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Subject: rec.pets.cats: Norwegian Forest Cat Breed-FAQ

This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:22:48 GMT

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Archive-name: cats-faq/breeds/NFO Posting-frequency: 30 days URL: http://home.powertech.no/skogkatt/NFOfaq.html Last-modified: 14 Jul 2002
All the cat breed faqs are available as ASCII files either on rec.pets.cats or via anon ftp to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/new.answers/cats-faq/breeds/* They are also viewable on the World Wide Web at http://www.fanciers.com/breeds.html. Norwegian Forest Cat - _________________________________________________________________ Copyright 1997-2002 by Bjorn Steensrud, bjornst@powertech.no All Rights Reserved _________________________________________________________________ Like a small but beautiful version of the lynx, the Norwegian Forest Cat is part of Norway's fauna. For many of us, it is the faerie cat we chance upon while out in the wilderness. Proud - yes, of course - and with a good deal in it that is still wild, yet not aggressive, and quite prepared to be affectionate. Wegies, Norwegian Forest Cats, skaukatt - all names of that somewhat Maine Coon-like, medium-haired cat from Northern Europe. 'Skaukatt' is the Norwegian word for it, meaning literally Forest Cat. (Pronounce somewhat like scowcat but make the ow more like eow :-) It's not a wildcat, but a breed of the same species as all our domestic cats. Actually, the official name is Norsk Skogkatt/Norwegian Forest Cat/Norwegische Waldkatze/Chat des Bois Norvegien. That is, these are the names in the three official FIFe languages. In the following, the abbreviation NFO is used for this breed, it is defined in FIFe's EMS code. You'll find the code at the FIFe EMS page. Oh, by the way - Noruegako Basoetako Katua is Basque for Norwegian Forest Cat. Thought you might like to know. ( Hi, Jorge!) _________________________________________________________________ History The Skogkatt has been around for centuries. We know this because of cat descriptions in fairy tales that historians say are very old indeed. It has been described in a children's book in 1912, and the artist Olaf Gulbransson has a drawing of a grand champion type Skogkatt in his autobiography - the drawing was made about 1910. The cat fancy in Norway got started as late as 1934, and not until 1938 did anyone think of the Skogkatt as a special breed. Then, suddenly, everybody had other priorities for a while. The Skogkatt was almost forgotten until the beginning of the 1970's, when a group of fanciers started breeding programs in earnest. The people who had shown a few skaukatt in 1938 and got very favorable reactions from Danish and German judges, recruited some more breeders and got going. In fact, 1938 was when the first Pedigreed Cat club was founded in Norway - Norsk Rasekattklubb NORAK. (The Norwegian National Association of Pedigree Cats, or Norske Rasekattklubbers Riksforbund (NRR), was founded as late as 1963, and some of the founders were very interested in the Skogkatt.) FIFe international approval was given in 1977 and the cats started spreading out into the world. The first two cats exported were sold to Sweden, and the first wegies came to the US on November 29, 1979. (They were male Pan's Tigris, brown tabby, breeder Else Nylund, and female Mjavo's Sala Palmer, black and white, breeder Solveig Stenersrød, bought by Sheila Gira, Michigan, of Mycoon cattery. Thanks to the Clairs, Elsa and Susan Shaw for this info.) Side note: the cat breed is registered with the Department of Trade as exportable goods .. :-) All registered NFO cats are descended from Norwegian, Swedish, or Finnish cats, with no outcrossing allowed. Some Non-FIFe registries in Germany may also have registered novice NFOs. _________________________________________________________________ Characteristics and temperament A Skogkatt is a family member, like most cats. It is often a bit reserved with strangers, but usually gentle, friendly cats. Most are not lap cats. Maybe just as well, the males can weigh 10 kg. Head-bumping and chin-scratching is of course a must, but with some restraint - you don't have to pet them _all_ the time. He'll tell you, quietly, when it is needed. (If you ignore him, he'll get louder :-) They climb well, and I can confirm that they can even climb down from trees headfirst ... Sylvester just got down off a walnut tree where he'd been chasing a pigeon. There's also evidence that outdoor cats who live near streams _do_ fish ! _________________________________________________________________ Description A relatively large cat, with hind legs longer than front legs. Double coat; a thick, woolly undercoat with a coarse, glossy overcoat. Triangular face, straight profile, tufted ears. _________________________________________________________________ Is this Breed for Me? Yes :-) If you like a cat that bonds to you and likes being with you, that is not overly demonstrative, needing to be petted and pampered most of your time, that doesn't talk all the time - only when something _needs_ to be said - that loves the outdoors - and can stand a cold climate, yet lives quietly indoors if you live in a place where that is necessary - that _looks_ like a cat should :-) (pardon me) yes, it's for you. _________________________________________________________________ Care and Training The semilong fur sometimes needs brushing and even combing, but mostly the cat can handle its fur on its own. It may need help in getting twigs and other debris out, though. The common wire brushes should be used when the cat is shedding, to help prevent hairballs. Otherwise, brush once or twice a week with a bristle brush. The fur _can_ get knotty and tangled, and you may have to use blunt scissors to get the nastiest knots out, but unlike some longhair breeds you don't need to brush & comb twice a day to avoid knots. Training ? Well, a breeder I know says she trains her cats to heel and takes them for walks -- mine have so far trained _me_ :-) except that they've learned very quickly to stay off tables and use only the approved scratching post. Other breeders also report that they train easily. Early literature claims that they are very intelligent cats. ( One of my favourite kitten pictures shows a 3-weeks old kitten with the caption: Norwegian Forest Cat - long-legged, agile, intelligent and brave - but not quite yet.) _________________________________________________________________ Special Medical Concerns A very few NFOs in North America carry a recessive gene for a disease known as Glycogen Storage Disease IV - GSD IV. This caught the interest of researchers because the exact same condition occurs in humans. Fortunately for the cats, a blood test can reveal the presence of this gene, and thanks to the efforts of the breeders in the US and Canada this could be bred out altogether. Some cases of an eye defect, RD - Retinal Dysplasia, have also been reported. This shows up as spots on the retina, but is not progressive. That is, thhe cat's vision does not get worde with time, as with PRA. Finally, breeders are starting to have their cats scanned with ultra- sound for PKD - Polycystic Kidney Disease. I have as yet no information about whether it occurs in NFO at all. _________________________________________________________________ Frequently Asked Questions Is this a large breed ? Yes, medium to large. They don't seem to get quite as large as the Maine Coon, though, males generally weigh 6 to 10 kg and the females only half as much. This can be a hazard to the cat, we sometimes hear of cats that get shot at because they're mistaken for lynx -- seems those hunters need glasses if they can't see the cat's long tail. And lynx _are_ about twice as big ! ( That's 'Lynx lynx', weighing on the average 20 kg at a length of just over 1 m ). The conversion to US units is left as an exercise for the reader :-) Also note that the size varies widely. Are they really a natural breed ? Yes. Cats arrived in Norway probably around 1000 AD, and it is entirely possible that the ancestors of the skaukatt are Turkish longhairs - since several Byzantine emperors had Scandinavian guards - the vaeringer. Cats have been farm animals ever since, usually living outdoors with shelter wherever they could find it in the barns and stables. Possibly the skaukatt _evolved_ here, since it is very well adapted to such a life. There is speculation that the Maine Coon, the Siberian, the Turkish longhairs and the skaukatt are related, having a common ancestral basis somewhere, but this is still just speculation. It may equally likely be a case of parallel evolution under similar living conditions. Isn't there a lot of trouble with that long coat? Not at all. Just brush thoroughly and comb it, once a week or so. As with any cat, check the coat for lumps when you pet it so you can remove lumps as and if they form. Mostly the cat can handle its coat without help, solid-coloured cats may need a little now and then. There _are_ some cats whose coat mat more easily than others, but they do not need a lot of grooming. In fact, a Norwegian Forest Cat should never require a bath, unless there's been an accident of some sort. Yes, some associations fault the cats for oily fur - which we Norwegians consider a feature of the cats. It _should_ be a little oily, dry coat is a fault according to the standard. See also Care and Training, above. I live in Scandinavia and see similar cats outdoors - are they related? Most probably what you see are the cats that formed the foundation of this breed. There has been some work done to "open the books" again, but more information is needed. There are cats Out There that are just like NFOs, all they lack is the paperwork. You are not likely to find such cats outside the Nordic countries. Is it true that their fur is waterproof? For all practical purposes, yes, it is waterproof. Steve & Louise Clair, of Maineline Cattery, report: "Based on our experience of bathing a Forest Cat before a show... their top layer of fur is as close to waterproof as you can get. It is very hard to get the animal wet to the skin." This may be why a breeder friend of mine does not want cats with white paws. Normally she does not bathe the cats - but white paws on an outdoor cat _must_ be cleaned before a show :-) Are they strictly outdoor cats? No, they make perfectly good indoor cats. They do need room, though, being large, heavy cats - and parts of normal cat behavior indoors are those sudden rushes off in all directions, to work off energy. However, you should decide indoor/outdoor when you get your cat. A cat who has never been outside might be terrified to go out, and one who has lived outside for years might not want to stay indoors all the time ! Many, if not most, breeders have outside enclosures where the cats are safe while still enjoying the outdoors. So what's the difference between Maine Coon cats and Norwegian Forest Cats? The Maine Coons are rectangular where the wegies have longer hind legs. The head shape is different, and there is a marked difference in the fur texture - the Maine Coons have a silky outer coat while the Skogkatt have a coarse coat of quite stiff hairs. The agouti colors - i.e. the tabbies - seem to have a thicker, softer fur than the solid colored cats, unlike the Maine Coons who have the same texture for all patterns/colors. See also below, the Clairs have collected a concise list of differences. I have a Norwegian Forest Kitten, can you suggest ... ...a Norwegian name for it? Certainly! Here are three lists of names. One is mostly for females: http://home.powertech.no/skogkatt/female.html , another for males: http://home.powertech.no/skogkatt/male.html, and the third is a list of more than 1700 names taken from a database of cats - with cattery names removed : http://home.powertech.no/skogkatt/names.html Can you tell me whether my cat is a Norwegian Forest Cat? No. Basically, if you don't have the registration papers or other documentation from the breeder, you cannot call it a Norwegian Forest Cat. Sorry, but there is only a very, very small chance that your cat is a real NFO that somehow got lost and found a home with you. Don't worry about it, just enjoy the cat! _________________________________________________________________ What's this about X-colours? In 1989, the FIFe General Assembly changed the NFO standard to exclude certain colours. From the beginning, all colours and patterns except pointed ("himalayan") patterns were accepted. It was felt that the colours chocolate and lilac would indicate illegal outcrossing to other breeds, and in 1994, cinnamon and fawn were added to the colours not recognized in NFO. In FIFe, Norwegian Forest Cats with these colours may be registered and bred, but not shown in competition. The EMS code for not recognized colour is "x" - for example, o is cinnamon, so a cinnamon blotched tabby NFO would be NFO xo 22. The first NFO showing an x-colour - as far as we know - was born in Sweden in 1992 and was one lilac spotted tabby and a chocolate blotched tabby. Later, chocolate cats have turned up in Norway. The controversy surrounding the x-cats concerns how these colours got into the breed. Some maintain that breeders have cheated and outcrossed to Oriental cats - we know that this has happened in Germany - while others say that such outcrossing happened before the novice books were closed and was done entirely on the cats' own initiative. There is a research project in the works trying to develop genome maps for the NFO, also trying to show differences between regular and x-coloured cats. The project is being watched with great interest by NFO breeders all over the world. _____________________________________________________________________ International NFO clubs and addresses Belgium Renée Weissbach 7 Rue Scheutveld, B-1070 Brussels, Belgium tel.: +32 (0) 2 522 77 54, fax.: +32 (0) 2 524 44 17 http://www.titrans-cattery.com/ Canada Correspondents for Canadian breeders: Lorraine and Don Forsyth http://www.catsincanada.com/breeds/norwegian.html Denmark Norsk Skovkattering http://www.norskskovkat.dk/ Norway Norsk Skogkattring Postboks 693 Sentrum N-0106 Oslo, Norway http://home.powertech.no/skogkatt/ http://www.skogkatt.org/ Sweden Skogkattslingan http://skogkattslingan.com/ Skogkattens vänner i Södra Sverige - SVISS http://home.swipnet.se/sviss Skogkattklubben Birka http://www.algonet.se/~birka Finland Norski ry, Norwegian Forest Cat Club in Finland http://www.kolumbus.fi/norski/ SMERRY http://www.sci.fi/~smerry France Association International de la Défense du Skogkatt http://perso.wanadoo.fr/skogkatt-norvegien/ Association France Skogkatt http://www.multimania.com/franceskogkatt Club des Chats des Forêts Norvégiennes (CCFN) http://ccfn.free.fr Germany Interessengemeinschaft Norwegische Waldkatzen im 1. DEKZV e.V. http://www.IG-Norwegische-Waldkatzen.de Waldkatzen-Club E.V. http://www.waldkatzenclub.de Unabhängige Interessengemeinschaft Norwegische Waldkatzen http://www.hallo-norweger.de/ Iceland Skogarkattaklubbur Islands http://www.if.is/~krissi/ Italy Norsk Skogkattring Italia e-mail norski@felis.net Netherlands Noorseboskattenkring http://home.wxs.nl./~noorseboskattenkring De Noorman http://www.denoorman.nl/ Poland NFO Breed Club http://cat.fs.com.pl/~nfoclub South Africa Ratatosk Norwegian Forest Cats http://www.geocities.com/heartland/ridge/5176 Spain Asociacion Skogkatt Iberia http://teleline.terra.es/personal2/iberkatt Club Espanol del Bosque de Noruega http://www.bosquedenoruega.com/cebn Switzerland Interessengemeinschaft Norwegische Waldkatzenzüchter der Schweiz (IGNS) http://www.afra.ch/forestcats Swiss Skogkatt http://www.swissskogkatt.ch United Kingdom Skogkatt International - operates a database of NFO photos and pedigrees. Quarterly magazine. http://www.skogkatt.co.uk/ Norwegian Forest Cat Breeder Club Great Britain http://www.catbreeder.co.uk/sites/nfcc Viking Cat Club (FIFe) http://www.vikingcatclub.co.uk/ Europe, elsewhere International Skogkatt Secretary Paula Swepston http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/L_P_swepston/issint.htm USA Norwegian Forest Cat Fanciers' Association (NFCFA) http://www.forestcats.net Mexico No club yet, two breeders that I know of: http://webs.demasiado.com/felinos/index.html http://www.felisvikingos.de/ Japan http://www.atelierbelle.com/ad/pet/nfc/fanciers.htm http://www.skogkatt.co.uk/NFO/Online_Breeders/Japan/ South Korea http://user.chollian.net/~vejev2/home.htm with more NFO-links in Korean. I'd like to add addresses to other associations here, please email me ! ( bjornst@powertech.no ) _________________________________________________________________ Finding a Breeder The best way is to go to a show! This has the added advantage that you get to see the cats in person, and talk to the exhibitors and breeders to find out more about what the cats are like. If you're not familiar with cat shows, you should note that as breeders may be extremely busy at the show, they will often leave calling cards on top of the cages - pick up a card and phone them later. Also, check the ads in the cat fancy magazines- 'Cats' and 'Cat Fancy', for example. The online breeder list is a good place to try. A long list of breeders in Norway and a few in Sweden is available, as well as a list of kittens available from these breeders. _________________________________________________________________ Breed standard The official description says : HEAD: Triangular, where all sides are equally long; with good height when seen in profile; forehead slightly rounded; long, straight profile without break in line (no stop) Chin: Firm. EARS: Shape: large, with good width at the base; pointed tips; with lynx-like tufts and long hair out of the ears Placement:high and open, so that the outer lines of the ears follow the line of the head down to the chin EYES: Shape: Large and oval, well opened, set slightly oblique Expression: alert expression Colour: All colours permitted, regardless of coat colour. BODY: Structure: long, strongly built; solid bone structure =09 LEGS: strong, high on legs, hind legs higher than the front legs Paws: large, round, in proportion to the leg TAIL: long and bushy, should reach at least to the shoulderblades, but preferably to the neck. COAT: Structure: Semilong. The woolly undercoat is covered by a smooth, water repellant uppercoat which consists of long, coarse and glossy hair covering the back and the sides. A fully coated cat has a shirtfront, a full frill and knickerbockers COLOUR: All colours allowed, including all colours with white, except pointed patterns and chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, and fawn. Any amount of white is allowed, i.e. white blaze, white locket, white chest, white on the belly, white on the paws, etc FAULTS: General: too small and finely built cats Head: round or square head; profile with a break (stop) Ears: small ears set too widely apart set too close together Legs: short legs thin legs Tail: short tail Coat: dry coat; knotted with lumps too silky Scale of points: Total 100 points Head: general shape, nose, profile, jaw and teeth, chin: 20 Ears: shape size and placement : 10 Eyes: shape, expression : 5 Body: shape, size, bone structure, legs, shape of paws : 25 Tail: length and shape: 10 Coat: quality and texture, length: 25 Condition: 5 Remarks : Coat is evaluated only on texture and quality Very slow maturing of this breed should be taken into account Mature males may have broader heads than females Length of coat and density of undercoat vary with the seasons Kittens can take up to six months of age to develop guardhairs _________________________________________________________________ The Clairs' comparison list: The Norwegian Forest Cat and Maine Coon Cat Comparison There is one common bond between the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Maine Coon Cat: They both evolved from domesticated cats that lived in very cold climates. They are similar, yet very different. Both are very intelligent and affectionate, being very people oriented, but the Norwegian Forest Cat is more demanding of affection. In appearance the Maine Coon is a long cat with a rectangular body and a feral look, while the Norwegian Forest Cat is medium in length, more square in shape with a sweeter expression. The following is a general description of these two breeds, which is based on their (TICA) standards and is to be used as a guide only _ Norwegian Forest Cat........................ Maine Coon Cat HEAD Triangular ................................. Wedge shaped with a square muzzle PROFILE Straight ........................... Gentle curve EYES Almond Shaped.......................... Large, wide open EARS Outer edge of the........................... Set high on top of the ear follows the line ....................... head, not more than of the head down to......................... an ears width apart the chin, completing the triangle BODY Medium in length,...................... Long, rectangular square in appearance LEGS Hind legs higher....................... Medium in length than front legs TAIL Long and bushy, as.......................... Long and flowing, as long as the body ........................... long as the body COAT Distinctive double.......................... Silky, shaggy, uneven coat, long guard ........................... coat with a slight hairs covering a ........................... undercoat woolly undercoat RUFF When mature a ......................... Moderate frontal ruff profuse ruff develops around the ........... develops around the neck neck _________________________________________________________________ REFERENCES and THANKS! The Forest Cat Circle mentioned above, has published an illustrated leaflet that is quoted briefly here, it is available in English ,Fran=87ais, Deutsch, and Norsk. Else Nylund, of Pan's cattery, and Susan Shaw, Nissekatt cattery, provided historical information, Steve & Louise Clair gave excellent descriptions and comparisons. Thanks to the people of the Fancier's list for advice, questions and suggestions! please e-mail comments, suggestions, questions to : bjornst@powertech.no _________________________________________________________________ Norwegian Forest Cat FAQ Bjorn Steensrud, bjornst@powertech.no Last modified: Sun Jul 14 2002