The people of Asia Minor were the first to domesticate cats which rapidly was taken up by the Egyptians and the Phoenician traders. The Phoenicians together with the Romans were the first incursions of domestic cats into Europe. This cat is thought to be Felis libyca. On reaching Europe it is postulated that Felis libyca may have interbred with the stocky and heavier European wildcat Felis sylvestris (or possibly mutated) to produce the precursors of many of today’s cats. However, as Felis sylvestris is not see in the Scandinavian countries it is suspected that cats entered Norway after being picked up by the Vikings. For many centuries there have been documented stories of large Norwegian Skogkatt (forest cat in Norwegian) on farms and in the surrounding forest. Regardless of their initial genesis there is enough evidence to cite them as a ‘natural species’.
In Norway, a movement started in the 1930’s to have the Skogkatt recognised as a breed and this culminated with the first Norwegian Forest Cat being exhibited in a cat show in Oslo during 1938. Unfortunately, this was pre-empted by the commencement of World War II where during and immediately afterwards the breeding of cats was considered to be a low priority. During these years the Skogkatt came to the borderline of extinction.
The breed was championed by Carl-Fredrick Nordane and in recognition of his and the work of others namely, Pans Cattery owned by the late Egil and Else Nylund (the mother of the Skogkatt), bred Pans Truls a majestic cat whose physiology was used to define the phenotype of the breed. They were fully recognised and accepted in their own right at the FIFe General Assembly held in Paris in 1977 and the breeding standard was set. This breed standard was the very first that fully described how this species should look based on historical descriptions, photographs and drawings. Therefore, this is the standard that all traditional breeders use. This standard is a key descriptor to be used on this historically significant breed particularly considering some of the changes being enforced on this majestic breed.
Breed Standard 1976 – Norwegian Forest Cat
Type: Broad build and high/tall legs.
Head: Long, triangular, straight profile or slightly concave bend without a ‘stop’ or break, good chin.
Eyes: Large, open, colour matching the coat.
Ears: High, with tufts. They have to sit high on the head but not too close.
Coat: Long, slightly ‘wooly’ undercoat. Overcoat smooth, hanging, more of an oily quality that that of the Persian so that it doesn’t become matted. ‘Knickers’ on the back legs, ‘collar’, ‘shirt on the breast’, ‘cheek-beard’ preferably in a triangular shape from the ears. All colours allowed.
Tail: Long and bushy (fox’s tail).
Condition: muscular and strong and broad.
Note: the girls are very feminine and the profile usually does not become as full as that of the boys. Smaller, and finer than the boys.