Viking Pets: Cats, Dogs, Peacocks, and Bears
In the Viking age, they didn't classify the animals as we do these days: one group for the favourite pets, one for the animals that will have to physically work. In fact, the Vikings had their pets for their own purpose.
Cats were among the most favourite animals for the Vikings. But their preference for cats didn't only stem from the soft fur and the times they cuddled their cats. The Vikings had the cats inside their houses for their special skills. Especially if the Vikings lived on the farm, they would have their cats as the mice predators. Mice were the main culprits creating damage to the harvest and running around.
Regarding the religious belief, cats were the symbol of Freya goddess of fertilization. In Norse saga, Freya had her chariot pulled by two black or grey cats. The cat that was associated with Freya was the forest cat whose Norwegian name was Skogkatt. These forest cats were much stronger and more muscular. They had the thicker coat which might have the result of the harsh weather in Scandinavia.
Freya and her chariot pulled by cats
Everyone loves dogs and so did the Vikings. Dogs were the best friends of the Vikings. In many Viking excavations, the archaeologists found many human remains with dog remains in graves. This made the modern archaeologists believe that the Vikings were so much in love with their dogs that they needed them in their afterlife.
Dogs provided a helpful source for the Vikings on the farm. For example, they could help their masters carry and move the livestock around.
Hawk, falcons, and peacocks
The noble and wealthy of the Vikings wanting to present their wealth and social rank would have for themselves birds like hawk, falcons, and peacocks.
Falcons and hawks once were captured in Norway would be exported to other parts of Europe. Falcons once were mentioned in Norse mythology. Freya the goddess of fertilization and love had a cloak of falcon feather.
Since the economic relations of the Vikings travelled across the Mediterranean sea, peacocks also became a favourite kind of birds among the wealthy community of the Vikings. Inside the luxurious Oseberg chamber which was excavated in 1904, the archaeologists found the peacock skeleton. This suggested that the peacock was quite rare and liked in the Viking age because the Oseberg burial chamber was dedicated for two women of the high rank in their community.
A teddy bear is cute but a giant bear is not a good idea to live inside your house. But the Vikings once kept a bear in their house as their pets. And in those days, bears were not the pets for the wealthy only. They were quite common among the Viking normal men.
The first generation of settlers moving to Iceland brought their bear with them. The very thought of leaving their giant teddy bear might have astonished them. However, the import of bear into Iceland was quickly abandoned because they caused too much damage to the locals.