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Getting to Know the Siberian

By Members of The Siberian Cat Club, CFA Siberian Breed Committee
and TAIGA (International Siberian Breed Club)
from The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book

Living with a cat can be very pleasurable, but living with 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 most 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. However, 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.

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 considerably smaller than males. Eye color varies from gold to green and all shades in-between. They also come in colorpoints and these will have blue eyes. They have a very dense, water resistant 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.

Their Personality


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 mews, trills, chirps and lots of purring. They love to sit in your lap and be groomed. A favorite pastime of theirs is to find something and bring it back so it can be thrown and fetched. All types of toys intrigue them and they will play with just about anything. Another thing that intrigues them is moving the 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 cubbyholes of your computer desk and watch entranced as you type, periodically extending a paw of support.

If you share your home with 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. If you are trying to do something, they will insist on helping. Reading a newspaper, book, or magazine is next to impossible. If they like something, they will take it and play with it and in the process it will be lost.

Siberians also enjoy the company of dogs, other animals, and children. They are fearless and easygoing. Not much disturbs their natural calm and equanimity. Many parents affirm that their Siberian will always sleep with the children at the foot of their bed as a sentinel. Some Siberians become the nurse in the family, spending time with the sick person who needs the support. They have a high level of intuition and know when they are needed for psychological and moral support. They get out of your way when you are tense and too busy to deal with them. However, there are those who are under foot no matter what. Through all the hard times in life, Siberians have given support 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 an uneven parallel bar routine rivaled only by Olympic athletes. Others balance carefully on lampshades as they watch their owners read. Many times an over enthusiastic kitten has to be rescued while attempting to climb the bricks on the fireplace or jump to the top of a bookshelf that they cannot reach. Nevertheless, Siberians are always happy to be helped. They stay playful throughout their lives and are rarely mistaken for a couch potato.

Coat Care and Maintenance

The Siberian cat is also known to be good for some 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 for decades with cat allergies, some adults cry because these loving cats have climbed all over them and they had no allergic reactions. Siberians seem to have a low occurrence of enzymes in their salvia and many allergy sufferers have a sensitivity to enzymes. When a cat licks its fur, the saliva dries and falls off as dander and this is often what causes people to be allergic to cats. 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. Approximately 75 percent of the people that come out to test themselves with a Siberian have little or no reaction. There are no guarantees, but there is hope for allergy sufferers. 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 daily. Pet Siberians do not require extensive grooming. For the most part, they do not shed much instead they molt twice a year. When a Siberian molts, the hair will start to mat and then shed in large clumps. There are always exceptions and some shed constantly and profusely. The molting period is about 10 days. Daily brushing at this time is required to expedite the molting process and to prevent matting fur. This process is nothing to be alarmed about, it is normal in some Siberians. Otherwise, occasional grooming is acceptable, unless your cat insists on more.

Show grooming is more extensive. You need to bathe your cat to remove any build up of dirt and oil in the fur. Be sure to rinse your Siberian completely to remove all traces of soap. Then you must completely dry the fur. At the show, you need to fluff the coat before going into a show ring. Most Siberians tolerate their baths, especially if they are bathed as kittens. Some Siberian even like playing in the water and will try to take showers or baths with you. These cats are very healthy with few if any medical issues and no documented genetic problems.

Siberians are a natural breed and they come in all colors, including colorpoints. 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. Colorpoint Siberians have similar markings as other pointed cats.

Siberians take up to five years to fully mature. Males continue to develop muscle and begin to look heftier as they age past five years. Some owners have noticed their cats gaining muscle as they approach ten years. Moreover, reports of altered males weighing 25 lbs have been verified. How would you like that teddy bear on your bed?

Breed History

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 them. Siberian Cats were needed to protect grain and other products from rodents. Russia was then an agricultural country. Shopkeepers in Moscow were known to compete with each other over whose cat was the biggest and thickest. Russians like cats and most children grew up with a kitten, the favorite being the Siberian. Siberian cats even existed in Russian fairy tales as protectors of children and as magical beings who opened gateways to realms beyond our ordinary senses.

The Siberian Cat was one of the three longhairs represented at the first cat shows 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 date of the beginning of breeding of Siberians in St. Petersburg (Leningrad). The Soviet Felinological Association registered the Siberian breed. It included both the traditional colors and the Siberian colorpoint (often referred to as Neva Masquerade in Europe).

An entry about Siberian cats was found in a book originally published in 1900 by Helen M.Winslow titled "Concerning Cats." The entry reads: "Mrs. Frederick Monroe of Riverside 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 Persian-Himalayans. They arrived on June 28, 1990. Their names were Kaliostro Vasenjkovich of Starpoint, Ofelia Romanova of Starpoint and Naina Romanova of Starpoint.

The Siberians were accepted for registration in CFA in February 2000 and currently compete in the Miscellaneous Category at CFA shows.

If you are considering a cat as a lifelong companion, the Siberian will give you years of happiness with its loving personality. Some consider its personality dog-like in its loyalty. Others purchase them for its hypoallergenic qualities. Choosing the remarkable Siberian Cat as a pet marks the beginning of a loving, adventurous, and sometimes hilarious companionship.

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