Siberian Cat

Siberian cat

Siberian Cat – Ben – photo ©copyright Helmi Flick



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Contents:

Introduction

The Siberian is the national cat3 of Russia, a “stately cat”1 and my kind of cat.

Helmi Flick, a renown, professional cat photographer who knows cats well, calls this breed one of the “natural breeds”. This means evolving in nature perhaps as a semi-feral cat (household and farm cats2) without interference by breeders until discovered and refined by the cat fancy fairly recently. Until then it was a long haired moggie living in the hash regions of northern Russia. But it is said that of all cat breeds the Siberian is “more reminiscent”2 of a wild cat. And this could well be true when we see the Scottish wildcat (a wildcat species of the European wildcat).

The supporters of the Siberian cat in Russia like to preserve this wild look2. Although in the USA (TICA for instance) the standard encourages a less wild appearance. However being a natural cat it developed a tabby coat, the predominant coat type for this breed encouraging breeders to breed for self and shaded colors2.

Apparently, both the Russian president Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev and former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev keep Siberian cats (as at 2010)7.

This cat is a thick coated, distinguished and stately cat that comes from Russia, a country of harsh winters. This is a large, strong cat with a triple coat refined by nature not by humans. It is one of the heavier cats (see domestic cat size comparison). Its body type gives the impression of power and strength1. The size is nicely offset by the sweet face. The Siberian reflects the environment in which it evolved over a very long time with an oily top coat to two further coats (awn and down hairs) to keep out the wind.

The Siberian cat is an accomplished jumper through its agility and power. Its hind legs are longer than the forelegs. Another good jumper, the Manx has a similar leg conformation. Another excellent jumper is the similar Norwegian Forest Cat. The strong back is arched when the cat is not moving. The head is a modified wedge1.

The Siberian is also called the “Siberian Forest Cat”2. This is not a lapcat.

Dani’s Photos:

siberian cat siberian cat siberian cat
Neva Masquerade (pointed Siberian cat) photos, copyright Dani Rozeboom- click on the thumbnails to see some great large format pictures – you’ll love these. The Neva Masquerade is the pointed Siberian cat. The cat’s name is Hime Amélie du Palais d’Hiver
siberian cat siberian cat siberian cat

 
Note: “Neva” is a reference to the river where the Siberian is said to have originated and “Masquerade” for the mask on the face4.

Origin + History + comparison NFC – Siberian – MC

Siberian cat

Hime Amélie du Palais d’Hiver – “Amélie” – Siberian cat – photo copyright Dani Rozeboom – click for large photo.

As mentioned, the breed originates in Russia, where it is or was as ordinary and ubiquitous as the “moggie” random bred cat, found around the world. But this cat has a very long history indeed, going back perhaps 1000 years (the Japanese Bobtail has a 1000 year history too). The story goes that they lived in monasteries and acted as guards. The monks in return treated them as pets. This mirrors, somewhat, the Birman cat.

This cat breed was exported to the the United States on June 28th 19901 to be owned by Elizabeth Terrell of Starpoint Cattery of Baton Rouge, LA. According to Kathy Wade (a breeder based in America, Croshka Siberians) there was an exchange of breeds between the Russians and the Americans arranged by Elizabeth Terrell who was an Himalayan cat (pointed Persian) breeder. The Russians got the Himalayan and the Yanks got a Siberian. I can see why there was a formal exchange of breeds. In 1990 the communist party was still (just, it seems) in charge in the USSR (as it was then). The break-up of the communist party took place in about 1991. There were heavy restrictions and bureaucracy in those days on anything leaving the country. Also, at this time a certain David Boehm also imported Siberian cats from the USSR to the US.

The breed was registered by the CFA in 2000 (very recently in cat history terms). The Siberian looks a little like the Maine Coon, medium/long hair (for protection against the Siberian weather) and a “distinguished” and classic cat face. There is a third cat, the Norwegian Forest cat that has a similar appearance. The Siberian may the ancestor of all three1.

Here is a table that sets out some of the differences and similarities between these popular cat breeds1:
1

Siberian Cat Maine Coon Norwegian Forest Cat
Coat Triple coat (guard, awn and down), full ruff, water repellant (see cat hair) All weather uneven coat Full ruff, double coat and water repellent.
Body Heavy and moderately long. Arched back. Legs moderately long. Long rectangular and substantial. Legs medium long Medium in length. Square appearance. Legs medium long. Forelegs shorter than hind.
Head Large and broad. A modified wedge. Rounded muzzle. Straight slope from forehead to nose (profile)1. Great breadth, Asiatic appearance2. TICA: “cheek bones neither high set nor prominent”. Broad and a modified wedge. High cheekbones. Square muzzle and straight slope on profile Classic equilateral triangle (see Jap Bob breed standard to see what this means). Straight lines from forehead to nose tip in profile.
Popularity per this site’s poll (visitors’ votes) Ranked: 24th out of 66 cat breeds in poll. Ranked 1st Ranked 12th

 

Siberian Cat

Siberian cat – red blotched tabby and white photo copyright © Helmi Flick

Siberian cat – brief time line
Early-at least 13th century Early recognition of this cat breed. Pets to monks in Russia
post Communist era People started to arrange and attend cat shows
1980s Breeding in Russia to standardise the appearance (type)2.
1987 Registered by the Kotofei cat club in St. Petersburg6.
1989 The Soviet Felinological Federation began
1990s This cat breed exported to USA and Europe
2000 Accepted for registration by CFA
Early 2002 This breed exported to UK
2006 Championship status CFA
Current TICA and GCCF and All-Russian Club2 recognized

 
In and around the year 1829 it is recorded that the upper classes in Russia wore a cap made of the fur of the Siberian cat when riding in an open sledge. [link]
part of a book on St.Petersberg Russia
It would seem that the skin of this cat was used frequently for trimmings on coats etc. during the early 1800s in Russia. See below from this book.

part of the text of a book on Russia 1800s


Color and Pattern of coat: Shown in the traditional category and in all colors of all divisions in the USA. In Russia the Siberian is allowed in only black and red based colours2. Some breeders and cat fancy members consider the pointed cat unnatural however3.

Character + Health

The Siberian is an independent cat that likes some space and is not a lap cat1. It is a “sensible and resourceful”2 cat breed.

I like the naturalness of this cat and the appearance of the cat indicates that it is well suited to the Russian climate. In short, she looks like a Siberian cat. The Maine Coon has that natural outdoor cat look as well.

The Siberian is another one of those cats that is “dog like”. Bengals can be dog like for example as they like to play “fetch”. So, if your wife likes cats and you like dogs, compromise and adopt a Siberian.

Siberian cat

Siberian Cat – dilute red tabby and white copyright © Helmi Flick

This cat breed is larger than the average domestic cat (see a weight comparison chart), friendly, good with pets and children, and has no outstanding propensities to ill health.


Siberian cat health
A short discussion on the health issues affecting this cat breed. There aren’t many but nearly all domestic cats have some health issues.


This is a balanced and healthy cat by all accounts; fairly playful and active. This breed of cat is still relatively rare in the west, which probably accounts for its relatively low popularity compared to the NFC and Maine Coon. Dani and Rick of Cattery Yeri Shaes live with a Siberian (amongst other lovely cats) and Dani as you probably know by now is a great cat photographer so you’ve got some fine pictures of this cat breed accompanying this article

Siberian cat

Siberian cat – photo ©Helmi Flick

Hypoallergenic?

The Siberian may be good with people with an allergy to cats. This is claimed by Kathy Wade. Kathy runs a very good and informative website. I don’t know her, but I would expect her to run her cattery well too. Visit her site and make some enquiries www.siberiancat.net . It would seem that in tests carried out in the USA fur samples had less Fel D1 flakes (cat dander, the allergen that produces the allergic reaction in some people). This would seem to be confirmed by others3or is this a circuitous argument (one person quoting from another etc.)? It isn’t just Kathy who says that this cat breed is at least to a degree hypoallergenic. There have been comments and quotes on this for about a decade3(as at 2009).

There is however no scientific evidence to support the claims of breeders and keepers of this cat who claim this (except for the above as far as I am aware).Update: in Dec 1999, an independent lab in Virginia Indoor Biotechnologies, 1216 Harris St, Charlottesville, VA 22903 performed some tests on hair samples from Siberian cats, an Abyssinian and random bred cat(s). The results indicated that the allergen Fel D1 was present to a high level on an neutered random bred male cat but less so for a Siberian cat. Here are the results5.

Breed or type of cat Fel d 1 (µg/g)
A male neutered, random bred cat
62,813
A male neutered, Siberian cat
2001
A female, Abyssianian, neutered cat
385
A female neutered, Siberian cat
206

 

But please note that Kate Stryker says that this breed is hypoallergenic – see this post: Cats without undercoats are not hypoallergenic.

Associated pages:

Hypoallergenic cat breeds

Allergy Free Cats?

Cat Allergy Symptoms

Fel d1

Pictures

These are all thumbnail photos linking to very large pictures. All are by Helmi Flick and are her copyright:

Siberian-cat
©Helmi Flick – mackerel tabby


Siberian cat
©Helmi Flick

Siberian cat
©Helmi Flick

Siberian cat
©Helmi Flick – blue

Siberian cat
©Helmi Flick – black and white

Siberian cat
©Helmi Flick – lynx point?



Sources other than as stated elsewhere:

1. Legacy of the Cat by Gloria Stephens and Tetsu

2. Encyclopedia of the Cat by Dr Bruce Fogle

3. Wikipedia authors

4. http://www.catsofaustralia.com/siberian.htm

5. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.
siestadream.com%2Faler.htm&date=2008-11-30

6. http://www.siberiancatworld.com/history.htm

7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cats_101

8. St. Petersburgh: A journal of travels to and from that capital …, Volume 1‎ – Page 489

Sources:

  • http://www.siberiancat.net/
  • Wikipedia (communism)
  • CFA
  • Helmi Flick of course
  • http://www.siberian-cat-club.co.uk

Comments

Siberian Cat — 8 Comments

  1. I have owned a full blooded Siberian for the past 7 years. Having had cats most of my life, I must say my Siberian is truly unique in personality and disposition. He is especially social and gregarious with anyone who comes into his environment. Very dog-like and companionable, he is a joy to be with.

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  4. I can vouch for a lot of info here. My female differs in that she is dainty rather than powerful. But she does come to tell me with a ‘ something’s wrong!’ Face when the window cleaners come, and once she burst through the cat flap with the same expression and when I looked out the window there was some young teenage lads in the back garden. Amazing to see in a cat an quite heart warming really that she comes to tell you! When she was younger she did play fetch but now we play a kind of mouse tennis on the stairs. The cat I had before I was allergic to, she was a moggie with strong British shorthair traits, I had to wash my hands after touching her but with Muffin ( had her 8 years now) I can kiss her and my lips don’t burn and swell, I can rub my eyes and they don’t itch… Well unless it is prolonged. I wouldn’t say in my experience they are 100% allergy free but it has made a huge difference to me. She is my best friend, an occasional lap cat, loves to be where the people are, greets people but then disappears. She’s not fond of being picked up for long. She can bite but only bites very very gently and normally licks you immediately after but it makes her feelings known. She lives to sleep on the bed. Not a fan of kids, maybe the males would be more placid? And the only negative is the hair she leaves everywhere! She hates being brushed so it’s a bit of a losing battle. She is independant and does not live with other cats very well, she liked it best just her. She is very bold with dogs on her territory and will march straight up to them leaving the dog very wary! It’s amazing to see. She has lived with a dog but really does prefer it on her own. This is obviously going to vary from car to cat but this is just to support some of the description of this breed above.x

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