Everything You Should Know About Siberian Cats

Their personalities, hardiness, shedding, cost, and hypoallergenic reputation.

Siberian cat sitting in grass, looking at camera

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There are many reasons for an ailurophile to love Siberian cats: They're affectionate, playful, immensely fluffy thanks to a semi-longhaired coat cut out for subarctic temperatures, and thought to be hypoallergenic. That last trait is an important one for folks who sniffle and sneeze around most felines.

Siberians are often called the "cat for dog people" because they tend to follow their humans around the house and come when called. The downside? These coveted cat qualities can come at a hefty price. Demand is higher than supply in the U.S., so prepare to pay thousands.

Discover more about these quirky pets, their personalities, their lack of allergens, and how much they cost.

Why This Matters to Treehugger

At Treehugger, we are advocates of animal welfare, including our pets and other domestic animals. The better we understand our cats, the better we can support and protect their wellbeing. We hope our readers will adopt rescue pets instead of shopping from breeders or pet stores, and will also consider supporting local animal shelters.

Siberian Cat Basics

Siberian cat resting on wooden floor indoors

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Siberian cats, known as Russia's native forest cats, come from the frigid north. They have triple-layered semi-long coats composed of water-resistant guard, awn, and downy hair. They are one of the larger breeds of house cat, with males weighing up to 20 pounds and standing almost a foot tall.

Siberians reach maturity around age five and live up to 15 years. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, from solid to tortoiseshell to colorpoint. Tabbies, however, are perhaps the most common.

This breed of cat may also be called Siberian forest cats or Moscow longhairs.

Are Siberian Cats Hypoallergenic?

One of the main draws of this decidedly expensive, relatively rare cat breed is that it's supposedly hypoallergenic. This is different for a long-haired cat, as hair carries the protein most associated with allergic reactions—hence why most "hypoallergenic" cat breeds are short-haired or hairless.

No cat—or dog, for that matter—is 100% hypoallergenic, but Siberians can rightfully be called low-allergen because of mutations that bring down their Fel d 1 levels. Fel d 1 is the most major of 10 cat allergens.

Do Siberian Cats Shed?

With hair suited for subarctic Siberia, it's no surprise that these fluffballs shed. Though they're said to shed less than other cats with similar amounts of hair, households with Siberians can expect molting to occur twice a year, in spring and fall. Spring molting is the heavier of the two because the winter coat is longer and heavier.

It's long been assumed that the more a cat sheds, the more allergenic it is. This isn't necessarily the case. Allergens come from cats' salivary and sebaceous (skin) glands, not their hair. Hair is merely a carrier, and as with Siberians, it won't cause allergies if it contains only low levels of allergy-causing proteins.

Siberian Cat Personality

High-angle view of Siberian cat playfully crawling up person's leg

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“Siberian cats are very personable and want to be near their owners," the Cat Fancier’s Association says. "They enjoy the company of children, dogs, and other animals. They are fearless and easygoing. Not much disturbs their natural calm and equanimity."

These cats are often compared to dogs because of their human companionship. Siberian owners say they spend much of their lives in a kittenlike state, perpetually playful and adventurous. With longer hind legs than forelegs, they're known to be athletic jumpers.

Siberians are not only great companions to adult humans, they also get along well with kids and dogs. They are generally quiet, but they don't mind noise in the house. According to the Cat Fancier's Association, they communicate with "mews, trills, chirps, and lots of purring.”

Common Health Issues

Another benefit to cohabitating with a Siberian is that they're some of the hardiest cats out there. Sure, they're expensive, but they could save you a load in veterinary costs down the road.

Think about it: This hearty cat has spent hundreds of years developing strong genes in a hostile environment. In Russia, where they're a prized breed, they're more than just pretty cats. They have had a practical role as mousers as well.

The one thing Siberian caretakers should look out for is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (aka HCM), which is the most commonly diagnosed cardiac disease in cats. HCM causes the walls of the heart to thicken, potentially leading to obstruction of blood to the heart. Siberians can be screened for this disease as kittens.

Siberian Cat Price

There are many benefits to adopting a Siberian cat—so many benefits, in fact, that these cats are in high demand and can be hard to come by outside of breeding networks. They cost, on average, $1,200 to $2,500 but can be as much as $4,000 depending on the pedigree.

Siberians are so rare that they don't often crop up in shelters; however, you could possibly find one to rescue through special organization like the nonprofit Siberian Cat Rescue Group based in Texas.

View Article Sources
  1. Sartore, Stefano, et al. "Polymorphism Analysis of Ch1 and Ch2 Genes in the Siberian Cat." Veterinary Sciences. 2017.

  2. Bonnet, B., et al. "An update on molecular cat allergens: Fel d 1 and what else? Chapter 1: Fel d 1, the major cat allergen." Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology. 2018.

  3. "About the Siberian." Cat Fancier's Association.

  4. "Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy." Cornell Feline Health Center.