Siberian Cat

Siberian cat bred in Russia at the Golden Dream Cattery
Siberian cat – Businka Golden Dream – bred in Russia at the Golden Dream Cattery. Please click on the photo for more. Photo: Golden Dream Cattery.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats


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

Torbie or patched tabby Siberian cat
Photo: copyright Helmi Flick.

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 harsh 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 the 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.

Female Siberian cat
Female Siberian cat. Photo and breeder: DC Kennel, Santa Rosa, Philippines.

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.

Siberian cat Darius
Siberian cat Darius. Photo copyright Helmi Flick. Please click on the image to see a large version and some words by the breeder, Sue.

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 catsiberian catsiberian 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 catsiberian catsiberian 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 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:

Siberian CatMaine CoonNorwegian Forest Cat
CoatTriple coat (guard, awn and down), full ruff, water repellant (see cat hair)All weather uneven coatFull ruff, double coat and water repellent.
BodyHeavy and moderately long. Arched back. Legs moderately long.Long rectangular and substantial. Legs medium longMedium in length. Square appearance. Legs medium long. Forelegs shorter than hind.
HeadLarge 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 profileClassic 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 1stRanked 12th


Siberian cats in their element
Two Siberian cats in their element. They are selectively bred without interference by people.
Siberian cat – brief time line
Early-at least 13th centuryEarly recognition of this cat breed. Pets to monks in Russia
post-Communist eraPeople started to arrange and attend cat shows
1980sBreeding in Russia to standardise the appearance (type)2.
1987Registered by the Kotofei cat club in St. Petersburg6.
1989The Soviet Felinological Federation began
1990sThis cat breed exported to USA and Europe
2000Accepted for registration by CFA
Early 2002This breed exported to UK
2006Championship status CFA
CurrentTICA 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. Photo: 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

Gemma: Torbie Siberian Cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick
Gemma: Torbie Siberian Cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick


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 . 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 a neutered random bred male cat but less so for a Siberian cat. Here are the results5. Update: I have a page on the Neva Masquarade being hypoallergenic. Please click here to read it.

Breed or type of catFel d 1 (µg/g)
A male neutered, random bred cat
A male neutered, Siberian cat
A female, Abyssianian, neutered cat
A female neutered, Siberian cat


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


Genuine Siberian cat in Siberia. Photo by Alla Lebedeva
Genuine Siberian cat in Siberia. Photo by Alla Lebedeva
Siberian cat
Siberian cat. Photo: Helmi Flick.
Comparing Maine Coon, Norwgian Forest and Siberian Cats
Comparing Maine Coon, Norwgian Forest and Siberian Cats

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





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


  • Wikipedia (communism)
  • CFA
  • Helmi Flick of course
Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

22 thoughts on “Siberian Cat”

  1. Sherry-Ann Sholdice

    I also would like to add – sorry I missed this info above, just so excited when writing the post. My Girlfriend bought 2 pure breed Siberian Females as her husband and daughter have horrendous allergies, like myself. After the initial few weeks of discomfort,as I felt, but it wasn’t bad, they are 100% fine. I have heard that the Females are even better than the Males for allergies. I want to add that MAVERICK (so far) Does not seem to shed!?!?! No fur or hairs are on anything! I do brush him a few times a week, but not much comes out on the brush either. How Purfect can this cat be? Some breeders will send out fur samples. The breeder I went to did not allow me to rub with more than one cat for health reasons.She did give me a 2 week window for a refund if my allergies were bad . If you have allergies at least go and visit a Siberian, rub your face on him or her. I fully believe that you can have this breed of cat!!!! 🙂

    1. I was skeptical about the anecdotal evidence that Siberian cats were hypoallergenic. But your story has made me think twice about it. Thank you so much for commenting. He is a wonderful cat.

        1. Great. Thanks Sherry. I’d like to make your comment an article is that is okay. You’ll be the credited author of course.

  2. Sherry-Ann Sholdice

    MAVERICK is only 6 1/2 months old. He is incredible and worth every penny we paid! He is black and silver with incredible markings.I could no longer have a cat due to my increasing allergies but with MAVERICK I can rub my face in his fur, kiss him, my lips dont swell, my eyes don’t itch I don’t sneeze or need to run for my inhalers. He goes toward LOUD things such as 10 and 11 year old boys playing in the basement. He greets each new person or animal into our home. He is fearless. He popped a balloon and simply sat there looking at the space. Kids play the drums, he runs to hang out with them, whereas most cats would hide. He EATS like he has never seen food before. He owns every counter top and pillow and couch in the house. He is always with us sometimes on our lap sometimes attacking our feet. He loves to lay high up on his scratching post. He has a deep triple kind of purr. We bring him in the car and he loves it. I plan on getting a harness and maybe taking him hiking with us. He is an indoor cat as it is safer for him and all the wildlife. I can’t wait to see what he grows into. This is indeed a dog cat. With a massive personality which seems very true to his breed. We will most likely get another one!

  3. I am blessed to have adopted a rescue kitten who appears to be Siberian. He is about 18 mos old now and looks identical to the red full-sized photo above. He was a tiny kitten when we got him and I assumed he was Maine Coon mix but as he grew he was totally different from the MC mix I have. It soon became evident he was a Siberian mix. I’m happy to report that, contrary to most descriptions I’ve read, he is quite a lovely lap cats. He spends a lot of time outdoors and is an avid hunter (gifts include mice, moles, bats and snakes:) But when he is indoors he like nothing better than to cuddle up in my lap and take a nap. He’s a totally charmer! So thrill to have him! Thought I might add a Norwegian to my collection but two boys are so well bonded I decided to heed the old saying “Two company. Three’s a crowd”:)

    1. Hi Diane. He looks superb. He certainly has the Siberian or Norwegian Forest cat appearance. He looks more Siberian – quite a cobby conformation. Thanks for sharing.

  4. My Siberian is full of energy. She would play all day if you had the time and energy to play with her that much. I should have gotten two of them.

    She’s very attached to me. She follows me everywhere, including even into the bathroom. She’s not a lap cat, but she likes to be near me. She also likes the other members of my family, but I’m definitely Mommy to her.

    My mother, my sister and my brother-in-law are all very allergic to cats. With my last cat, a stray born under a friend’s house, my brother-in-law couldn’t come over here without having an asthma attack.

    With my Siberian, he and my sister can spend all day here, with no problems at all. I live with my parents and my mother doesn’t react to her either. It has been well-worth getting a Siberian.

    For people who love cats, but are allergic to them, I’d suggest finding a Siberian breeder and asking them if you can go to hang out with the cats and see how you do. You might just find that you’ve found your cat.

    They’re expensive, but for me, it meant the difference between being able to have a cat and not having one, which was not an option for my emotional well-being. Fellow cat lovers will know what I mean.

    1. Thanks a lot Leslie for telling us about the hypoallergenic qualities of your Siberian cat. I was sceptical about this. In fact I did not really believe it but your comment has changed my opinion a little. Thanks Leslie.

  5. my boy Rula who I call my runaway Siberian cat has become more friendly with friends and family now after taking him in august 2011 took some time but we got there. He has such a sweet nature and very gentle. I am so glad I have him in my life now !!

  6. 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

  7. 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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