The Siberian cat, renowned for its thick, reddish fur and preference for colder climates, can make an excellent companion animal, displaying loyalty and sociability. If you’re considering bringing one into your home, here’s what you need to know.
When you think of the Siberian cat, you probably imagine a cat with thick, reddish fur that prefers colder temperatures. Originating from Siberia, this breed only made its way to other countries in Europe and America only a few decades ago.
Let’s delve into its history and primary physical and behavioral traits.
Origins of the Siberian Cat
The true story of the Siberian cat involves legends that have spanned time. Some claim its origins trace back to the wild cats of the taiga, asserting that during the Middle Ages, these cats served as protectors and guardians of monasteries in Siberia.
The Siberian cat, as we recognize it today, likely emerged from the crossbreeding of local cats with those brought by settlers to Siberian Russia in the sixteenth century. Alternatively, theories, particularly popular in Russia, draw from ancient written accounts dating back to the seventeenth century, referring to it as the “Bukhara cat” from Central Asia along the Silk Road, present-day Uzbekistan. The likelihood that colonists interacted with Central Asian merchants is plausible, as is the possibility that they promptly recognized the cat’s utility in controlling the mouse population, a significant issue at the time.
Conversely, some scholars propose the hypothesis that this was the initial long-haired species globally, predating the Russian colonization of Siberia.
The Siberian cat’s introduction to the USA occurred relatively recently. In 1989, spouses Hans and Betty Shultz decided to import specimens from St. Petersburg, establishing the first kennel. However, official breed recognition didn’t materialize until 1997.
In Russia, the Siberian cat (Сибирская кошка) holds the status of the national cat. Both the last president of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the former Russian President and Prime Minister Medvedev have owned Siberian cats.
Given its origin in a very cold region, the Siberian cat adapted to the severe climate by developing a robust fur coat. The muscular body enhances its agility, with males reaching a weight of 7-9 kg and females weighing 4-6 kg. However, full development doesn’t occur until around the age of 5, which is notably longer than the average.
Characteristics of the Siberian Cat
Characterized by round paws firmly planted on the ground, covered in protective fur against snow, the Siberian cat has a proportionate head to its body. Its eyes, large and varying in color from amber to blue or green, share several morphological aspects with another Northern European cat, the Norwegian Forest Cat.
The Siberian cat boasts a water-repellent coat and maintains semi-long fur throughout the year. Although not really hypoallergenic (no cat is 100% hypoallergenic!), it sheds very little. For this reason, it proves ideal for individuals grappling with cat allergies. The cat’s sebaceous glands, unable to produce the Fel d1 protein typically released during grooming, make it less likely to trigger allergic reactions in humans.
Various colors are permissible, ranging from classic red brindle to black, with the exception of lilac, chocolate, cinnamon, and fawn. Siberian cats exhibiting a “colorpoint” pattern, akin to Siamese markings with darker extremities, earn the designation of Neva Masquerade and have been recognized over time as a related breed to the Siberian cat.
Siberian Cat Personality
Independent and solitary, adept at hunting, they also possess a social and affectionate side, forming strong attachments to their family and territory. Some have even been employed as “guard cats” in the past. While they tend to form deep connections with a single person, they generally exhibit affection toward everyone, with some noting dog-like traits in their behavior.
Over the years, selective breeding has gradually softened the Siberian cat’s character, adapting it to a lifestyle vastly different from its historical context. Today, these cats are employed as pet therapy animals, offering support to individuals facing challenges in healthcare and hospital settings.
With minimal special care requirements, Siberian cats make ideal pets for families, particularly those with children.
Early socialization of the puppies is crucial, and owners should be mindful that adult males, if allowed to roam freely, may wander for extended periods.
Siberian Cat Care and Grooming
The Siberian cat, known for its thick coat, requires minimal grooming, only needing to be brushed once a week. Robust in build, it enjoys a relatively long lifespan, averaging around 15 years. Easily adaptable to households with other cats or dogs, they may pose challenges if small animals like rodents or birds are present.
Where to buy a Siberian Cat?
Acquiring a Siberian cat from a cattery in Europe and in the U.S.A. can be challenging, as the breed is more prevalent in Russia and neighboring regions, where it holds the status of the national mascot. With an average price of around 1000 Dollars for a pedigreed cat, prospective owners should check the ZTP Test to ensure the cat meets all standard characteristics.
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