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Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat Breeders


Copyright Diana Fineran March 1, 2005



Cats arrived in Norway by around AD 1000, at which time Vikings maintained trade routes with the Byzantine East.  Proof that cats were traded directly from Byzantium to Norway comes from Norwegian cat populations with coat colors common in Turkey but rare across Europe.  It is possible that the Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat traces its ancestry back to longhaired Turkish Angoras. Some time about 4000 years ago these cat’s forebears came out of the Scandinavian forests. Theoretically these cats explored with the Vikings, always protecting grain stocks on land and on ocean voyages with Lief Erickson or his contemporaries. Possibly they left their descendants in North America to pass on their characteristics to the Traditional Maine Coon and the Long Haired Manx. In the post Viking age the horrible disease called Black Death hit Norway.  Every person in many small villages in small valleys died. The Traditional Norwegian Forest Cats were left on their own. Many in Norway believe it was during this time that the Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat became what they are today.  Only the strongest ones could survive alone, especially in the harsh winters.  It is thought the reason they developed good climbing skills was because their food source was in the trees.  Birds and their young were something the cats were very good at catching.  Neither the bears, wolfs or the lynx ate much of the birds.  The Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat developed the skill of climbing down trees head first, allowing them to look underneath them to see if any dangerous animals who could kill them were under the tree as they climbed down.  On the ground they were susceptible to wolves, fox or lynx.  They were safe in the trees. The harsh Scandinavian winter favored large, longhaired cats, which became popular with farmers. Their ancestry is as farm cats weighing 7 to 30 pounds. Their size, big bones, large paws, sharp hearing and alert eyes helped them hunt and survive. Claws that were extra strong and rounded gave them good grip when climbing. Long legs helped them in the deep snow. Norwegians claim the cat has always been around, because they have been featured in folk tales and mythology for centuries there.

The Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat was in danger of being lost as a distinct breed due to mixing with the Norwegian domestic shorthairs.  It was not regarded as a singular breed until the 1930’s, when Norwegian breeders realized the plight of the breed. WWII put their efforts on hold for a while until planned breeding began in the 1970’s. The result was the Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat was officially given the distinction of being named the Official Cat of Norway by the late King Olaf.

In Norway, Truls was the male who the Norwegian Breed Standard was written after. He was big and strong and had a proud bearing in his body language.  A Judge by the name of Molly Oliver was against the recognition of this breed, believing it was just a long-haired house cat, until she had the opportunity to judge Truls.  Then she saw for herself what the Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat was supposed to look like.  She called out, when this impressive giant was put on her judging table, “This is not an ordinary cat!”  She took him in her arms and hugged him and closed her eyes while doing so!  At that moment Miss Molly Oliver was won over.  She stated, “This cat was wonderful with his beautiful coat, majestic look, big paws and big size.  She loved him and viewed him for a long time!  The news spread as she told other judges what she had seen.  Suddenly every judge wanted to see this big cat from Norway.  If this had not happened the Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat probably would never have gotten full recognition. 

Sissel Jorgensen of N Grunerlokka’s Norwegian Forest Cats had this to say, “I’ve talked a lot to Else Nylund.  She’s more or less the found of the Norwegian Forest Cat and the breed of Pans cats.  She says the Norwegian Forest Cat can be as big as the Maine Coon in size, but the Norwegian Forest Cat has even stronger legs.  The Main Coon has a rectangular body with all 4 legs at the same length.  That is different from the Norwegian Forest Cat, which has higher back legs.”    

The first pair of cats of this breed arrived in the United States in November of 1979. A third U.S. import was GP Mjavos Sangueetahof Zazzara, who arrived in March of 1980. She became the first Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat Grand Premier and the oldest at age 13 years and 10 months!  This breed arrived in Britain in the 1980’s.

Skogkatt (meaning forest cat), Skaukatt or Wegie are other names associated with this breed.

Many years of natural selection built the Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat into a hardy survivor of Norway’s winters.  This sturdy cat has a double coat.  Protective water repellent, oily guard hairs cover over a moderate thick, insulating, woolly undercoat. The sign of a good coat is that it almost never mats.  It could be said the most glorious part of their winter coat is a very impressive mane.  On a mature cat over five years of age, the mane is spectacular.  Heavily tufted feet provide a protective layer of fur between the paws and the cold ground and snow. There is a dramatic change between their winter coat and their summer coat.  In spring they go through a major shed, or molt, of their warmth providing, downy undercoat and the long non-tangling outer guard hairs that are protection from rain and snow.  However, their heavily furnished inner ear hair, which can be three to four inches long, curving out and around the ear, remains the same all year long.  So does their magnificent tail, being almost 12 inches or more when fanned to its fullest. Their ruff and toe feathers remain too. In spite of a shorter summer coat that is less dense, it is always evident the cat is a longhair.

Coat care isn’t as an intense daily chore as with other long haired breeds, with the exception of their spring shed.  That is the time they need combing. General maintenance does require regular grooming, because their coat can mat if it is neglected.  

It takes five years for the Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat to reach full maturity. This slow maturation allows them to gain heft and full bloom, though they are always well put together through the process.

The predominance of tabbies and bi-colors, common in random breeding cat populations, reflects the population from which the Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat is descended. Swathed in a thick, black coat for winter, the Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat could pass for one of the fierce cats of Nordic legend. All colors, patterns and color combinations with or with out white are accepted.  Eye color is unrelated to coat color.  Black coats tend to show a degree of “rusting” unless the cat is kept totally out of sunlight. Some colors vary from light to dark with the seasons. 

This completely natural breed is a large, wonderful work of fluffy art by Mother Nature and they are an eye catching spectacle to behold!


From Julie Aastorp, “The job of taking care of Norway’s Forest Cat, the National breed, was given from the Norwegian Government to NRR, and they gave this job to the Norwegian Forest Ring. It is official.  My name is Julie Aastorp and I am sitting on the board that runs Norwegian Forest Ring (NFR).  I have talked to others that sit on this Board, and with breeders who were there when the Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat was recognized. Truls was the male the Norwegian Breed Standard was written after.” The photos included here are from Julie Aastorp.


They are among the most loving, people oriented cats, with kindness and gentleness. They like attention. Loving life, people, children, other animals and desiring to be a mother to all creatures no matter what their size is their main aim in life. Being wonderful companions, they can easily become your devoted friend, if you allow them. Their patience keeps them from being stressed easily. In the warm months they prefer lying at your side instead on your lap.  They consider everyone to be their friend.

The Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat shares attributes with the Traditional Maine Coon, the Traditional Siberian and the Traditional Turkish Angora.  Large size and long hind legs give the Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat a commanding presence. Heavy muscling, sturdy bones and strong claws allow these cats to spend a great deal of time in the trees in Norway.   It is common to see them descending from tree trunks head first. In the home it is an absolute necessity to provide some sort of cat tree for climbing.  They like to be up high to view their kingdom.    

 Breeders of this breed like to think of this “natural cat” as their little lynx.  While it makes a gentle household cat, and is very much a home body, it defends its territory vigorously.  It is a superb climber and hunter, and owners who live near streams report that their Traditional Norwegian Forest Cats actually fish. 

The Traditional Norwegian Forest Cat is for you if you like strong, large, loyal, healthy and sweet tempered cats for companions.


The breed is generally sound, although breeding for longer bodies and noses must be guarded against to avoid spinal and dental problems.

Coat: this is how the coat look like in full bloom:

 This is a silver striped young male, about 10 moths. You can see the guard hairs on his back.  Bellmann av Fristad(N) NFO  ns 09 23 Owner: Karianne Nielsen  Breeder: Tanhja Braathu



This is Julia a red classic tabby girl 3 years old:

CH(N)Grünerløkkas Julia Magnusdotter NFO d 22 Owner: Julie Aastorp Breeder: Sissel Helle Jørgensen


This is a smoke and white male 8 months old, who have been Best in shows many times:

GIC (N)Nakimo`s Bulbasaur JW NFO ns 09 Owner: Åse Eilertsen breeder: Siv M. Johnsen


This is a red striped one year old female: DK*La Fôret`s Salome, owned by Dorte and Jorgen Varup



Head should be equalateral triangle and you should immediately get the impression of a triangle seen from the front. Also you can see the good chin.

A young red silver classic tabby and white boy 5 months old. His head is perfect and his ears are perfectly set.

(N)Skaujentas Dreng NFO ds 09 22 Owner: Katarina Bergren og Monika Svartberg

This is a cream classic tabby and white boy 5 months old. His weight is already 9 pounds:

(N)Løvetun`s Calvin Owner: Ludmilla Heisig Breeder: Ella Sciezka



 This is a red classic tabby and white male 6 months old when he was best in show and the judges said he had a perfect head:

(N)Skaujentas Brage NFO d 09 22 Owner: Silje Hammersland Breeder: Julie Aastorp

Ears set with the outer line following the outer line of the head: His ears are perfect set but should be better width at the base.



 This is a young boy with perfect ears. He is known all over Scandinavia for his fantasic ears:

EC S*Ewkala`s Emilio NFO n 09 22 Owner Pia Hulthèn Breeder: Karin Kronwall

And this young boy, a Brown Classic Tabby, 5 months old has very good ears and very nice tufs:

S`Special Blend`s Benny Kilkenny NFO n 22 Owners and Breeders: Malin Karlen and Erik Larson.



Eyes: I guess you can see from all the pictures above the look they will have. This is a blistriped and white young male 4 months old with a perfect look.

S*Restless Lynx NFO a 09 23 Owner: Julie Aastorp Breeder: Ulrica Olofsson


And this young male one year, Perfect look, wonderful head, ears and tufs:

(N)Coco Island`s MR.Q NFO n 09 22 Breeders: Janne and Stein Harald Dyrset

Profile/nose: Here are the same boy as above:

(N)Løvetun`s Calvin Owner: Ludmilla Heisig Breeder: Ella Sciezka




 And another profile: (N)Skaujentas Brand NFO d 22 Owner: Brita Schjervheim Breeder: Julie Aastorp




And (N)Skaujentas Dovre NFO d 09 22 Owner: Angelica Eilert Breeder: Julie Aastorp



Body and Legs:

This Brown Classic Tabby and White male is 10 moths old and his weight is already 15 pounds.  He was the best of the best in England in the Spring of 2005. Very strong and heavy built with big paws:

GIC(N)Tordenørn`s AHA Suprise NFO n 09 22 Breeder: Berit Høier Owner: Lisa Crow, England


This is the brother of GIC(N)Tordenørn`s AHA Suprise (above) 10 months and his weight is 14 pounds. His legs are perfect boning with big paws:

IC(N)Tordenørn`s Allesandro NFO n 09 22 Breeder: Berit Høier Owner: Eva Rønning.


And another brother to GIC(N)Tordenørn`s AHA Suprise (above). Look at his long body and legs:

IC(N)Tordenørn`s Amazing NFO n 09 22 Breeder and Owner: Berit Høier.

This is a big black and white male who was the best breeding male in Sweeden last year, with his long legs and body.

S*Sherwoodskogen`s Ozzy NFO n 09 Breeder: Åsa and Jan Cronwall

The hind legs are higher than the front legs, which is very important. This Red Classic Tabby and White boy 4 months old:

(N)Skaujentas Brage NFO d 09 22 Owner: Silje Hammersland Breeder: Julie Aastorp.



EC S*Sagoskogens Anna NFO fs 09 Breeder: Kerstin Schöldström and Thomas Carlsson Owner: Sissel Helle Jørgensen.



Tail should be long and reach at least to the shoulder, but preferably to the neck and head.  Here is a Red Classic Tabby boy with very looong tail.

(N)Skaujentas Brand NFO d 22 Owner: Brita Schjervheim Breeder: Julie Aastorp


And the same boy as above (his tail reaches down to the left hand corner of the picture).

GIC(N)Tordenørn`s AHA Suprise NFO n 09 22 Breeder: Berit Høier Owner: Lisa Crow, England.


We sincerely appreciate the support, pictures and feedback on the standard that we have received from the NORWEGIAN FOREST CAT RING. 


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