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Norwegian Forest Cat
Recognized Breed

Norwegian Forest Cat Activity Level 7
Playfulness 7
Need for attention 5
Affection towards its owners 8>
Vocality 2
Docility 8
Intelligence 8
Independence 5
Healthiness and hardiness 8
Need for grooming 6
Compatibility with children 7
Compatibility with other pets 7
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History
The Norwegian Forest Cat, called the skogkatt (forest cat) in Norway, is a natural breed and despite its feral appearance is not a descendant or a hybrid of any wild cat species. Forest Cats probably arrived in Norway from Europe, descendants of domestic cats introduced to northern Europe by the Romans. It is supposed that the Norwegian Forest Cat has existed for a long time, since several mentions of large, longhaired cats exist in Norse mythology. Estimates of when these cat tales were written vary greatly. Most Norse myths were passed down by oral tradition and were finally recorded in what was called the Edda poems, written sometime between 800 A.D. and 1200 A.D. These myths suggest that domestic cats have been in Norway for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. Whether the cats portrayed in the myths are Forest Cats is subject to debate.

When cats arrived in the northern countries, most likely with human settlers, traders, or crusaders, the breed┐s progenitors were probably shorthaired, since the cats transported by the Romans came from Egypt (generally) and were shorthaired varieties. The cats survived and in time adapted to the severe climate. Northern Norway, where the sun never sets from May 12 to August 1, and where the winter nights are correspondingly long and dark, proved a harsh test for these cats. Over the centuries of prowling the Norwegian forests, they developed long, dense, water-resistant coats, hardy constitutions, quick wits, and well-honed survival instincts.

The first efforts to have the Forest Cat recognized as a distinct breed began in the 1930s. The first Norwegian cat club was founded in 1934, and in 1938 the first Forest Cat was exhibited at a show in Oslo, Norway. World War II, however, put a damper on all cat breeding and showing, and after the war the breed came close to extinction. Interbreeding with Norway┐s shorthaired domestic cat (called the hauskatt) threatened the Forest Cat┐s existence as a pure breed. It wasn┐t until the 1970s that the cat fanciers of Norway started a serious breeding program to preserve the Norwegian Forest Cat.

Wegies (as Forest Cats are affectionately known) arrived in the United States in 1980. The same year, a small group of American fanciers founded the Norwegian Forest Cat Fanciers┐ Association and began working to get the Forest Cat recognized by North American cat registries. TICA, the first to recognize the breed, accepted the Wegie for Championship competition in 1984. The breed attained CFA Championship status in 1993 and won over the last association, ACA, in 1995.

Personality
Natural athletes, Norwegian Forest Cats love to investigate counters, bookcases, and the loftiest peaks of their cat trees. Wegies are active and playful and retain their fun-loving spirit well into adulthood, but don┐t be fooled by the breed┐s impressive muscles and all-weather exterior. They are sweet, friendly, and family-oriented, and they love their human companions. Despite the wild years in the forests of Norway┐or perhaps because of it┐they would much rather cuddle than prowl.

Because of those harsh survival years (perhaps), nothing fazes them much, either. They take new people and new situations in stride; as cats go, Forest Cats are the strong, silent types. They are conversely great purrers, particularly when perched beside their favorite humans. Out-going and gregarious, they tend not to bond with one person, but rather love everyone unconditionally and enthusiastically.

Conformation
The Norwegian Forest Cat┐s distinguishing double coat varies in length according to the time of year. The cat goes through a spring ┐molting,┐ when the winter coat is shed, and a fall shedding, when the summer coat departs. At these times of year, thorough combing is necessary unless you want seasonal layers of cat hair on everything. The rest of the year the Forest Cat requires minimal grooming since it tends to hang onto its coat, perhaps remembering those harsh winters.

General
The Norwegian Forest Cat is a sturdy cat with a distinguishing double coat and easily recognizable body shape. It is slow to develop, reaching full maturity at about five years of age.
Body
Solidly muscled and well-balanced; moderate length; substantial bone structure; powerful appearance, showing broad chest and considerable girth without being fat; flank has great depth.
Head
Equilateral triangle; nose straight from brow ridge to tip of nose without break; chin firm and gently rounded in profile; muzzle part of the straight line extending toward the base of the ear without pronounced whisker pads and without pinch.
Ears
Medium to large; rounded at tips; broad at base; set as much on the side as on top of the head; heavily furnished; lynx tips desirable but not required.
Eyes
Large, almond-shaped; well-opened; set at slight angle with outer corner higher than inner. Color should be shade of green, gold, or green-gold; white cats may have blue or odd eyes.
Tail
Long and bushy; broader at base.
Coat
Double coat consists of dense undercoat covered by long, glossy, and smooth water-resistant guard hairs; frontal ruff; collar at neck; side mutton chops; britches on hind legs; softer coats permitted in shaded, solid, and bicolor cats.
Color
All colors and patterns except those indicating hybridization resulting in chocolate, lilac, the Himalayan pattern, or these combinations with white.
Disqualify
Severe break in nose; square muzzle; whisker pinch; long rectangular body; cobby body; delicate bone structure; crossed eyes; kinked or abnormal tail.
Allowable Outcrosses
None.

Picture(s): Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Corbis | |

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