by Jette Eva Madsen, 16.04.1999.

The question was posed to me at the world show by some German breeders that has collected statistics based on the number of entered Forest Cats in German shows and the total percentage of Best in Shows the same cats win.
The statistic has proved that for some time the Forest Cats have made considerably fewer Best in Shows that you should expect if you compare the percentage of entered Forest Cats to the percentage of entered Maine Coons and Holy Birmans.

I am not sure the statistic will hold true for all European countries but I have an idea that the same statistic may apply to both Holland, Switzerland, France and Denmark. Finland, Italy and Austria may have different statistics and countries like Spain, Iceland, Portugal, Poland, The Tjeck Republic, Norway and Sweden have a much different situation due to the number of exhibited semilonghair cats and the distribution amongst the different breeds in the semilonghair group.

Since the world show I have tried to find a possible explanations to the question. I will therefore list a number of reasons that could perhaps help to solve the problem.

  1. When number of cats in a breed get large judges demand more - It is possible and perhaps not an unreasonable demand since the breeding base is so large. This should however also apply for Maine Coons since they are nearly as many as Forest Cats.
  2. The over all quality of the Forest Cats is more even than the quality of other semilonghair breeds making it harder to pick an outstanding specimen - This may be true since there is a very active international Forest Cat society that cooperates very much with matings and exchange of kittens. The Forest Cat breeders are for instance the only breeders that held regular annular meetings at the world show. On these meetings ideas etc. are exchanged. This has a clear influence on the breed and perhaps also on the general quality of the breed.
  3. More Forest Cat breeders than breeders of other semilonghair breeds are judges and they judge their own breed harder than other breeds - I don't know if they judge their own breed more tough than other breeds but I do know that when I try to count International FIFe judges that breed the different semilonghair breeds and who can themselves judge category II cats I find 2 judges who have been in close contact with breeding of Maine Coons, 11 judges who have been in close contact with the breeding of Holy Birmans and 17 who has the same with Forest Cats. I consider it to be an advantage for the breed that it has the breeding interest of so many judges but I cannot deny that this interest can also prove to give some unforeseen effects such as extremely high ambitions on behalf of their own breed.
  4. The standard of the Forest Cat describe a boring cat that does not appeal to judges - I do not believe that is correct. Alone the fact that so many judges breed Forest Cats prove to me that judges generally find the breed very attractive.
  5. The owners of Forest Cats are not making as good publicity for their cats as owners of other breeds - Perhaps, it is still a new breed and many of the breeders are rather young people in the cat world. This should however also hold true for the Maine Coon.
  6. The Forest Cats still has a reputation as just a house cat. It is easy to breed and demand not much of breeders. Therefore judges prefer another breed if the cats are equally good - I have heard people express the idea that it is very easy to breed Forest Cats and that they believe it is much more difficult to breed for instance Holy Birmans. All breeds does however have 100 points in their standard so theoretically it should be equally difficult. If it is still the case that some people believe it is easy to breed Forest Cats I believe time and education will work for the breed as it will work for all breeds.
  7. Forest Cats are cheaper than other semilong hair breeds - Surely we are brought up with a clear understanding that quality is expensive. That goes for cars, clothing, houses, water everything that surrounds us. The feeling that expensive means quality is deeply imbedded in our culture and it is true that Forest Cats are cheap in some countries and the very good specimens are usually much cheaper than the best specimens of other breeds.
  8. Forest Cat owners are inferior breeders compared to breeders of other semilonghair breeds - I cannot find any reasons why this should be true.
  9. Forest Cat breeders are not as professional breeders as breeders of other semilonghair breeds - Yes, that may be right. The breed alone is not a breed that allows breeders to keep great numbers on limited space. The breed needs attention and space in order to thrive. It is a fact that the greater a number of kittens a breeder can produce the greater chance there may be a winner kitten amongst them. Also the breeders of Norwegian Forest cats do not have breeders in for instance USA as mentors as for instance the Maine Coon breeders have. The breeders in USA are usually much more professional than the European breeders are and very often the new cat breeder will learn to do what his mentor does. If his mentor has 25 cats he will find it natural to have 25 cats, if his mentor neuter and rehome breeding cats above a certain age he will find it natural to do the same. Forest Cat breeders are usually quite small breeders that keep their breeding cats throughout their lives, so perhaps they are not as professional as breeders of other breeds.
  10. Forest Cat breeders do not present their cats at their best - Yes, that is definitely correct. Generally Forest Cat breeders do not do a lot of grooming and refuse to bathe their cats in connection with shows.

I believe that we cannot find a simple answer to the question but looking at some of these points we can perhaps come closer.
I also believe that none of the listed points alone can count for the difference but that the truth is somewhere between the different points listed.