Siberian is the name given to Russia's native semi-longhair. This large, powerful cat is still quite rare in the U.S., though it is more common on the Asian continent and in Europe. The first Siberians were imported to the United States in 1990, but very little is known about their early history and development otherwise.
Brown tabby is the most popular color, but it is accepted in all other colors as well.
This breed has a thick triple coat with a full ruff that gets thicker in the winter months.The coat is a bit oily and very water-resistent, possibly an evolutionary trait that helped it deal with harsh Russian winters.
The cat's personality is often described as dog-like, as they tend not to be shy with strangers. It is a loyal, affectionate, and playful breed.
Although some claim that the Siberian is hypoallergenic, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. Some claim they do not produce dander or a certain protein in their saliva, but to date there has been no scientific study or proof of this claim.
Most people who exhibit allergies to other cats, have little or no reaction to the Siberian. Siberians are loyal and friendly and make great companions. Their personalities are often referred to as dog like and do in fact exhibit protective qualities. Siberians are not an extremely vocal breed, they express themselves with a soft chirping. This is an intelligent cat with a bold wedge shaped head, rounded contours and expressive eyes. They are a semi-longhaired breed with thick undercoats that require minimal grooming. They are accepted in all color patterns. The Siberian is slow to mature, taking five years to reach full maturity.
The Siberian is a large, strong cat which takes 5 years to mature. The females may weigh less than the males. They are extremely agile and great leapers. Their muscles are mighty, outstanding and powerful. The back is long and very slightly curved or arched., but appears horizontal when in motion. Convex muscular waist and round, compact belly develop with age. The hind legs, when straightened, are slightly longer than the forelegs. The paws are round, big and quite powerful. The overall appearance should be one of great strength, force and size with an excellent physical condition and alertness; the facial expression is quite sweet. The general impression is one of roundness and circles, rather than the rectangles and triangles of similar breeds.
This is a moderately long to longhaired cat, with hair on the shoulder blades and lower part of the chest being thick and slightly shorter. There should be an abundant ruff setting off the large, impressive head. There is a tight undercoat, thicker in cold weather. Allow for warm weather coats. The coat gives the impression of lacquer and oil when ungroomed. The hair may thicken to curls on the belly and britches, but a wavy coat is not characteristic. The skin may have a bluish cast. Clear strong colors and patterns are desirable, but are secondary to type.
According to most accounts of Siberian cats' history, Russian immigrants to Siberia brought cats with them; and those cats eventually consorted with local cats. In time, perhaps owing to the severe climate or to the liaisons with local cats, or to both, the original cats from Russia developed longer hair, weatherproof coats and the ability to defend their households like guard dogs. At some subsequent point a significant number of these new-and-improved Siberian cats made the 800- to 1,000-mile trip across the Ural Mountains to Moscow and Leningrad, the cities where Siberian cats are most prominent. Finally, the members of cat clubs in those cities were able to distinguish these Siberian cats from run-of-the-market, nonpedigreed longhair cats.
For all its currency this theory remains a series of dots with few connecting facts or documentation. This writer spoke with Elizabeth Terrell in October of 1990 and asked her, "At what point did people go to Siberia and take their cats with them?"
"That," replied Terrell, "hadn't come up" in her conversations with Siberian breeders in Russia. "They never told us."
Then at what point did Siberian cats start coming back to Leningrad or to Moscow from Siberia?
"They haven't told us that either," said Terrell.
Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the lack of historical information about Siberian cats, people seem willing to accept the most fanciful stories concerning this breed. Many of those fanciful stores appear on the mother of all repositories of half-truths and myths -- the Internet. On one website (www.pets4you.com/pages/croshka/l) we read that "Siberians then spread throughout Europe and was noted in Harrison Weir's late 19th century book, Our Cats and All About Them, as one of the three longhairs represented at the first cat show held in Europe in the 1700s."
Excuse me, but the first cat show held in Europe, a show that was organized by Harrison Weir, occurred in London's Crystal Palace in 1871. More important, there is no mention of a Siberian cat in Weir's book. On page 30 of that text is a pen-and-ink sketch of a Russian longhair, which, said Weir, was "given me many years ago." Its "parents came from Russia, but from what part I could never ascertain."
Until the appearance of substantive proof that Siberian cats actually came from Siberia, perhaps it would be more accurate to say, "Siberian is the name given to Russia's native semi-longhair," as one website does (www.breedlist.com/siberian-breeders/l).
One American breeder puts an interesting spin on the Siberian's history by claiming, "Centuries ago these magnificent animals made their homes in Russian monasteries, where they would walk along the high beams as lookouts for intruders." (www.siberiancats.com) This statement begs at least two questions. How did the cats get from the monasteries to the Russian cat clubs? And wouldn't the cats have made better lookouts if they had sat in windows instead of balancing on beams?