This Cat Wears a Custom Made Winter Coat
Years ago I had a boyfriend whose father had a very impressive cat. This cat, appropriately enough, was called Fluffy, and she became bigger and fluffier as the temperature outside got colder, until she had grown such a grand coat of fur that she was a least double her size in the summer months. Now I realize that she must have been a Norwegian Forest cat, a breed that comes from northern Europe and is specialized for the cold weather.
According to one source, it can be almost like owning two cats, since the Norwegian Forest cat changes so much as the winter approaches. They come in all sorts of colors and patterns, with some even changing from light colored fur in the summer months to darker fur in the colder months to increase the amount of heat from the sun that is absorbed. Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she came up with the design for this one! These cats originated in Norway and have a double layer of fur coats, with the outer one getting thick, luxurious, and long to keep out the ice and snow.
With an inner layer of regular fur, their coats are essentially waterproof, and excellent for insulation. One source that I used referred to this inner fur coat as “winter underwear.” They have a magnificent tail, and often develop a mane of fur in the winter. They tend to have very sweet features and pretty eyes of green and gold. They are quite similar to the Maine Coon cat, having tufts in the ears and fur between the toes.
I always liked to pet Fluffy whenever I went over to my boyfriend’s father’s house to visit-her winter fur was nice and silky soft. I have fond memories of looking out through the kitchen sink, seeing how deep the snow was, and seeing two mounds suddenly turn into a cat (Fluffy) and a dog (a husky, who also lived there). The more miserable the weather was outside, the more these two seemed to like it. They would huddle together for warmth and enjoy being two creatures designed for the extremes of winter.
A Brief History of the Breed
In Norway this cat is known as the “skogkatt” or “skaukatt”; with skogg- or skau- meaning “forest” depending upon which dialect the speaker is using. Legend has it that Norwegian Forest cats accompanied the Vikings on their journeys. The breed itself is quite old, but these animals were not considered as house cats until the 1930’s. Serious breeding efforts had started around then, but once WWII became an issue show cats and cat breeding efforts were not as important. Serious breeding and showing didn’t begin again until the 1970’s.
What They are Like as a Pet
The Norwegian Forest cat was introduced into the United States in 1979, where it gained the nickname of the Wegie (rhymes with squeegee) which is less of a mouthful than the entire name. They have a playful personality and like human companionship, get upset if they are left alone too long, and are reputed to be very intelligent. They are quite good at grooming themselves, and are not prone to excessive shedding or matting. Experts recommend grooming once a week, with extra attention during the spring months when the heavy winter coat is being exchanged for the lighter summer version. They are apparently very healthy animals, too, having developed into a hale and robust creature that can withstand the nastiest of the outdoor elements.