Nebelung


Introduction

The Nebelung (with the 'Ne-' pronounced as 'Nay-') is a new, comparatively rare cat of foreign type, and is a semi-longhaired version of the Russian Blue breed that was first imported into Britain at the end of the nineteenth century. This variety was only officially recognised by the UK Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in June 2012, although the International Cat Association (TICA) has recognised it on a small scale (mostly in mainland Europe) since 1987. As a new breed, the gene pool is still quite small, and Nebelungs are often out-crossed to their Russian Blue cousins, especially those carrying the recessive longhaired gene, so that that the breed standard is maintained and the gene pool is widened, although out-crossing to any other breeds is not permitted. Nebelungs have the same blue coat colour as the Russian Blue, again tipped with silver guard hairs, and the longer silky coat gives the appearance of a misty sheen when it catches the light. The name 'Nebelung' derives from the German, and means 'Creature of the mist', although many of today's breeding lines originated in France.

History

Although the Nebelung is regarded as a totally new breed of cat, both longhaired and shorthaired Russian Blues were exhibited at British cat shows at the beginning of the twentieth century, although the longer coated cats were not known as Nebelungs in those days. Although the shorthaired variety went on to gain popularity across most continents, the longhaired version disappeared into obscurity quite early on. The longhaired Russian Blue did not start to re-emerge as a breed until the 1980s in Colorado, USA, when a black shorthaired domestic stray cat made her home with Cora Cobb of Denver, who gave her the name of Terri. Terri soon produced a litter of three kittens, two shorthaired females and one longhaired male, the father being the local tomcat with a semi-longhaired coat who was thought to have some Angora ancestry. In due course, one of the young females had a litter including a blue semi-longhaired male kitten who became known as Siegfried, and when she had a second litter also with a blue longhaired kitten (a female this time, who was named Brunhilde), Cora Cobb was so taken with their beauty and temperament, that she decided to mate brother and sister. The result was a whole litter of longhaired blue kittens, and so the Nebelung was born! In time, Cora Cobb produced a Standard of Points, which she wrote in line with that of the Russian Blue to which her new breed bore a striking resemblance, apart from the coat length. Although the Russian Blue breeders were initially a little cautious about the Nebelung being described as a longhaired version of their breed, eventually one of them offered their support and allowed Cora to use a Russian Blue stud for outcross, and since then they have gradually been gaining recognition as longhaired Russian Blues. The first Nebelungs were exhibited at a TICA show in Paris in 1989 and there are now a small handful of Nebelung breeders in the UK.

Appearance

Like the Russian Blue, the Nebelung is distinguishable from other pure blue cats not only by its long and graceful body, but also by its double coat of medium blue with a soft, downy undercoat and top distinctive silvery sheen. The semi longhaired coat is blue right down to the roots, without any tabby or ghost markings although these are sometimes seen in kittens, and the tail has longer hair, giving a plumed effect. Paw pads and nose leather are also blue, and there are often tufts of hair around the ears and between the toes. The other distinguishing characteristics of this very gentle breed of cat are pronounced whisker pads, and the large, quite pointed ears set close together and held high up on the head, giving a rather solemn expression. The almond-shaped eyes are a bright vivid green, set fairly wide apart, although kittens are usually born with yellow eyes that gradually turn green, usually by about four months old.

Temperament

This highly intelligent breed tends to be very affectionate towards their owners, but not as extrovert and demanding as many other Foreign and Oriental breeds. Some like being picked up and made a fuss of, but mostly they show their love to their nearest and dearest on their own terms and can be quite wary of people they do not know. They are quietly conversational with their owners, but do not insist on having a loud opinion on everything. Because Nebelungs have such tranquil temperaments, they are ideally suited for more elderly people as they do not rush about, but they are not very tolerant of clumsy handling and are not suitable for families with very small children. They enjoy tranquil company and do not like being left alone for long periods of time - at least one more cat or a small dog will make ideal companions if you tend to be out a lot.

Health

The Nebelung is not known to have any breed-specific health problems and can often live to the age of 15 years. They need annual vaccination boosters against the common feline ailments of flu and enteritis, as well as against Feline Leukaemia if they go outdoors.

Caring for a Nebelung

This breed will eat most good quality proprietary brands of cat food, but will also enjoy treats of cooked chicken, ham and grated cheese. However, cows' milk will probably give them a stomach upset, and a bowl of water should always be available. Eyes and ears should be checked and kept clean if necessary by use of a clean damp cloth. Because they have semi longhaired coats, they will need regular brushing (several times a week) to help remove the loose hairs that could cause fur balls, but their coats are not as labour-intensive as the full-coated Persian breeds. Nebelungs can live very happily indoors without going outside, so long as they have a scratching post and plenty of toys to occupy them.

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