Norwegian Forest Cat Breed Council

Norwegian Forest Cats: The Epic Worthy Feline

As any pet lover knows, a charismatic and devoted pet will make a permanent mark on your life. They become a topic of discussion, a series of memories that last with you and your families for a lifetime, and often make their mark in history. For the Norwegian Forest Cat, this is no less true. There are countless examples of the Norwegian Forest Cat in Norse mythology and in Scandinavian tales in general:

"First of all came Odin, accompanied by Frigg and the valkyries and his ravens. Frey came riding in his chariot drawn by the boar called Gullinburste or Slidrugtanne. Heimdal rode his steed Gulltop and Freyja drove her cats," (Sturluson, 1916).

"His cat, who had sat on his shoulder all this time, now jumped to the ground, purring and arching his back as he trotted beside Hans. Suddenly, a huge bird came flying rapidly towards them. Hans at once saw that it was a dragon, so he took a firm grasp of his iron crutch, waited till the creature was within reach, then, throwing it, hit him so cleverly that he fell to the ground; whereupon the cat, making a spring, speedily put an end to the monster."
(A. Hall, 1897).

Cats were a symbol for the goddess Freyja, but they more importantly became a symbol of good luck and fortune. For the Norwegian Forest Cat, this cemented a lasting relationship. The Norwegian Forest Cat emerged from the forest some 4000 years ago. Most likely, the ancestors of the Skogkatt were Southern European shorthaired cats that migrated to Norway in prehistoric times. These cats adapted to their harsh climates by developing characteristics such as a water repelling undercoat and slightly outward facing feet to help handle climbing and swimming.
The Cat Fancy in Norway started in the 1930s and out of it grew a movement to preserve the Forest Cat as the Norwegian national breed. The movement was interrupted by World War II and was not resurrected until the 1970s when changes in Norway had improved the chances of the shorthaired housecats survival. Crossbreeding between the Forest Cats and the shorthaired housecat and other breeds was bringing the Skogkatt to extinction. In December 1975, a dedicated group of breeders in Norway formed the first Norwegian Forest Cat breed club, Norsk Skogkattring, to save the breed by developing a breeding program. The next year, a European cat registry recognized the breed with Provisional status. Then, in 1977, it officially accepted the Norwegian Forest Cat for competition. From then until 1990, the breeders worked diligently to find appropriate non-pedigreed examples of the breed and have them certified for registration by a panel of judges. The goal was to develop a gene pool large enough to ensure that the breed would not have to rely on inbreeding and the risks that can be involved.
In 1979, the first breeding pair of Norwegian Forest Cats was imported into the United States. Two years later, the first surviving litter of kittens was born in the United States. CFA acceptance of the “new” breed was a major goal of Norwegian Forest Cat breeders in the United States. The Norwegian Forest Cat secured championship status in CFA in 1993. This Web site explores the NFC's history in the Cat Fanciers' Association.
Hall, A. (1897). Hans. In Icelandic Fairy Tales (p. 162). short story , GB: , United Kingdom: Frederick Warne & Co.
Sturluson, S. (1916). Prose Edda. Oxford University Press.

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