Neva Masquerade cat breed: a special patterned version of the Siberian

László Enikő

2023. April 14 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Although some cat associations consider it to be a variant of the Siberian colourpoint, some associations, including FIFE (Fédération Internationale Féline), consider it a separate breed. In many respects it is similar to the Siberian, but the pattern of the Neva Masquerade is colourpointed. This breed is the only forest cat with colourpoint colouration.


The breed has many fans, as does its close relative, the Siberian. One of the largest cat breeds and are truly awe-inspiring in appearance. They have a certain wildness to them, but especially in the case of the colourpoint Neva, this is coupled with an angelic light coat that makes them even more unique.


Cats of this breed were seen in Siberia hundreds of years ago. The cats have had to adapt to the rather harsh taiga mixed with forested areas. Therefore they have grown a thick and weatherproof coat. Their appearance has always been a little wild, which is why the breed now known as the Siberian Forest Cat was once called the Siberian Forest Cat. These cats were also very large and their appearance commanded authority, as do their descendants today. Such cats were often the characters in Russian folk tales.

Long-haired cats were a real rarity in the 19th century. So, when the Persian or Siberian appeared in Western countries, were much admired. They also began to be imported from Russia to Europe. Long-haired cats from Siberia were featured at the famous 1871 Crystal Palace Cat Show in London. But politics intervened, and such cats were rare in Europe.

These kittens were not only beautiful, they were useful. It is said that during the siege of Leningrad, rodents proliferated in the city and Siberian cats were the ones who had to control them.

At first, colourpoint versions were not widespread. There is a lot of mystery surrounding their origins, but it is believed they were created around the 1960s when local cats mixed with colourpoint cats in St Petersburg (then Leningrad). Hence the name of the variety, masquerade referring to the masked pattern. Breeders then included this particular colour in their programme, and these individuals were named Neva Masquerade.

In the 1980s, the breeding of Siberians became more targeted and they began to be imported into more and more countries. Today they are known worldwide and you can see a Siberian or a Neva Masquerade at almost every cat show.

Breed standard

The Neva Masquerade is a medium to large cat breed. Its massive head is slightly longer than it is wide, with gently rounded features. The forehead is broad, slightly rounded. Nose medium long, broad, without stop. The ears are medium-sized, slightly protruding. They are properly open at the base, rounded at the end and decorated with hairs on the inside. The eyes are large, slightly oval, slightly slanted and set apart. While the Siberian can have many different eye colours, the Neva Masquerade’s eyes can only be blue. The more intense the colour, the more desirable.

The body is muscular, with good bone structure. Strong neck, broad chest, in proportion with the body. Its limbs are moderately long and strong. Its paws are large, round, with hair between the toes. The tail is medium long, thick, with a rounded tip. The coat is medium long, extremely dense, compact, the undercoat does not flatten, is waterproof and harder to the touch. The cat’s coat is shorter in summer than in winter. Allowed colourpoint colour variations: seal, blue, red, cream, seal/blue tortoiseshell, smoke, tabby point and/or silver, gold. Any amount of white markings is allowed in the breed. Expected lifetime 10 years.


The breed is very people-loving, but it is not averse to playing and hunting. In the latter, he is very skilful, acting instinctively. Loyal and affectionate, but sometimes prone to stubbornness. He likes to climb, to look at his surroundings from a higher place. He’s very intelligent, so it’s worth getting him a variety of toys to exercise his sharp mind. He likes to be the centre of attention. He’s also easy to learn tricks, which is another great way to strengthen the bond with the owner and of course mental stimulation. A little reserved with strangers, but will loosen up with time.

Ideal environment

He typically gets along well with dogs and other cats when properly socialised. He is also a good choice for families with children, as he loves to play. If the little ones treat him with respect, there will be no problem. It’s worth getting several climbing platforms for him, as he likes the hights and can scan its territory from there. He is a sporty and active cat, but sometimes likes to relax on the sofa. People with allergies typically less sensitive to him, as they have less Fel d1 protein than the average cat. He is a social cat, so he does not tolerate being alone for several hours a day.


His water-repellent coat also sheds other dirt, so bathe only rarely, in special cases. It is best to brush the coat once a week, more often only during the shedding season. Claws should be trimmed
if they become too long. You should also keep his eyes and ears clean at all times.

Common health problems

Overall, the Neva Masquerade is a healthy and hardy cat. His physical well-being is usually only compromised by typical cat diseases, so it is worth taking him for a vet visit once a year and give him any vaccinations recommended by your vet.

cat breeds long-haired cat neva masquerade semi-long-haired cat

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