Meet the Breed: Siberian

The Siberian is an ancient breed and is now believed to be ancestral to all modern long-haired cats. It is the national cat of Russia and is native to Siberia. A longer name for the formal breed is the Siberian Forest Cat. Siberian cats are pedigreed and recognized by the International Cat Association (TICA).

Siberian cats are medium to large, with some males weighing up to 25 pounds. They have a round face and body shape, with tufted ears and a neck ruff. Their paws are large and rounded. They are exceptionally agile jumpers and have a powerful, stocky build.

Siberians express the three natural types of feline fur: guard hairs, awn hairs and down. These three layers were important to protect the cat from Russian weather extremes. Their coat has texture but is glossy, which reduces the incidence of fur matting. There is a wide variety of colour patterns in the breed, with brown tabby being common. Colour-point Siberians as classified as a separate breed, the Neva Masquerade, by some cat breed registries.

While there is truly no hypoallergenic dog or cat, the decreased dander qualities of the Siberian coat have been noted by many breeders and pet owners. While there is little scientific evidence, many people believe that Siberians produce less of the Fel d1 allergen that is present on cats.

Siberian cats, along with some other large cat breeds, have a predisposition to an inherited heart disorder, called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). In this condition, the muscular wall of the heart chambers (ventricles) becomes excessively thickened, which can eventually lead to heart failure or sudden death. Now, there are screening tests available to help detect HCM before cats become symptomatic.

Siberian cats generally are loving, loyal and friendly cats They often get along well with children, dogs and other pets. They are fast learners, avid climbers and have engaging personalities, that can melt the heart of any cat person.

Written by Tiffany Lennox, DVM

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