For several decades now, the Norwegian Forest Cat has been one of the most popular and beloved breeds in Europe. With her “wild look” she hypnotizes everyone who loves everything natural, created by nature. Norwegian forest cats were nicknamed “Wedgies,” which is short for “Norwegian,” the words that a whole nation is called
From the “troll cat” to the royal darling
Norway is a country of mountains, waterfalls, fjords, more than anywhere else in the world, exciting northern lights, long polar nights, short summers and fertile and wooded areas in valleys and plateaus. In these conditions, the Norwegian forest cat lives. Initially, she, of course, was not a breed, but rather, the type of cats that lived freely for hundreds of years in the northern highlands of Norway.
The first mention of a Norwegian cat is found in the book Norske Folkeeventyr (Norwegian Tales), which was published 175 years ago. Here we find a forest cat – a troll cat, which is described as an animal with a large furry tail. In Scandinavia, this nickname – “Troll Cat” – is often used by the Norwegian Forest Cat Federation as the name of the breed. Forest cats are also present in the oldest Scandinavian myths: they help drive elves out of farmhouses, are the keepers of precious oil and turn into fairies when they try to hide from immodest human eyes.
The amazing size of forest cats from Norway and their magical look connect them with the gods. Legend has it: two very large cats pulled the chariot of the goddess of love Freya when she ascended to heaven. These cats were a gift from Freya Thor’s husband, who made this gift, losing the argument to the cunning God Jormungand (Loki), disguised as a forest cat. These cats were so large that Thor himself could not raise them, although he was one of the strongest gods. Thanks to these legends, some breeders even today call the Norwegian Forest Cat “Scandinavian skogkat” – the Scandinavian Forest Cat.
For many hundreds of years, forest cats have been known in the harsh northern regions of Norway, but the official history of the origin of this breed still holds many secrets – there are many really exciting versions about this. Some people suggest that a large, powerful cat was originally born from a wild lynx and a domestic cat. According to another version, Norwegian forest cats can be associated with a black and white short-haired cat from the UK, which the Vikings used on their ships to fight mice. The third version – they can be descendants of long-haired cats brought from Scandinavia by the crusaders.
One way or another, these types of cats mixed in a Norwegian wild cat. These early relatives roamed the Norwegian forests, spontaneously mingling with feral cats and cats from the surrounding villages. At the same time, weak cats that did not manage to live in harsh forest areas died. Over the years, these forest beauties have evolved into large animals with dense two-layer hair, which we know and love today.
So, for almost four thousand years these cats lived in the Scandinavian forests and were appreciated by farmers and sailors for their special dexterity when catching mice. It would seem that nothing portended trouble, but once the breed was on the verge of extinction: in the 1930s it became clear that Norwegian forest cats could very soon disappear if uncontrolled mating with ordinary shorthair domestic cats continued.
It was then that a plan for careful selection was put in place – in order to preserve and develop this magnificent breed.
The first step was to participate in the exhibition: some skogkatten copies were shown before Christmas in Oslo in 1938. Already at that time, enthusiasts tried to register a forest cat as a pedigree cat, but World War II put an end to this work.
And only more than three decades later, efforts to preserve the breed began to be undertaken again. In the early 1970s, Carl-Fredrik Nordane, a former president of the Norwegian Cat Association, began lobbying on behalf of Skogkatt breeders and organized a meeting at which the first Norwegian forest breeding program was developed and a Norsk charter was created. Skogkattring, an NFC breed club, held its first meeting in February 1975. The pioneers in creating the breed are commonly called Else and Egil Nylund (Pan’s Kennel) and Randiego and Arlidę Grotterodów (Torvmyra Kennel). To this day, it is difficult to find a Norwegian forest cat in whose pedigree or in the pedigree of its ancestors there are no representatives of these nurseries.
To develop the standard, we used a black marble and white Pan`s Truls cat, owned by E. Nylund. Breeders had to follow strict rules. In order to control the quality of the animals used in the breeding program, the breed committee held special meetings where the Norwegian owners were invited along with their pets. And only animals recognized by the committee could be registered as a Norwegian forest cat. In November 1977, Nordine went to Paris and made a presentation at a general meeting of the International Federation of Cats (FIFe): “… In this report, we present the Norwegian Skogkatten, which now became something much bigger than an ordinary cat … ”
After watching the Truls and Pippi Skogpus slides, FIFe members voted to formalize the Norwegian Forest Cat breed.
This event was widely covered in the Norwegian press and television news. Norwegians are really very proud of their national breed, and King Olaf V even appointed the Norwegian Forest National Cat, the pride of Norway.
After the breed received official recognition, interest in it grew even more. The Swedish neighbors showed particular zeal, but the Norwegians banned the export of cats from the country because they wanted to first create a good pedigree base for themselves. And only cats from the third or fourth generations were allowed for sale and export from Norway.