Encounter the Majestic Norwegian Forest Cat: A Furry Friend with Roots in Viking Lore

The enchanting “mystical feline of fairy tales” is quickly becoming a popular pet among families in Northern Europe. The Norwegian forest cat, which dates back to 1500-4000 years ago, was formed through natural selection. Despite almost becoming extinct during WWII, these ancient cats are making a comeback in Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and France. While their exact origin remains a topic of debate, one theory suggests that short-haired cats brought by Vikings from the British archipelago intermixed with long-haired cats brought by crusaders. Another possibility is that they are a hybrid of Siberian forest cats from Russia and Turkish Angoras.
For countless years, these felines have been the central theme of Norse folklore. In Finland, cat breeders refer to them as the “enchanting wildcats of fairy tales.” As per Norse mythology, the forest cats were beloved by Freyja, the goddess of love, fertility, and household. It is said that she rode in a chariot pulled by two white or grey forest cats, whose presence caused seeds to sprout and grow wherever they went. Farmers who provided milk to these divine felines received bountiful harvests as a blessing from the goddess. The forest cats were believed to be so massive that not even the gods could lift them. These robust and giant cats likely accompanied the Vikings on their voyages and were kept in Viking barns to keep them free from diseases and rodents.
According to a Norwegian legend, forest cats are skilled hunters and climbers. They are known as “mountain-dwelling cats” that can climb steep rock surfaces that other felines cannot handle. However, these cats also have a softer side, similar to their Viking ancestors. Despite weighing up to 16 pounds, they are mostly fluff, with up to 75% of their weight being fur. With their extremely dense double coat consisting of a down-like layer below and a water-resistant wooley layer on top, they are perfect for snuggles during the long Nordic winters. These cats, affectionately called “Wegies,” have a calm demeanor that sets them apart from other cats of their size.
The Norwegian Forest Cat is known for being one of the largest domesticated cats in the world, with the exception of Maine Coons who are believed to have descended from them. Weighing up to 25 pounds, they are affectionately called “Wegies” and are known for their friendly and independent personalities. BasePaws.com notes that while they enjoy the company of their favorite humans, they prefer to set their own terms. They are lap cats but only cuddle with whom and when they want. These felines are great climbers and explorers. If given the freedom to roam around, they can become skilled hunters.

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