Siberian Cat: Jumbo-Sized Bundle of Affection

a beautiful siberian forest cat sitting on the grass
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

Do you live in a cold, wintry area? Is the climate so harsh that only the toughest of them all can survive? Understandably, you’re worried about what would happen to your pet if you were to keep them in such an unforgiving environment, but you just can’t stand the cold and the loneliness anymore. You need a cat that will give you warm cuddles while the blizzard raging outside freezes everything down. The Siberian cat is here to answer your yearnings.

Cats don’t get any hardier than this, but even if you’re not constantly threatened by harsh weather, you could still benefit from adopting a Siberian Cat since this is one of the most attractive felines ever to grace the domestic setting. This jumbo-sized feline also possesses a warm, loving, and affectionate heart—so much so that they have been nicknamed the dogs of the feline world.

Studio picture of a Siberian Cat

Interested in learning more about one of the biggest and fluffiest cat breeds in the world? Read on to find out about this amazing breed’s history, characteristics, care features, as well as whether they will thrive in your type of household or not.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Above Average; however, they don’t do well in places with a hot and dry climate

  • Grooming: High Maintenance; they have a triple coat

  • Health: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good; friendly but not clingy

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate

Cat Breed GroupLong-Haired, Natural Breed
WeightMale: 17—26 pounds

Female: 13—17 pounds
Lifespan12—15 years

Considered to be Russia’s national heritage, the Siberian cat is a glamorous native to the forested area of Siberia. Having existed in Russia for some 1000 years, this cat has been mentioned in multiple Russian fairy tales, children books, and several other books such as Harrison Weir’s “Our Cats,” Helen Winslow’s “Concerning Cats,” and John Jennings’s “Domestic & Fancy Cats.”

The Siberian cat is a pure, natural breed with an amazing personality. This cat has an excellent physical appearance, power, balance, alertness, and a sweet facial expression. Due to their high activity levels, this cat was used in Siberia by farmers and shopkeepers as a mouser.

What makes this cat so different from the rest is their coat—which is usually long and thick to protect them from the chilly climates of Russia. Their body is rounded while their ears, tail, and paws are all covered with thick fur to protect them from the elements.

siberian kitten sitting in a cat tree

Towards the end of the Cold War (which marked the fall of the Communists), doors opened, and the Siberian cat found their way to most parts of the world, including the United States and the U.K. The first three cats were imported to America in 1990 by one Elizabeth Terrell. Later on, in 1997, Dana Osborn imported a pair of the first color-point Siberians.

The Siberian cat continued to gain recognition in most homes and glossary stores. Siberian cat temperament and unique characteristics allowed the breed to feature in the 1871 cat show that was held at Madison Square Garden.

Although their appearance tends to steal the spotlight, Siberian cat personality is one that cannot be ignored. A fearless, playful, and adorable feline, the Siberian will welcome you with pleasant trills coupled with a few meows and purrs. It’s enough to show how caring this feline can be.

Two siberian kittens sitting together in a studio on an orange background

The Siberian cat is also an active and very playful feline. Pet parents will need to invest in toys such as cat trees, Bluetooth-controlled mice, and several cat tunnels to keep this feline motivated. Sadly, due to their size, these felines are not suitable for those living in small apartments.

Due to their lustrous triple-coat, Siberians require quite a lot of grooming. Due to their tendency of shedding profusely especially during spring and autumn, this feline requires regular brushing several times a week to keep their coat tidy and charming. As winter approaches, the coat thickens remarkably—lowering the need to brush the coat to once or twice a week but increasing the need to detangle mats.

Siberian Cat relaxing in the grass

The Siberian cat is a very healthy breed with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, provided proper care is observed. Blessed with an athletic body, this cat is resistant to most feline illnesses especially when bought from a reputable breeder or a professional breed-specific rescue organization.

Some people have been arguing about whether or not the Siberian is hypoallergenic. Scientific research has yet to detect a 100% hypoallergenic cat breed, but when it comes to the Siberian, experts have revealed that this cat breed produces less Fel d 1 (the allergen that causes reactions in specific people).

Main Highlights

  • The Siberian cat is also called the forest cat, the mountain cat, the snowcat, or dogs of the feline world due to their affectionate, loving, and loyal characteristics.

  • To stay protected from the elements, Siberian cats have medium to long, dense waterproof fur that sheds during summer and thickens during winter.

  • Siberian cats have longer hind legs as compared to their front ones. That makes it easier for these cats to jump and perform acrobatic stunts. They’re agile, acrobatic, playful, and they make excellent mousers.

  • Discovered in Russia, Siberian cats were imported to other parts of the world—specifically America and the U.K.—after the end of the Cold War.

  • These cats don’t fear water as much as other cats.

  • Siberian cats come in a variety of different colors and patterns which include tabby, chocolate, cinnamon, caramel, and color pointed.

  • Siberians reach maturity at the age of 4 or 5 years.

Breed History

Siberians are fearless, quiet, and playful cats that have been documented in Russia for over a thousand years. Featured in folktales, children books, and various educational books, these felines are hailed for their extreme loyalty and amazing personality. Due to their high activity level, Siberian cats were highly prized for their hunting ability; they were used in farms, homes, and food stores to control rodent attacks.

Siberian cat temperament and great intelligence paved the way for the breed’s recognition. They featured in the 1870 and 1884 cat shows held in Madison Square Garden. After this, these feral cats gained recognition throughout Russia where most people started domesticating them as pets or as potential mousers.

siberian-forest-cat- sitting in the snow

Towards the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union opened its doors for foreign breeders to import this special feline to their countries. The first Siberian cats were imported to the United States in 1990 by a United States breeder Elizabeth Terrell.

After featuring in several shows in the United States, these feral cats were recognized by the International Cat Association in 1996, followed by the American Fanciers Association in 1999 and finally the Cat Fanciers Association in 2006.


The Siberian is a semi-longhaired, muscular cat that boasts a water-resistant triple coat that protects them from the cold climates of Siberia. With a height of 13 inches, these cats are positively huge. They have powerful paws that make them an excellent runner and mice hunter.

At first glance, Siberian cat size weight may resemble that of the Maine Coon or the Norwegian Forest cat. However, some notable differences separate this breed from the rest. Just to mention some, the Siberian cat has a rounded body, longer rear legs, large yellow-green or blue eyes, a thick neck ruff, and pointed ears with Lynx tipping.

A siberian orange cat sitting in the garden

As is the case with most other cat breeds, Siberian males are heavier than the females—weighing somewhere between 17 and 26 pounds while the females range from 13 to 17 pounds.

Siberian cats have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. Although they do tend to live to a ripe old age, these cats mature very slowly. They usually need 5 years to reach full maturity. If you’re a pet parent planning to include a Siberian into your household, then you must be ready to cope with a lengthy kittenhood.

Personality and Character

Are you looking for an affectionate cat that loves to be near their owner? Well, the Siberian cat could be it. Blessed with a warm heart, these cats are personable and fearless—so much so that they are nicknamed the “dogs of the feline world.” Similar to the LaPerm, this cat will follow you almost everywhere, including the bathroom.

When you get home from work, this feline will welcome you with gentle chirps and trills to send the message of love, affection, and care. This cat can get quite vocal when they are excited, but the Siberian is by nature relatively quiet. That doesn’t mean they are anti-social, however. Due to their fearless characteristic, this cat will welcome visitors into the household and lead them towards the living room.

Siberian Cat in a studio

Now, besides their loving characteristics, the Siberian cat is also a very playful and active feline. In fact, professional breeders claim that the playful character of this cat can continue even well after attaining maturity. Blessed with intelligence, this cat can instigate various games such as fetch, climbing high on the cat tree, or playing with puzzle toys.

These cats do well as outdoor cats since their size and thick coat mean they are very noticeable even from a distance. Cars should be able to swerve to avoid them if necessary. However, if you’re planning to keep them as indoors-only cats, make sure you invest in lots of fascinating toys to keep them busy and always occupied.

When it comes to serious business, the Siberian is usually willing to rest in your lap to get some grooming. Finally, the Siberian cat enjoys playing with water—a unique characteristic in the feline world. This cat will be fascinated whenever they see dripping water—either in the sink or the bathtub.

Health and Potential Problems

With an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, this cat can live to a ripe old age especially if you adopted them from a reputable breeder or a professional breed-specific rescue organization. Still, on top of some common illnesses, there are a few known hereditary health issues that the Siberian may suffer from:

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: this hereditary disease mostly shows up as early as when the cat is 1 year up to 8 years of age. This condition is fatal, and it causes the veins along the heart to thicken—leading to heart failure or blood clots.

  • Kidney diseases: this is another highly common condition that affects many Siberian cats. As you all know, the kidney is responsible for filtering the blood and eliminating all toxic materials via urine. When the kidney fails, waste products start to build up in the body—causing clinical signs such as weight loss, lethargy, poor concentration, and loss of appetite. Although this condition has no definitive cure, cats with kidney diseases should be kept on foods rich in water-soluble vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants to prolong their lives.

  • Gum diseases: periodontal diseases have become very common in cats today. One such condition that affects most felines is gingivitis. An inflammatory condition caused by the accumulation of food particles, bacteria, and saliva, gingivitis causes irritation along the gumline and is evidenced by a reddening of the gums. To prevent this condition, pet parents are required to brush their cats’ teeth regularly using animal-safe toothpaste. If the condition has reached an advanced stage, cleaning the gums and areas between the teeth with antibiotic gel will help contain the situation. Don’t forget to take your cat to the vet.

  • Hereditary cancer: among the most common types of cancer your Siberian is likely to contract to include lymphoma, leukemia, basal cell carcinoma, mast cell tumors, and squamous cell carcinoma. Among the most common areas where cancer is likely to affect your feline include the mouth, the skin, blood cells, and the mammary glands. Not just due to hereditary factors, this condition may also result from environmental conditions as well as other unknown factors.

Care Features

Siberian cats boast a heavy, water-resistant triple-coat that protects them from the harsh climates of Russia. Due to the length and the thickness, this heavy coat isn’t the easiest to groom and maintain. In most cases, the coat will need a thrice-weekly combing or even more to prevent it from matting as well as to reduce shedding and the formation of hairballs.

Always ensure that their nails are trimmed every couple of weeks and that dental hygiene is maintained at all times to protect your feline from possible periodontal diseases. Check the ears weekly for any dirt build-up. If they look dirty, use a soft, damp cloth, or a cotton ball dipped in a solution of half cider vinegar and half warm water to wipe the interior gently.

Siberian Cat sitting outside on the snow

Since Siberian cats have a slow maturity period, professional breeders will most likely recommend you to feed your feline with kitten food until they attain the age of one and a half years. Something else you must keep in mind is to clean the litter box routinely to maintain bathroom hygiene.

Finally, Siberian cats are known to be playful and very active. To ensure that they adapt to indoors-only lifestyle fast, it’s good to buy a few toys such as tall cat trees, cat tunnels, and toy mice among others. For those pet parents with tablets and iPads, it will be really entertaining if you downloaded a few apps for cats just to keep them busy during those long days.

Feeding Schedule

Just like other cats, the Siberian is an obligate carnivore that should be fed meat-based meals to maintain their overall health. These cats need to feed on proteins and fats to help in the manufacturing of enzymes, hormones, and muscle tissues. In addition to that, proteins help in maintaining a proper pH balance while boosting the immune system.

Additionally, Siberian cats will need to be given a variety of vitamins and minerals to boost biological processes such as metabolism and the transportation of oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

Siberian Cat in walking on an alley

Kittens will need to be fed with specific meals as advised by your vet to avoid any stomach complications. In the case of mature cats, feeding them several times a day will be a good idea. Always make sure that the food you give to your Siberian meets all their nutritional requirements and that it’s certified by the AAFCO.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The Siberian cat is characterized by a thick triple-coat that protects them from the elements. Over 90% of this cat’s body is covered with hair. Now, due to the heavy coating, they require a thrice-weekly brushing to remove loose hair, dirt particles, as well as to check for the presence of ticks.

Since these cats shed much of their coat in spring and autumn, brushing their hair several times a day during this period will help to remove dead hair so as to give them a charming appearance.

Since Siberians love playing with water, pet parents can take this advantage and bathe their felines. A good bathing can help reduce allergens that may cause allergic reactions in some people, but keep in mind that bathing a Siberian cat is not an easy task. For all that they won’t resist you much, their triple-coat is reinforced with oil that gives it water-resistant features.

Siberian Cat in a Forest

Just like the Siamese, Siberian cats also have color-pointed coats. Apart from the common colors of tortoiseshell and tabby, other pointed colors you’ll find include black, white, grey, smoke, orange, and blue.

Finally, no cat is 100% hypoallergenic. Although some people state that the Siberian is free from allergens, studies have revealed that this cat breed does produce the proteins that are responsible for causing allergic reactions in humans—albeit in lower levels.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

The Siberian cat’s fun-loving nature is second to none. With a fearless disposition and a bold temperament, this cat is very composed—making them a perfect choice if you’re searching for a family cat that can cope with everyone.

This cat is very quiet, humble, tolerant, and patient. If you have kids and other pets in the household, the Siberian cat will only be too glad to keep them company. When interacting with kids, extreme caution will have to be exercised. The kids will need to be supervised on how to handle this feline to avoid damaging their luxurious coat.

Siberian Kitten lying down on an orange background

If a Siberian cat grows together with a canine friend, they are likely to forge a lasting relationship which will go on for years. Due to their loving and incredibly social nature, the Siberian has been discovered to be tolerant even around smaller felines that are usually bullied by other cats.

Wrap Up

The Siberian cat’s personality is somewhat contradictory to their appearance. Their size can be intimidating. However, pet parents who have lived with this feline before have revealed how loyal, loving, and caring this Russian cat can be—stating that they resemble canines in terms of character and thinking.

The cat should be kept as an indoors-only pet to protect them from accidents, uncontrolled mating, and diseases. The Siberian is well suited to any home, except, they are not the best choice for those living in small apartments because they need quite a lot of space to move around in.

A Siberian cat lying on the ground on the street

For pet parents with spacious abodes, don’t hesitate to adopt a Siberian. The cat is relatively easy to maintain. During playtimes, throwing a few toys is enough to keep this feline occupied for a while. They need more attention with regards to grooming, but doing it won’t feel like a burden to you since these felines have a heart as big as their body.

Are you interested in adopting one of these gentle giants? If, after reading all that, you realize that your living conditions are better suited for housing a small cat, check this breed out. It has been noted down in the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest domestic cat. Please drop your thoughts in the comment box below. Tell us what you think or what we should have added in case we left something behind.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.