What's The Difference Between A Feral Cat & Norwegian Forest Cat?

Outdoor cats are a strange breed. That is, if you could call all outdoor cats a breed? Both feral cats and Norwegian Forest cats are outdoor cats, but the former is not a breed and varies between countries. Sometimes the term feral is interchangeably with 'free-roaming,' 'street,' 'alley' or 'community cat.' They often have been referred to as 'stray cats,' although stray and feral cats may differ according to rescuers, veterinarians and researchers. Norwegian Forest cats [aka Norsk skogkatt or Norsk skaukatt] , on the other hand are an actual breed, who enjoy the company of humans, dating all the way back to the Viking era.

Feral Cats

A feral cat is an un-owned domestic cat that lives outdoors and avoids human contact when possible. It doesn't like to be handled or touched, and will breed over dozens of generations. It's known to become an aggressive predator in urban, savannah and bushland environments. Some feral cats may become more comfortable with people who regularly feed them, but even with long-term attempts at socialization, they usually remain aloof and are more active during the evening hours.

Feral cats are devastating to wildlife territories, and conservation biologists consider them to be one of the worst invasive species on the planet. They may live outdoors in colonies. However when managed with regular food and care by humans, these colonies can be controlled..  

Norwegian Forest Cats

The Norwegian Forest feline originated between 1500 and 4,000 years ago, as a result of natural selection. Although they were almost wiped out during World War II, these ancient cats are making a comeback in the countries of Norway, Sweden, Iceland and even France.

Finnish Breeders characterize them as the “mystic wildcat of the fairy tales.” They are so popular today, they are often described as a frequent muse in Norwegian folklore and myths.

These cats are sizable, strong and sturdy. Adult and female males can weigh as much as 18 to 20 pounds.

Old Norwegian tales refer to them as animals so heavy that not even the Viking gods could pick them up. Onen oral history handed down through the ages suggest Thor, the God of Thunder and his son of Odin Allfather, lost a contest of strength to Jormungand, the serpent son of Loki, the God of mischief. The 'reveal' at the end of this myth describes how Jormungand won the physical battle -- namely he was disguised as a Norwegian Forest cat.

Is there a link?

Both of these cats have adapted to cold temps outdoors to the winter. The Norwegian has adapted to survive Norway's cold weather, and it can be found outdoors for extended periods of time.

The Norwegian's ancestors also had white shorthair cats brought to Norway from Great Britain (some time after 1000 AD by the Vikings.) When they interbred with the indigenous longhaired cats brought to Norway by Crusaders, they could have reproduced with the feral stock, and may have eventually evolved into the modern-day Norwegian Forest breed.

The most distinguishing factors between these two cats is how they're perceived by humans. While the Norwegian is regal in appearance, the feral is more like the rebellious member of the masses.  And while it is legal to kill feral cats in all fifty states, you would never consider ending the life of a Norwegian.

Primary Source: Wikipedia