Is the Maine Coon descended from Norwegian Skogkatts brought to North America by Vikings?

Technically it is possible that the Maine Coon is descended from Norwegian Skogkatts but there is no hard evidence.

There's been a lot of discussion on the Internet about whether the Vikings "discovered" North America before Columbus and there is now evidence on my reading of the research that the Vikings had a settlement in North America about a thousand years ago and well before Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas. 

Comparison between Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest cat
Comparison between Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest cat. Image: MikeB from pictures taken by Helmi Flick (with her permission).

RELATED: Comparison between Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest cat.

Scientists used new dating techniques to analyse tree rings which provided evidence that the Vikings occupied a site in Newfoundland, Canada in 1021 A.D. It seems that they went as far south as a place called Vinland where grapes were grown but not as far south to what is Maine today. It is unclear exactly where that place is but it is probably the area surrounding the Gulf of St Lawrence in eastern Canada.

Viking ship before the Statue of Liberty
Viking ship before the Statue of Liberty. Image in public domain.

So, modern scientists believe that the Vikings were in eastern Canada about a thousand years ago. The next hurdle to agreeing that the Maine Coons descended from Norwegian Skogkatts is to believe that the Vikings brought with them on their boats Norwegian Skogkatts. It takes a leap of imagination to believe that.

Although, the Viking ship was a strong, durable craft which could sail long distances. They were versatile and were able to withstand long sea voyages and travel down rivers. They had two types of ship. One was known as a longship (drakkar) and the other was called a knorr (knarr) which means 'halfship'. This craft was used to carry cargo such as cattle, wheat, timber and wool. 

Model Knorr in Germany. Image: Wikipedia.

It was a bulkier vessel with a wider and deeper hold than the longship. It held between 70 and 100 people. It had a permanent mast. It is these types of ships that probably took the Vikings to North America.

Based upon the description it would seem to be feasible that Norwegian Skogkatts were also passengers. And there's no doubt that the domestic cat was in existence in Norway at that time. These cats were the moggie precursors of the Norwegian Forest cat. They were turned into purebred, pedigree cats in the 1930s.

RELATED: Notable differences between the Norwegian Forest cat and the Maine Coon.

Finally, the Norwegian Forest cat is very similar in appearance to the Maine Coon if you strip away the extreme appearance of some modern Maine Coons. If you look at the original Maine Coons and compare them with the original Norwegian Forest cats without years and years of selective breeding, they are very similar.

And so, all the elements, it appears, are in place to argue that the Maine Coon is descended from Norwegian Skogkatts brought to America by Vikings. But there's no hard evidence of it. It seems more likely that the descendants of the modern-day Maine Coon are the cats brought over by European settlers in the late 16th century and thereafter.

You know that there are numerous theories about the origins of the Maine Coon cat in America. We don't know the true story but we can speculate. Common sense, to me, dictates that at some stage after the first Europeans settled in America, some longhaired cats were brought over with their owners and/or as ships cats. 

They were brought ashore and became barn cats and then in the late 19th century in the state of Maine they were called Maine cats and because they looked so beautiful, they turned them into purebred, pedigree cats at the time of the beginnings of the cat fancy in America. And one of them won the first major American cat show in Madison Square Garden New York City in 1895 (May 8 through to May 11).

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