The Norwegian Forest Cat ("Skogkatt" in Norwegian) is a big, friendly cat with a long, luxurious double coat and bright green or amber eyes. The "Wegie" evolved to survive the harsh winters of its native Norway, giving it characteristics unique among domestic cats. Notably, the Norwegian Forest Cat sports a double coat of long water-shedding guard hairs over a thick shorter under coat. The ears are heavily furred and set lower on the head to prevent heat loss. The feet are heavily tufted, to protect them from the snowy ground. The outer coat is shed or molted in summer; although the Norwegian Forest Cat is at its most magnificent when wearing the winter coat, it retains its impressive ruff and tail in summer. These big-boned, muscular cats are slow to mature, taking as long as five years to reach full maturity. They are very much at home in trees and unlike other domestic cats, will climb down trees head first.

Norwegian Forest Cats are said to have traveled with the Vikings, protecting grain stores from vermin. They are thought to be one of the progenitors of America's native Maine Coon Cat. They figure in Norwegian myth and legend; Freya, the Norse goddess of beauty and fertility, drove a chariot drawn by cats.

After WWII, Norwegian cat fanciers made a concerted effort to breed the native cats and prevent their dilution through inbreeding with domestic short hairs. Norwegian Forest Cats were brought to the United States in 1979. They were registered with the Cat Fanciers' Association in 1987 and were accepted for full championship status in 1993. Colors range from solid white to solid black and all colors in between. Any coat pattern is acceptable, though a white face and chest is common.

Lotsa cat facts & pictures (kitties are soooo cute) at the Cat Fanciers' Association web site