The Norwegian Forest cat, or more correctly the Skogkatt, evolved naturally in Norway. It is known as Norway’s National Cat. The breed has not been man made from the combination of different pedigree cats or tailored by selective breeding towards the “designer” ideology. Although one of the oldest breeds in the world, even today, the Skogkatt is not so well known amongst the cat breeds. We feel promotion is very much they key as well as education to further the breed and to keep to its natural heritage regarding type.. The fact is they are incredibly majestic cats, very intelligent, relate remarkably well to other animal species and an absolute joy to own. The importance of breeding these cats is still very much a conservation programme, there is much work to do before breeders worldwide can take the breed for granted as being stable regarding its overall type. Above is a photograph of Premier Pan’s Truls, born in Norway to the Pan’s Cattery owned by the late Egil Nylund and his wife Else who is known in Norway as “the mother of the Skogkatt”. A lovely and more genuine Cat lady one could never meet and I am pleased I have had that honour several times now. Premier Pans Truls was used to have the breed fully recognised and accepted in their own right at the FIFe General Assembly held in Paris in 1977 and to set the Breed Standard. Unfortunately, as with any other breed, there is a vast diversity in type around the world now. One must not lose sight of who this cat is, and remember, this is what we should be breeding towards in order to secure the traditional type and important expression. Breeders MUST continue to preserve this breed as it should be. The Norwegian Forest cat is a natural breed and like the Norwegian people say – the standard of the breed should fit the cat, not the cat fit a standard. This is a very important point in the Cat Fancy as most breeds of animal are bred to fit a standard of points that are changed time and time again until what ends up is an animal that can look nothing like it did originally. The Skogkatt is getting that way now sadly. Many are looking almost Oriental in type with huge ears that are wide set, along with heads too long, bone structure too fine and most importantly the coat quality is getting poor. All too many seem to concentrate on just a profile or ears or chins – forgetting the the cat as a whole. This breed should be bred with the most important characteristics set in priority of good thick and waterproof coat quality – bone structure and substance – and the wild expression. These are the characteristics within this cat that has enabled it to adapt and survive in the harsh climatic conditions of their homeland and what has enabled them to evolve over thousands of years into the cat they are. Too many breeders are interested in show titles which help them towards selling kittens and there are an increasing amount of Judges on the show circuit, especially in Europe, that recently like the ” something different” look. Sadly, this just adds encouragement to breeders already breeding cats with an extreme look. This way of breeding may well be OK for the many designer breeds but – the Norwegian Forest Cat is a Naturally evolved breed and was certainly NEVER supposed to be bred with the designer or the fashionable traits ideal. If Breeders are not careful the Norwegian Forest Cat as it should be will be changed so much there will be no going back – this has happened to other breeds like the Persian and Siamese these days. Large “Bat-Ears” set wide is still a fault in the breed standard – but – breeders and Judges get away with this “new look” by saying the standard is open to individual interpretation – No! That is an excuse. Those who deliberately change the look of this breed are just disrespectful of the breed and the hard work done by the pioneers who saved them from extinction and.. are only interested in their own self glory and the financial trappings that brings. Much of the animal showing these days is political and about “who” knows “who” – not about the breeds or their welfare. When buying a kitten always look at the parents – if you do not want to encourage this extreme breeding dont purchase from cats who have an oriental look or with massive ears set at 10 to 2 on a clock face! Large ears are for hot climates as it is an aid in heat dissipation – NFC’s should not have massive ears! It really does make my heart feel heavy to see what some are doing to our breed for nothing more than glory and money.
(Lorraine Barrington – Norgeskaukatt’s Cattery)