Siberian Forest Cat

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: July 16, 2008

Physical Characteristics

You will first notice how massive the Siberian Forest cat is, usually weighing between 17 and 26 pounds, with the male being generally larger than the female. Much bigger and heavier than most cats, it is both powerful and strong.

The Siberian cat's coat is long and heavy, with a tight undercoat which becomes thicker to adapt to the cold weather. Its coat is also oily and water resistant, and often seen in a variety of colors.

Personality and Temperament

The Siberian cat breed is affectionate and intelligent, and rarely unable to solve its own problems. The cat is also attracted to water, occasionally throwing toys in it or playing around it. Despite the cat's size, the Siberian is quite agile and can easily jump onto bookcases or on top of cupboards.

History and Background

Though new to the United States, the Siberian cat breed is far from new to the Asian and European continents. The exact time and place of their first appearance in Siberia is unknown, but it is thought they emigrated along with the first Russian immigrants. Generations of living in the harsh climate of Siberia brought about the evolution of a highly instinctual, hardy, and strong cat.

It is also uncertain when the Siberian Forest cat was introduced to Europe, but the breed was written about in Harrison Weir's late nineteenth century book, Our Cats and All About Them, as one of the three longhairs represented at the first cat show, held in England in the 1700s.

Elizabeth Terrell, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana breeder, is responsible for bringing these cats to America. Primarily a Himalayan breeder, she discovered through a 1988 trade journal article that a Russian Cat Fanciers association was looking to import (and establish) the Siberian cat breed into Russia. Terrell traded four Himalayans to Nelli Sachuk, a member of St. Petersburg's Kotofei cat club, in exchange for three Siberians in 1990 -- one male (Kaliostro Vasenjkovich) and two females (Ofelia Romanova and Naina Romanova).

She devoted both time and money to a breeding program, later basing the American Standard -- an abstract aesthetic ideal for the animal type -- on the Russian Standards. Concerned with establishing a purebred Siberian cat, she subsequently founded an inter-registry breed club, which she named Taiga.

Though the Siberian is a rare breed, it is gaining interest and on its way to recognition and fame.

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