The Norwegian Forest Cat is an ancient breed which originated in Norway over 500 years ago. Some believe the breed is 1,000 to 2,000 years old. Known fondly around the world as the Wegie, Norskogkatt, Skogkatt or Norskskaukatt, Norwegian Forest Cat.
The history of the Norwegian Forest Cat (or Norsk Skogkatt, as it is known in its country of origin) is rich in legends linked to the Vikings. It is said, in fact, that this ancient people customarily kept these forest cats in their homes and that they brought them on their ships during their voyages as mouse catchers. Some Norwegian legends recount that Freyja, goddess of love and fertility, travelled the world on a cart pulled by two large cats with long fur, looking for her consort, Oar. In another legend Thor, god of thunder, underwent a test of strength which consisted of lifting up a large cat. The first historic citations come from 1559 when the Danish minister and naturalist, Peter Clausson Friis, who resided in Norway at that time divided the Norwegian lynx into three classes: the lynx-wolf, the lynx-fox and the lynx-cat. The first writers to make a systematic collection and a transcription of the ancient legends were the folklorist Peter Christian Asbjornsen and the poet Jorgen Moe. In 1835 they published a collection of Norwegian stories and songs which made them famous as “The Norwegian Brothers Grimm.” In 1912, the artist Olaf Gulbransson made a drawing of a great champion type skogkatt in his autobiography. In the 1930’s, because of deforestation in the wild, domestication brought about a crossbreed with short haired house cats. Because the gene for short hair is dominant, the typical Skogkatt coat became more and more rare. Even before the Second World War a forest cat was presented at a show in Oslo. And after the war a few admirers continued the work of preserving the race using the best and most suitable specimens that they could find.
In September, 1972 the Forest Cat was accepted by the Norwegian Associations and it was given a preliminary standard. At this point the term “Norsk Skogkatt” became official; it isn’t geographical reference (the forest cat appears in other Scandinavian countries) but it refers more to the first country which recognized it. In 1973 the breeding program began. It was not easy to find another Skogkatt recognized as such at that time. Instead it took 10 months for breeders to confirm having a real Skogkatt. Begun with the Edel Runas’ female, Pippa Skogpuss, who mated with Nylund’s male, Pans Truls. In 1975, a group of passionate breeders got together founding the Norsk Skogkattring (Norwegian Forest Cat Club) which worked to bring back the race which in 1976 was officially recognized by the FIFe’ (Fédération Internationale Féline) and later also by all the other international associations. Today in Norway this breed is recognized as the national breed and is called Norsk Skogkatt. Breeding was difficult for the following years because there were so few officially recognized family members that a certain number of cross breeds between family members was inevitable. Before the new breed could be officially recognized by the FIFe’. Three complete generations had to be authenticated. In April, 1977 when there were about 150 Norwegian Forest Cats registered in Norway, the FIFe’ sent a German judge to a show in Oslo. His aim was to report on the new breed to help the commission of judges of the FIFe’ decide on its future. In November 1977, Carl-Frederick Nordane travelled to Paris to partcipate in the FIFe’ general assembly. He brought with him several photos of what would from shortly thereafter become a new breed. The judges recognized in Pans Truls a Brown Tabby with White, the standard by which the entire breed would be identified and they assigned the number 13NF standard. There was a great sensation around the event in the country of origin where Trul’s photo was transmitted on television announcing that the Norwegian Forest Cat had been officially recognized.
The first Norwegian Forest Cats (NFC'S) to come to the UK arrived in 1986. Indeed NFC's are still being imported from many different Scandinavian countries, not just Norway. NFC's are now also exported back to Scandinavia as well as to a number of other countries, such as the USA and Australia, Japan,and Greece, to name just a few.
NFC's were first recognised in this country by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) in 1990, at Preliminary status. It was not until 1997 that the breed finally achieved Championship status with the GCCF.
The cats are judged by type, not colour, even if sub-divided into groups for show purposes. Norwegian Forest Cats are being successfully shown to present day and continue to be loved and treasured by people all over the world. It is important though that through breeding that we do not ever loose their original characteristerics and type. Therefore breeding plans are vitally important for the Norwegian Forest Cat in order to retain that 'wild look' , type and nature that the pioneers put so much hard work into preserving.
Lunaraine Norwegian Forest Cats
Else Nylund ( mother of the Skogkatt) Photographed here with another of the cats she bred ~ Pan's Polaris.
Polaris being famous for his tail tip , hence the Polaris Tail Tip.