Based on its name, most people would expect the Norwegian Forest Cat to have sprung up in Norway. However, this answer implies more knowledge about the cat breed than what can be found out there, meaning that it is more accurate to say that it came from the region of Northern Europe. Regardless, the Norwegian Forest Cat has become popular in places other than Northern Europe, not least because its experiences have provided it with a stand-out appearance. Here are 20 fun facts that you may or may not have known about the Norwegian Forest Cat:
It Is Old Enough That Its Exact Origins Are Unknown
In the distant past, people didn’t maintain exhaustive records on the lineages of their cats. For that matter, even if they had, there is no guarantee that said information would have managed to make it to the present, as shown by the numerous written works that have been lost over the centuries. As a result, figuring out the exact origins of older cat breeds can be a serious challenge because interested individuals have to make use of other sources of information, which are nowhere near as convenient as examining a complete set of records. Unfortunately, there is a limit to how much this process can help. For proof, look no further than the fact that no one knows the exact origins of the Norwegian Forest Cat save for muttered speculations that are interesting but far from being conclusive in nature.
It Is Meant to Live Outdoors
With that said, considering the look of the Norwegian Forest Cat, it should come as no surprise to learn that it has adapted for the purpose of living in the great outdoors. This can be seen in the Norwegian Forest Cat’s fur, which boasts a undercoat with a remarkable resemblance to wool that provides exceptional insulation. Likewise, the top-coat consists of long hairs that are excellent for shedding water, thus ensuring that it won’t seep into the undercoat with disastrous consequences. Combined, the Norwegian Forest Cat’s undercoat and top-coat provides it with the protection that it needs to survive in Northern Europe’s less than pleasant climate.
Might Be Descended From Short-haired Cats
Some of the speculation surrounding the Norwegian Forest Cat suggests that it might be descended from short-haired cats brought to Northern Europe from Britain. For people who are familiar with British history, it should come as no surprise to learn that this happened a a result of the Scandinavians who raided much of the European coastline, settled in places where they found the local conditions to be pleasing, and proceeded to interact with the local peoples in more peaceful ways as well. The effects of this process can still be seen in numerous ways, ranging from place names throughout Britain to words of Old Norse origins that can be found throughout the modern English language. Apparently, the effects of this process can be seen in the modern cat breed called the Norwegian Forest Cat as well.
Might Be Descended From Long-haired Cats
With that said, some of the other speculation surrounding the Norwegian Forest Cat suggests that it might be descended from long-haired cats brought back by Crusaders. This can sound rather surprising, but it is interesting to note that the Norwegians became involved in crusading at a very early point. In fact, the Norwegian Crusade happened in the aftermath of the First Crusade, which resulted in an epic journey from Norway to the Levant via the North Atlantic coastline and then the Mediterranean coastline. Once they reached the Levant, the Norwegians under their king helped the Crusader King of Jerusalem conquer the town of Sidon before returning home with their loot. Curiously, the Norwegians decided against returning home the way that they had come but instead returned home by heading to Constantinople before marching home over land. The Norwegians brought back a lot of loot, which could’ve included long-haired cats from the Levant. However, it is interesting to note that the Norwegian Forest Cat might be descended from long-haired cats from Russia instead, which was another region that saw a fair amount of interaction with Scandinavians.
Some People Think the Norwegian Forest Cat Might Have Inspired Stories of the Skogkatt
Some people believe that the Norwegian Forest Cat is the same cat as the Skogkatt, which is a kind of cat that showed up on numerous occasions in Norse mythology and Norse folktales. This makes sense because a Skogkatt just means a forest cat, though the sheer amount of time that has passed means that there are probably significant differences between the cats that inspired such stories and their modern counterparts. For example, the goddess Freya is supposed to have ridden on a chariot pulled by a pair of cats, which are sometimes claimed to have been Skogkatts. Likewise, when Thor and Loki headed on over to Jotunheim for the purpose of having a contest with Utgard-Loki, Thor was attempting to lift what looked like a Skogkatt when he was actually attempting to lift the Midgard Serpent. Based on this, it should be even clearer that the Norwegian Forest Cat has very deep roots in the region of Northern Europe.
Predecessors Might’ve Served On Land
It is believed that a significant percentage of the predecessors of the Norwegian Forest Cat would’ve lived in the forests of Scandinavia, which would’ve resulted in the adaptations that can be seen in their appearances in the modern day. However, the predecessors of the Norwegian Forest Cat also saw use in various other ways on land. One example was their use in hunting smaller animals, while another example was their use on Scandinavian farms. After all, where humans can be found, rats and other pests can be found as well. In fact, some people might be familiar with the brown rat, which is so connected with Norway that it is actually sometimes called the Norway Rat. As a result, the predecessors of the Norwegian Forest Cat would’ve been a great help to Scandinavian farmers seeking to protect their crops from rats and other pests.
Predecessors Might’ve Served On Sea
Likewise, it is believed that the predecessors of the Norwegian Forest Cat served on Scandinavian ships out on the sea as well. Some people might be familiar with the tradition of the ship’s cat, which has resulted in numerous stories over the centuries. However, it is important to note that the ship’s cat had very practical uses as well. For example, a ship’s cat was critical for keeping the numbers of rat as low as possible, which is not just important for protecting the ship’s food stores but also for protecting the ship’s ropes and woodwork. Moreover, a ship’s cat was useful for hindering the spread of diseases via rats, which was a serious concern when the close confines of a ship meant that any infection could have resulted in its spread with nightmarish speed. Finally, the ship’s cat provided a sense of companionship for people far away from home, which was helped along by the fact that cats tend to be surprisingly good at adapting to new environments.
Became Recognized As a Breed in Relatively Modern Times
Even though the Norwegian Forest Cat has existed in some form for centuries and centuries, it wasn’t until relatively modern times that it was recognized as a cat breed in its own right. To be exact, cat enthusiasts started becoming interesting in the Norwegian Forest Cat in the earlier part of the 20th century, but it took some time for their enthusiasm to build until a club centered around the cat breed was founded, as shown by how the first example popped up in 1938. Unfortunately, the Norwegian Forest Cat soon ran into serious problems as a result of what was happening in those times.
Came Close to Extinction in World War 2
The Norwegian Forest Cat came very, very close to extinction in World War 2. It has being under threat to some extent in the period leading up to that particular conflict, but the cat breed as a whole was threatened under the German occupation of Norway. For those who are unfamiliar with what happened, the Germans invaded Norway in April of 1940, with the result that conventional resistance has ceased by June of 1940. The prewar government of Norway fled to Great Britain, while the Germans set up a puppet government under Vidkun Quisling, which is why quisling is still sometimes used as a colloquial term for traitors and collaborators. On the whole, the Norwegians didn’t suffer quite as much as some of the other people who had been conquered by the Germans during World War 2, but they suffered a great deal nonetheless, meaning that the lapse of interest in the Norwegian Forest Cat was rather understandable under the circumstances. Due to this, Norwegian Forest Cats bred so much with more conventional cat breeds that they were on the verge of becoming extinct after the end of the German occupation.
Started Being Recognized Outside of Norway in the 1970s
Fortunately, there were still enough Norwegian Forest Cats that Norwegian cat enthusiasts were able to save it by setting up a breeding program. As a result, its numbers recovered enough that it was recognized in Europe in the 1970s, in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s, and then in the United States in the 1990s. Nowadays, the Norwegian Forest Cat is still most popular in Norway and its neighbors, though it is interesting to note that for unclear reasons, it happens to be quite popular in France as well.
Strong and Athletic
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Norwegian Forest Cat tends to have something of a physical advantage when compared to a lot of other cat breeds. For example, members of the cat breed tend to be both bigger and stronger than other cats. In particular, it is worth noting that the Norwegian Forest Cat has something of a reputation for its powerful claws, which are one of the factors that contribute to their exceptional climbing skills. In fact, there are reports of Norwegian Forest Cats being able to climb rock, which is a rather remarkable achievement to say the least.
Can Be an Indoor Cat
Generally speaking, the Norwegian Forest Cat has something of a reputation for being an outdoor cat. After all, their stand-out appearance is the result of their adaptation for living in the outdoor climate of their homeland, meaning that they are the direct consequence of their ancestors living in said environment. However, it is interesting to note that Norwegian Forest Cats are perfectly capable of becoming indoor cats provided that they get everything that they need even when living in that kind of environment. For example, members of the cat breed are famous for their energetic nature, meaning that if someone wants a Norwegian Forest Cat, they had best be prepared to make sure that their new pet will get all of the activity that it needs to thrive.
Since the Norwegian Forest Cat is bigger than most cat breeds out there, they need more food than most of their counterparts. As a result, people who are used to taking care of smaller cats might end up giving their Norwegian Forest Cats less food than what they need if they base their judgment on the needs of their other cats. Fortunately, this isn’t exactly a challenging problem to solve since interested individuals can just run the standard calculations once they have managed to figure out the weight of their Norwegian Forest Cat. If they are still having problems after that, they should not hesitate to see a veterinarian because in this as in other things, it tends to be better to be safe than to be sorry.
In most cases, the Norwegian Forest Cat tends to be a relatively friendly companion animal. They are not prone to being clingy, but will instead maintain their independence for the most part, as befitting their heritage. However, the Norwegian Forest Cat will appreciate the affection that is shown to them by the people living with them if not necessarily people who they don’t know. As a result, the Norwegian Forest Cat is a good choice for pet owners who want a pet that will reciprocate their affection but won’t demand so much of their limited time that they will end up with no time remaining for other pursuits. Better still, the intelligence of the Norwegian Forest Cat means that it tends to learn important things faster than some of the other cat breeds that can be found out there, which can prove very beneficial for cat owners who want to make sure that their pets know the rules with minimal expenditure of their time and effort. Something that should help interested individuals minimize the potential issues that can come up as a normal part of pet ownership but are nonetheless frustrating to experience, thus making the Norwegian Forest Cat that much better as a companion animal for a wide range of people living under a wide range of circumstances.
Gets Along with Some Animals Better Than Others
Like most pets, the Norwegian Forest Cat gets along with some animals more so than others. For example, Norwegian Forest Cats tend to get along well with other cats, which should come as welcome news to cat owners who are thinking about getting a member of this particular cat breed for their own. Likewise, Norwegian Forest Cats tend to get along well with dogs as well, though it has been reported that spending a lot of time with dogs can cause them to start vocalizing louder than under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, Norwegian Forest Cats are not compatible with fish living in either aquariums or other water features. This is because they are animals that have been adapted for hunting, meaning that they are not above catching pet fish for the sake of food or simple entertainment. Even worse, their cleverness means that they often have significant chances of success in their chosen endeavors, which would be great in other cases but not so much here.
As stated earlier, the Norwegian Forest Cat are great climbers. Granted, most cats possess some measure of climbing skill, which is useful for helping them find food as well as escaping from hostile animals. However, Norwegian Forest Cats stand out even among other cats for their climbing skills as well as their eagerness to make use of those climbing skills. As a result, people who are planning to welcome a Norwegian Forest Cat to their home might want to prepare by buying a suitable cat tree, which should minimize incidences of their new pet making use of their claws on surfaces in their home that shouldn’t be scratched up.
The Norwegian Forest Cat is one of the smarter cat breeds out there. This makes sense because the cat breed came into existence out in the wild, where there would have been increased incentive for cats to be intelligent so as to solve the challenges that can come up under such circumstances. With that said, it should be mentioned that carnivores tend to be smarter than herbivores as well because carnivores have to be able to execute strategies for catching their food, whereas herbivores face fewer such challenges.
Sheds a Lot
Speaking of which, the Norwegian Forest Cat’s fur can be both a boon and a bane for their pet owners. On the one hand, it means that the cat remains warm even in winter weather. On the other hand, that much fur means that the Norwegian Forest Cat sheds a lot. In most cases, cat owners shouldn’t need to brush their Norwegian Forest Cat’s coat more than either once or twice a week. However, it should be mentioned that there will be periods during which Norwegian Forest Cats will shed much more hair than during the rest of the time, meaning that cat owners will want to be prepared by brushing their coats much more often throughout these periods. This way, interested individuals should be able to ensure their pets’ wellbeing while also minimizing the amount of cat hair that gets everywhere in their home.
Watch Out For Obesity
Yes, it is true that the Norwegian Forest Cat needs more food because of its bigger size when compared to most of the other cats out there. However, it is still perfectly possible for people to overfeed their Norwegian Forest Cats, particularly if their pets aren’t getting enough exercise at the same time. As a result, people who want to make sure that their Norwegian Forest Cats are as healthy as possible need to keep a watchful eye out for the specter of obesity, which is a serious problem for not just humans but also a wide range of our domestic animals. This is particularly true because some Norwegian Forest Cats have been known to get hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a very common heart disease in cats that results in the muscles of their hearts getting thicker. Due to this, the owners of Norwegian Forest Cats will want to keep their pets in fine physical condition so as to minimize the chances of them getting heart disease that will deprive them of their beloved companions’ friendship well before their time.
Watch Out For Hip Dysplasia
On a related note, the owners of Norwegian Forest Cats will want to watch out for hip dysplasia as well, which is a problem with the hip socket that is passed down from parent to child. In some cases, hip dysplasia doesn’t result in anything more serious than a small amount of pain if that. However, other causes can be much more serious, as shown by the examples that end in lameness. Fortunately, hip dysplasia can be managed somewhat with a combination of drugs, surgical procedures, and even weight loss, which is why pet owners will want to watch out for said condition so that they can help their Norwegian Forest Cat avoid a great deal of preventable suffering if they have inherited it.