Norwegian forest cats and Siberian cats have a lot in common. Both breeds originally came from places where winters are cold and snowy, and developed characteristics to survive these elements. However, each breed has its own distinguishing characteristics. The differences can be slight but recognizable.
Origin and Background of Norwegian Forest Cats
Norwegian forest cats came to North American shores with the Vikings. They were brought along to protect grain stores on the sea just as they did on land back home. According to the Cat Fanciers Association, they "are believed to have left their progeny on the shores of North America." Their Norse origin has been confirmed; their Norse name was skogkatt, which literally means "forest cat," and the CFA says that they did indeed "come out of the Scandinavian forests some time in the last 4,000 years."
Norwegian Forest Cat Characteristics
Norwegian forest cats are sturdily built with a dual-layered coat. In the spring they shed their downy white undercoats and the longer guard hairs, making them look considerably different. They have distinctive manes, especially at 5 years or older. The CFA says that "it is long, dense and very, very impressive!" Like their undercoats, it may thin out in warm weather, but fills back out as the year progresses toward fall. Their coats can have any pattern or color except color points. Lighter-colored cats tend to have thicker coats with fuller undercoats. Norwegian forest cats also tend to have bushy tails and hind legs that are longer than the front legs.
Origin and Background of Siberian Cats
Siberians are the forest cats of Russia. They were first mentioned in a book called "Our Cats and All About Them" by Harrison Weir in 1871. However, written information about them is scarce due to the vastness of their country of origin and the fact that they were too common to be noteworthy. Like Norwegian forest cats, Siberians are a natural breed instead of an man-made one. According to the CFA, they were first imported to the States in 1990 and accepted for registration in 2006.
Siberian Cat Characteristics
While the Norwegian forest cat is a long-haired cat, the Siberian is considered a semi-long-haired cat. Its coat is richer and fuller in cold weather than in warm weather, when it is shorter and less dense. Like Norwegians, they come in just about every color and pattern. They are great problem-solvers and extremely agile. They are typically medium to medium-large, yet are hefty for their size and look strong. They have triple-layered coats. They too have abundant collars, or manes. Their tails are wide at the base and taper slightly to a blunt tip.
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