Neva Masquerade – a mysterious name for a mysterious thing of beauty! The Neva Masquerade is the point variation on the Siberian cat and shares many characteristics with this breed.
© Eric Isselée / stock.adobe.com
The Neva Masquerade cat certainly attracts attention! As the point variation on the Siberian cat, this breed’s original appearance causes a stir: long, thick fur with a crown and ear tufts, a muscular body and bushy tail give the Neva Masquerade the appearance of a mini wildcat. So, it’s hardly surprising to hear that the Siberian cat and Neva Masquerade are indeed wild cats!
Apart from its colouration, the Neva Masquerade does not differ from the Siberian cat. As the point variation on the breed, these medium-sized cats weigh up to 9kg. They are late developers and are only fully grown once they reach three years in age. Their semi-long fur is made up of water-resistant, robust top hair and a fluffy undercoat. The thick crown around the head and neck proves particularly eye-catching! In summer, the Neva Masquerade loses the thick undercoat that keeps it warm during the Siberian winter, with the summer coat proving much shorter and less abundant. However, tufts of hair on the ears and between the toes should still remain in place during the warm summer months. Like the Siberian cat, the Neva Masquerade has a round head with a curved forehead, big eyes and wide, medium-sized ears. Eye colour should be uniform and matching the fur colour. Bright blue is very popular for the Neva Masquerade.
Its point colouration is what makes the Neva Masquerade truly special – it is one of the only forest cat breeds for which points are allowed! The “cold” parts of the cat’s body (ears, tip of tail, legs and face) are in the cat’s base colour, whilst the rest of the body appears lighter in colour. The cause of this unusual colouration is a mutation that leads to the malfunction of the enzyme tyrosinase, which would normally be responsible for production of the pigment melanin. This causes so-called “partial albinism”. A marked contrast between points and the light body colour is desirable with the Neva Masquerade. The eyes should be deep blue.
Within point colouration, there is great variability in terms of colour schemes. For the Neva Masquerade, all base colours permitted for the Siberian cat are allowed as point colours, including even tabby stripes (“agouti” wild colours). Monocolour cats can show so-called ghost markings. For some time, crossing Somalis and Birmans has been attempted to achieve new colour variants. The colours cinnamon and fawn are particularly popular, as well as their dilutions chocolate and lilac. However, such cross-breeds come with a disadvantage: they are not allowed amongst forest cat breeds like the Siberian cat according to the breed standard. Despite their interesting colouration, these new colour creations are often not allowed by all breeding associations. As a consequence, hereditary diseases can potentially be introduced to the hitherto very robust Siberian cat gene pool.
There are the following colour variants for point cats like the Neva Masquerade:
Seal-point: Seal-point Neva Masquerades have a black base colouration shown in the “cold” tips of the body.
Blue-point: Here the black base colour is diluted to blue and is shown in the cat’s point zones.
Cream-point: The dilution of red is called cream. Cream-point Neva Masquerades have cream-coloured points and are therefore very light in colour.
The following colourations are popular, but not officially recognised:
Chocolate-point: Neva Masquerades with a brown base colour are called “chocolate-point”.
Cinnamon-point: The Neva Masquerade’s red base colour is only visible in the point zones.
Fawn-point: The red base colour cinnamon appears weaker and is diluted to fawn.
Lilac-point: The dilution of brown is lilac – lilac-point is only visible in the head zone of the Neva Masquerade.
Other well-known point breeds are the Birman and Siamese cat. As with all point breeds, Neva Masquerades are born very light in colour, becoming darker as they get older.
As the point variant on the Siberian cat, the Neva Masquerade shares the same breed standard. This is evident in both the cat’s appearance and its character.
Just like the Siberian cat, the Neva Masquerade is original in terms of more than just its appearance. Its character is uncomplicated and unartificial. As with the Siberian cat, the Neva Masquerade is also blessed with good instincts, making it a good hunter. They love water, jumping and climbing and like to be worn out physically and mentally. Staying solely indoors is therefore not ideal for these super-active cats – a secured garden or balcony is much more suitable!
These intelligent cats are curious and know their own mind, therefore consistent training is essential! Intelligence games and clicker training are suitable to mentally stimulate your Neva Masquerade. Even foraging games prove popular!
Siberian cats have only been systematically bred since the 1980s and have been delighting cat lovers in America since 1990. Apart from the point markings, the Neva Masquerade does not differ much from the Siberian cat. Indeed, their origins are extremely similar.
Long-haired cats had always formed a significant part of the seemingly wild domestic cat population in Russia and Siberia. The reason for this is subject to lengthy discussion amongst research circles. Whilst some scientists assume there was a stand-alone mutation, others draw upon crossings with long-haired cats from the Far East that resulted in wild domestic cats with long fur. The name “Sibirskaja koschka” (Siberian cat) is given to these muscular domestic cats with abundant plushy fur. In terms of physique and fur texture, they differ significantly from the African wildcat, considered the ancestress of all domestic cats. For this reason, it has long been assumed that Caucasian wildcats are close relations of Siberian cats and do not descend from the African wildcat. However, a research team from the University of Oxford discovered a few years ago that all domestic cats on all five continents descend from the African wildcat.
Long-haired cats were a rarity in Europe until the 19th century, so it’s hardly surprising that Siberian long-haired cats caught the eye of merchants and travellers who imported them to Europe. As early as 1864, Siberian cats were described in an issue of “Brems Tierleben” and afterwards featured sporadically in European publications. Siberian long-haired cats were also a key part of the first cat show at Crystal Palace, London in 1871. However, the breed was initially forgotten after the first show in Crystal Palace. There were several reasons for this: long-haired cats only came about infrequently and were therefore often crossed with each other. As a result, they disappeared into the gene pool of popular breeds such as the Persian. What’s more, the political situation in Soviet Russia had an impact in terms of temporarily excluding Russia from cat breeding history.
In the 80s, Siberian cats and the Neva Masquerade underwent a revival. In 1985, an experimental breed was established in Eastern Germany with long-haired domestic cats brought from Russia, which were exhibited from 1986. In 1987, the breed then still known as the “Siberian Forest cat” was officially acknowledged. In the same year, the first pair of cats from the breed reached Western Germany. Once the first litter was registered in 1989, the breed encountered more and more admirers, especially abroad. At the same time, systematic breeding started in Russia, with the first specimens exported to America in 1990. However, the high cost of exports from Russia meant the population of Russian long-haired cats in the US remained relatively small.
Nowadays, Siberian cats are bred all over the world. Their name was changed from “Siberian forest cat” to “Siberian cat” in 1991 to better distinguish them from the “Norwegian wild cat”. In 1992, the breed was officially recognised by the World Cat Federation and in 1998 by the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe). Depending on the umbrella association, the point variants are bred independently, for several years under the name Neva Masquerade. In plain terms, this means that only Neva Masquerades can be paired with each other – breeding different coloured Siberian cats is undesirable. This of course leads to a significantly smaller gene pool and an increased risk of hereditary diseases… As a result, Neva Masquerades would ideally be crossed with Siberian cats. Since the point gene is transmitted recessively and can remain undetected in the gene pool over many generations, Neva Masquerades can spontaneously appear in a litter from monocolour parents. However, nowadays there is a gene test for point mutations, which allows breeders to specifically target carriers of the popular point gene.
Housing and Grooming
The Neva Masquerade’s long, thick fur gives it a mysterious appearance and contributes to the fascination surrounding the breed. However, they require an awful lot of grooming! Thankfully, they largely take care of their shorter summer coat themselves, whereas the owners do have to take on grooming responsibilities from time to time during the winter months and moulting period. After the winter, the Neva Masquerade loses almost all its thick undercoat. Grooming assistance can therefore help to keep loose fur away from clothing and upholstery and to reduce to an absolute minimum the burden on the gastrointestinal tract due to swallowed hairs. Giving your cat malt paste or tasty treats such as cat grass can support the natural discharge of hairs in the gastrointestinal tract before hairballs are formed.
As highly active nature lovers, Neva Masquerades really enjoy spending time outdoors. They are in no way squeamish and insist on having their outdoors time even in rain, snow or storms. These intelligent cats love creeping through the undergrowth, climbing, waylaying birds and small rodents and are considered good hunters. They are suited to indoor life only to a limited extent. The perfect home for a Neva Masquerade offers sufficient opportunities to let off steam both physically and mentally, indoors and outdoors! A secured garden is ideal, but calmer cats can equally enjoy a secured balcony with a large outdoor scratching post and lots of opportunities to play.
Otherwise, suitable nutrition is the best guarantee that your cat will live a long and healthy life. As carnivores, cats are reliant on a diet with a high amount of healthy protein. They can only utilise a low amount of carbohydrates. You as the owner have to pay attention when buying food. The right cat food for your feline friend should contain lots of meat and very few plant by-products. When you look at the food label, meat should be at the top of the ingredients list.
The Siberian and Neva Masquerade cat breeds are relatively young. As a result, the breed was hitherto rarely predisposed to certain hereditary diseases. It is the responsibility of the breeder and the owner for things to stay this way! Please only trust professional breeders and don’t purchase your Neva Masquerade from breeders favouring quality over quantity and offering pedigree cats at a low price, which often comes at the animal’s expense.
Cat breeding is an expensive hobby. From pairing parent cats to pregnancy, birth and rearing the kittens, the breeder is exposed to certain costs that they have to cover with the sale price of the cat. This also includes stud fees, healthcare provision and veterinary costs, along with possible tests for hereditary diseases, good nutrition, membership of a cat breeding association, rearing feed and injections for kittens and so on… Breeding documentation makes up just a small part of the overall costs. However, those who truly have the cat’s wellbeing at heart won’t scrimp on the biggest expense: veterinary costs. A responsible breeder will take their parent cats and kittens to the vet for examination. They will take care of basic immunisations against the most common infectious diseases and can give you the paperwork to prove it.
As a consequence, it’s difficult to purchase a Neva Masquerade from a professional breeder at a bargain price. Fans of the breed must lay out around 700 euros in order to give a Neva Masquerade a home… Animal homes provide an alternative, as they are filled with cats waiting for a great new home, including pedigree breeds! Protected breeds are usually procured for a low protection fee that covers a small part of the veterinary and injection costs.
We wish you a wonderful, action-packed life with your Siberian beauty!