Its physical appearence
- Its character
- Its maintenance
- Its colours
- Its security
WHAT IS THE NORWEGIAN FOREST CAT or "SKOGKATT" ?
The Norwegian Forest Cat is, without any doubt, no ordinary cat. This is primarily due to its "natural" origins because the breed has been preserved and not created.
Indeed, it was during the Seventies that Scandinavian breeders selected a few specimens, which lived close to them, recorded them in an origins' book, and then started to reproduce them only amongst themselves, in order to preserve their natural qualities as much as possible. In 1976, there were only approximately 10 NFC, which were actually indexed but today it is one of the Top Ten breeds.
The Norwegian is an authentic and "ecologist" cat: with a wild appearance, it is healthy and rustic from its forest origins, with plenty of fur. Affectionate without being too clinging, active and curious about everything, it will often come to see what you are doing, especially if you go to a different room. Very accommodating, it considers any stranger coming to the house, as a potential friend. Its character charms visitors. Men love the NFC for its strength and women for its gentleness and tenderness.
Très avenant, il perçoit tout étranger venant à la maison, comme un ami potentiel. Les visiteurs sont séduits par son caractère. Les hommes aiment le norvégien pour sa force, les femmes pour sa douceur et sa tendresse.
Half-cat, half-lynx, this cat has a particularity: it goes down trees headfirst ! It likes all other animals and adapts very well to its environment. Very awake and alert, but without being agitated and excitable, it is extremely trustful and naturally affectionate. The almond shape of its eyes gives it a particular charm. One often compares the NFC to an enchanted cat straight out of a children's fairy tale. Indeed, it was often seen in the snow-covered forests, suddenly appearing and then disappearing from view, leaving a mystery hovering... It was said that this cat could see the invisible, hear the unperceivable, reach places inaccessible to men, and chase away the trolls.
In Scandinavian mythology, it is associated with love and spirituality. In 1912, the Norwegian author Gabriel Scott wrote a children's book, which principal hero is none other than "Solvfaks", a Norwegian Forest Cat! Charles Perrault himself probably found his inspiration to write the Chat Botté, from a Norwegian Forest Cat. All the examples used to illustrate or tell the tale, depict a Norwegian Forest Cat, with its collar and breeches of fur, its pride and its mischievousness.
Its physical appearance in details :
The NFC is a big cat, with a long body and strongly built. It is high on its legs with a substantial bone structure, the hind legs being slightly higher than the front ones. The tail, thick at the base, must be as long as the body of the cat. When turned over towards the head, the tail must reach the base of the neck. It is very bushy and the NFC likes to carry it vertically when he walks. The neck is quite long and muscular. The NFC's head is long and is in the shape of an equilateral triangle, with a dead straight profile, without a break. The chin should be strong and not receding. The ears accentuate its triangular shape by prolonging it on both sides of the face, which should be straight and not pinched. The ears are tall, broad at the base, quite open and are covered with plenty of hairs inside and especially on the tips, where lynx tufts are very much appreciated. The eyes of the NFC are large, well open and slightly slanting. They have an alert expression. The fur of the NFC is semi-long. The hair is longer on the back, on the tail, the back of the thighs, where it forms breeches and around the neck where it forms a collar and a ruff. It has a double layer: the undercoat is very thick and woolly; the overcoat is smooth and waterproof. Water has difficulty penetrating inside its fur, which becomes an ideal insulator.
Thus, the Norwegian tolerates low temperatures very well and can live outside all year round without any risk. On the contrary, the heat from the radiators does not help the development of thick fur. The Skogkatt needs at least 3 years to develop completely.
All colours are allowed, except the Siamese pattern and chocolate and lilac colours. You can therefore find Norwegian cats, which are all one colour (black, white, blue, russet-red, cream), two-tone (these same colours together with all quantities of white), "tortoise shell" (black/red and blue/cream) with or without white, "silver tabby" and "smoke" (silver not tabby) with or without white. All these colours can have striped, marbled or spotted markings. The eye colouring is gold or grape, sometimes blue or odd colours (blue and green) but only on white NFC.
Its character :
The Norwegian is always ready to come for a cuddle, to sleep with you, to chatter (it adores expressing itself), and to follow you about. It's very tolerant with other cats in the house and also dogs.
It would, however, be a pity to consider purchasing a Norwegian (male or female) if you do not intend to sterilize it or to limit its range of activities. There are many Norwegian owners today who regret having granted their cat a life without some form of constraint. One day or the other, even the most gentle and obedient young Norwegian may disappear without ever returning. When the young adult reaches reproduction age, the call of nature is stronger than anything else. Castration of the males and sterilization of the females are essential protection measures if a Norwegian is allowed to go outside (castrated, it does not need to roam very far). But personally, I would strongly recommend investing in a way to enclose the garden (wire fencing and electrical wiring), which will prevent the cat from leaving its territory (and from any intruders trying to get in) but at the same time leaving some trees available so that it can still have fun.
The Norwegian is moreover an excellent hunter. It should not be forgotten that over 20 years ago, the majority of Norwegians lived in the wild. Does this mean that it can't live in an apartment? No more than any other cat, providing it has never lived outside. A kitten raised inside, adapts perfectly well to life in an apartment, provided that it has access to a cat tree and benefits from the presence of its master, to whom it becomes strongly attached. Being very intelligent, the Norwegian is capable of learning all kinds of games, including hide-and-seek, playing with a ball, etc. and it readily accepts to go for a walk with a lead or a harness, just like a dog.
Its maintenance :
At first glance, bearing in mind its rustic nature, the Norwegian should not require any grooming. But it is a cat with semi-long fur, with a very abundant woolly undercoat. It undergoes rather impressive molting, and to do nothing would be rather disastrous. During the molting period, the prone spots of the Norwegian are the armpits, the back and the inside of the thighs, the sides of the body, the collar and the base behind the ears. It is here that the knots will appear when the dead hair falls and these are the areas, which need to be watched closely all year but particularly during January/February. You only have to stroke the cat to realize that a knot is forming. Before it gets too tight, it is possible to gently undo it with your fingers. Afterwards, it is too late and you will have to cut it out. It is, therefore, a good idea to regularly check the condition of your Norwegian's fur. This does not mean that you must vigorously brush and comb it every day. On the contrary, you may risk removing an essential part of its fur: the thick undercoat. Instead you should brush your cat gently and especially not pull if you feel any resistance. You should never really touch its tail because the hairs here practically never drop (in fact they are the only long hairs which remain in summer) and they take a very long time to grow back and a Norwegian without its beautiful bushy tail is less majestic.
The NFC is no more prone than other cats to diseases. You must ensure that you give it a balanced diet and good quality food, particularly during its growth. In fact, it develops slowly and only reaches
its physical maturity towards 3 or 4 years.
The color in the Norwegian cat : (examples are below)
In the Norwegian forest cats the various associations recognize all colours, with or without white, (except of course lilac, chocolate, cinnamon and fawn). But in comparison with other races, which through the ages were primarily chosen for their colors, in the Norwegian Forest cat we find great differences and variations in the basic colors, which is probably due to the relative young age of the race.
With the brown mackerel tabby (black tabby) the basic colour can vary from a very clear shade (or even golden colour) to a much darker shade, and between these two extremes you can find all possible colours and graduations of browns.
With the plain colours (blue and black), these can also vary from being very dark to a much lighter shade. Certain black colours have a lighter shade the first year, which will disappear with the first molting to produce a darker colour later on.
Of course, the frankest colours and the purest markings are preferable but let us not forget that for the Norwegian, the type and the quality of fur should always be privileged more than the colour (not forgetting the character!)
For the russet-red colours and the dilutions, which are linked to these (cream-coloured), there are also multiple shades, but in some lines the fur has a tendency to have a drier aspect. This is also the case for the silver and smoke colours.
In order to anticipate this type of problem, the cats having the best textures, that is to say "the brown striped ones" and the "blacks", are systematically integrated into the breeding programs. This will help to improve the quality of the markings and colours, which will enable us to compete better with the Maine Coons, which are often impeccable at this level.
There are no rules concerning the amount of white, or its distribution on a Norwegian's body. Everything is possible. Many Norwegians have very original markings and patterns and some have even been especially rewarded for this during the last few years.
(click on the words colour to see examples of NFC colouring)
White is a kind of cover-up coat, under which all genetic colours can hide. It is only through reading the pedigree that you can get an idea of the colours possible. The colour of the eyes is variable, blue or not, with the possibility of having eyes with different colours (one blue and one green).
Black : very interesting colour for breeding often means an excellent fur texture.
Blue : dilution of black should not carry any trace of a ghost colour.
Red : always in its striped form (more or less visible)
Cream : the dilutin of red.
Tortie (not agouti) /
torbie (tabby) : combination between russet-red and black patches (with or without some white); only the females can have this type of colouring. A very constant, luminous colour is also required here.
Blue cream : the dilution of the tortie color.
Smoke (on not agouti) and
silver (on tabbies) : is not a colour, but an effect that "gives a silvery look" to all the colors, which are more or less on top. From the root of the hair up to about half the length, the hair is not pigmented. All the places not protected by the topcoat of hairs are white and this makes some surprising contrasts. Here again, for the Norwegian, not all the smokes are identical and the pigmented part of the hair varies from one cat to another.
For the tabby, we differentiate :
- the classic (blotched, drawing in the shape of a butterfly)
- the mackerel (striped)
- the spotted
and the ticked.
To obtain nice stripes, there must be a good contrast between the basic color (white for the silver) and the markings. The M marking on the face is very typical of the tabby. It should, however, be noted that during the winter period when the Norwegian has a lot of hair, it is not so easy to see the contrast between the colours, as the hairs of the topcoat tend to mix in with the rest of the coat.
The torties, the blue cream colours can also have stripes. In this context the torties are called torbies, which equals tortie + tabby.
As described above, the palette of colors, including all the various shading that a Norwegian can have is so vast, that many different faces and expressions exist. Very often the novice visitor to a cat show will find it hard to believe that all these colours belong to the same race of cat. The question "Ah! These are also Norwegians?" will often be asked, but for those of you in love with the race, colour is only a characteristic like any other and in fact its expression, morphology and character should always be more important than the colour.
Its security :
Examples of protected balconies (in French, use google translator) : here
Example of my protected garden : here