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La Maison Forte

The Norwegian Forest Cat

A description of the breed
by Paula Swepston ©

Texte française
Maison Forte Norwegian Forest Cat kittens
The Maison Forte site map
NFO Standard, FIFé 1999
Freia de la Maison Forte & canine friend

According to Scandinavian legend, the goddess Freyja drives a chariot drawn by two large white cats. In another story, the mighty Thor is confronted with a cat so heavy he can lift only one of its paws off the ground. Then there's the folk tale of the cat who talks a troll to death, thereby gaining a kingdom of riches for her master.

Companion of Vikings, gods, and fairy folk, the Norwegian Forest Cat is equally at home purring on the foot of your bed, or helping you sort paperclips and answer e-mail. These are lively, curious cats with a mischievous streak, and they quickly become an indispensable part of the family, adapting to life with dogs and other cats, and making gentle playmates for children.

boy & kitten

Known as Norsk Skogkatt in its native country, the Norwegian is large and sturdy, standing high on its legs, with huge 'snowshoe' paws adapted for climbing rocks and walking on deep snow and ice. The head is triangular, with a straight profile, open, alert eyes set slightly on a slant, and large ears, well-tufted against the cold. The fur is unique, consisting of a wooly, insulating undercoat topped by long, glossy guardhairs which provide year-round waterproofing. In full winter panoply the cat can look like a little lion, with an impressive ruff surrounding the face and shoulders. The tail is long and plumy, 'like a ship in full sail', as one breeder has said (the French use the word panache to describe it), and the back legs are adorned with knickers. In general the Forest Cat coat is easy to care for, as it is not prone to tangling. A once or twice-weekly comb-through is sufficient except in springtime, when the cat begins to 'take off its winter underwear'.

Forest Cat on the farm

The Forest Cat is an ancient breed, probably evolved from cats brought to Scandinavia by the Vikings, who discovered them during voyages to warmer parts of the world. Another theory has it that the cats arrived with middle eastern refugees fleeing the Huns. In either case, their rat-catching abilities were certainly valuable in protecting food supplies, and most probably a snuggle-and-purr relationship grew up quickly between the cats and their human friends. Only the hardiest cats were able to survive the harsh winters in forests by icy fjords, and over the centuries they adapted well to this climate. Bit by bit they made their way to the farms and fireplaces of the Scandinavian people – into their folklore as well – and finally into the modern cat fancy, where, in a second Viking conquest, they enjoy an ever-growing popularity around the world.

The first Forest Cat breed club, Norsk Skogkattring, was established in Norway in 1975. It was founded by Karl Eggum, Liv Loose, and Egil Nylund. The latter, along with his wife Else Nylund, bred Pan's Truls, the magnificent male cat who served as model for FIFé's Forest Cat standard.) This group formalized a breeding program begun in the 1930's to preserve the native cat and select the best subjects for reproduction. Their work had to be discontinued during the Second World War, but recommenced in the ‘50's. In 1977 their efforts were crowned with FIFé's acceptance of the breed for championship status, an event commemorated with a special postage stamp in Norway. Today the Norsk Skogkattring numbers about 500 members internationally, and Forest Cat lovers everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to this devoted band.

The Forest Cat exists in a wide variety of colors, from solid black to solid white, taking in blues, silvers and smokes, reds and tortoiseshells, and the various tabby patterns.Monteverdi de la Maison Forte All are found with or without white markings, such as white paws, a white blaze on the face, or a medallion on the chest. Chocolate, lilac, fawn, and cinnamon, along with the colorpoint motif typical of Siamese, are an exception, as these colors are not felt to be natural to the Forest Cat. They are not permitted in the FIFé standard.

Currently there is extended debate among Forest Cat breeders over the possible admission of some new colors that appeared in 1992 in Sweden. At first the cats were thought to be chocolate and lilac, then perhaps fawn and cinnamon. These two possibilities have been ruled out by text matings, but as research goes on, it is still not certain what they are or where they might have originated. At present there is a proposal by a group of German breeders in 1. DEKZV e.V.to have them recognized with the name fox; it is expected that this proposal will be presented to the FIFé General Assembly in Mai 2004.

It's only fair to issue a warning to prospective Forest Cat owners. These animals are addictive. People don't seem to be able to stop at just one, but are tempted to have a whole house full! They make the best companions in the world, and it can safely be said that with a Forest Cat in your home you will never be lonely, and you will never again have cold feet in the night!

At the Maison Forte, close to Geneva, Switzerland, we have been living with Forest Cats for seventeen years. Our cats are registered with the Swiss branch of FIFé, the Fédération Féline Helvétique. Our kittens grow up in the family – not in cages! – and go to their new homes at the age of three months, wormed and vaccinated (including for leucose) and FFH pedigrees.


Thor's Expedition to the Home of the Giants


Genetics and the White Cat
Available Forest Cat kittens
NFO Standard, FIFé 1999
International Skogkatt Secretary
Maison Forte site map

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CONTACT US for more information,
or if you would like to visit.

Paula and Lee Swepston
France: (+33) (0)
Switzerland: (+41)
E-mail : L_P_swepston@compuserve.com

Photos of Maison Forte cats: Paula Swepston ©

Le Chat des Forêts Norvégiennes

Déscription de la race

Le chat des forêts norvégiennes est une race féline naturelle la plus ancienne du Nord de l’Europe, son origine se perdant dans un passé lointain et des lieux reculés. Whose little darling? Baby Orkie & Swep Le destin de ce chat est dû essentiellement à l’histoire et à l’épopée des Vikings qui étaient de grands navigateurs au long cours. On pense que c’est au VIIIème siècle, lors d’une expédition dans la région Caucase et des plateaux de l’Anatolie, que les Vikings ramenèrent en Scandinavie des chats à poil mi-long pour protéger leurs drakkars de l’invasion des rats.

Au cours des siècles, la nature a harmonieusement modelé ces chats pour qu’ils puissent survivre aux dures conditions climatiques des terres nordiques.

D'apres les légendes scandinaves, la déesse Freyja conduit un chariot tiré par deux grands chats blancs. Dans une autre histoire, le grand Thor se trouve confronté d'un chat si lourd qu'il ne peut soulever qu'une seule patte. Et finalement il y a le conte folklorique d'un chat qui tue un troll simplement en lui parlant, gagnant ainsi une royaume de richesses pour son maitre.

Le chat des forêts norvégiennes est un chat long, robuste et doté d’une fourrure exceptionnelle: le sous-poil laineux le protège du froid alors que le long poil de garde imperméabilise l’animal de la pluie. Durant l’hiver, il porte une superbe collerette ainsi que des knickers. La queue est longue et touffue. Sa tête, particulièrement expressive, a la forme d’un triangle équilateral et le profil est rigoureusement droit. Les oreilles sont grandes et portent à leur extrémité un plumet comme chez les lynx. Les yeux sont lumineux, grands et bien ouverts, légèrement oblique.

1977: triumphant NFO return from FIFé GA

Son caractère très sociable et son formidable sens d’adaptation lui permettent de vivre sans problème en appartement où il devient le plus adorable compagnon, joueur et câlin.

Le chat des forêts norvégiennes a été reconnu par la Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFé) en 1977, avec un standard basé sur le magnifique Pan's Truls, elevé par Else et Egil Nylund. Toutes les couleurs de robes sont admises (avec ou sans blanc), à l’exception des motifs siamois et les couleurs lilas et chocolat, cinnamon et faon..

A la Maison Forte, proche à Genève, nous avons 16 ans d'experience avec les Norvégiens. Nos chatons sont enregistrés aux Fédération Féline Helvétique, et partent à 3 mois avec pedigrees FIFé et des vaccins complets.


L'expedition de Thor aux Pays des Géants
Sécretaire Internationale du Skogkatt


Chatons disponibles
NFO Standard, FIFé 1999
Maison Forte site map

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Paula and Lee Swepston
France: (+33) (0)
Suisse: (+41)
E-mail : L_P_swepston@compuserve.com


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Last modified on 11 February 2004