The Siberian is a robust and fearless breed with an affectionate nature and sweet expression. These cats enjoy companionship of all kinds, but many have an affinity for children, in particular. When you bring a Siberian into your life, you are adding a devoted friend to the family.
References to Siberian cats date back as far as 1000 AD. Designed to withstand harsh climates, this native Russian breed acted as rodent control for farmers in the Siberian forest. They also served as beloved house cats to Russian families, who praised them for their loyalty and loving personalities.
Siberians appeared as one of three longhair breeds in the first cat show in London in 1871. By the 1980s, the cat fancy had gained momentum in Russia, and people began keeping records about the breed. The first cat show in Leningrad in 1987 marked the official beginning of the Siberian breeding program in Russia.
After the Cold War ended in 1990, the first Siberians arrived in America. The next year, more cats followed, and the United States breeding program was soon up and running. Cat associations began accepting the breed in the early 1990s, but it wasn't until 2006 that the CFA granted Siberians Championship status.
Siberians are medium-to-large cats that exude power, balance, and strength. This hefty breed can take up to five years to fully mature. In general, their body structure is round rather than angular.
Coat and Coloring
Siberians have a thick, water-resistant triple coat (perfect for protecting them during harsh Russian winters). Their hair is moderately long with a full ruff around the collar. Thick curls may develop on their belly and britches, though the coat itself is not wavy overall. Siberians come in all coat color and pattern combinations.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Siberians have a wedge-shaped head with rounded corners. Their ears are medium-sized and rounded, with furnishings that cover the base. These cats have medium-sized round eyes that are alert and expressive. Their bodies are sturdy, well-muscled, and solid. Toe tufts and a bushy tail complete their winter-proof appearance.
Siberians have an easygoing, unflappable nature. They are well-suited to busy households and love being around other pets and kids. In fact, Siberians don't like to be alone and prefer to live in a two-cat home. The buddy system is the way to go for these friendly felines.
Acrobatic by nature, Siberians regularly wow their families with their impressive leaps, agile maneuvers, and balancing acts. It's not uncommon to find them on top of the refrigerator or tiptoeing across a cluttered shelf. They're also very playful and will turn any available object into a toy. But they like their downtime, too. Siberians make excellent couch buddies and snuggle partners.
This intelligent breed is a skilled problem solver and can learn how to open doors or cabinets—especially if they know there is something of interest on the other side. Siberians are famous for their emotional intelligence, as well. They often sense if someone needs moral support and take it upon themselves to be there for their humans.
Siberians require a high-quality diet. Because nutritional needs vary for kittens, adults, and senior cats, opt for a formula that's age-appropriate for your pet.
To prevent overfeeding, monitor your cat's food intake and reduce portions if they start to gain weight. And remember to count treats. As a guideline, they should make up no more than 10% of a cat's daily calories.
Besides regular meals, easy access to fresh, clean water is a must for any cat.
Despite their thick triple coat, Siberians don't shed very much. Brushing once or twice a week is usually enough to prevent tangles. However, these cats do molt twice a year. During such periods—which last about 10 days—they require daily brushing to remove loose fur and prevent matting.
Routine nail clipping is also important, as nails that get too long are more likely to snag on something and become torn or damaged. Overgrown nails can also grow into your cat's paw pads, leading to pain or infection. In addition to clipping, providing a scratching post will help keep their nails in good shape and satisfy their instinct to scratch.
Finally, dental hygiene is an essential component of every cat's care. The sooner you start your Siberian on a routine that includes at-home teeth brushing, the better. They should also regularly see a veterinarian for exams and professional cleanings.
Roughly one out of every three cats in the United States is overweight or obese. And those extra pounds can contribute to other health risks, such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart problems. Besides keeping your Siberian's weight in check, screening for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is also wise. This condition decreases the heart's efficiency and can lead to other issues. Your veterinarian is your best resource for discussing these and other health concerns for your cat.
Siberian Genetic Health Conditions
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
Pyruvate Kinase (PK) Deficiency is a disorder that causes anemia due to the breakdown of red blood cells.
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is the most common inherited disease in cats. The disease causes the formation of fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys that can lead to kidney failure.
Factor XII Deficiency (Variant 2)
Factor XII Deficiency, also known as Hageman trait, is an asymptomatic blood factor deficiency. While it does not cause an abnormal tendency to bleed, it can be observed as prolonged blood clotting times during certain laboratory screening tests.
With more than 45 health tests, Wisdom Panel™ Complete for Cats screens for these and other important genetic conditions—allowing you to better plan for your cat's lifelong care.
Reviewed February 23, 2021 by Annette Louviere, DVM