This particular variety evokes the true image of a forest cat, thanks to its dark, flowing coat. The Norwegian Forest Cat has evolved down the centuries with very little human interference, being well-equipped to survive in its relatively harsh natural environment, thanks to its dense, protective coat. No-one is certain of their ancestry, but they have been known in Norway for at least 500 years, originally being kept on farms to control rodents.
- BREED DEVELOPED: 1930s
- COUNTRY: Norway
- TYPE: Longhair
- BODY SHAPE: Strong and muscular
- WEIGHS UP TO: 18lb/8 kg
- PLUS POINTS: Hardy and friendly by nature
- WATCH POINTS: Has a strong tendency to roam
Black and other dark shades are common coat colours in this breed, often combined with white or tabby markings. In the case of the Black Smoke, the longer outer guard hairs are predominantly black, save for white areas close to the roots which match the undercoat. This creates a distinct contrast in the coat as the cat moves, as these lighter areas then become apparent. Even so, the smoke effect does differ somewhat between individuals, to the extentthat with two such cats, one may appear to have a darker coat overall than the other. The Black is one of the most popular Smoke varieties, because the contrast present in the coat is at its most pronounced in this instance.
The outer coat of the Norwegian Forest Cat is relatively coarse, and glossy, providing a very effective water-resistant barrier in both rain and snow, while the dense undercoat affords good insulation against the cold. The coat is considerably more profuse in the winter, with an obvious ruff around the neck and a brisket extending down between the front legs. There are also so-called knickerbockers — longer hair extending behind the hind legs, and a magnificent plumed tail. At the onset of spring however, much of the hair is shed, although the tail remains profuse.
- It is thought that these cats could have accompanied Viking seafarers on their journeys overseas, possibly to Scotland and even on to the New World.
- Although bred in a wide range of colours, Siamese-type markings are not permitted in this breed, and self colours are quite rare, compared with bicolours.