Meet the Siberian Kitten Importers
Eric Gill: I was born the same year as the Corvette, 1953. I am the son of Russian parents. My father, Valentin, was born in Rustov-On-Don in February 1908. When he was a young boy he fought against communism in the Russian revolution and was forced to flee the country in 1921. He sailed the seven seas and arrived in NYC in early 1930. He passed away in December 2005 living to be almost 98 years old.
My Mother was American born and both of her parents were Russian, so naturally, I was influenced by my heritage. Since numerous friends and relatives were also Russian, when the iron curtain crumbled, a unique opportunity was afforded to me; I was able to see Russia not as a tourist but as a native.
13 trips later and the rest as they say is history. I scheduled my first trip in April 1993, only to find that Russia is Russia, which meant that there were no pet shops teeming with a choice of Siberians. Finding a quality cat meant a great deal of networking and it was only through the help of my Russians friends that I was able to initiate contacts with Russian breeders.
By my third trip in May of 1994, I succeeded in bringing the first four Kravchenko Siberians into the U.S. I had a tremendous advantage due to living with my Russian friends that meant moving freely about and without the help of Oleg, Roman, Sasha, Sviatoslav, also Tatyana and Oksana founders of the original Prestige Siberian Cat Club, obtaining high quality Siberian cats would have been impossible. Lynda and I have worked extremely hard to be the unquestioned premier importer in America since no other breeder has the ability to handpick their Siberians inside Russia, nor can any other breeder offer as many quality diverse bloodlines.
Lynda Nelson: I was born the same year as TV (typical woman, I won't say what year). I know that I was a cat lover while in the womb. I remember my first cat. She was a brown patched tabby. Every year she would have one litter of kittens. There were only three in the litter every year, one black, one gray and one red and white. What was amazing is that these kittens were born on Good Friday each and every year! I mean Good Friday can be observed as early as March or as late as the end of April. Kitty always knew. She never missed! Since then I have always owned a cat or two. My professional interest in the cat fancy began in 1988 when I bought my first pedigree cat, a shaded silver Persian named Precious Patti. Sadly She crossed the Rainbow bridge recently but her legacy lives on as one of her great great Granddaughters Zee-O-Six Ten Years After (TYA) is living in Texas and producing more Zee-O-Six off- spring.
In 1993, I became interested in doing a second breed. At the time, I did not know which breed it was that I wanted to do. Several breeds were in the running, Bengals, Ocicats, Egyptian Maus, Ragdolls, and Siberians. I was ascertaining info on all the breeds when Eric announced that he wanted to go to Russia. It seemed a natural to focus on the Siberian and ultimately that was my choice for my second breed.
Today the Siberian is my only breed. In January 2003 I was fortunate to sell my silver and golden Persians to another breeder because my Siberians have stolen my heart!
In 1994, Eric brought me 4 kittens from St. Petersburg. That was the humble beginning of my breed program. Now, over 20 years later, we have imported 42 Siberians with 30 diverse bloodlines from both St. Petersburg, Moscow and Minsk. Most have international Grand Champion Bloodlines and one having the coveted title of "Best of Show" inside Russia. She competed with over 220 cats and international judges to win this prestigious award. We are also proud owners of a "Best Kitten in Show" for one of our 1998 imports a "Nyevsky Masquerade" (colorpoint Siberian). In April 2000, I imported a trio of colorpoint kittens. One seal lynx point male named Anatoly and two blue lynx point females named Galya and Katyusha. All have contributed to the oh-so-important colorpoint program. Anatoly and Katyusha presented me with their first litter in July of 2001. I continue to concentrate my efforts to establish an exceptional, genetically sound colorpoint Siberian program here in North America. There are some that consider the colorpoint Siberian as a bastard child. I beg to differ. The colorpoint is just as much a part of the Siberian breed as any other color!
I have founded a breed club called the Prestige Siberian Association an international cat club and I was the Breed Chair for the Siberian in ACFA from 1998 to 2008. In February 1999 I submitted an application for advancement into Championship status in the ACFA and it was voted by the Board of Directors to accept the Siberian into Championship commencing May 1, 1999. This is the first major association to accept the colorpoint Siberian (Nyevsky Masquerade) into championship. Variations include the mitted and the bicolor colorpoints! To this day, my standard for the Siberian is still being used to judge the Siberian in the show hall today!
On the weekend of February 5 & 6, 2000 I made a formal presentation to the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) board of directors at their annual meeting in Houston TX, for the purpose of applying for breed recognition. The BOD voted unanimously to accept the Siberian with all of their colors. As of May 1, 2000 the Siberian moved into the Miscellaneous class within CFA. It was on that happy day I realized yet another goal and dream. I continued on as breed chair, my term was for 2000-2003. On The weekend of February 4-5 2006, I attended the CFA BOD annual meeting for breeds and standards in Houston TX. On the Morning of February 5, 2006 the CFA BOB voted to move the Siberian into Championship status effective May 1, 2006. I am elated to have played a part in achieving this PLUS reaching a goal that I had set for myself 6 years earlier. My ultimate goal is to establish the Siberian in this country. I will continue to search for the best, representatives of the Siberian breed and to produce the finest, healthiest Siberians in the USA.