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The Story of the Breed: Neva Masquerade

(translated from Cat and Dog, Moscow, No. 1 (63), 1996)

The Neva Masquerade represents only the colorpoint shade of our native, aborigenal, fuzzy Siberian cat, native to the Russian land. The cat which from times immemorial has warmed the freezing soul of man, curling up in a purring ball, bringing with him warmth and coziness. The cat which could rid his owner of uninvited boarders in the blink of an eye with his sharp-clawed preditor’s paw.

So noble in color (for colorpoints are traditional only for Persians, Birmese, Siamese), the Neva Masquerade has sought recognition for so long! And if no one can dispute the well-deserved authority of the Siberian breed of cats, for overseas experts it is something exotic, arousing delight and … doubts. Oh, the Neva!

So they are trying to discover—where is the Persian hidden in the Neva Masquerade?

They examine the cats, palpate them, pet them, and check them over and over again against the standard written by Mrs. O.S. Mironova, which was accepted by WCF [World Cat Federation] in 1991 (we owe great thanks to her and to the felinologists of the “Fauna” cat club for earning recognition for them among our Siberian breed). They ponder them, add up the points up on the rating scale, and ponder some more—should they be given championship status or not?

This is roughly how many foreign judges first react when faced with the Neva Masquerade. Therefore experienced breeders and owners of Siberians strive to get evaluations from Russian judges first—indeed our judges are the real pros when it comes to Siberians.

The long road toward world recognition of the Siberian breed began in 1987, when the first cat fanciers’ clubs appeared in Russia and controlled breeding was undertaken.

The Siberian standard has been revised and honed by the “Fauna” Cat Fanciers’ Club in Moscow, through the painstaking and tedious breeding efforts of O.A. Sizova and T.P. Bobina, by the “Kotofei” Cat Fanciers’ Club in Saint Petersburg (previously Leningrad), and with the collaboration of numerous affiliates and spin-offs of these original clubs. The official standard was given final approval on December 4, 1994 at a WCF session attended delegates from Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (SNG), to which felinologists from other international cat associations were also invited.

What does the standard call for in a Siberian cat?

Head 20
Eyes 5
Ears 5
Type 25
Legs and Feet 10
Tail 10
Coat 20
Condition 5
Total 100

57 specialists representing 21 leading cat clubs from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus participated in the discussion and approval of this standard.

I am confident that after comparing the characteristics of their pet Vaskas and Muskas against the standard, many owners will discover, that their furry pets are really Siberians.

It was nature here in Russia which has created and bestowed upon us an exceedingly rich gene pool in which the features of the breed have been established and refined. It is no coincidence that the most famous Siberian tomcat, the first world champion DIMKA LASKOVYI ZVER (Dimka the Affectionate Beast; owner T.E. Pavlova) was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth: in the Parents column of his pedigree the owner writes “unknown.” But what a beauty! And how many more cats worthy of this term could adorn cat shows large or small. Whether lying peaceably on an armchair in a city apartment or defending the territory of their garden against a neighbor’s cat, they may not even suspect that they are purebred by Mother Earth, the Sovereign of Life.

Thus, the color-point variant of the Siberian cats has also been identified by felinologists among the natural cat population of St. Petersburg.

Such amazingly beautiful, noble cats of such varied colors (the result of many long years of breeding) gather at cat shows featuring only our native Russian breeds! Even the names of the shows are fitting: the “International Show of Russian Cat Breeds” (organized by the club “FAR”), “Russia’s Pride” (“MoKKo”), the “Siberian Wonder” (“Sozvezdie”). The names of these cat shows, which have already become a tradition in Russia, sound proud and beautiful.

And the Siberian color-points—big, powerful, bright-colored cats which have become so popular in recent years—not only adorn these cat shows, qualify for Best of Best, but are even named Best of Show.

How many times have the owners of Morris and Jessica, Stepan and Greta, Seliverst and Max, Young, Bazir, and other Nevas shed tears of joy!

Now has come the time for their children and grandchildren to win. On October 7 at the “Siberian Marvel” show the Best of Best was the beauty Glafira (owner L.I. Smirnova), and the second day honors were won by Grand-Alkor (owner E.I Stroyeva) from “Zoopraktika-Rosich”.

And they charm judges from Japan and Belarus at the show of best animals at the prestigious exhibition held by “Felis”.

The gorgeous Grand-Alkor is again the talk of cat fanciers. The Third International Cat Show of the Russian Breeds “The Pride of Russia”, held by “MoKKo” added one more Best of Best win to his ascendant career.

The club “Zoopraktika-Rosich” is explicitly working with 16 breeds, and considers the Neva Masquerade its proudest accomplishment. They are planning a parade of Neva Masquerades representing all the various colors of the points. Well done!

Good luck to you, Neva Masquerades! I am certain that, now that you have won love and fame in our country, you will proceed proudly around the globe, bringing well-deserved glory to Russia.

Larisa Ovchinnikova
President of FPC "Zoopraktika-Rosich"
Telephone (095) 358-75-51
Picture by Valeriia Sinitsina