Strong, intelligent and adventurous, Siberian cats are affectionately known as gentle giants, and make a great addition to active households, especially those with children.
As you might expect from a cat originating in one of Russia’s coldest regions, they have a thick and furry coat to keep out the chill.
In fact, their fur is triple layered, with a downy undercoat, wavy awn hair in the middle and rougher guard hair on top.
Also known as Siberian Forest cats or Moscow Longhairs, this medium sized, semi-longhair breed may be the national cat of Russia, but are popular the world over.
Not only do they have striking features and a friendly expression, but captivating green, gold or copper eyes too.
Deciding to get a cat is always a big decision. And most importantly, which breed should you choose? So today, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of Siberian cats to help you get a balanced opinion on whether this is the furball for you.
Siberian Cat Pros
Ever since they emerged from the Siberian forests almost 1,000 years ago, these cats have been full of energy. Their back legs are slightly longer than their front ones, which makes them great at jumping, so expect to see them leaping off your furniture and bouncing around in excitement. They’ll keep the whole family entertained for hours as they chase toys and sprint around the house without warning. Just make sure they have enough space to play so they don’t get bored!
Wheat and Waffle’s owner (@vulcandeath33) suggests getting two cats to help share the energy…
We got our second Siberian cat about six months ago. Luckily, the two are now best friends and play with each other all the time and wear each other out.
Siberian cats are known as one of the smartest around, with owners across the globe sharing stories about their problem-solving abilities – from opening doors and sniffing out hidden treats to quickly learning how to use a litter box or scratching post. This means that with time and patience they can learn tricks too, such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, ready to impress your guests.
Beyond that, they have high levels of emotional intelligence too, recognising when their owners are happy, sad and everything in-between. Thankfully, they have the perfect solution to suit any mood – lots of cat cuddles.
For many owners, like (@ashpekhan), this is clearly a big part of the appeal:
We have a Siberian cat and it’s a wonderful first cat to have! She’s my little spoiled shadow, follows me around all over the house and is pampered a bit too much.
One of the reasons why Siberian cats make good family pets is their highly affectionate nature, meaning they’re safe to be around children and other animals without worry. Cats may have a reputation for being aloof, but Siberians will greet you at the door when you get home and follow you round the house.
Best of all, you’ll start to develop your own language with Siberian cats after a while, as they have a whole range of sounds they use to communicate how they’re feeling, including chirping, trilling and meowing in response to your questions.
Siberian Catz writes:
This breed is great with kids and other pets as they are social butterflies who love having many friends.
Most cats hate water, but not Siberian cats. Since their coat is water-resistant as well as cold-resistant, they’ll happily dive into the nearest puddle, jump into the sink or, more likely, try and join you in the shower when you’re getting ready in the morning.
Most of the time, it’s recommended to try and bathe them around once a month to keep them clean and fresh, but unlike other cats – the hardest part will be trying to get them out again. This love of water is developed early on, though, so try and introduce your Siberian to the joys of splashing around when they’re a kitten.
Siberian Cat Cons
Some websites claim that Siberian cats are hypoallergenic – meaning they won’t set off people’s allergies even if they’re allergic to cats. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests this isn’t true, mainly because “there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat.”
In reality, Siberian cats produce milder allergic reactions than most thanks to lower levels of Fel D1, the itchy protein, in their saliva and skin. But even small amounts of it can cause watery eyes, especially when combined with their dander fur.
As Siberian cat owner (@yummyfrenchfries) put it:
No, they aren’t truly hypoallergenic. I’m pretty allergic to cats, but with my Siberian I manage pretty well – although if we don’t groom her or vacuum regularly it gets worse.
While some cats are content to groom themselves, the Siberian’s fluffy coat will need your help to make sure they stay matt-free – even with a quick shower every now and then. Although it’s not a long job, only needing about 10 minutes a week – the more regularly you can stay on top of it, the better. Using a comb and a soft-bristled brush, work your way from the top of their head down their back, not forgetting the tail and legs.
Perhaps the best piece of advice we’ve seen for Siberian grooming comes from The Nest, who advise:
Do the long hair around their face last – this needs attention, but many cats get a little twitchy when you touch their faces. However, after you’ve stroked and combed the rest, they should be pretty relaxed.
It’s also wise to bear in mind that they will shed twice a year too, in Spring and Autumn – so make sure you have a vacuum handy when it starts!
The most common heart disease for cats, Siberian kitties are equally susceptible to HCM, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. A hereditary disease that causes heart issues, it can show up at any age – so it’s incredibly important to get your Siberian cat screened for HCM by your vet in case they need medications to reduce heart strain.
The other thing to watch out for is Polycystic Kidney Disease, or PKD for short. Generally a disease that affects older cats, PKD shows up as cysts on a cat’s kidneys, which slowly grow in size over the years. Although it can take a long time to seriously affect Siberian cats (or any cat), there is currently no known cure.
While costs can vary across the world, Siberian cats are often on the pricier side when it comes to finding a new furry companion. This price tag is driven by several factors. Firstly, since Siberian cats mainly come from Russia, it can be difficult to find purebred cats outside of there – which pushes both demand and prices up.
What’s more, even though Siberian cats aren’t hypoallergenic, some studies suggest that their allergy rate reduces the purer the breed is – making purebred Siberian cats even more sought after. Naturally, it’s often recommended to adopt a cat if you can, but they’re also hard to find from rescues too. Thankfully, their sweet nature makes it all worthwhile once you do manage to bring one home…