The exact origins of this breed cannot be traced due to the lack of documentation. However, it is believed to have developed from the taiga of Siberia, a forested and a subarctic region in Russia. The long and dense coat of this breed is thus probably a combination of natural mutation as well as a natural adaptation to the harsh environment. Interest in this breed among the Russians started to increase only in the 1980s. Breeding program was then initiated to develop the cat into a pedigree breed. This has also led to it becoming the national cat of Russia.
The Siberian breed is one of the top three largest pedigree domestic cat breeds. The other two are the Norwegian Forest cat and the Main Coon cat. Doors were opened in the early 1990s after the Cold War for the introduction of the Siberian breed into the United States. It started as a natural result of trade. Breeder Elizabeth Terrell was considered one of the first few breeders to have traded cat breeds necessary for the development of the Siberian breed in America.
During the same period, David Boehm, another prominent breed for the Siberian breed, had gone over to Russia and brought back the breed on his own. Subsequent events have seen Terrell acquiring, translating and adapting the breed standards of the Siberian cat to the American association’s formats. Efforts were also extended to the keeping of careful records as well as the sourcing of breeders, fanciers and judges who would support the promotion and propagation of the breed.
Terrell was also the one who contacted the many cat associations to inform them about the arrival of the Siberian breed and to seek for the acceptance of the breed. The door for the acceptance of registration of the Siberian was first opened by American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA) in 1999. This started the wave for all other North American cat associations and those of other countries in accepting and granting the Siberian breed the championship status. The Cat Fanciers Associations was the last to do so in 2006.
Physical appearance and attributes
The Siberian cat is a medium-large breed that weighs an average of between 12 – 16 pounds for males and 8 – 12 pounds for females. The well-muscled torso is of medium length. Its belly develops in firmness into a barrel like shape as it ages. Standing on its legs the hindquarters will appear slightly higher than its shoulders as its hind legs are slightly longer than its forelegs. Its legs are of a substantial boning and extend into large, rounded paws that are furnished with tufts. The well-proportionate tail is slightly shorter than the body. It is wide at the base and tapers into a hearty plume.
Head of the Siberian cat is of a modified wedge with rounded contours. The top skull appears broader and narrows into a full, rounded muzzle. It appears short when views in profile. Also, the top of the head is almost flat. A gentle slope is traced from the forehead to the brow, which is evidently prominent. A convex curve then develops along the nose to the tip of it, aligning it to the tip of the well-rounded chin. It has a pair of medium-large ears that tilt slightly forward.
They are wide at the base and intricately adorned with ear tufts along the inner sides. The tufts extend horizontally outwards and increase in length as it moves towards the base. The eyes of the Siberian cat are beautifully large and almost round. The outer corners are angled slightly upwards, giving them one of the most soulful expressions. Eye colors are not directly related to the coat colors, except for pointed pattern that comes with blue eyes.
The Siberian cat wears a moderately long coat that is tri-layered. In colder environment, the mature cats would develop thicker undercoat. The hair across the shoulder blades is shorter, thickening and lengthening on the belly and birches. A full and gorgeous ruff is set around the neck. The texture varies according to the colors and patterns of the coat, which is accepted in all colors, patterns and combinations.
Personality and temperament
The Siberian cat is not just generous in its size, but is also generous in its loyalty and affections. It is a great family pet that proves to be a wonderful companion with its outgoing nature. It remains unfazed by strangers, children and other family pets, tending to join in any activities that would satisfy its high level of playfulness and curiosity.
It knows how to enjoy a good cuddle and loves to be picked up or handled with care. Siberian has a keen sense of intuition towards the human’s feelings that will propel them to give you the needed comfort as well as psychological and moral support when you are feeling low.
Even though they are massive in size, their powerful hind legs and arch back gives them a high level of agility and strength to leap great heights and run long distances. Remarkably intelligent, this breed knows how to observe and meditate on their moves to get what it wants. Siberian cat also has a special fascination towards water and can be easily drawn to its water dish, faucets with fresh running water, and wet bath tubs. This is a generally quiet and composed cat.
Even though it has not been proven scientifically, it is believed by many that the Siberian cat is hypoallergenic due to their low production level of FelD1 protein as compared to other cats. Such protein is deposited from the cat’s saliva onto its fur as it cleans itself. The level of allergic it will create on people would, however vary from person to person and cat to cat.
Care and health issues
A healthy Siberian cat can usually enjoy an average lifespan of between 12 – 15 years. This is a generally hearty breed, but hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is one common disease among cats that has been seen in this breed. It is a form of heart muscle disease that will lead to the abnormal thickening of the muscular walls at the ventricles.
The long and dense coat of the Siberian cat would require a little more effort in grooming as compared to other Shorthaired cats. Usually twice a week brushing would be necessary to keep the coat in good condition. The beautiful coat would come on or shed off, according to seasons and weathers. Thus, such frequency of grooming would either help to remove the dead hairs or to keep in matt and tangle free.
Other basic grooming practices should include nail trimming whenever necessary. Check the ears for redness or odor that could serve as signs of infections. Brush the teeth frequently with vet-approved products to help prevent periodontal disease.
The ideal home
This agile and acrobatic breed is best suited for outdoor living. The outdoor spaces or garden must however be safe and escape proof. Even though it is able to adapt well to indoor living, the environment should however be cat-friendly. An adventure zone must also be created and equipped with cat trees, at gym sets, cat scratching poles and interactive toys to promote a healthy and active growth.
The easy-going nature coupled with its well-composed and courageous temperaments have made the Siberian cat an ideal pet for most homes. It knows how to relate well to children and other family pets as know as they are introduced properly into its life. The Siberian does not demand for attention, but would certainly return doubly the love shown with added devotion and loyalty.