One of the original long-haired breeds introduced into the pedigree cat world at the end of the nineteenth century.
Domestic Breed. One of the original long-haired breeds introduced into the pedigree cat world at the end of the nineteenth century.
Appearance: The Russian breed differed from the Turkish (Angora) and the Persian in several respects. It had a larger body with shorter legs. Its heavy coat was described as being 'of a woolly texture, with coarse hairs among it.' It had a large mane and a short, thickly furred tail.
History: In the Victorian era, when it first appeared in the West, the Russian Long-haired cat was crossed with the other long-haired breeds popular at the time, such as the Angora and the Persian, and its separate identity was soon lost. By the early part of the twentieth century it had been eclipsed by the softer-coated Persian and before long had vanished from the pedigree cat scene.
It was not heard of again for nearly a century. Then, in 1987, a pair of long-haired cats were found in St Petersburg and taken to Berlin. They bred there and by 1990 a number of them had been registered in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, using the new name of Siberian Cat, or Siberian Forest Cat.
It has recently been reported that, although they have long since vanished from the cat shows in the West, these Long-haired Cats have been well known in Russia for many years. They have apparently been overlooked outside Russia because their presence has been undocumented and the locals have simply taken them for granted.
As Russia was probably the original source of all domestic longhaired cats, before they were taken to Turkey and Persia and thence to the rest of the world, the re-appearance of these northern cats is to be welcomed. A close study of their genetics may help to unravel some of the uncertainties concerning the origins of the other pedigree long-haired breeds.
According to the Fauna Cat Lovers Association in Moscow, the only conspicuous difference between Turkish Angoras and Russian Long-haired Cats is that the latter are more likely to have green eyes. For this reason, one recent author has referred to the Russian cats simply as 'Russian Angoras'.
Personality: The original Russian cats were said to be hardy, preferring to be out of doors even in the coldest weather. They were also said to be less agile, and less affectionate towards their human companions, than other breeds. The latest (Siberian) ones are reported to be charming, quiet, gentle and slightly shy.
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