Courtesy of german breeder Maimuna Nack
What was first, the aim of breeding traditional or the breed in it’s whole perspective of Siberian
with wild pattern, but also with colourpoint and mixed housecats, that makes up the standard of
the Siberian of today? Were there any “traditional” breeders from the beginnings in Russia or was
the breed created by someone else later on? Thats the true question, nothing else.
This line of thought is much too complicated. The question whether traditional or whether colourpoint did not present itself to the early breeders. They simply bred with what they found and one group build lines from rural cats from remote areas and I mean REMOTE (we are talking about Russia). This group of cats never produced any colourpoint, not then and not after.
Another group later began using street cats from the big cities without participation of cats from the country and this poole produced colourpoint right from the start. Matter of fact they used pointed cats like Mars as producers from the first hour and appear to have included cats from very mixed background. … inventing several stories to back up their claim for sole representation of the true siberian cat. (examples of club politics in jpg “Deutsch-Russische Zusammenarbeit” dating february/1995 and “Russischer Richter in Deutschland” from april/1995 about a Siberian from Uchta)
The term “Siberian Cat” had been widely in use for any kind of big, fierce Cat of good hunting abilities. It did not have to be invented and seemed like a logical choice for a Native Cat Breed of such a caliber. (Compare to Russian Blue and Don Sphynx as contrast)
In Russia organised breeding of cats started in 1987 and there was not much experience prior to that. There had been a time when Russia had been very successful in animal husbandry and breeding. But then about the time when the Cat Fancy began to develop in the West these things all ended abruptly in Russia for obvious reasons. That explains why it is often said that the Siberian is such a young breed that still needs time. The breed isn’t all that young but it became widely known on international level at a rather late time, only after the Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat had already made it into the show ring. I am sure our russian members could explain this part a lot better than me. So please chime in when you see this thread. I can only tell you with some certainty about the first Siberian Cats here in Germany.
The first experimental breeding began in the German Democratic Republique, before 1987. This had to be kept experimental because the cats were not recognised anywhere, there was no standard for them and no authority to turn to in case you had any questions about them. What these cats did have was a consistent type and even look. Where did they come from? Not from any cattery or breeder in Moscow or St.Petersburg. They came from the rural areas that lay by the path of the big gas pipeline which eventually connected the fields in Siberia with the western countries. Today we receive most our heating from it. That pipeline was built with the help from the socialist allied countries such as Czechoslovakia, Poland and German Democratic Republique. It was manpower and technique in trade for gas. The people who volunteered to work in Russia did so for several years stretches at a time and while they were there they encountered pets which in some cases came to the camp in search of food or were traded from the local population. Because of the construction work on the great pipeline Siberian Cats became known and popular outside of Russia … even before the first russian cat clubs were founded. These cats did not originate from the big cities which is an indication for the factual existence of a natural LH breed in Russia, the Siberian. (for reference a photo of one of the german workers in a free moment with russian pets, for further info search “Erdgastrasse” via Google or get book by G.U. Fritsch and F.M. Wagner “Erdgastrasse, Freundschaft in Aktion” Berlin : ZV d. Ges. für Deutsch-Sowjet. Freundschaft & ZV d. Freien Deutschen Jugend 1987- 410 p, illustr.)
In (east) Germany credit goes to Mrs. Ingrid Seupel and her husband as the true pioneers of Siberian breeding. They were the first to notice these charming cats, began to collect a number of them and organised a first breeding programme with the few that were available to them. Mrs. Seupel and her husband were experienced breeders of dogs and cats and were international Dog Show Judges who ocassionally went to Russia for judging assignments … for dogs, not cats. They wrote several books on the subject too and were very serious and down to earth people, absolutely reliable. That was the no nonsense beginning of Siberian cat breeding in eastern Germany. Cattery names from that period were “von der Hudson Bay” and “Schlosspavillon”, the latter is still actively breeding today. In eastern Germany breeding of pets was – like any part of society – under strict state control. (as example see jpgs taken from book on cat breeding by I. Seupel, showing Siberian cats in german breeding programmes in 1987, born more than a qarter of a century ago)
In western Germany the Siberian bug caught later and under strong influence from St.Petersburg through the good connections of the Schultz family with several russian pioneers of cat breeding such as O. Mironova, I. Katzer et al. The breeding of Siberians took a very different turn here and this is where Caroline of Snowknight cattery and the breeders of von der Gronau cattery could tell you a great deal about. Some of the clubs that did the registration here did not belong to any association, they were independant, made their own rules and were not as professional and reliable as one would have hoped for. Pedigrees and names were invented to make it look better because at the time you simply did not have Siberian cats with a full 5 generation pedigree. This is when names such as “iz Moskwa” and “iz Leningrad” appeared. There has never been a cattery of that name but it had a good ring to it. Some people from that period lacked professionalism and among other things there were recommendations to mate Siberians with Maine Coons for better size … (see “Deutsch-Russische Zusammenarbeit” and “Russischer Richter in Deutschland”)
In today’s Russia the World Cat Federation is the most influential registry for pedigreed cats … with all the consequences that come with it. If you look at their breeding and registration rules for the Siberian you will find this note
The general assembly of the WCF decided in its meeting … on august 03.2002 that cross-breeding with other breeds in all natural breeds such as … Siberian needs the permission of the judges commission.
One can ask oneself about the practise before august 2002, that gave reason for such a paragraph. Also note that even today the outcrossing of Siberians to extraneous breeds has not been entirely forbidden in WCF and that this is the organisation which will accept the pointed pattern for Siberians. Contrary to FIFe where the cs pattern had been prohibited from the start, same as outcrossing to other breeds. Responsible for the recognition of the Siberian Cat in FIFe with this kind of strict standard and breeding rules were breeders from Russia.
(info on www.sibcats.ru/en/cattery/history).
The question of colourpoint yes or no has not presented itself to the breeders who worked with the pipeline cats (Trassenkatzen in german) because the breeding stock never produced a colourpoint kitten. Among others it are these lines which are free from pointed pattern to this very day, not by artificial selection but because they do not have it.
D* Tscharodeika Siberian Cats
If you carefully read the interview at “Zusammenarbeit” B. Schultz states that Kotofei began to breed the Neva in 1985. But then Kotofei started only two years later, in 1987 (!?!) I added another article from may 1998 where they speak of two breeds, the Siberian and the Neva. The Neva was seen for the first time in 1990 and solely in one place, in St.Petersburg. At the time the russian breeders could not explain where the cats came from, only that they were found in the city. So this is very clear.
We have here the clear indication that the Neva is a new breed from St.Petersburg whereas the Siberian is the one native russian breed that has lived across a vast area of russian territory for next to always 🙂 You can get a date for the Neva but you cannot get a date for the Siberian. And same as you can bring a Siberian to Germany, you can also bring a Siberian to St.Petersburg but unlike the Neva this is not the area from where the breed evolved.
The “Illustrierte Zeitung” of april 20. 1895 has an article by B. Pittrich titled “Die siamesische Hauskatze im zoologischen Garten zu Dresden” [The Siamese Housecat in the zoological gardens in Dresden] where he speaks of the evolution of the cat and how it developed into different breeds in different parts of the world.
“… Eine andere Abart der Hauskatze ist die von der Insel Man stammende
Stummelschwanz- oder Manxkatze mit auffallend hohen Beinen,der aber
der Schwanz fehlt ; noch andere Arten sind die Karthaeuserkatze mit langem
wolligem Haar und die ihr aehnliche Khorassankatze aus Persien, ferner die
ROTE TOBOLSKER KATZE aus Sibirien, die chinesische Katze u.a.m. Im
zoologischen Garten zu Dresden findet sich seit längerer Zeit ausser gelben
Angorakatzen und BLAU-GRAUEN SIBIRISCHEN HAUSKATZEN auch die
siamesische Hauskatze (Felis domestica var. Siamensis) von havannabrauner
Farbe mit schwarzbraunen hohen Beinen, Ohren und Gesicht.Diese letztere
gilt als Seltenheit und erfreut sich grosser Beliebtheit. …”
“ … Another type of Domestic Cat would be the stubby-tailed or Manx Cat from the island of Man with strikingly high legs which is missing a tail ; yet another type is the Chartreux Cat with a long, wooly coat and the very similar Khorasan Cat from Persia , further the RED TOBOLSK CAT from Siberia , the Chinese Cat etc. For some time the Zoological Garden of Dresden has been accommodating, next to their yellow Angora Cats and the BLUE-GREY SIBERIAN HOUSECATS, the Siamese Housecat (Felis domestica var. Siamensis) of havanna-brown colouring with blackbrown high legs, ears and face. The latter is considered to be a rarity and enjoys great popularity …”
As we have now learned about the cats in 1895, the Colourpoint Cats from Siam had been highly popular [“erfreuen sich grosser Beliebtheit”] but were still a rarity. And for several years they had been living door to door with blue-grey Siberian Housecats inside the Zoological Gardens of Dresden. Could this be an explanation for the Neva outbreak in 1990?
It would be so typical : the Germans – they did it again! (Always messing around) 😀