by Jette Eva Madsen, 09.06.1999.

At FIFe’s general assembly in Ringsted/DK on 28-29 May 1999 a new standard for the Norwegian Forest Cat was accepted. The SVERAK proposal for a new standard was adopted unanimously with a total of 32 votes in favour.

The proposed standard was based on a very thorough and comprehensive work, initiated by SVISS (Skogkattens Venner i Södra Sverige).

In the spring ’98 this club held a seminar in connection with an international show for Norwegian Forest Cats in Hörby. At this seminar nearly all European countries with interest in the Forest Cat were represented and the first draft for the new standard was established.

The work was carried on by Jørgen Frithiof with help from many sources, amongst which I would like to mention the International Forest Cat Secretary, Paula Swepston.

The changes and the reasoning behind the changes


Added to the standard is: with good height when seen in profile; forehead slightly rounded.

The shape of the head seen in profile was not very well defined before. Over the years this has lead to cats with very flat heads (the so called snakeheads or crocodiles). Some cats even have a slight indentation over the eye brows. The change should put more focus on a well balanced, strong looking head, both when the head is seen from the front and from the side.


The wording is changed a bit. Now the size of the ears is described as large. Added is pointed tips.

Over the years there has been some confusion as to what the word "high" in connection with the ears meant. Did it mean that the ears should be big or that they should be highly set? The word "large" hopefully puts and end to that.

The shape of the tip of the ears was never specified before. It is clear, however, that the cats with the pointed tips look much more alert, and therefore I welcome the wording "pointed tips" very much.


The wording is changed a bit, so it is now emphasised that they should be large and oval.

A lot of cats have eyes that are too small and/or too round. It is hoped that the new wording will make it more clear exactly how the eyes should be in order to create the right look.


Added to the description of the legs is the word strong. In fact it is the first word in the description now, so there can be no doubt that it is a very important feature.

We do indeed see Forest Cats with high, slightly built, rather thin legs. That kind of legs create a far too elegant kind of cat, so I’m convinced that the addition of the word "strong" will help breeders and judges focus much more on the strength of the legs of the cats.


The paws were very poorly described before. Now the wording is Large, round, in proportion to the legs.

The cats with the very elegant legs have a tendency to have rather small, oval paws.


The description of the length is changed to: should reach at least to the shoulder blades, but preferably to the neck.

A Forest Cat with a very long tail is impressive. The new wording will hopefully encourage breeders to work more with the tails of their cats.


A few precisions are made concerning the guardhairs. The guardhairs have to be long, coarse and glossy and they have to cover the back and the sides.

Since the last change in the standard of the Norwegian Forest Cat there has clearly been less focus on the quality and length of the guardhairs in comparison to the focus created by the wording of the first standards. Since the coat is very important and is allocated 25 points in the standard, it is important to make sure that we all know what the correct coat quality should look like.


Four additions were made.

Ears set too widely apart or too close together. Thin legs. Too silky coat.

These additions are related to the problems created by the word "high" about the ears, the missing description of the legs and the reduced focus on coat quality.

The second change of the standard

And then yet another change to the standard was adopted on the same assembly. The German club had put forward a proposal made by the German Forest Cat Club about including the same kind of comments that the first Forest Cat Standards originally had.

The comments are:

  1. Coat is evaluated only on texture and quality
  2. Very slow maturing of this breed should be taken into account
  3. Mature males may have broader heads than females
  4. Length of coat and density of undercoat vary with the seasons
  5. Kittens can take up to 6 months of age to develop guardhairs

My personal opinion about this kind of comments is that they should only be put into the standard, if they are specific for this particular breed.

When I look at the 5 comments listed above, I believe that number 1 is shared with the Maine Coon, Sibirian Cat and the Turkish Angora.

Number 2 and 3 are shared with all large breeds.

I think that number 4 is shared with all breeds except perhaps the Sphinx!

Number 5 may be specific for Forest Cats, since it is probably the breed with most focus on guard hairs.

I belive that judges, at least, are aware that large cats develop slowly, that males of large breeds have broader heads than females, that length of coat and density is dependant on the time of year, etc. Therefore, I am now a bit uncertain about what the purpose is with adding these comments to the standard of the Norwegian Forest Cat. And I am not the only one, as I have already discussed this matter with more of my fellow judges, who are also rather puzzled. Is it because it is believed that the Forest Cat show these traits in a much more pronounced way than other breeds, where it is also found? Or is it because judges and breeders handling the Forest Cats take it less into consideration than judges and breeders handling other breeds?

Perhaps FIFe should start work in the future in order to list general comments that are shared by the different breeds. This work would be a fine addition not only for breeders, judges and student judges, but also for other people with general interest in the development of cats.

The New Standard

The standard was accepted by the FIFe General Assembly on May 29, 1999 - and is valid from January 1, 2000.
Changes to the old standard are shown in italic. This copy of the standard was taken from Mr. Frithiof's homepage.

General Size large
Head Shape triangular, where all sides are equally long; with good height when seen in profile; forehead slightly rounded; long, straight profile without break in line (no stop)
Chin firm
Ears Shape large, with good width at the base; pointed tips; with lynx-like tufts and long hair out of the ears
Placement high and open, so that the outer lines of the ears follow the line of the head down to the chin
Eyes Shape large and oval, well opened, set slightly oblique
Expression alert expression
Colour all colours permitted, regardless of coat colour
Body Structure long, strongly built; solid bone structure
Legs   strong, high on legs, hind legs higher than the front legs
Paws large, round, in proportion to the legs
Tail long and bushy, should reach at least to the shoulderblades, but preferably to the neck
Coat Structure semi long. The woolly undercoat is covered by a smooth, water repellant uppercoat which consists of long, coarse and glossy hair covering the back and the sides. A fully coated cat has a shirtfront, a full frill and knickerbockers
Colour all colours are permitted, including all colours with white; except pointed patterns and chocolate and lilac, cinnamon and fawn. Any amount of white is allowed, i.e. a white blaze, white locket, white chest, white on the belly, white on the paws, etc
Faults General too small and finely built cats
Head round or square head; profile with a break (stop)
Ears small ears
set too widely apart
set too close together
Legs short legs
thin legs
Tail short tail
Coat dry coat; knotted with lumps
too silky

Scale of points

Total   100 points
Head general shape, nose, profile, jaw and teeth, chin 20
Ears shape, size and placement 10
Eyes shape, expression 5
Body shape, size, bone structure, legs,shape of paws 25
Tail length and shape 10
Coat quality and texture, length 25
Condition   5


  • Coat is evaluated only on texture and quality
  • Very slow maturing of this breed should be taken into account
  • Mature males may have broader heads than females
  • Length of coat and density of undercoat vary with the seasons
  • Kittens can take up to six months of age to develop guardhairs