Siberian cats, or cats that looked like Siberians, were first mentioned in publications from the 16th century. At that time, they were called Bukhara cats and were fairly widespread in the Russian Empire. At that time (around the 16th century), most of Siberia was comprised of nomadic tribes, but there were also large settlements where people, among else, had cattle, dogs and cats. They were mostly used to fight rats and mice.
Russian settlers also brought cats and dogs while colonizing Siberia. Bukhara cats were brought by Russian vendors from the Middle East. It is possible that the Angora, Siberian and Persian cats all have the same ancestor.
Travellers Simon Pallas and Wilhelm Gartenweld mention a cat that looks like a Siberian in their travel journals. They speak of a large, fluffy cat with the dense coat, saying that not only it was a big cat, but also very beautiful and gracious. At that time, those particular cats cost a fortune and were only kept in the most affluent households.
Siberia and the Ural Mountains is where Bukhara cats first became widespread. The harsh climate with severely cold temperatures in winter favored cats with long, thick, water-resistant coat and dense undercoat keeping the animal from the cold. Later on, the cat has spread throughout the whole Empire, but was officially called “Siberian” only about forty years ago. It was partly because the breed is thought to have originated in Siberia, and also because of the cat’s size and dense coat that reminded people of the vast and frigid Siberian land.
Outside of Russia, the Siberian cat was first spoken of in a book by Harrison Wier about earliest cat shows in England in 1871. As for the United States, the breed was first imported in 1990 by Elizabeth Terrell of Louisiana “Starpoint Cattery”, and David Boehm of Hackensack, New Jersey. The International Cat Association (TICA) first accepted Siberian cats as a breed in 1992, and granted them championship status in 1996.