The Siberian cat - a Russian longhair
An old and noble breed, the Siberian cat has been around for several hundred years. While today’s Siberian cats are loving and affectionate, Russian stories once likened them to huge beasties, capable of reaching weights of up to 45 pounds. These giant felines were said to be as loyal and ferocious as their canine counterparts, more than capable of guarding hearth, home and human.
The history of the Siberian cat
While some people are inclined to believe that the Siberian is a new breed, due to the small numbers of them that are still available, this majestic feline has actually been around for hundreds of years. Believed to be the descendants of various Russian felines, many fanciers believe that the cats came to be when Russian people, exiled to Siberia, brought their feline companions with them. There, midst the bitter and unforgiving temperatures of the Siberian winters, these cats bred together and, in time, the individuals who survived all bore the same type - larger and much heavier in build, these winter-born cats all had a long, dense coat that granted them protection from the elements and kept them dry throughout bad weather. Eventually, these traits would all lend themselves to the new breed and, through natural selection, the Siberian Cat was born.
The number of Siberian cats that were owned were very low until the 1980’s. Prior to this time, the former Soviet Union strongly discouraged their people from keeping any kind of pet, whatsoever, due to the shortages in both housing and food. Owning a dog or cat became a status symbol and a show of wealth for the upper class, so those Siberians who found themselves kept by wealthy owners enjoyed the lap of luxury.
While there were no official breed clubs or organizations, the Russians took great pride in their beautiful feline friends and, when the restrictions on house pets were lifted in 1987, the fanciers of this fantastic feline were quick to create clubs and organizations that developed standards for the beautiful Siberian Cat, and promoted him as a very unique and special breed.
When the Cold War ended, the very first Siberians made their way into the United States, originally traded in exchange for Himalayan cats. It took many months that were filled with delays and hidden expenses (not to mention the stress and headaches) but, eventually, a woman by the name of Elizabeth Terrell would become the proud owner of three Siberian kittens. She would go to great lengths to obtain the Russian standard of perfection for the breed, as well as promoting the breed and ensuring it was accepted throughout North America. Today, the Siberian is still a rare breed, but he continues to captivate and enthrall his human friends, his numbers growing with each year.
The Siberian cat appearance
The Siberian Cat is a very large and impressive-looking feline. Everything about this Russian cat’s appearance was essential to his survival; his coat is heavy enough to provide him adequate insulation in the winters. This included sporting heavily furred ears that help to protect them from the elements and the large tufted feet of the breed work as snow shoes, allowing them to travel more easily in the deep snow and over ice.
All colors and patterns of Siberian cat are allowed, both with and without white markings. They usually have copper or slightly rounded green eyes.
Siberian cat temperament
If you're looking for a great big huggable, loveable, playful ball of fur, the Siberian Cat is an excellent choice! Siberian cats are large, beautiful cats that are as sweet, gentle, affectionate and playful as they are powerful. Siberian cats have a muscular mid-section and longer hind legs, making them powerful leapers (look out knick knacks!).
Siberian cats have a dense coat and long, bushy tail which helped to keep them warm in the cold climates from which they originated. Despite it's length, the Siberian cat's coat requires minimal grooming as it does not mat like other long-haired breeds. A Siberian kitten is a great choice for the cat lover with allergies - as they do not have FeLD protein in their saliva which creates dander, and are hypoallergenic, or not an allergy problem to most allergy sufferers. Siberian cats do require one important regimen - daily hugs and kisses!
The Siberian Cat enjoys human companionship, but is certainly not a breed that one would classify as needy or overly dependent. While they enjoy being near their humans and keeping an eye on things, they are not a breed to pester, get underfoot, or spend much time crawling into your lap. Instead, they prefer to “supervise” and ensure that the humans are taking care of their required tasks in a timely and efficient manner. If a Siberian graces you with her presence, she’s usually far more comfortable to lay behind you on the chair or beside you on the couch; while laps may look more comfortable, they don’t seem to be her cup of tea. There are always some exceptions to the rule, however, and many say that Siberians insist upon sleeping right on top of or curled in against their human friends.
Generally speaking, most Siberian Cats get along well with both children and other animals. If not properly acclimated, however, one may be wary of introducing your Siberian Cats into a same-sex cat household.
While the Siberian Cat is not usually the one to start an argument, and generally seems uninterested in fighting, he is usually the one to finish those that start, simply by relying on his with his sheer size and body mass. Acclimating any new animal into the house with other pets should be done with lots of time, patience and understanding, and the Siberian Cat is no exception.
Fortunately, the Siberian Cat is a very strong and agile jumper and there is usually little risk of him knocking over the breakables up high, once he‘s gotten the hang of it. Kittens tend to be far more clumsy and seem to attack anything and everything with wild abandon.
Siberian cat grooming requirements
The Siberian Cat possesses a very dense, triple-layer coat, making a couple of weekly brushings and comb-throughs a necessity, in order to prevent the coat from matting. Fortunately, however, these cats are not prone to shedding as much as their short-haired counterparts. If your cat doesn’t approve of the combs and brushes, why not try a grooming mitt, to keep your feline friend looking his best?
When grooming, also pay particular attention to this fascinating feline’s ears, carefully cleaning the outer shell with a Q-tip. It’s very important to note, however, that the Q-tip should never be inserted into the ear canal; not only is it very painful, but it can severely injure your friend, causing deafness.
Siberian Cat Health Concerns
Despite being a fairly rare breed and having a limited gene pool, the Siberian Cat generally boasts a very clean bill of health; most likely because the harsh Siberian winters offered little sympathy to felines who were sickly and unable to survive. While there are no known health concerns within this beautiful breed of cat, breeders are ever vigilant and continue to test and watch for any sign of genetic disease. All our breeding cats are tested negative from HCM (Cardiomyopathy), FIV/FeLV, had blood group A and tested free of carrying the Neva Masqurade gene, before they are used in our breeding.
Chronology (stages of breeding Siberian cats)
1986 year – starting of Leningrad and Moscow clubs. In some magazines of that time few cats of “Siberian type” were registered.
1987 – 1988 years – appeared first prior standards on Siberian cats (O.Mironova and O.Frolova)
1989 year – third pedigree exhibition of cats in Moscow. From thirteen novices of Siberian phenotypic breed only one cat had information about parents.
1990 year – Soviet felinology federation (SPF) confirms first official standard of native Russian breed of cats - “Siberian” with coded sign SIB, gives certification №1 about registration of the breed and №2 about registration of the original color in native Russia breed as “Nevskaya maskaradnaya or Siberian color-point”.
1991 year – felinological Association of Russia (PAR) exhibits 30 Siberian cats with title of “Champion”, class of kittens was opened.
1992 year – Siberian breed of cats was considered by World Cat Federation (WCF), which registers their standards. On the international exhibition in Prague four-year-old A. Chim-Chim Ashtau (Moscow), owner N.Balzhak, gets a diploma and a cup.
1994 year, May – Dimka Laskoviy Zver, color blue agouti with white, owner T.Pavlova, becomes the first Champion of the World among Siberian cats (nowadays 12 from his offsprings have become the Champions of the World.
1994 year, December – took place regular seminar for selectionists and experts, in which 57 specialists took part from leading felinological organizations of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus from 21 cat clubs. Finally, it was accepted the present-day redaction of standards of native cats, including the Siberian cats.
1996 year – Siberian breed of cats was considered by TICA.
1997 year, January – on the coordinating conference of felinological associations and clubs of SNG the standard of Siberian cats was supplied and confirmed, for the difference between Siberian cat, main-kun and Norway forest cat.
1997 year, March – creation ROLSK in Russia.
1997 year, May – Siberian breed was considered by FIF. As standards of Siberian breed few Siberian cats were invited in Finland: Saint-Andre-Helios Onyx Gloria and Zarevna Zezelia Seliger of classic agouti color, owner O.Andreeva.
1998 year – OLSK conducted the First International exhibition of Siberian cats. There were more then 100 cats. Among them there were 6 Honorary champions of the World; 11 European Champions; 19 Grand Inter Champions; 11 Inter Champions.
2002 year, December – Moscow, the Fifth Universal exhibition “Grand Prix – Royal Canin”. 130 Siberian cats maintained their titles. Six new Champions of the World joined to other 60...
Magazine “Cats.info” №1(3).2004 year
Tatyana Pavlova, cattery Laskoviy Zver', president of OLSK.