An ancient breed, entirely free of man’s selective breeding, some people are convinced that the Norwegian Forest Cats are descendants of the Turkish Longhair breed (otherwise known as the Angora). This connection is made because some Turkish emperors in times gone by had Scandinavian guards (called the Vaeringer).
Several Nordic myths involve Norwegian pets that belonged to the Vikings, who had acquired them during invasions of other countries. Hulder, the forest nymph of Norwegian Mythology, was thought to be supernatural and invisible most of the time, but at other times he appeared as a cat. The cat was named the Troll Cat (Huldrekatt). As a result of these myths, some people believe that these cats have magical abilities.
Many Norwegians believed that this breed of cat was the result of cross breeding between a Lynx and a cat. In truth, the breed evolved as a result of its bitter and often harsh living conditions. A strong, intelligent hunter who helped farmers control vermin is what evolved, along with the thick waterproof coat to counter the freezing climate.
The Southern European shorthaired cats which migrated to Norway in prehistoric times probably evolved by natural selection into the breed we know and love today. But it was not until the middle of the 1970’s when a group of Norwegian cat breeders got together and formed the very first Norwegian Forest Cat Breed Club or “Norsky Skogkattring”. This group effectively revived interest in this rare and charming creature and the next year a registry in Europe recognised the breed provisionally.
In 1977 the Norwegian Forest Cat was officially an accepted applicant for cat shows and competitions. The United States of America imported the very first pair of Norwegian Forest Cats into that country in 1979. The breed attained championship status in the CFA (Cat Fanciers Association) in 1993.
Something which singles out the Norwegian Forest Cat from many other pedigree breeds is that most breeds of cat have been developed over the years, as a result of cat breeders’ aims to breed the ‘perfect’ cat of their chosen breed. Breeders have selected what they consider to be the perfect parents for the best chance of producing the perfect cat. This is not so with Norwegian Forest Cats, which evolved through natural selection alone.