Siberian Forest cats are not only beautiful, but also very friendly. They fit in perfectly with a family with children, and will give the same love and attention to each family member. There are however a few things you need to consider before bringing a Siberian kitten into your home. They don’t like being alone and can only go outside in a secured area. Read on to learn all you need to know about Siberian cats.
Siberian cats’ origins
The origin story of the Siberian cat is very different from that of most other breeds. The majority of pedigree cats originated from cross between two breeds as a result of human intervention. However, the Siberian Forest cat is a natural breed that has been around for centuries. In Russia the first mention of this breed dates back to the year 1000.
For centuries these cats were only found in Russia, until three cats were exported to the United States in 1990 and from there the breed spread across the world. The breed, sometimes also referred to as Neva Masquerade cats, was officially recognized by the International Cat Association in 1992.
In Russia, these cats were mainly owned by nomads in the Siberian forests and used to make sure that no vermin got to their food. From early stories it is clear that the cats lived with humans, but it’s not known how they became domesticated.
Siberian cats’ appearance
The breed has developed a very thick and waterproof coat because they lived in the harsh Siberian forests. The cat is completely adapted to cold and wet weather conditions, which is actually superfluous in the UK. These are average sized cats but their long fluffy coat makes them look much bigger.
Siberian cats are very muscular but they have a very sweet facial expression. They are only fully grown at about 5 years of age and then the average female weighs about 5 Kg while males can weigh up to 9 Kg.
You will find Siberians with coats in a large variety of colours and patterns. Their eyes are copper, green or gold, although those with white coats sometimes have blue eyes.
Siberian cats’ personality
Judging by their appearance you might come to the wrong conclusions about the breed’s personality. You might easily think that these cats are stubborn, maybe even aggressive, but it's the complete opposite.
Siberian cats are very friendly and are always in a good mood. The breed enjoys being around people without being demanding or clingy. For them it is enough for you to be around and you don’t necessarily have to pet them or sit down so that they can climb on your lap.
Your Siberian cat will communicate with a soft meow that doesn't exactly match their size. What does match, however, is their love of heights. They easily jump up to where they can get a good view across the whole room and you shouldn’t be surprised to find your cat on the top of the refrigerator. They are also clever enough to, for example, jump onto a door handle to open the door.
Siberians remain very playful throughout their life. You should consider scheduling some daily playtime. If you really want to put in the work, you can even train your Siberian Forest Cat to fetch small things. Make sure that there are plenty of toys around to keep your cat occupied, even at night so that they don’t disturb your sleep.
Raising Siberian kittens
Siberian kittens stay with the breeder for the first 13-14 weeks of their life and this is when most of their early socialisation takes place. They learn all the basic life skills from their mother and the breeder should also ensure that the kittens get used to people, sounds and touch.
In other words, when you bring your kitten home most of the work has already been done. However, this doesn't mean you can allow your cat to do just what it wants to. You need to teach them the rules and right behaviour in your home.
You can teach your kitten where the litter box is by putting them in it a few times. Although Siberians are very intelligent, they will probably have a few accidents. You shouldn’t punish your kitten for this because it will only make them anxious. Just put them in the litter box as soon as possible and it will soon become clear to them that this is where they should go.
Use this process for anything else you want to teach your kitten. For example, as soon as they scratch the sofa, jump on the counter or suddenly hang from the curtains, introduce them to an alternative like their scratching post. Also use cat treats or soft, kind words to reward good behaviour.
The right environment for a Siberian cat
Siberian Cats settle well in a home with children and other pets. They are not easily upset and seem to like it when the family grows. You will obviously have to let them get used to the new members of the family.
Strangers are also welcome, but your cat will probably not greet them right away. They need to get used to them for the first few hours and then curiosity will take over.
A Siberian Forest cat is not a good choice if you are often away from home because they hate being alone. You can get them used to being alone gradually, but even then you should never leave them on their own for more than a day.
These cats become stressed when left alone and then they will tend to destroy things and be even more affectionate when you get home. Getting a stranger to come over to keep your cat company is also not a good idea, because the cats become attached to a familiar face. So if you need a babysitter it has to be someone they are used to.
It will be ideal if you have a garden that you can close off securely. Siberian cats really enjoy going outside but they are also very vulnerable. They are not good at assessing danger and this means that the risk of an accident is high. They also often jump up to places and then don’t know how to get off again.
So you can protect your cat by preventing them from getting out of your garden. Keep in mind that this breed can jump very high which means that a normal fence is not necessarily an obstacle. If you cannot guarantee that your garden is escape-free you should rather keep your cat inside.
Cats that are used to staying inside are not bothered by not being able to go outside. Just make sure that they have enough toys and other distractions to keep them entertained.
Grooming Siberian cats
Despite the fact that these cats have long hair, the grooming routine is relatively simple. Their coats hardly tangle and brushing them once a week is more than enough.
They do, however, shed a lot in summer as their coats adapt to weather conditions. This means that you should brush your cat more often during this season. This will help to prevent your cat from getting problems with hairballs in their throat and also reduce the amount of hair all over your home.
Because of their waterproof coat, Siberian cats love to play in the water. This does make bathing them a bit easier. But they do keep themselves very clean so you will not necessarily have to bath them, especially if they don’t go outside.
Siberian cats are often suitable for people who have a mild cat allergy. They shed little hair around the house and so there is less contact with the substances which cause the allergic reaction. If you are allergic to cats and want to find out whether this applies to you, visit a breeder for a few hours so that you can come into contact with the breed.
Siberian Forest cats’ health
One of the biggest advantages of a natural breed is that they have very few hereditary diseases. Compared to other purebred cats, Siberians are very healthy. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to have your cat checked by your vet, all cats should have a check-up at least once a year.
On average, Siberian cats live to 12-17 years of age. Obviously some cats die younger while others live much longer because there are always things you as an owner cannot control. You can, however, make sure that your cat gets enough exercise, mental challenge, proper grooming and, most important, the right nutrition.
The right food for a Siberian cat
Originally Siberian Forest cats survived mainly on mice and other rodents and they still prefer meat-based food. We recommend feeding them a combination of both wet and dry food. Cats naturally don't drink a lot of water and wet food can help to keep them hydrated. Dry food has the added advantage of being good for your cat's teeth.
The grain-free pâté with organic beef and chicken, supplemented with organically certified chicory will certainly appeal to a Siberian Forest cat. With Yarrah food you can always count on the food being free from added chemical fragrances, colours and flavours, pesticides and GMO, while we also select only the most absorbable proteins. Your Siberian will get the nutrients they need to support their growth and health.
Yarrah's organic mini snacks for cats also consist of 97% meat, so your cat will surely enjoy them. The treats are a healthy choice for rewarding good behaviour and also for just spoiling your pet.
Buying a Siberian kitten
You should always buy a Siberian Forest cat from a recognized breeder. The breed takes a long time to mature and you will not be allowed to take the kitten home until they are 13 weeks old. Most other cats can be adopted at 7 weeks of age but Siberian kittens should stay with their mother for a bit longer. Kittens that are removed from their mother too soon might not have been properly socialised.
With a good breeder you will always receive a health certificate for a Siberian kitten, stating that they have tested negative for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Also always ask whether the kitten has been vaccinated, dewormed and chipped. On average, you can expect to pay around £500-£600 for a kitten but it could be as much as £2000, depending on the breeder, lineage and many other factors. Furthermore, keep in mind that there are additional costs for the kitten supplies, the vet and the right food.