8 Furiously Fluffy Facts About Norwegian Forest Cats December 11 2020, 6 Comments
Sometimes confused for their equally fluffy cousin, the Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cats are descended from a long line of felines that are shrouded in mystery. Have they descended from warrior cats? Are they the reason for some Scandinavian fairy tales? Even so, with their thick, fluffy coats, large sizes, and friendly dispositions, is it any wonder that this breed continues to this day? Here are 10 furiously fluffy facts about Norwegian Forest Cats - or "Wegies" as they're affectionately called!
1. Their origins are mysterious.
The only thing certain about the Norwegian Forest Cat is that it is an old breed. Theories about as to the origin of this fluffy feline. They could be descended from cats which the Vikings used as mousers on their ships in Great Britain. Or their ancestors could be long-haired felines that were brought to Scandinavia by the Crusaders.
2. They're water repellent.
Not your average advertisement for a cat, but here you have it! Norwegian Forest Cats are known for their thick, double-layered coats that actually repel water. Their fur coats are basically waterproof thanks to the coarse outer layer of fur and dense underlay. They're also equipped with their own winter gear, as it were, with tufted ears and toes, which serve as natural earmuffs and snowshoes. Essentially, these cats were born for survival in the wild!
3. They're surrounded by legend.
Norse goddess Freyja was said to be a cat lover, and her chariot was sometimes depicted as being pulled by two cats!
This fierce, fluffy feline might have also served as inspiration for a mythological creature in Norwegian myths! These fairy tales speak of the skogkatt ("forest cat") which is said to be a huge cat that lived in the mountains and was able to climb sheer cliff faces that no other cat could.
Norwegian Forest Cats are known for their adept climbing skills - and their large statures might have helped contribute to this myth! In fact, in Norway, Norwegian Forest Cats are called "skogkatt" even to this day!
4. They're ginormous.
"Wegies" are known to be one of the largest breeds of domestic cat. They're generally much larger than your average house cat, and even some small dogs! As you can tell in the image above, these hulking felines even rival foxes in size! Male Norwegian cats can tip the scales anywhere from 13 to 22 pounds.
5. The breed nearly went extinct.
Though prized by farmers and sailors as an expert mouser, the Norwegian Forest Cat as a pure breed was nearly lost to breeding with free-roaming domestic shorthair cats in Norway. Efforts by cat fanciers to save the breed were put to a halt during World War II, and the breed was nearly lost.
An official breeding program preserved the breed for future generations. It was officially accepted into the Cat Fanciers' Association in 1987.
6. They're the official cat of Norway.
This giant breed of cat was designated the national cat of Norway by late King Olaf V. As it seems so connected to the folklore and fairy tales of the country, is it any wonder?
7. They're related to Maine Coon cats.
Genetic testing has indicated that Maine Coon cats are descendants of Norwegian Forest Cats and a mysterious, now-extinct domestic cat. As the Viking used Norwegian Forest Cats on their ships as mousers, it’s a likely theory!
8. They're built for tree climbing.
Norwegian Forest Cats are excellent tree climbers - and it's not uncommon to see them descending trees trunks head first, which is unusual for cats! This is in part thanks to their strong back legs, heavy muscle, and thick claws. In the wild, Norwegian Forest Cats would spend a great deal of time in trees, eyeing the forests below from a perch high above.