Siberian Forest Cat
Colour: All Colors
An ancient long-haired breed now believed to have been ancestral to all modern long-haired cats including both the Angora and the Persian. Sometimes referred to simply as the 'Siberian Cat' or the 'Siberia'. Most commonly found in Northern Russia, especially around St Petersburg where its thick fur protects it from the harsh winters.
Domestic Breed. An ancient long-haired breed now believed to have been ancestral to all modern long-haired cats including both the Angora and the Persian. Sometimes referred to simply as the 'Siberian Cat' or the 'Siberia'. Most commonly found in Northern Russia, especially around St Petersburg where its thick fur protects it from the harsh winters. In Germany it is known as the Sibirische Katze.
Appearance: A strongly-built, long-bodied cat with a broad, round head and powerful legs. The long fur has a dense, heavy under-coat . There is a thick ruff and a bushy tail. In many respects it is similar to the Norwegian Forest Cat, to which it is no doubt closely related.
History: It would seem that this breed has been present in Russia for centuries. At the end of the nineteenth century a few were imported into Britain and appeared at the first cat shows, but by the beginning of the twentieth century they had vanished, overtaken by the more popular Persian. Those early examples were known as Russian Long-haired Cats.
The breed presumably continued to thrive in its homeland but was taken for granted to such an extent by the local people that nobody bothered to develop it as a pedigree cat. (A recent survey revealed that 64% of the cats in St Petersburg carried the long-haired gene.) The result was that, in the world of cat shows, it became a forgotten breed. Even today it remains rare outside its homeland.
However, this seems set to change. In 1987 a young male and female were collected from the region of St Petersburg and taken to Germany by enthusiasts who invented the new name 'Siberian' and started a serious breeding programme. The male was called Tima and the female Mussa. The female was discovered in a city market. Within a few months they had produced their first litter.
Since then there has also been increased interest in Russia itself, as pedigree cat breeding has at last started to flourish there. There is now a birth registry for Siberian Forest Cats at the Kotofej Cat Club in St Petersburg.
The Siberian Forest Cat was first imported into America in 1990 and the first litter was born there in October of that year. It was exhibited at the International Cat Show in New York in 1991.
Personality: Terms used to describe this breed are slightly contradictory. They include: Shrewd, docile, lively, shy, rugged, affectionate, devoted, gentle, relaxed and active. It is vocally quiet, like the Persians.
Colour forms: The typical colouring is tabby, usually with a white ruff and white paws, but now that Russian breeders are taking an interest in it, many new colours are being developed.
Comrade Cat Club (Siberian Cat). Address: RR 1, Box 2460, Bowdoinham, ME 04008, USA.
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