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Choosing a Nebelung

By: J. Anne Helgren

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The Nebelung is a longhaired, solid blue cat that resembles the Russian blue. The German word nebelung (pronounced nay-bel-ung) means "creatures of the mist," which brings to mind exotic animals roaming mysterious forests, fading away into shadows just before you get close enough to catch a really good glimpse – an appropriate name for a feline with a long, luminous coat, glowing green eyes and an intelligently cautious nature.

History and Origin

In the early 1980s in Denver, a black domestic shorthair named Elsa had a tryst with a shorthaired Russian blue-type neighborhood tom. This chance rendevous produced a litter of six – five solid black or blue shorthairs and, surprisingly, one solid blue longhair with a beautiful lustrous coat, long legs, and a Russian blue-type body. Computer programmer Cora Cobb adopted the cat and named him Siegfried after the hero in Wagner's epic opera cycle, The Ring of the Nibelung.

Elsa's next litter, again sired by her Russian blue-type boyfriend, included seven kittens, including one longhaired solid blue female of exceptional beauty. Her long silky hair was longer and lighter than Siegfried's, and Cobb thought these two might be the beginning of an entirely new breed. Cobb named the female Brunhilde (Siegfried's lady love in the Wagner opera), and allowed nature to take its course. In May 1986, Siegfried and Brunhilde produced a litter of three solid blue longhairs.

With the help of the genetics chair Dr. Solveig Pflueger of The International Cat Association (TICA), Cobb wrote the Nebelung's standard, almost identical to the Russian blue's except for the coat length and opening description. TICA accepted the Nebelung for registration in September 1987.

Since then, the number of Nebelungs has slowly grown and, despite setbacks and resistence from Russian blue breeders, the breed caught worldwide attention. In 1997 TICA granted championship status, a major step for the breed. Only a small number of breeders are currently working with the Nebelung, but they expect that number to grow as more people come to know and love these longhaired beauties and their sweet, gentle personalities. Nebelungs are also being bred in Russia and a number of Russian Nebelung cats have been imported to strengthen the American lines and widen the gene pool. Fanciers consider the Nebelung a re-creation of the Russian longhairs shown at the first modern day cat show in London's Crystal Palace in 1871. These longhairs looked much like the Nebelungs of today.

Appearance

The primary difference between the Nebelung and the Russian blue is coat length. The Russian blue's coat is short and dense, while the Nebelung's fur is medium-long, fine, soft, silky and double layered. The coat is semi-long over the body beginning at the shoulders, where the coat is slightly shorter. The hind legs possess pantaloons, and the tail sports an elegant plume.

This breed comes in only one pattern, solid, and one color – what cat fanciers call blue, but what is actually a light gray. The color is contrasted with lighter, silver-tipped guard hairs, making the coat catch the light and giving it a luminous quality. Eye color is always green, although kittens may have yellow eyes that deepen to green as they mature. By eight months, a green ring should have appeared around the pupil.

The Nebelung's body style is semi-foreign, which means long, slender, and athletic with medium bone structure. Although the Nebelung's body is slim, it is still muscular and strong; a Nebelung can easily leap to the top of the tallest bookcase. The head is a modified wedge shape, more pointed than rounded, although the long hair may give a rounded look to the face. The eyes are slightly oval and widely spaced, and the ears are large and pointed.

Personality

Like Russian blues, Nebelungs are sweet, gentle, soft-spoken companions that dislike change and usually need a "getting to know you" adjustment period. They are reserved around strangers, ranging from hiding under the bed in terror to warily eyeing the intruders from a safe distance. But once they adjust and learn that they can trust their human friends, Nebelungs become playful and affectionate companions. They tend to bond with one person and shower him or her with love and devotion.

While loyal to their family, Nebelungs are not in-your-face intrusive. Some enjoy lap sitting while others prefer sitting beside you, and most refrain from driving you crazy asking for attention. That doesn't mean you can leave them alone for days and expect them to take care of themselves. They need the love and attention of their human family and particularly from their chosen person if they are to lead happy lives. If you must leave them alone while you earn the cat food, provide a cat companion to keep your Nebelung company while you're away.

Grooming

Even with the double layered coat, the fur resists matting and doesn't require the amount of grooming some longhairs do. Still, Nebelungs do require a certain amount of care to look their best. Figure combing twice or three times a week with a good quality steel comb, and every other day during the seasonal shedding periods. The Nebelung generally goes through two yearly sheddings – once in the fall when they shed their summer coat and once in the spring when they shed their winter coat. Seasonal variations in coat length are common in this breed.

Nebelungs are still quite rare and can be hard to obtain. In the United States, breeders can be found in Washington State, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, and Mississippi. Check out the Fanciers Breeder Referral List at www.breedlist.com for a list of breeders, or check with the cat associations that accept the breed, such as TICA (www.tica.org).

Association Acceptance

The Nebelung is accepted for championship by:

  • The Traditional Cat Association, Inc. (TCA)
  • The International Cat Association (TICA)

    In the non-championship experimental class by:

  • Cat Fanciers' Federation (CFF)

    For registration only by:

  • American Cat Fancier's Association (ACFA)

    Special Notes

    In order to keep the gene pool healthy and to keep the Russian blue body type, breeders use Russian blues in their breeding programs. This results in a number of shorthaired Nebelungs, which closely resemble Russian blues. Since such kittens cannot be registered or shown as either Russian blues or Nebelungs, they are easier and less expensive to obtain, and still possess the Nebelung's sweet personality traits.

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