The Siberian Cat
Owning a cat can be very pleasurable, but owning a Siberian cat is a very rewarding, life changing experience. The Siberian will become your best friend, confidante, problem-solver, and house clown. Siberians are one of the roost ancient breeds and began as the Russian forest cat. We have images of them roaming the Siberian Taiga (forestland) even today and they are reported to be in large numbers in the wild Siberian outlying territories. But another story unfolds in Russia. Siberian cats are now prized house cats and many Russian families relay fond tales of their Siberian cats and their amazing loyalty and personalities. In 1990,when communism fell and free trade opened up, the importation of the Siberian cat to the United States began.
Siberians are Russia's native cats and come from the unforgiving climate of the Siberia forest. Siberian Cats first appeared in recorded history around the year 1000. Russian farmers and trades people were the primary people who cared for the Siberians. Siberian Cats were needed to protect grain and other products from small varmints, as Russia was an agricultural country. Shopkeepers in Moscow were known to compete with each other over whose cat was the biggest and thickest. Russian people like cats and roost children in Russia grew up with a kitten and the favorite cats were the Siberian cats. Siberian cats even existed in Russian Fairy tales as protectors of children and magical beings who opened gateways to realms beyond our ordinary senses.
Siberian Cats are very personable and want to be near their owners. They will meet you at the door when you come home and explain their day to you. They are a quiet breed that has melodic ways of expressing themselves using sweet meows, thrills, chirps and lots of purring. They love to sit in your lap and be groomed. A favorite pastime of one of mine is they find a toy and bring it to me for me to throw so they can play fetch. All types of toys intrigue them and they will play with just about anything. Another thing that mine are intrigued with is the moving cursor on the computer screen. You will need to shut the door of your computer room if you want to get any typing done. Some Siberians learn to stay off the keyboard at an early age but others will insist on adding indecipherable letters to your most crucial correspondence. Others will sit in the cubbyholesof your computer desk and watch entrancedly as you type, periodically extending a paw of support.
If you own a Siberian you will never be alone. They will watch TV with you, go to the restroom with you and then go to bed with you. And if you are trying to do something, they will insist on helping. Reading a newspaper, book, or magazine is next to impossible. In some ways they are like the Gypsies of fairy tails, if they like something, they will take it and play with it and in the process, it will be lost. I am still missing some jewelry that one of the cats decided was pretty. You can find toys and stolen items under every piece off furniture in my home.
Siberians also enjoy the company of dogs, other animals, and children. They are fearless and easygoing. Not much disturbs the natural calm and equanimity of a Siberian. Many parents affirm that their Siberian will always sleep with the children at the foot of their bed as a sentinel. And other Siberians are the nurse in the family, always spending time with the sick person who needs the support. Siberians seem to have a high level of intuitiveness, they know when they are needed for psychological and moral support and they get out of your way when you are too tense and busy to deal with them (there are those who are under feet no matter what). But in all the hard times in life Siberians have given support even if only for a headache.
The acrobatic nature of the Siberian is well known among owners. They will play hard, often executing amazing somersaults in pursuit of a feather toy. Some balance on clothing racks and seem to be executing attempting an uneven parallel bar routine rivaled only by Olympic athletes. Others balance carefully on lampshades as they watch their owners read. Many times I have rescued an over enthusiastic kitten attempting to climb the bricks on the fireplace or jump to the top of a bookshelf they can't quite reach. But the Siberian is always happy to be helped. They must be high on a shelf somewhere. Siberians stay playful throughout life and rarely could be mistaken for the couch potato.
The Siberian cat is also known for being hypoallergenic for many allergy sufferers. Although it has not been proven medically or scientifically, many people adamantly believe that the Siberian is hypoallergenic. They believe this because they are living proof. After living decades of being allergic to cats, I have seen adults cry because these loving cats have climbed all over them and they had no allergic reactions. Most Siberians have a low occurrence of certain enzymes in their salvia. Most allergy sufferers have sensitivity to an enzyme. When a cat licks its fur, the saliva dries and falls off as dander. This is what causes most people to be allergic to cats. Many people that are allergic to cats have found that they can tolerate the Siberian and have little or no reaction to them. This is a cat-by-cat, person-by-person concept. If you are allergic to cats and want to test your allergic response to Siberians, it is best to find someone near you with a Siberian or two. Spend a few hours with one and find out how you react. Personally, I have had very good luck with placing Siberians in allergy homes. On average, about 75 percent of the people that come out to test have little or no reaction. Of these that have gotten a kitten from me, no one has had a problem having a Siberian or two in their home. There are no guarantees, but there is hope for allergy sufferers.
The Siberian is a medium-large cat with the overall appearance of excellent physical condition, massive strength, power and alertness, modified by a sweet facial expression. The general impression of the body is one of circles and roundness rather than rectangles and triangles indicative of the other forest cat breeds. Females are considerable smaller than males. Eye color varies from gold to green and all shades in-between. Siberians also come in color points and these will have blue eyes. They have a very dense, water proof triple coat, which is medium to long in length. They have a full dense coat in the winter while the summer coat is somewhat shorter and less dense. The hair is shorter on the shoulders. There is a ruff at the neck, full fluffy britches and a bushy tail that is carried up with pride. Siberian owners often email pictures to each other bragging about 'the fluff on that tail!' Ear tipping is desired and full ear furnishings are required. This means that the tops of the ears can have hair which makes the ears look pointed when in fact they are rounded and that the inside of the ear has hair that protects it from the elements.
Siberians tend to be self-grooming meaning that they remain relatively tangle-free, though males can and do get 'knotty' in the springtime if not combed often . Pet Siberians do not require some grooming. For the most part, Siberians do not shed a lot (there are always exceptions to this and you may find some that shed constantly and profusely), instead they molt twice a year. The molting period is about 10 days. Daily brushing at this time is required to expedite the molting process and to prevent matting fur. Otherwise occasional grooming is acceptable, unless your cat insists on more. Show grooming is more extensive. You need to bathe the cat to remove any build up of dirt and oil in the fur. Ensure you rinse your Siberian completely to remove all traces of soap. Then you must completely dry the fur. At the show you need to fluff before each ring. Most Siberians tolerate their baths, especially if they are bathed as kittens. Some Siberians even like playing in the water and will try to take showers or baths with you.
Siberians appear to be very healthy with few if any health issues and no documented genetic problems.
Siberians are a natural breed. This means that they come in all colors, including color points. They come in a rainbow of colors, which include, but are not limited to brown, red, blue, silver, white, black, and any combinations of these colors. They come in solid, spotted, ticked, mackerel, and classic patterns. A mackerel patterned cat will have stripes going up and down on the sides of the cat and a classic pattern has circles on the sides of the cat. The most common color is a brown mackerel tabby with or without white. Color point Siberians have similar markings as other pointed cats.
Siberians are slow to mature and take up to five years to fully mature. Males, especially, continue to put on muscle and begin to look quite hefty as they age past five years. Some have even noticed their cats gaining muscle as they approach ten years. And reports of altered males weighing 25 lbs have been verified. How would you like that teddy bear on your bed?
The Siberian cat was one of the three longhairs represented at the first cat shows held in England in the 1700's. The first cat show in the city of Leningrad, Russia was in 1987. Two cat clubs 'Kotofei' and 'Kis' organized it. This is the actual date of the beginning of breeding of Siberians in St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad. The Soviet Felinological Association registered the Siberian breed. It included both the traditional colors and the Siberian color point (often referred to as Neva Masquerade in Europe):
An entry about Siberian cats was found in a book that was originally published in 1900 by Helen M. Winslow entitled "Concerning Cats," "Mrs. Frederick Monroe of Rivers ide Ill. owns a remarkable specimen of a genuine Russian cat, a perfect blue of extraordinary size. The Russian long-haired pet is much less common even than the Persian and Angora."
The first breeding Siberians were introduced in the United States in 1990. Elizabeth Terrell imported the initial kittens as a trade for her Himalayans. They arrived on June 28, 1990. Their names were KALIOSTRO VASENJKOVICHOF STARPOINT, OFELIA ROMANOVA OF STARPOINT and NA TNAROMANOVA OF STARPOINT.
The Siberians are fully accepted for championship in all registries.
If you are considering a cat as a lifelong companion, the Siberian cat will give you years of happiness with its loving personality. Some consider its personality 'dog like' in its loyalty. Others purchase them for the hypoallergenic qualities it has with the owners. So for whatever reason you want one of these cats, the Siberian is a worthy first choice, and you will be forever pleased.
The CFA Siberian Breed Club, CFA Siberian Breen Committee and the members of TAIGA got together and created this document explaining a bit of the Siberian history as well as it's characteristics. Members of TAIGA (International Siberian Breed Club)