by Jette Eva Madsen.

Should we urge Norway, Sweden and Finland to open for recognition of new novices?

To some of you this seems to be a strange questions but nevertheless this is a question that seems to be very popular. Actually the only country that seriously discus to reopen to novice class is Norway but since all tree countries originally contributed to today’s genepool of the Norwegian Forest Cat I decided to mention them all in my header.

The story is that right from the beginning all countries in FIFe had rules that permitted recognition of novice cats into existing breeds. The procedure was that if two FIFe judges recommended that a novice cat was recognized as a certain breed the cat received a blank pedigree and a registration number.

Already during the first years of the history of the NFC it became clear that it was ridiculous to recognize NFC's that were found in the Alps, in France and Denmark for that matter. Despite that fact a few novices were recognized in nearly all countries. About 8 years ago most countries decided to change that procedure and from then on only novice cats from the 3 Scandinavian countries were recognized. Soon after both Finland and Sweden decided that the genepool of the NFC was large enough and they also closed the recognition of novice NFC's.

Norway went on recognizing novices and as the last country the Breed Committee of NRR (Norske Racekattklubbers Riksforbund) decided 6 years ago that they would try to enforce a temporary stop for recognition of novices. After the first years they would evaluate if it would be wise to reopen the novice class again.

This is the reason that the question keeps being discussed. Every year before the General Assembly of NRR the topic is discussed and the pro et con groups in Norway agitate warmly for their different view points. This far there were just a little overweight of against reopening the novice class votes so the novice class is still closed.

If we take a closer look at the two most important arguments the group that wish to reopen the novice class use we find:

  1. Today’s NFC's have become too small. The novices are much larger and would contribute to the size of today’s population of NFC.
  2. Our genepool has become too small. It is difficult to find unrelated partners for our cats.

Looking closely at those arguments I believe that the reopening of the novice class would only help the problem in a very limited period of time, for the following reason:

  1. Today’s breeders are basically the same as they were 10 years ago or they are educated by the breeders that were active 10 years ago. Clearly the influx of a few large novice cats would in the first one or two generations make NFC's with a bit large size but I have no reason to believe that the breeders would today make different choices when they choose their next generation of breeding cats. After 5 to 10 generations we would therefore have exactly the same situation that the cats had become smaller.
  2. I believe that the genepool of NFC is very big. Perhaps not in specific areas of Norway but generally we have one of the largest genepool of any breed of cats.

The more sensible solution to the problems:

  1. It is very important with education of the breeders. We will have to tell breeders that all traits of the standard are important and since it clearly states in the breed description of the NFC that small size is a fault they should never use a too small cat as a breeder. Also we should perhaps try to emphasize towards the category II judges that body is 25% of the cat and the two most important components of body is strength and size. With today’s cats it will not be difficult to regulate / enlarge the general size of the NFC but it will be necessary to emphasize more on strength and size when we choose partners the partners for our cats.
  2. As stated before I believe that the genepool of NFC is one of the largest we have in the cat world. The breeder in Norway have however from the beginning of the history of the NFC been quite "spoiled" because they never had to travel far in order to find suitable partners or new show-and breeding quality cats. It is to be expected with the development of the breed the situation for this breed will be like the situation we know regulate other breeds. For all other breeds it is common to buy cats from different countries and to find breeding partners across borders. With the opening of the borders for adult cats to Norway and Sweden it will be quite easy also for the Norwegian breeders to find suitable partners in other countries. That means that the Norwegians in the future will have nearly unlimited genetic material to choose from.