Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norwegian Forest Cat is adapted to survive Norway's cold weather. Its ancestors may include black and white shorthair cats brought to Norway from Great Britain sometime after 1000 AD by the Vikings and longhaired cats brought to Norway by Crusaders. These cats could have reproduced with farm and feral stock and might have eventually evolved into the modern–day Norwegian Forest Cat. The Siberian and the Turkish Angora, longhaired cats from Russia and Turkey, respectively, are also possible ancestors of the breed Norse legends refer to the Skogkatt as a "mountain–dwelling fairy cat with an ability to climb sheer rock faces that other cats could not manage." Since the Norwegian Forest Cat is a very adept climber, author Claire Bessant believes that the Skogkatt could be about the Norwegian Forest Cat. Many people believe that the ancestors of the Norwegian Forest Cat served as mousers on Viking ships. They lived in the Norwegian forests for many centuries but were later prized for their hunting skills and were used on Norwegian farms. Norwegian Forest Cats would continue acting as mousers on Norwegian farms until they were discovered in the early twentieth century by cat enthusiasts.
In 1938 the first Norwegian Forest Cat Club was formed. The club's movement to preserve the breed was interrupted by World War II (WWII). Owing to cross–breeding with free–ranging domestic cats during WWII, the Norwegian Forest Cat became endangered and nearly extinct until the Norwegian Forest Cat Club helped the breed make a comeback by developing an official breeding program. Since the cat did not leave Norway until the 1970s, it was not registered as a breed in the Fédération Internationale Féline, a European federation of cat registries, until Carl–Fredrik Nordane, a local cat fancier, took notice of the breed, and made efforts to register it. The breed was registered in Europe by the 1970s, but was not recognized by the American Cat Fanciers Association until 1994. In 1978, it was recognized in Sweden, and in 1989, they were accepted as a breed in the United Kingdom. The Norwegian Forest Cat is very popular in Norway and Sweden. It is the fifth most popular breed in France since 2003, where there are about 400 to 500 births per year.
The Australian Cat Federation Inc standard for the breed can be found here.