The Siberian cat has a soft expression and gentle demeanour. A wild cat with origins from Russia and a harsh Siberian climate, it adapted well to domestic life and has become an incredibly popular breed.
Origins of the Siberian cat
There is little documented history of the Siberian cat, although a small number of references date back 1,000 years. The first modern day reference to the breed was noted in 1871, and then subsequently in 1925. From its wild roots, the Siberian is considered a cross between a domestic cat imported by Russian settlers in Siberia with a wildcat from the Ural Mountains.
A newer breed to Western Europe, the first Siberian was brought from Russia to Germany in 1989. Around this time, breeders Elizabeth Terrel and David Boehm introduced the breed to the United States, where it was compared to the similarly-sized and looking Maine Coon breed.
The breed is officially recognised although by only a few feline associations.
A medium-large cat, the Siberian is almost as big as the Maine Coon. Males can reach up to 12kg, however most average around 6-7kg. Females are slightly smaller and weigh between 4-6kg. Siberians reach full maturity at about five years old and are strong and powerful in appearance.
The head, medium-sized and triangular in shape, has rounded contours; the forehead is somewhat broad and the muzzle is well defined and circular, punctuated by small protruding cheeks. The neck is of medium length and is very muscular and powerful.
The moderately large ears, angled slightly outwards on the head, incline forwards and are rounded at the tip. Ear hair is typically short but with a slight tuft at the point (similar to the lynx cat); it becomes mid-length to long as it nears the centre and base.
Eyes are large, almost round, and typically intense yellow-green in colour. They are set well apart from one another and are inclined towards the outer base of the ears.
The body of the Siberian is well developed and muscular. The hind legs are long and powerful, making them an agile jumper; front legs are slightly shorter but also strong. Both sets are somewhat rounded and characterised by large, rounded paws.
The back is long and slightly arched due to its longer back legs, while the belly is round and compact. Its fluffy tail is broad at the base, moderately long, and rounded at the tip.
A fluffy breed, the thick, three-layered coat ranges from moderately long to long. It offers an excellent form of protection with a downy undercoat, awn hairs (middle coat) and a waterproof protective outer coat. Similar to a lion's mane, the Siberian has an abundant fur 'collar' around its neck, while hair on the shoulder blades and lower chest area is slightly shorter but still thick. A thick coat of fur covers the belly and upper hind legs.
The Siberian is also recognised as a breed of cat that produces less of the Fel d1 protein that triggers allergies in some people. Although not a hypoallergenic cat per se, this can mean that for cat allergy sufferers, adopting a Siberian may decrease the chances of suffering from an allergic reaction.
The Siberian is a particularly sociable cat, and tends to get along with everyone: children, humans, other cats, and dogs. Granted, additional people or animals will need to be introduced carefully and slowly so that they may adjust.
They are communicative cats and know how to show affection, often exclusively to their parent. Sometimes even with random household items!
Siberians are known to be very lively and friendly, but also gentle in nature. They are an intelligent breed with very strong hunting instincts. They may sometimes require freedom and independence, however will also adjust to apartment living with ample stimulation through games, indoor climbing trees, and regular care and affection from their owner.
Siberians will also likely enjoy brushing, which can contribute to important quality time between owner and cat. Weekly brushing will be sufficient to maintain their long coat, although during moulting periods it is recommended to do so more frequently to extract dead hair and avoid tangles or matting. It is important to focus on areas where knots can form, including behind the ears, between the legs, the chest, and the buttocks.
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