s i b e r i a n c a t s
A quick historical overview
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Many stories have been told about Siberians and while they are a newer introduction
to the US Cat Fancy, they are in fact an ancient breed. Simply called the Siberian or
Siberian Cat they are also known as one of the Forest Cat Triad, along with the
Norwegian Forest Cat and the Maine Coon Cat.
Considered exotic pets, domestic cats were first brought into Russia by Nobles.
These domestic cats mated with the European and Asian wild cats that were already
naturally established there. Further natural selection insured that only the strongest
amongst these offspring and those cats developing the physical traits for withstanding
the extreme Siberian climate, survived. Russian immigrants are believed to have carried these cats along their journey to the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, while traveling through cold inhospitable northern climate. The cats continued to survive harsh winters and severe climates in the cities and surrounding area.
Siberians have long been part of Russian life, existing in the Russian countryside and city streets for far longer than official written records show. Despite the fact that Siberians are Russia’s national cat and a naturally developed breed, the Siberian breed was taken for granted as a natural part of daily life, making its familiar presence less noteworthy in literature. Without much written history, the early stories, fairy tales and lore told about the Siberian Breed, cannot be separated into fact and fiction. Fairy Tales illustrate them as protectors of children and the muscle powering magical sleighs through snow. Lore tells us magnificent Siberians made their homes in Russian monasteries. There they walked along the high overhead beams using their speed, strength, and agility as both mousers and stealthy lookouts. While keeping the cathedrals, monasteries and grainaries clear of vermin they also provided inhabitants with an early alarm and warm, loyal, loving companionship.
Siberian Cats first appeared in recorded history in the year 1000 AD. As the breed spread throughout Europe, Siberian Cats were noted in Harrison Weir’s late nineteenth century book, “Our Cats and All About Them”, cataloging one of three longhairs represented at the first cat show held in England in 1871. “Brehms Tierleben” mentioned a stocky longhaired red cat named Tobolsker from the Asian Caucasus region. Siberian Cats are included in Russian paintings hung in monasteries and estates for hundreds of years. The earliest known photograph of a Siberian was taken in 1900. Beyond these early references, there is little written information found about them. During much of this time, household pets were not kept, pedigreed or otherwise, because of food shortages and economics, therefore the Siberian was not consciously developed as a pedigreed cat breed until much later. Following the end of the cold war, importation/exportation eased and cat clubs became more fashionable. Many of these were formed, and in 1987, one of these was the Kotofei Cat Club, named for a fabled Russian character with the head of a cat. Kotofei wrote the first Siberian Standard, started keeping breeding records and was one of the first clubs extending official pedigrees. The first cat show in Moscow was held in 1988, following which, more new clubs and registries developed.
Starpoint Cattery imported the first three Siberian Cats into the US in 1990, in exchange for a reciprocal exportation of Himalayans. Soon thereafter, Willowbrook Cattery imported the first colorpoint Siberian Cats to the US. Elizabeth Terrell, of Starpoint Cattery worked in conjunction with many other Siberian breeders to gain their acceptance into TICA's Championship Registration and Competition. Siberians were granted this status in 1996 and the Siberians had truly arrived in the USA. Today you will find both traditional colors and color points being registered in all associations. CFA accepted the Siberian Cat into Championship status in 2006 and it was our own kitten, GC NW TimberBend Patchwork and Powderhorn who made CFA history, earning the first National Winner Title for the Siberian Breed in 2012! Tutti joins our two TICA International Winners, Sisi and Pudge, amongst our group of noteworthy Siberians making their mark in North American Registries' Siberian History!
Siberian Breed Description
Rating the Siberian Cat Breed on a scale of one to ten:
Activity Level – 6
Affection toward its owner – 7
Intelligence – 8
Independence – 9
Need for attention – 5
Healthiness & hardiness – 9
Need for grooming – 3
Compatibility with children – 8
Compatibility with other pets – 8