The Siberian Cat is an ancient Russian breed that has occurred naturally in the region of Siberia for over two thousand years. They are found in Russian literature and fairy tales—the breed also appears in Harrison Wier’s book Our Cats and All About Them, published in 1889—and the breed is recognized as the national cat of Russia.
Not well known outside of the Soviet Union until after the Cold War ended, Siberians were first imported to the United States in 1990 and were recognized by The International Cat Association in 1996. The American Cat Fanciers Association accepted the breed in 1999, followed by the Cat Fanciers Association in 2006.
All long-haired cat breeds descended from these ancient domestic cats of Siberia, including the Angora, the closely related Norwegian Forest cat, and the uber-domestic Persian.
Russian families relay fond tales of their Siberians and their amazing loyalty and personalities, but these cats also have played a practical role on farms as rodent control.
More about the history of the Siberian cat breed.
The Siberian is a medium to large cat with the overall appearance of excellent physical condition, strength, balance, power, and alertness; they look powerful and alert, but gaze out at the world with a sweet expression. Their eyes vary in color from gold to green and all shades in-between. Some have two different colored eyes, and some even have blue eyes.
Head Shape: The head is a large, broad, modified wedge with rounded contours—broad at the top and narrowing slightly at the muzzle. Muzzle is full, well-formed and somewhat short. Cheeks are full, and jowling in mature individuals is desirable. The ears are medium-large, rounded at the tips and tufts are desired. The nearly round eyes can be green, gold, green-gold, or copper. White Siberians or Siberians with white patches may have blue or odd eyes.
Lynx tipping on the ear is allowed, and full ear furnishings are required. This means that the tops of the ears can have hair, which makes the ears look pointed when in fact they are rounded, and that the inside of the ear has hair that protects it from the elements.
Body and Tail: Large, full, well-rounded body with plenty of muscle and bone. Medium length legs, powerfully built, remarkably springy, with large, thick, round and tufted feet and toes.
Coat: The Siberian is notable for having a long triple coat with guard hairs (the outer coat), awn hairs (the middle part of the coat) and a downy undercoat. The undercoat is dense and lays close to the body like a wrap. He has an abundant ruff around the neck, thick but slightly shorter hair on the shoulder blades and lower part of the chest, and thick fur on the belly and britches (the upper hind legs). The undercoat thickens in cold weather. The coat comes in all colors and combinations of colors, with or without white.
This glorious and quite useful fur comes in all colors and combinations, with or without white markings, and tends to remain relatively tangle-free, requiring only occasional brushing. Fortunately, Siberians like to play in water, so if bathed regularly as kittens they may actually enjoy the attention of a bath.
This is a cat designed by nature to survive, with no extremes in type. This is a medium-size to large cat weighing 8 to 17 pounds and sometimes more, with females generally being smaller than the males. It can take the Siberian up to five years to reach his full size and coat. His body is muscular and he has big round paws with tufts of fur and a thickly furred tail. The general impression of the body is one of circles and roundness, rather than rectangles and triangles.
Siberian cats love people and want to be near them; expect this affectionate cat to follow you around, including to the bathroom, and to “help” you with all of your reading, TV viewing, computer work and meal prep. They enjoy close contact, head butting and nuzzling, but aren’t excessively demanding of attention. This is one of those cats who tends to get along with everyone, including kids, dogs and other cats, although he can sometimes be a bit suspicious of guests until he gets used to them. He will greet you happily after you’ve been gone (unless he’s mad at you for leaving him behind; then you might have to offer him a gift to get back on his good side). When you come home from work, he might not have a martini waiting, but he will be pleased to tell you all about his day in quiet, pleasant trills and chirps, interspersed with a few meows and purrs.
They are fearless and easygoing. Not much disturbs their natural calm and equanimity. They seem to know when they are needed for psychological and moral support and spend time with the person who needs that support.
The Siberian is something of a madcap adventurer, climbing to great heights and leaping wide expanses as he makes his way through his home. This is the cat you will find finagling his way past a closed door or swinging from the chandelier in an attempt to get to the feather toy or laser pointer that you so carefully put out of reach. (Siberian cats are commonly considered some of the best jumpers in the feline world. Acrobatic by nature, the Siberian will play hard, often executing amazing somersaults in pursuit of a feather toy. An over enthusiastic kitten may need to be rescued while attempting to climb the bricks on the fireplace or jump to the top of a bookshelf.) Fortunately, his well-muscled body is not only powerful but also agile, and he doesn’t usually break things. Nonetheless, you might want to put favorite breakables in an especially safe place. Purchase a ceiling-height cat tree and place it where he can watch over his domain.
The personality of the Siberian cat is robust and dog-like. Individuals are often eager to learn tricks, play fetch and walk on a leash. All types of toys intrigue them. Some learn to play fetch, while others are intrigued by the moving cursor on the computer screen or sit and watch, entranced, as you type. Some even enjoy walking on a leash or playing in water. Siberians stay playful throughout their lives.
This is one of the finest choices for big families, and a very fine choice for those with children and dogs.
These cats need interaction and are not a good choice for extra busy folks who may need to leave them alone for long stretches of time.