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The Neva Masquerade as well as the Siberian cat has its origin in Russia.
The history of Siberian cats as a recognized breed, as well as their colourpoint color variety - Neva Masquerade, is not long. The beginning dates back to the 1980s and it is closely related to the formation of cat lovers in Russia. Work on selection and breeding began in 1987 in St. Petersburg.

The history of cats in Russia
Beautiful legends were written about the origins of cat breeds. They also circulate about Siberian cats. One of them says that Siberians are descended from wild forest cats living in thick snowy taiga, and in the Middle Ages they guarded monasteries in Siberia. What is the real story of Siberian cats?

The Siberian cat has a long history which dates back to the 17th century, living on the tree tops in the dense Siberian forest. Over the centuries this breed adapted to Siberias harsh climates which no other breeds could do. The Neva cat is only known in Middle Europe since the fall of the "Iron Curtain" and is therefore still quite unknown over here.

The ancestors of the semi-longhair cats (which live in Russia) traveled through trade routes and spread further north and east. It is quite possible that Angoras, Siberians and Persians have common ancestors from Asia Minor. It is also probable that these cats crossed with wild forest and steppe cats.

Descriptions of cats in old Russia are very sparse and concern mainly their color, not body structure and fur length. There are references to specimens of gray and a "red-colored race". There is also a description from 1793 of a colourpoint meeting in the province of Penza. The name "bukhara" is also mentioned as a term for a cat that looks a bit like today's Siberian and a bit like a Caucasian forest cat. Unfortunately, these reports only confirm the presence of these animals in Russia, but do not describe Siberians.

The very name "Siberian Cat" has a long history in word of mouth. However, the first descriptions of these cats appeared only at the end of the 20th century. Nowadays, the term Siberian cat can be used to refer to three terms: modern Siberian cat - a breed with a standard and unique appearance, a popular term "Siberian cat", which has its roots in distant centuries and functions in the linguistic tradition (mainly in the Volga region and in the east from the Volga) and a native semi-longhair cat that has lived in Russia for centuries.

In fact, Siberian cats are descended from free-living semi-longhaired cats living in the areas of the former USSR. Some say the breed descended from cats that lived around St. Petersburg and Moscow. However, many of the best representatives of the breed also come from, for example, Krasnoyarsk in Siberia or are the result of crossing Siberian cats from the European part of Russia, Siberia and the Far East. To this day, you can meet cats of this appearance in rural areas near Moscow, not to mention Siberia or the northern part of the European part of Russia.

It should also be emphasized that the full-blooded "forest" cat does not exist in the Siberian taiga or anywhere else in northern Siberia. This is because a meter long and even deeper snow and the accompanying frost make it very difficult for cats to hunt. On the other hand, the similarities in the appearance of cats from different regions allow us to conclude that Siberians are not only street cats with an undefined appearance, but rather descendants of animals of a specific type, shaped by centuries of selection of animals adapted to harsh climatic conditions. People were only helping these cats to survive.

Origin of the breed
In the past, the Russians' interest in cats was very low, as evidenced by a small number of literature reports. In the old days they were used to catch mice. Purebred cats - mainly Persians - began to be brought to Russia very late, only in the 1980s. Many Russians also wanted other breeds, such as: Maine Coons, Norwegian Forestry, Angora or Balinese cats. The desire to have them there was so great that at first they even tried to display native cats found on the street or taken from friends, which more or less fit the standard of one of the semi-longhair breeds, as purebred cats. Some of these cats remained house cats forever, others that fit the later developed Siberian cat breed standard were transferred from the Novitiate to the native Siberian group (cats that began to be used in breeding other breeds could no longer be used as Siberian cats).

Breed enthusiasts were increasingly tempted by the idea of ​​officially confirming the natural breed of semi-longhair cats existing in Russia, which of course should be called the Siberian cat because of the long history of this term. It was considered what appearance and features such a breed should have. The experts analyzed the cat population and on this basis had to make a decision, taking into account the already recognized breeds of semi-longhair cats, so that this new breed resembled as little as possible in the description of Maine Conny or Norwegian Forest cats.

The first standard was created in the late 1980s by the felinologists from the club "Kotofei" - O. S. Mironova and I. J. Katser. At the same time, the Siberian breed was registered by other Russian felinologists in Moscow (T.S. Emelyanova, L. K. Ovchinnikova, T. D. Sapozhnikova). However, it was Kotofei who described the breed standard in 1989 on the basis of a Siberian male named Roman, who can be found in many pedigrees. From the very beginning, Siberian cats were described as muscular, of strong build, with round paws, a full rounded muzzle, wide-spread ears and oval eyes.

In 1990, it became clear that the first standard had to be modified. Some features have been changed, others have been added. The difference could be seen in the shape of the Mars cat's head - a representative of Neva Masquerade born in 1988. In 1990, the allowed color varieties were added to the standard - brindle, brindle with white, smooth, smooth with white and colourpoints (neva masquerade) in the same colors . The Soviet Felinology Federation has accepted a new breed standard for Siberian cats. In 1991, on its basis, the first international description of the breed standard was created. In 1992, the World Cat Federation (WCF) was the first federation to recognize Siberian cats, including the colourpoint (neva masquerade).

However, at that time, Siberians were not very popular. Only lovers were interested in the development of the breed. Many clubs and judges did not take the new breed seriously. At the same time, interest in Siberians abroad continued to grow. Earlier, cats without pedigrees were brought to eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia. Later, the first and second generation of cats were brought in as a result of breeding work. Roman's descendants went to the USA (to the Starpoint kennel). Many cats of different colors were brought to Germany by the owners of Nevskij's kennel. However, despite this, most of the imported cats did not meet the breed standards and each breeder tried to develop his own type of Siberian. As a result, the judges treated them as poor quality Maine Coons or Norse, or even crossbreeds of both of these breeds. To obtain universal recognition of the breed, it was necessary to clarify the differences in the standard that would distinguish Siberians from other semi-longhaired breeds. The focus was on the appearance of the head. After adding amendments to the breed standard, a group of cats was selected that became one of the first Siberian cats (eg Frazy - Roman's granddaughter, Gladys - Mars' daughter, Pyshka - the first World Champion, Georgiy from Knyaz Gvidon cattery).

Unfortunately, unlike the female cats, there were few males that would meet the requirements of the standard and were suitable for breeding work. Unexpectedly, an old lady showed up at the local exhibition and brought a cat in a bag. This cat was Max - born in 1989, the mighty Neva male in black tabby. It had an almost perfect head and fur (only a little too short). Half a year later the owner died, the relatives did not want to keep the tomcat, who was adopted by Katya Dudina. His line started with the Nightingale breeding and continued with the breeding of Dikay Krass and Dom Filina. The shape of his head was soon incorporated into the WCF standard. In 1994, the same head shape was used to create a more detailed breed standard. It was then that the word "trapezoid" appeared in the description of the head.

Other international federations followed the WCF and recognized the breed: TICA in 2006, CFA in 2006, FIFe in 1997 (FIFe was the only federation that did not recognize colourpoints, which is a variety of Siberians under today's name "neva masquerade"). In 2008, the FIFe recognized the nevas as a separate sister breed of cats and marked them with the NEM code. The exhibition preliminary recognizing the breed in FIFe was held on December 15, 2007 in Poland, in Warsaw.

The dispute over the neva maqsuerade.
Where did individuals with a specific colourpoint color come from among the cat population in Russia? This issue was and continues to be the subject of heated discussions. The breeders were divided into two factions. One group believes that the colourpoint cats are present in the cat population in Russia, which is difficult to prove due to the scarce data on the description of the appearance of cats in ancient Russia. The second group believes that the gene responsible for this coloration was introduced by crossing with Siamese, Persian and Balinese cats brought to Russia. It is also hard to find an unequivocal confirmation of this theory, as there are no documents confirming this version.

A dispute arose in 2001 among a group of breeders in Moscow. Committees have been set up to resolve this controversial issue. The discussion ended with a decision passed by the majority of judges and breeders: the colourpoint is the original variety of the Siberian cat and it is not only allowed, but even recommended, to breed and exhibit these cats along with the rest of the color varieties. The fact also remains that the first breed standards included colourpoint cats on a par with other colors.

Interesting facts
* If we look at the exhibition catalogs, before 1991, it is hard to find Siberian cats in them. They were entered at shows as cats of other breeds.
* In 1989, at an exhibition in Moscow, you can find 12 Siberians in the section "Long-haired and semi-longhair cats of unknown breeds", none of them had registered parents. However, the "House Cats" section was more extensive - you could find Mars for the first time, which appeared in the Siberian Cats Novitiate class at the next show.
* In the same year, at the exhibition in Riga, among the "Officially Unrecognized Breeds" we can find Siberian cats and Neva Masquerade. In the Novitiate class there is Roman, in the open class Ricky - a black colourpoint, who later gave many children with a female Selina, who we can find in the Novitiate among ... Balinese cats! During this exhibition, she was transferred to Siberian cats.
* During another exhibition in Moscow of the same year, Siberians were distinguished as a separate breed. As many as 26 of them participated in the exhibition. Among the novitiate of the Balinese cat breed there were several representatives from Samara - in the colors seal point, seal tabby point and blue point, including the male "Boyz" born in 1988, found with his mother and sister of the same color . None of these cats were accepted as Balinese, they were transferred to the Siberian breed where they obtained excellent marks.
* On September 16, 1989, a group of breeders from Leningrad and Moscow applied for registration of the Siberian breed with the SSF. The breed was recognized on August 6, 1990 (Certificate No1). At the same time, the Siberian colourpoint cats were recognized as a unique color variety under the name neva masquerade (Certificate No2).
* At the exhibition organized by the "Kotofei" club in January 1991, 119 Siberians appeared, including 29 colourpoints, and in the Novitiate class 50, including 13 colourpoints. Among them were the offspring of Roman and Mars.
* In 1990, three Siberians (Ofelia, Naina and Kaliostro) were brought to the United States for breeding in Louisiana. The first colourpoints were brought in 1997 to the Willowbrook kennel (Ustin El Magrib and Roksana Babyan).
* At the moment, Siberian Cats can be found almost all over the world… except Antarctica. For example, we can find farms in Japan, South Africa, or even South Korea.
* Most federations prohibit crossing Siberian cats with other breeds. This is to preserve the distinctive natural features of this one of the last natural breeds. All Siberian dogs with colors other than n - black, a - blue, d - red, e - cream, f- black tortoiseshell, g - blue tortoiseshell are cats that do not belong to the Siberian breed.


General description: Strong, massive, muscular cats of large and medium size. Females are significantly smaller than males.
Head: Taking the form of a short, wide trapezoid, it should be in good proportion to the body. The forehead is not high; there is a smooth, gradual slope from the forehead to a broad and straight nose line. The nose is of medium length without any upturn. Thecheekbones are low, the cheeks are full, the jaw is strong. The chin is wide and rather strong, but not prominent.
Neck: Strong, short.
Ears: Medium length, wide at the base, set more than one ear-width apart at the base. The outer line is vertical, the outer side of the base starts slightly higher than eye level. The ears are tilted slightly forward. The tips are rounded. Lynx tipping and tufts are desirable.
Eyes: Large or medium, rounded, wide, and slightly angled. Green or yellow of any shade, evenly colored. Blue is in color-points (Neva Masquerade) and whites.
Type: Strong, dense.
Body: Compact, dense, with well-pronounced muscles, of medium length on strong, short limbs. Feet are large and round. Tufts between the toes.
Tail: Wide and strong at base, length almost to the shoulders, well draped, blunt at tip.
Coat: The outer hair is hard, shiny (oily), water resistant. Longer past the shoulder blades, draping down at the sides and at the base of the tail. On the sides the coat is softer, close, very thick. The undercoat is of two types, depending on the season: in warm weather it is slight, short, and close; in winter it is rich, long, very thick and tight, with a beautiful texture. The ruff is long, but thick in the form of a collar and bib. The coat is shorter on the shoulders. Fancy britches and well draped tail. During seasonal shedding the ruff, bib, and britches may almost totally disappear.
Color: All colors are allowed, preferred are the tabby and agouti with their characteristic texture. Colorpoints and colorpoints with white are called Neva Masquerade (Siberian colorpoint). Judging is separate according to colors.
Condition: Healthy, strong, with power and stature.
Penalize: Straight profile, like that of the Persians; long, light, narrow muzzle; flat cheeks; weak cheekbones; weak chin. Small, round, deeply seated eyes. Large or low ears, straight or high setting, Persian type (small, low, excessive draping). Short body, elegant type, weak bones, small feet. Lack of tufts between the toes. Long, thin neck. Short tail, poorly draped, sharp tip. Coat without undercoat, hard, matted, not shiny on the back and flanks. Too much undercoat (like Persian).


Siberian Neva Masquerade cats have a gentle, loving nature and well rounded personality.and adjust easily to their lifestyle surroundings and make a very good house pet. They are very sociable cats and want to be near their owners. They will usually greet you at the door when you come home, not unlike the family dog.
They are referred to as the cat for dog people. Often described as dog-like, the Siberian is loyal and not shy around guests, they are intelligent animals and quick to learn. Their meow is sweet, and when they come to greet you, they make a unique chirping sound.
From its wonderful personality to its incredible disposition, and dog like attitude, the Neva Masquerade is one breed that is sure to warm the hearts of cat lovers, and maybe make some dog lovers (who never thought they would care for cats), into cat fanciers as well.
They adore children, readily accept the other household pets and get along great with the whole family, giving them the ability to blend in and adapt to almost any family situation.. Neva Masquerades enjoy being with their human companions and it is not in their nature to be standoffish, or aloof with their families. Coming when called, following the household members around, and some more social cats even greet guests at the door.
Because they are a social cat, if left alone too often they can become quite lonely, and a animal companion, such as another cat or a friendly dog can help relieve the loneliness and curb undesirable activities.
Siberians and Neva Masquerades are completely trusting of humans, making it quite a responsibility when placing these kittens in new homes. A social breed which loves the company of humans, and enjoys other animals.
This affectionate breed makes an ideal lap cat and a wonderful companion who will bring their owner years of happiness, as their lifespan can exceed 16 years.
Siberians take five years to fully mature physically, but keep their kitten-like personalities throughout their life They like high places and are powerful leapers, their sharp wit and muscular bodies enable them to be good hunters and excellent mousers. They can be easily trained to do simple tricks such as how to stay off tables, off counters, play fetch, and be leash trained. If not given cause to fear water, they love fresh running water and will drink from a running faucet, preferring it to drinking out of a water bowl. Occasionally not only supervising your bath or shower, but actually joining you.
Possessing a hardy constitution with no known genetic defects, and hypo-allergenic.
Proteins that are produced by the animal cause allergies. Cats produce a protein called Fel-Dh1. This is the protein that causes 85% of the allergies that people allergic to cats suffer from.
The Siberian cat produces FAR less Fel-Dh1 then the average cat. The average cat produces 63,000 micrograms of Fel-Dh1, it is estimated that the female Siberian produces approximately 200 micrograms of Fel-Dh1 per gram.
Seventy to Ninety percent of the population that has cat allergies will most likely be able to live in a house with a Siberian cat.
The protein is given off when the cat licks or cleans itself and then the dried saliva flakes off, contrary to popular believe it is not the dander of the cat that is the allergy causer. With that said the Siberian also produces much less dander because they have an oil based skin. They are much less dry and their skin flakes much less.

Neva Masquerade & traditional Siberian cats - Sanica Sky*GB
Barbara Karallus

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