some longhaired cats that Crusaders transported to Norway. It’s possible that those cats mated with both feral and farm stock and the resulting generations may have evolved into the Norwegian Forest cats of today. Other possible ancestors could include Turkish Angora and Siberian cats, as well as longhaired cats from Turkey and Russia. In Norse legends, the Norwegian Forest cat was called Skogkatt, which means “a fairy cat with abilities for climbing sheer rock faces that dwells in the mountains”.
2. The Norwegian Forest Cat is the National Cat of Norway
They have been the national cat ever since King Olaf V designated them with that honor. And, even though they’re not even in the top ten popular cat breeds in the U.S., they have plenty of fans all over Europe. Europeans call them “Wegies” because it’s short for Norwegians. Of course, it comes as no big surprise that they are loved all over Scandinavia, but the French really love them, too.
3. Norwegian Forest Cats are Amazing Climbers
Most people have never seen a cat running head first down a tree. Anyone who has was probably watching a Norwegian Forest cat. Their claws ar much sturdier than the majority of other cat breeds. That’s why they have such excellent climbing abilities and can climb so impressively.
4. Norwegian Forest Cats are Illness-Prone
Unfortunately, Norwegian Forest cats aren’t as stalwart as they look. They’re not even as tough as the ancient Vikings who owned them. They actually tend to be predisposed to hereditary hip dysplasia and heart problems. In addition, they are also prone to glycogen storage disease type IV, which is a condition that causes harmful build-ups of a glycogen in their cells. Glycogen refers to complex sugar.
5. Norwegian Forest Cats are Very Large
They are actually much larger than the majority of other cat breeds. In fact, they are even bigger than certain small canines. An average male Norwegian Forest cat could weigh between 13 and 22 pounds. That’s a pretty big cat.
6. The Norwegian Forest Cat is Related to the Main Coon
In fact, the two look like they could be cousins, due to their similar bushy tails and large bodies. Genetic testing has actually revealed the fact that the Maine Coon descended from an unknown extinct domestic breed that mated with the Norwegian Forest Cat. They can be told apart by certain individual facial features. Maine Coons’ heads are wedge-shaped and they have very high cheekbones. The Norwegian Forest Cat, on the other hand, has a face that is triangular shaped.
7. The Norwegian Forest Cat Faced Extinction
Although early sailors and farmers appreciated them for their superior mousing skills, the breed wasn’t popular for showing until the 1930s. Not much attention was paid to them during WWII and they nearly became extinct due to extensive cross-breeding. Then, thanks to an official breeding program aimed at preserving their lineage for future generations, they were saved from extinction. The breed was recognized by the Fédération Internationale Féline in 1977 and, in 1979, the very first Norwegian Forest cat breeding pair landed in the U.S. They were accepted officially by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1987.
8. The Norwegian Forest Cat Has its Very Own Warm Winter Clothes
They can be just about any pattern or color, however, every one of them has one thing in common. They all wear a double-layered fur coat that is both very long and water repellent. In addition, these hardy cats have tufted toes and ears, which function just like built-in boots and earmuffs. All of these convenient physical traits have been quite helpful for surviving the long Scandinavian winters, which are brutally cold and exceedingly snowy.
9. The Norwegian Forest Cat is a Mythical Creature
They are actually the stuff that legends are made of. According to Norwegian myths, Skogkatts were beloved by the Norse goddess of beauty and love, whose name was Freya. According to the legend, Freya traveled around in a feline-drawn chariot. In another Norwegian tale, Thor lost a battle of strength to Jormungand, who was a god in Skogkatt disguise.
10. The Norwegian Forest Cat Was Known as a Warrior Cat
This stands to reason since their original owners were Vikings and they were well known fierce warriors. In addition, both the Vikings and the British kept these cats for chasing and killing mice on their ships. Then later, the early Norwegian Forest Cats were known to roam the forests of Norway accompanied by barn cats and other feral felines, eventually evolving into the big house cats with their beautiful dense coats that everyone knows and loves today.