A Brief History of The Siberian Cat

The Homeland

The Siberian originates from the Taiga as it's natural habitat and is considered one of the the three breeds known as Forest Cats (the remaining two being the Norweigan Forest Cat and the Maine Coon).  The Taiga is the largest remaining forrested region on earth and is a place of climactic extremes.  Summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees and the winter weather...well....it's Siberia, cold is an understatement.  These temperature extremes produced a vary adaptable animal who is equally at home in Houston, Texas or cold, snowy Michigan.

The Siberian cat is Russia's national cat and has a rich and vibrant history dating back at least a thousand years.  Known for their overall size and weight, they were found characteriized in Russian fairytales as protectors.  There are also stories depicting the Siberian Cat living along side the monks of Russian monastaries providing both companionship and a watchdog function by warning the monks of intruders.  As the tale goes, they patroled from the open-beamed cielings of the monastic buildings and took their jobs as sentries quite seriously.

Shop keepers typically had at least one Siberian on the premises to ensure control of any little, unwelcomed guests (namely mice) and were known to participate in their own, informal cat shows by casually comparing their cats for size and 'heft'.    They were officially noted in early English cat shows in the 1700's however were not recognized as a specifically noted breed and shown in their native land until the late 1980's  Some of this is due to the shift in modern Russian culture and loosening of restrictions on lifestyle issues such as pet ownership.

Although this breed has only recently shown up in the western world cat scene, it is a historic breed with a beautiful history including both fact and myth.     

The Immigration

The Siberian entered the United States kitty cohort around 1990 when Elizabeth Terrel, a Himalyan breeder, entered in to negotiations with a Russian Siberian breeder to create a cultural-cat exchange of sorts.  The Himalayan was not known in Russia and no Siberians were recorded to be found in the U.S.  Around the same time as these cultural summits were being finalized a gentleman by the name of David Boehm discoverd the breed through an article in a German magazine.  After research of his own, he was bound for Russia to bring home Siberians of his very own.

These two pioneers are responsible for the breed's existence here in the United States and there are still many locations world wide that do not yet have the pleasure of experiencing such a wonderful and uniqe feline.  Due to the breed's characteristics as being somewhat dog-like in personality and the allergy issue, most breeders have waiting lists for their litters long before the little kittens even make their entrance into the world.  Although the number of Siberian breeders are increasing here in the U.S., it is still a very small group compared to the number of catteries of other popular breeds.  Once you decide that this is the kitty for you, the opportunity to increase your patience will likely be before you.  Begin your search early as you may find yourself waiting several months before there is a Siberian headed into your loving home.   Do not  let  this deter you however, this animal is well worth the time spent in locating and waiting it's arrival into you own home!

Research used for the information on this page was gained from Cats USA 2004 Annual, and various bits found in internet searches.