|Many readers, especially Muscovites, for sure, remember first in Russia exhibition of cats, which took place in year 1987 in Bitsa. It collected thousands of people and put the beginning of the boom, which didn’t disappear till these days. First exhibition was special because of natively bred animals shown there and among them – wonderful beauty Siberians. What happened with them later? What position do Siberians have today among other breeds? President of club “Kotofey”, Olga Mironova, will tell us about that.By Olga Mironova
There are special traditions in our club, and first of all, they are connected to aboriginal breeds: Kurillian and Karelian bob tails, Don-Sphinx, but the main place of course is taken by Siberians. In the west, from long ago, there are breeds like Norwegian Forest Cat and Maine Coon exist and accepted by all organizations. These cats look alike our Siberians, which is not surprising because these breeds are related, but the ways of their development were separated very long time ago. In order to imagine what is a real Siberian cat, let’s try to compare it with its western “relatives” and find out what kind of differences there are between them?
Siberian cat in comparison to Norwegian cat is more massive, stands lower on paws; it has wide head and wide muzzle. Ears are widely spread. Sculls of Siberian are located lower, and because of that the head looks more rounded; nose long and straight with a slightly visible transition to the forehead. No signs of “break”. Norwegian Forest Cat has a narrower head, ears are located higher. Ears are large and closely situated.
Maine Coon, as well as Norwegian Forest Cat, as differentiated from Siberian cat by the form of the head and location of the ears. Maine Coon has a wide and long muzzle with quite high sculls. Ears are located high, but more far apart than Norwegian Cat has. Maine Coon stands higher on paws than Siberians, but main difference is considered to be the configuration of the head. Siberians and Maine Coons have a different type of hairiness. Maine Coon’ fur is thick and long. It’s richer on the back parts and tail, which is really fluffy. Siberian is also fluffy, but when seasons change they lose almost all fluffiness and almost nothing is left from that tail. By the way, our Siberians have closer relatives among short haired cats; it’s our famous Kazan’s cats, or how they were called in the old days, Rasin’s cats: big headed, low, massive animals, for centuries living from Moscow to Ural.
Till the end of 80es, Siberian cats practically didn’t have any slightest mixture with Persian blood. Only today, there appeared such half Persians – and the washing off of the breed has started – it’s already a selection crime.
Furthermore, the colours of Siberian Cats are allowed to be in a wider range than Maine Coon can have. The last ones were bred purposefully, in cleanness and for a long time. That is why white spottiness that was left, is a sign of mixing with house cats – was removed in selection process. We still allow the presence of white spots on the body.
Siberian cat has an interesting colour variation – Neva Masquerade. The same way as Persian breed has Himalayan cats – Siberians have their own colour point in their breed. Therefore, Neva Masquerade is a Siberian cat with Siamese colours. Of course, this colour is brought in, and it’s known how. In his time, Sergey Vladimirovich Obraztsov brought to Russia a few Siamese cats, this way the population of our Siberian cats was replenished by new gene. Next, in the end of 60es, in Leningrad’s and Moscow’s houses the new population appeared. The only thing, that our club can be proud of, is that we from very beginning patiently took care of saving of that subspecies and creation of standard for it, at first preliminary and then working one. We did it so the “specialists” wouldn’t tell that it’s just a regular half Siamese “Murka” (Russian name used for house cats). The name “Neva Masquerade” was given to this subgroup of Siberians in year 1989.
Concerning the standard of Siberian cat, the variant written in our club is not the only one. We argued a lot discussing the problem. Norwegians and Americans managed to protect their cats. Why should we follow somebody else’s standard and wash off own, in hundred thousands, breed, which is definitely original and different from others.
Today, there are four redactions of standard exist, but one shouldn’t be afraid of it. For many popular breeds, for example, Siamese, there is more than one acting standard and nothing terrible has happened. Differences in our standards carry mostly linguistic character. Let’s say, in the club “Koshkin Dom” it was pushed that the tail of Siberian must be like brush. But any cat, if you take its tail at the end and shake – it will look like brush. My opinion is: this is not what’s important. Most important breed forming features are: structure of head, form of corpus, measurement of all proportions of body parts. And of course, texture of fur. Siberian cats have a wild type of fur, even though, of course, they are not wild animals. House cats can not manage to live in the forest without help of a human.
Nowdays, preliminary standard is working in European and American associations. Cats were not just once demonstrated at the shows in FIFe and WCF. FIFe received their standard earlier than other organizations, in year 1988, and generally still keep up to it. In USA, Siberian cats are shown at the podiums of TICA. They get titles in the class of new breeds. Why new? All associations have their moment of inertia, and nevertheless accept our breeds. Even for its favourite Yankee-cat, CFA didn’t register a standard for almost 60 years. Do we can not be offended. But we broke in into this world unexpectedly, with many new breeds at once, and must be thankful that we are not pushed aside, but accepted with discount to our youth.