Monday, August 22, 2016

Cat Breeds: Siberian

We don't really know where the majestic Siberian cat came from, but we do know there are references to these cats as early as 1000 CE (common era). Siberians appeared in the first cat shows in Europe in the 1870s and there is even an oblique reference to Siberian cats at the 1884 Madison Square Garden exhibition. Clearly they're not a new cat.

Siberian cats were mentioned in several books from the era, including the 1889 classic Our Cats by Harrison Weir and the 1898 book Domestic & Fancy Cats by John Jennings. Even the first photo of a Siberian appeared in an early book, specifically Helen Winslow's Concerning Cats. They've been around a while and everyone knows it.

Unfortunately for the breed, records weren't really kept on these beautiful cats in the early days, hampering their recognition by most associations. Finally, in the 1980s, Russian breeders began keeping proper records. They even developed the first breed standards at the Kotofei Cat Club in Moscow around that time, using a blue point and white cat and a brown tabby and white cat as their ideal examples of what the breed should be. This standardization of the breed also meant that other countries could start accepting the cats on an exhibition basis. The United States did this early on.

The All Union Cat Show in 1989 featured 12 Siberians, and a year later three of these beautiful creatures were imported into the United States by Elizabet Terrll. 1997 saw the first colorpoint Siberians brought to the US and in 1998 the first colorpoint kittens were born.

Acceptance was fairly simply once accurate records were being kept. TICA accepted the Siberian as a New Breed in 1992 and by 1996 they had achieved full Championship Status.

The Appearance of the Siberian

Large and powerful, the Siberian is ahead cat with a thick bone structure. The body and head are rounded with gentle contours and soft lines. Even the eyes are rounded, giving the cat a sweet expression. Solid legs and powerful hind quarters make this cat an excellent jumper, so expect to find him on top of the fridge from time to time.

With hair that is a little too long to be called short, and a little too short to be called long, the Siberian has an odd coat length that varies with the seasons. In winter it will be thick and plush with three layers to protect the body from the harsh winters in northern Russia, but in summer this coat sheds out, leaving behind something a little shorter and not half so thick. It's always soft, however, so the Siberian is a pleasure to pet.

The coat comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Colorpoint Siberians, also called Neva-Masquerade, are actually considered a separate breed by the FIF (Fédération Internationale Féline) registry. This is unusual, and has not been done in other registries. For the most point, colorpoint cats are classed with the rest of their Siberian cat friends.

Regardless of color or pattern, Siberians require intense grooming. During the winter, if you forget to brush him one day, he'll be matted by the next, so daily grooming is required. You'll have to keep this up even in the summer for the health and comfort of the cat, but the results are worth the effort.

The Personality of the Siberian

Intelligent and determined, this cat can and will learn now to open cupboards, find those snacks you thought you'd hidden, and can even remove child proof locks if he has enough time. With an impeccable memory and an unwillingness to be dissuaded, expect him to keep at it until he gets what he wants.

He loves people and is highly affectionate. Blessed with a fierce desire to play, he'll engage in a rousing game of fetch or run an obstacle course if that's the current game. Kids love him, and he loves kids, so he's a great family pet. He'll even get along with dogs if they're willing to play a game or two.

The Siberian is a vocal breed with a great range of chirps and meows. He can hold conversations for quite a while if you'll speak to him, and he loves to greet his people at the door with a few high pitched chirps.

If you're looking for a cat who is fun for the whole family and is lovely to behold, the Siberian might be for you. If you can stand the constant grooming, that is.

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