If the Maine Coon (and I, personally, believe this to be so) is considered to be the “gentle giant” of the feline world, then the legendary Norwegian Forest Cat has got to be the sweetest!
Based on personal experience and everything I have read about this breed thus far, the Norwegian Forest Cat is not only intelligent, but a loyal and loving companion as well. Much like the Maine Coon but has been around a bit longer, “Wegies” as they are sometimes nicknamed, are believed to have a direct connection to the Vikings, who kept them on their ships in order to keep the vermin population down. As is often true of Nature’s rule, they are a product of the “survival of the fittest” and/or natural selection as they easily adapted to the harsh Norwegian climate. Using their sturdy bodies already equipped with strong legs, bushy tail to cover themselves thus keeping warm, and overall healthy biological make-up, these cats lived on plants, rodents and even tree bark to survive.
By 1934, it became evident to the Norwegian people that this beautiful but hardy breed was on the verge of extinction. They formed a club and every effort was made to continue breeding them until World War II. Then in the early 1970’s, serious efforts began when a group of dedicated cat fanciers formed Norsk Skogkattring in order to preserve this living historical monument. In 1976, Wegies were recognized by the Feline International Federation, the international cat organization in Europe. This was no easy task; however, as not only had these cats needed to be approved as breeding stock by a panel of breeders and judges, but litters also had to be approved. A very time-consuming project, the end result was well worth it as no attempt to change the breed to appeal to what is considered “in” took place and these cats have remained untouched over the years. I believe this is exactly why they are described by breeders as having a “straight” profile. It’s worth mentioning that, according to Cat Fancy Magazine’s Susan Shaw, “it is common to see a Forest Cat snuggling in the arms of a judge, giving him or her a kiss.”
The Norwegian Forest Cat is also a big part of Norse mythology as they are said to be the cats depicted pulling the goddess Freya’s chariot across the sky as they accompanied her during battle. As much as I love Maine Coons (and trust me, I certainly DO!), living with our Wegie, Tabitha, I can’t help but to adore her. We have only had her a couple of years so far, and already she has me wrapped around her little poofy paws!