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February 28, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

The Norwegian Forest Cat

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Feline 101 Blog Series

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Cat of the Week: The Norwegian Forest Cat

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Norwegian Forest Cats

Norwegian Forest Cat

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Fun Facts About Norwegian Forest Cats

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  • These cats are one of the largest cat breeds available, but also one of the slowest to reach full maturity. They’ll be growing and changing for their first 5 years of life.
  • While in America, they’re called Norwegian Forest Cats, in Norway the breed is simply called “Skogkatt” which translates to “Forest Cat.”
  • Though they are commonly mistaken for Maine Coons, and the two breeds may in fact be related, the Norwegian Forest Cat is an ancient and unique line in its own right most easily distinguished from the Maine Coons by their long, triangular faces.
  • Not only did this breed keep Viking ships free of rats, some claim the Norwegian Forest Cats was the breed that pulled Freya’s chariot in Norse mythology.
  • Experts believe Norwegian Forest Cats most likely originate from the first domestic cats of Egypt which were introduced to northern Europe by the Romans. Though these cats would have been shorthaired, over time natural selection produced cats better acclimated to the cold Norwegian climate, with long, thick coats of water-resistant fur.
  • Despite this long history however, Forest Cats only came to America 30 years ago, and only gained recognition with Cat Fanciers Association 20 years ago.
  • Norwegian Forest Cats were declared the official cat of Norway by King Olaf V.

Norwegian Forest Cats

Norwegian Forest Cat

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How to Spot a Norwegian Forest Cat

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Long, Thick Fur. Though they come in almost all colors and patterns, having evolved for prowling forests in the harsh Norwegian winters, all have an exceptionally long, thick-coat which gets even longer and thicker in the winter.  Marks of the breed include a longer hair at the cheeks, chest, neck, belly and tail with shorter hair along the back. Additional winter weather adaptations include their dense undercoat which repels water and the long fur between their toes which serves to protect their tender paw pads from the cold.

Large Stature. Delicate bone structure is grounds for disqualification in show cats of this breed. Norwegians should be large, muscular, and “powerful in appearance” with a broad, ruffed chest. Cats of this breed average between 12 and 20 pounds!

Large, Wide-Set Eyes and Ears. Both the eyes and ears of the Norwegian are large and wide-set, with the eyes almond-shaped and set at a slight angle and the ears heavily furnished. (Remember when we talked about the American Curl? Ear furnishing are the official name for those adorable tufts of long hair which grow out of the ears of some cats.)

Triangular Face. It can be really difficult to tell if the cat you are looking at is a Maine Coon or a Norwegian. In fact, while this has not been substantiated, experts have speculated that Maine Coon cats actually originated from Norwegian Forest Cats leaving Viking Ships off the east coast of North America. Whether or not this actually the case, they are both extremely large and fluffy, both come in a wide range of colors and patterns, and both feature ruffs of fur and wide set furnished ears. However, a close look shows some slight differences. Norwegians have a more compact, straight profile and a slightly more exotic looking face with  almond as opposed to oval shaped eyes and a triangular head.

Norwegian Forest Kittens

Norwegian Forest Kitten

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What to Expect from a Norwegian Forest Cat

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A Friendly Cat. Norwegians, like Ragdolls, are known to be extremely tolerant, laid-back cats that are very affectionate. Unlike the Siamese who tends to pick a favorite person and stick to them, the Forest Cat tends to be an equal opportunity cuddler. They'll make the rounds looking for attention from every person nearby.

A Quiet Cat. As we discussed with the wild looking Bengal, cats with genetic lines closer to their ancestors or cats historically kept for pest control, tend to be quieter than cats historically kept primarily as pets and for their looks.  Norwegian Forest Cats are among the more industrious breeds which learned to stay quiet and thus avoid detection by prey or predators. When they do talk, their voices tend to be quieter than most and to have trilling sort of quality to it. Some people describe it as kitten-like.

A Playful Cat. As sturdy, athletically-built cats among the most intelligent of cat breeds, Norwegian Forest Cats often invent their own games and need lots of play to satisfy their mental and physical needs. A tall cat tree and scratching post will be greatly appreciated by your sweet, playful Forest Cat.

Norwegian Forest Cats

Norwegian Forest Cat

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More Norwegian Forest Cats!!!

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Norwegian Forest Kitten

Norwegian Forest Kitten

Norwegian Forest Kitten

Norwegian Forest Kitten

Norwegian Forest Cat

SOURCES

VetStreet: Norwegian Forest Cat

Animal Planet: Cat Breed Directory: Norwegian Forest Cat

PHOTO CREDITS

Moryan_Breen@flickr

PCB75@flickr

Andreas-Photography@flickr

noeoracio@flickr

silverfox09@flickr

andedam@flickr

noergelberni@flickr

ornithorynque@flickr

MarieAmelie@flickr

Sylvie MM@flickr

A Friendly Cat. Norwegians, like Ragdolls, are known to be extremely tolerant, laid-back cats that love people and are extremely affectionate. However, unlike the Siamese who tends to pick out a favorite person, the Forest Cat tends to be an equal opportunity cuddler.

A Quiet Cat. As we discussed previously while talking about the wild looking Bengal cat, cats with genetic lines closer to their ancestors or cats historically kept for pest control, tend to be quieter than cats historically kept for their looks and as pets.Norwegian Forest Cats are among these more industrious breeds which learned to stay quiet (and thus avoid detection by prey or predators). When they do talk, their voices tend to be quieter than most and to have trilling sort of quality to it.

A Playful Cat. As sturdy, athletically-built cats among the most intelligent of cat breeds, Norwegian Forest Cats often invent their own games and need lots of play to satisfy their mental and physical needs. A tall cat tree and scratching post will be greatly appreciated by your sweet, playful Forest Cat.

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