Malcolm is a Norwegian Forest Cat — Cat of the Vikings!

Malcolm on the Stairs
Malcolm stands here showing many of the traits of a Norwegian Forest Cat — a mane, a bushy raccoon-like tail, tufted ears and toes, very thick fur. His belly fur would drag on the ground if we didn’t trim him. He’s probably really a Maine Coon cat, but that breed likely is descended from the Norwegian Forest Cat that traveled with the Vikings to North America in the 11th century.

Malcolm doesn’t have a pedigree.  Almost eighteen years ago, he was just a fluffy stray kitten with ear mites and fleas when we chose him at Wayside Waifs, an animal shelter in Kansas City, Missouri.  Through the years, as he grew larger and fluffier, people would tell us he might be partly if not all Maine Coon Cat.  We didn’t care about breeds, though.  To us, Malcolm was one of a kind, special,  unique, in a class by himself.  We barely remember life before he joined our family.

Malcolm loves the sunshine and follows it as it moves across the floor.

Lately, though, we’ve been watching shows about the different breeds of cat. I had no idea there were so many, although still not even close to the number of dog breeds. Our daughter has a Turkish Angora (now living with us), and I knew about a few others.  

There are 80 breeds of cats recognized by one cat registry or another.  The IPCBA (International Progressive Cat Breeders Alliance) recognizes 73 feline breeds, while the more conservative CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association) acknowleges only 41, according to WikiAnswers.

Wikipedia says: The Maine Coon is one of the oldest natural domestic cat breeds in North America, specifically native to the state of Maine, where it is the official State Cat.  The breed was popular in cat shows in the late 1800s, but its existence became threatened when long-haired breeds from overseas were introduced in the early 20th century. The Maine Coon made a comeback and is now the second most popular cat breed in North America, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association. The Maine Coon is noted for its large bone structure, its rectangular body shape, and a long, flowing coat. The breed can be seen in a variety of colors and are known for their intelligence and gentle personalities.

One theory of the origin of the Maine Coon Cat is that it evolved from the Norwegian Forest Cats that traveled to North America with the Vikings in the 11th century.  We decided that Malcolm must be a Viking cat.  My children have one set of Norwegian great-grandparents, so this seemed the perfect origin for Malcolm. We should have named him Erik the Red!

Even in his old age, Malcolm managed to find ways to groom some of the more difficult to reach areas by propping himself against furniture.

Like the Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cats have a thick fluffy double-layered coat, long tufts of fur in ears and between toes, and a long bushy tail to protect them against the cold. They have a lion-like ruff or mane.  Their coat is fairly waterproof  because of its coarse outer layer and dense undercoat. They are very large cats with adult males weighing 13 to 22 pounds (6 to 10 kg),  while females are about half that size. Their hind legs are longer than their front legs.  Malcolm fits this description perfectly.  At his largest, he weighed 16 pounds.

Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest cats are described as very intelligent, playful cats that enjoy human company but can get upset if left alone for a long period of time.  Malcolm would always meow very bitterly when we left him for a couple of days.  He had plenty to eat and drink, but he missed us. And we missed him.

Malcolm followed me around the house and always wanted to sit with or near me. In his later years, he slept next to me. He was my faithful companion, and when I called to him, he always answered.  Malcolm is very sick now, and has all but his tail in Valhalla. Who would have thought a little cat (ok, not so little) could steal your heart so completely? I can barely write any more about him, I’m so sad. There are tears on my keyboard.  Below is a link to a post (Good-bye, Mr. B) about another person’s tears on his keyboard over his beloved cat. (Written from the dog’s perspective.) Hold your pet close today.  I had no idea when we were recording his vacuum grooming just a few weeks ago that Malcolm would decline so quickly. (The video is on this blog.) One day he was jumping on the sofa to sit next to me, the next day he retreated to the closet and refused to eat.  Tests showed an inoperable tumor. 

Malcolm getting vacuumed.

When I took Malcolm to the vet last week, a man who had come in to ask for directions, took a look at Malcolm and said:

“Now that is a cat!”   Well said, sir!

Maine Coon Cat.

Norwegian Forest Cat.

Good-bye, Mr. B

Malcolm looks regal as he sits in one of his many favorite chairs.



Filed under Animals, Cats, Family, History, Life, Personal, Pets, Relationships

15 responses to “Malcolm is a Norwegian Forest Cat — Cat of the Vikings!

  1. Was he ever a Daddy?

    Malcolm was robbed of his manhood at a young age, so he never fathered any gorgeous young Norwegians or Maine Coons or whatever he was. I’ve never seen a cat quite as lovely as he was, so even though there are plenty of cats in the world, it still seems a great loss. It’s so hard to talk about him in the past tense, but he died today. I miss him so much. Cathy


  2. I had a cat that looked exactly like Malcolm as a child. He lived to be 17, and he was quite a person. My parents and I often lament that there will never be another one like him.

    So very sorry to hear of your Malcom’s passing.

    Thanks, Moxey. I bet your cat was magnificent! It’s very hard to lose a pet, to lose anyone. It makes you think about what is important in life and to cherish your family and friends, including your furry and feathered friends, and not worry about a lot else. Cathy


  3. alwaysjan

    Sorry to hear of Malcom’s passing. He deserved a Viking’s funeral, though in cold weather, that can be a bit of a stretch. You always said that it was after my dog, Roo, visited you and pooped on your carpet, that you realized that just maybe you could put up with a pet. I’d like to think I had something to do with you finding Malcolm. It constantly amazes me how animals, who’ve never spoken a word, are a heartbeat away from our soul.


  4. alwaysjan

    Crap, I’ve had so many dogs. It was Wiley who pooped on your carpet. Feel free to rewrite my comment. I’m in mourning.

    Yes, Wiley’s little accident was an epiphany. I thought: I can live with this. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a little animal running around? And there were quite a few accidents (some on purpose, the little rascal)! I knew nothing about hairballs before, either! My ignorance about cat behavior and misbehavior was huge, but I also didn’t know how loving and devoted they were. Or that I’d always be covered in glorious golden cat hair and not mind a bit! Cathy


  5. Catherine: I am so sorry to hear about Malcolm’s passing. I loved reading about him and watching his video. He was precious.
    Hugs to you.

    Thanks, Elisse. I keep thinking I hear him. I miss his gentle little snore, I miss him meowing to be put on the bed with me, since he couldn’t jump there any more. Three weeks ago I was going to buy stairs for him, but hadn’t gotten to the store. I miss hugging him. I miss that he was at all of our family events or waiting for us when we got home. He’d hear the garage door opener, and be waiting at the door when we came in. Then, he walk off! Like, I’m glad you’re home, but now I have important naps to take. Cathy


  6. I’m sorry to hear the news, Cath. My first thought is that he is now “Malcolm, King of the Clouds” and closer to the Sun he loves,and the “son” he never had! Raise a glass of milk to him this Thanksgiving with Family … that will help with the grieving perhaps. Our thoughts are with you!

    Thanks again so much, Tom. When I want to laugh, which is often, I go to Comical Captions. I just howled (or meowed) so loud today when I read some of your hilarious cards. Malcolm is now basking full time in the glorious sunshine. It will be sad not to have him here for Christmas. He loved it more than anyone. He loved sitting under the tree, chasing ribbon and rolling around in the torn wrapping paper. Sometimes he would bat at the miniature Christmas train when it came around the track, but in his later years he was too dignified for that. Cathy


  7. Dear Catherine,
    My heart goes out to you at the loss of your beloved Malcolm. My husband and I are long time cat people and know the pain of losing such an important part of the family. What a beautiful soul he is, and I’m sure he knew how much he was loved.
    Be well and know that his spirit will always remain in your heart.

    Hi, Betty, Thanks so much. Cats and dogs can bring out the best in us and remind us what’s important. I know his little spirit is still here. I’ve always loved your Bud and Tony cards! They have a lot of great adventures. I knew right away you were a cat person. I saw some today on the recently sold slide show. Thanks, again, Cathy


  8. I have to echo the warm comments found in this friendly place. When you make a special connection with an animal friend (especially a cat) it is like no other feeling in the world.

    Thank you for sharing those beautiful pictures of Malcolm. He is gorgeous!

    I’m glad you two found each other.


  9. Oh Catherine, my tears are hitting my lap right now since my laptop is on the table. I am so sorry to hear about Malcolm. I feel very bonded to him even if I’ve never met him. We must be kindred spirits. I truly am heartbroken to hear of his passing.

    I have two Maine Coon cats, and they loved your description of how wonderful Malcolm and his fellow Norwegian kitties found their way to Maine. They too are very special, they trill, they fetch, and they don’t make me sneeze! The other amazing thing about Maine Coons is that they have a different protein in their dander so some people aren’t allergic to them (like me). I tried to find a Maine Coon cat to rescue but they are in high demand. I don’t think they give up their owners easily.

    Anyway, hugs and lots of love. We’ll all miss Malcolm.
    Malcolm was my first pet as an adult. I never quite understand why people got so ga ga and crazy about everything their pets did and were so grief-stricken when they died. I understand now. I keep hoping to find that furry little guy in his favorite haunts….

    Many friends and family members who said they were allergic to cats didn’t seem to be bothered by Malcolm, and he sure did have a lot of fur, much of which ended up on my clothes, so maybe he did have that Maine Coon fur. I’m not going to do anything crazy and try to get him cloned, but I’ve never seen another like him. I hope you post more photos of your cats! Cathy


  10. and now there are tears threatening my keyboard…

    I’m so sorry Catherine. One thing I’ve become quite familiar with in life is saying goodbye to beloved friends called “pets.” I hope your tears give way to smiles soon.


  11. gary ross

    Hi Catherine ,
    I had to look more than twice at the picture of Malcolm to make sure that it wasn’t my Malcolm who is just a few pounds heavier but otherwise is almost identical. I rescued him from the local landfill and he has been my faithful companion for the last 12 years . I estimate that he was at least 3 0r 4 years old when I found him and up until last week when he developed an abscessed tooth he has been in very good health . The vet had to extract the tooth and malcolm seems to have made a full recovery and has resumed his serious business of power napping . I concur with everything you have written about your Malcolm and I appreciate the emotional bond that develops over the years with our animal friends . There is a long story about how my Malcolm acquired his name ( it wasn’t from me ) but I always thought that he suited it very well . If you would like to see a picture of my Malcolm I would be very happy to email you one .
    gary ( Hedley, B.C. Canada )


  12. Andrea

    I was looking at pictures of norwegian forest cats when I came across your website. I have a female cat who looks almost identical to your cat. She’s 14 years old and probably 20 lbs. She is the best cat ever and I couldn’t imagine not having her. My cat sits against walls exactly how malcolm was sitting against that dresser and she loves the sun too. I just thought that I’d post this and if you would like to see a picture just let me know.


  13. Robert

    This is a great story and Malcolm looks like he was a great cat. I understand how ya feel about having to say goodbye. I had to say so-long to my longtime friend Bevo 2 years ago. I am a 50 year old man that might be considered a bit callous but it brought me to my knees and still makes me shed a few tears. Cats are a real blessing.

    Thanks, Robert. I think about Malcolm a lot. I have two other cats now, and I volunteer at an animal shelter with cats, and I love them all, but I still miss Malcolm so much and think of him every day. Cathy


  14. Kim Watters

    Cathy, I happened by your blog when I was looking for pictures of cats like my Kringle. He was duct taped in a box and left in a snowbank in our school yard 6 years ago this December. He captured my heart the moment his head popped out of that box! He looks exactly like your Malcolm, they could be father and son. I used to say that one of his parents must have been a squirrel to have such a crazy tail. He is always by my side, snuggled in as close as he can get (even when it is far too hot for snuggling), and loves to give kisses. Thank you for posting your story, now I know what a noble boy he is!
    Kim Watters
    Oshawa, Ontario, Canada


  15. Looks like he’d be a model for 1960’s shag carpet.


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