The Norwegian forest cat, a creature once found only in fairy tales, is now gaining popularity as a cherished family pet in Northern Europe. These cats are the result of natural selection and have been around for many centuries, with possible origins dating back to anywhere between 1500 and 4,000 years ago. Although their numbers were almost decimated during World War II, these majestic felines are making a comeback in countries such as Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and France. There is still much debate over their exact lineage, but some theories suggest that Viking-introduced short-haired cats from the British Isles interbred with long-haired cats brought by crusaders. Alternatively, others propose that these cats are a hybrid mix of Russian Siberian forest cats and Turkish Angoras.
For ages, the beloved forest cats have been an essential part of Norse mythology and have captured the fascination of people who breed them in Finland. These feline creatures are known as the enchanting “mystic wildcats” in fairy tales. According to Norse folklore, these cats were highly favored by Freyja – the goddess of love, fertility, and home – who rode in a chariot drawn by two gray or white forest cats. As she traveled through rural areas, her mere presence resulted in flourishing seeds and crops. Farmers who offered milk to these divine cats were rewarded with bountiful harvests. It is believed that these colossal forest cats were so robust that even gods couldn’t lift them. It’s plausible that these were the same cats that sailed on Viking ships and were kept in Viking barns to keep pests and mice at bay.
Legend has it that forest cats, also known as “mountain-dwelling cats,” are excellent hunters and climbers. They possess an impressive ability to scale sheer rock faces that other felines cannot manage. Despite their reputation as fierce predators, these cats have a softer side. Their fluffy appearance is due to their dense double coat, which makes up to 75% of their body weight. This coat includes a downy layer underneath and a water-resistant woolly layer on top, providing warmth during Nordic winters. Forest cats, affectionately called “Wegies,” have a calm demeanor that sets them apart from other felines of their size.
The Norwegian Forest Cat, also called “Wegies”, is a popular breed and is considered one of the largest domesticated cats globally. They are believed to have descended from Maine Coons, which can weigh up to 25 pounds! According to BasePaws.com, these cats are friendly, outgoing, and self-reliant. Although they enjoy human company, they like maintaining their independence and following their own rules. They may sit on your lap, but only when and where they feel comfortable. With excellent climbing abilities, they love exploring their surroundings. When allowed to roam freely, they show off their natural hunting skills and become quite efficient at it.