The Siberian cat is a medium-sized, semi-longhaired cat that is both breathtaking to behold and an affectionate pet. Siberian is a forest cat native to snowy Russia, where it needed its luxurious triple coat to protect against cold. This breed has a delightful personality—outgoing, affectionate, friendly, and energetic—making it an exceptional feline companion. They enjoy the company of other cats and even dogs and are good with gentle, respectful children.
Weight: 15 to 20 pounds
Length: 17 to 25 inches
Coat: Varies from coarse to soft; moderately long to longhaired triple coat with a full collar ruff
Coat Color: Any color combination or pattern
Eye Color: All colors
Life Expectancy: 10 to 18 years
Characteristics of the Siberian Cat
|Tendency to Vocalize||Low|
|Amount of Shedding||Medium|
History of the Siberian Cat
Siberian cats hail from Russia, where they are cherished as a national treasure. It’s hard to say just how long Siberian cats have existed in Russia, but based on Russian fairy tales and children’s books, they have likely been around for hundreds of years and maybe as long as 1,000 years.
Siberian cats were described in a book called "Our Cats and All About Them" by Harrison Weir, which was originally published in 1889. The United States got their first glimpse of the Siberian cat after the Cold War thawed in the 1990s, and it was love at first sight. The Siberian cat is recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association and The International Cat Association.
The Siberian cat’s trademark sweet expression comes from its modified wedge head with rounded contours, moderately short muzzle with slight curvature, and medium-to-large, almost round eyes, which come in shades of green, gold, green-gold, or copper (white cats may have blue eyes or “odd eyes," eyes that are two different colors).
Siberian Cat Care
The Siberian cat is intelligent and exceptionally playful. The breed is known to be slow to mature, taking as long as five years to graduate from kitten-like antics. This means the Siberian cat is a lot of fun to have around.
This breed loves to climb, explore, and play. To keep your Siberian cat mentally stimulated and physically enriched, expose it to a variety of fun toys and play lots of games.
Trim its nails regularly and inspect its ears for dirt and debris. Wipe the ears out with a cotton ball and gentle ear cleanser. Never stick a cotton swab or anything else down into the ear canal. If the ears look red or excessively dirty, schedule a checkup with your veterinarian.
The Siberian cat’s luxurious, thick, full coat may come in any color or pattern, with or without white markings. The triple coat is made up of three layers: a shorter, dense undercoat of downy hair (the hair closest to the skin); a layer of slightly longer “awn hair” in the middle, and an even longer outer coat layer (called “guard hair”).
In warm weather, the Siberian cat will shed the heavy coat in favor of a shorter, thinner summer coat. In winter, the coat will be at its thickest and longest. Despite its thickness and length, the Siberian cat’s coat tends to resist matting, so it only requires occasional brushing (more during the seasonal heavy shed).
Occasional baths will help loose hair come out and remove dust and dander from the coat.
Even with its thick, long coat, some consider the Siberian cat to be hypoallergenic. Although no scientific studies prove it, some allergy sufferers say that they can live successfully with a Siberian cat. As it turns out, cat dander, urine, and saliva, not necessarily cat hair itself, is the main culprit for allergies.
Most cat-allergic people are sensitive to a protein called Fel D1, which is found in cats’ skin cells (as well as dried remnants of saliva and urine that coat the cat’s fur). It seems that some cat breeds, including Siberian cats, produce less dander than other cats.
For mild allergy sufferers, this might mean that Siberian cats elicit little or no allergic reaction. However, all cats and all people are different. If you suffer from allergies and are interested in finding out if you will react to a Siberian cat, find a local breeder who will allow you to visit their adult cats to test the theory.
Common Health Problems
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease that causes thickening of the heart muscle, is more prevalent in certain breeds, including Siberians. Mutations of several cardiac (heart) genes have been identified in some cats with this disease, which suggests that genetics plays a role.
Responsible breeders screen their cats for this disease to avoid breeding affected cats and passing it along to future generations.
Diet and Nutrition
Work with your veterinarian to choose the best food for your Siberian cat. Although dry food is convenient, canned food contains fewer carbs and has a lot of extra moisture. Most cats don’t drink enough water, which can affect their overall health, including their kidney health. Feed measured amounts of food at scheduled times, two to three times a day. Don’t leave food out all day, as this can contribute to an overweight cat.
Potentially hypoallergenic for some allergy sufferers
Affectionate, playful, and energetic; gets along well with children and other animals
Can handle colder weather and likes water play
Long hair requires more grooming than other cats; sheds winter coat in warmer months
A little noisemaker that likes to mew, chirp, and trill a lot
Where to Adopt or Buy a Siberian Cat
You may be able to find a purebred Siberian cat through a breeder in your area, but if you'd rather adopt from a rescue organization, check out:
More Cat Breeds and Further Research
If you’re intrigued by the Siberian cat and want to learn more, check out the Cat Fanciers’ Association’s Cat Breeder Referral Search to try to find a Siberian breeder near you, so you can ask more questions and meet some cats in person. You can also visit Cat Shows U.S. to find a cat show in your area. Cat shows are a great way to meet many different breeds and talk to breed aficionados to learn more.
If you like the Siberian cat, you might also like:
There are many cat breeds out there. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home.
Pet Allergy: Are You Allergic to Dogs or Cats? Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Cornell Feline Health Center.