Norwegian Forest Cats
A Legend Born

The origin of Norwegian Forest Cats is largely unknown and over the years many theories have evolved.

Scandinavian countries, which include Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, would not, the experts believe, have had indigenous cats. So how did this magnificent cat breed arrive in the forests of Norway?

Norwegian Forest Cat

The Legends Pearl Heart, Norwegian Forest Cat, owned by Bev Smullen and bred by Petra Smith. Photo ©Theresa Fouche

a viking import

During the Viking Age from 790 AD to 1066 AD, Viking sailors explored North Africa, the Middle East and Russia.

It is believed that during their travels they adopted cats from these countries for the sole purpose of keeping their ships rat-free.

On their return to their respective Scandinavian countries, the cats were allowed to roam and protected the grain stores.

The theory is that these cats, some of which could have been Turkish Angora, interbred with shorthaired cats producing the Norwegian Forest Cat.

In order to survive the harsh winters, these cats evolved by developing a dense, wooly undercoat, robust, athletic bodies and powerful legs. It was a case of survival of the fittest.

In Norway the cat is called Norsk Skogkatt (Forest Cat) or SkauKatt and in Sweden and Denmark there are similar cats called Rugkatt and Racekatte. We like to affectionately call them Wegies!


The story of myths, legends and folklore.

Norse mythology has for centuries depicted large cats that resemble the Norwegian Forest.

Freya, the goddess of love and fertility had a chariot which was pulled by large cats which resemble the Norsk Skogkatt. 

Thor, the god of thunder, was unable to lift this large, powerful cat.

Irrespective of how the cat arrived in Norway, we do know that it is a natural cat breed, one in which man originally played no part. We also know that it is one of the oldest cat breeds.

a modern history

The Wegie's path to recognition:

1938 - Norwegian breeders commence with a selective breeding program

1940 - WWII interrupts the breeding program

1950 - Breeding program resumes

1975 - Formal NFC Breed Club is formed and the breed standard is set

1979 - First NFC arrives in the United States

1984 - TICA grants the cat full championship status

1987 - CFA register the breed

1993 - CFA awards full champion status

Before his death in 1991 King Olav V of Norway made the SkauKatt the official cat of Norway.

Norwegian Forest Cat

Black and white bi-colour, owner Athylle Caw, bred by B Aberg Photo ©Theresa Fouche

Related Pages:

Norwegian Forest Facts

Norwegian Forest Breeders

Norwegian Forest Pictures

Top of Norwegian Forest Cats Page

Return to Types of Cats


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