Sometimes mistaken for a Russian blue, the nebelung shares that breed's solid blue coat and approximate size. And while they are a genetically separate breed, the Russian blue is still an acceptable outcross for pedigreed nebelungs.
Created in the United States in the 1980s, the nebelung is a rare cat breed that has become prized for her long, soft coat and understated, mild-mannered personality.
Nebelungs have long, graceful necks and torsos, with a modified wedge-shaped head and medium-sized ears. Their almond-shaped eyes are almost always a vivid green, though some examples of yellow-green eyes exist as well.
The nebelung's coat is medium-long and very soft. Coming in a single color—blue—the coat is usually silver-tipped, especially around the head and neck, giving her a slightly shimmery appearance. Nebelungs have a thicker tuft of hair ringing their necks, which is more pronounced in males. The fur on their tails is longer than that on their bodies, and males and females both have tufted fur between their toes.
The nebelung can be an excellent pet for seniors, thanks in large part to her relatively subdued, easygoing personality. They are quite capable of entertaining themselves and will engage in play throughout the day, but these are cats that are more than happy to sit quietly near their favorite humans or on an available lap.
Nebelungs are not highly social cats, and visitors to the house may not ever see them, depending on how they're feeling on a given day. Krieger says nebelungs can be stressed by change, and adults can take a while to adjust to new environments and people. But they bond strongly with their family units and are happy to follow their human companions around the house or even ride on a shoulder as you walk.
The nebelung is a breed that thrives on routine. She appreciates having things in the same place and at the same time each day, particularly feedings. Any changes to her environment or living situation can cause some short-term stress as she takes her time to adapt.
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Because of their quiet nature, the breed does well on their own if living in a single pet household or left on their own for extended periods of time. Separation anxiety is rarely an issue for nebelungs, especially if their mealtime structure is adhered to and they have ready access to favorite toys and the litter box.
Happy to be lap cats, nebelungs do best in a quiet environment, Krieger says. Because these kitties desire stable, structured environments, if you're a person who has a set routine every day, the nebelung will fit into your life very well.
They do best with adults and seniors as companions. Though nebelungs will tend to shy away from smaller children, they can live happily with older, quiet kiddos.
"They are usually tolerant of gentle children, but generally speaking, children can be a little too chaotic and unexpected for them," Krieger says. "They prefer to live in homes without children."
Similarly, nebelungs can get along well with other cats, particularly other reserved breeds. But dogs will be a harder sell and will require more patient introduction and socialization. There's a good chance your nebelung will prefer to be the only pet at home.
The nebelung's longer coat will require fairly frequent brushings, probably two to three times a week, to stay looking neat and clean. These cats are fairly regular shedders, so folks with dander allergies need to opt for a different breed. As you're brushing, keep an extra eye on their ears, making sure they're clean and free of debris to avoid ear infections.
When you first bring home your nebelung, be patient with this new family member.
"An adult nebelung may hide and be shy when first coming into her new home," Krieger says. "She should have her own room, free of any other resident animals. Give her the time she needs to make the adjustment to her new people and home."
Because the nebelung is such a new, rare breed, little is known about potential breed-specific health concerns. They have shown a propensity for obesity as they age, so keeping track of their calorie intake and being judicious with treats will be important. Otherwise, keeping an eye out for common feline issues like Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), as well as kidney and heart disease, will be the safest course of action as these cats age.
"Around midlife—maybe 8 or 9 years old—if your vet isn't already recommending annual blood work (for kidney and heart disease), I'd recommend it," says Carol Margolis, DVM, DACT of the Gold Coast Center for Veterinary Care on Long Island, N.Y. "Depending on the cat that you get, if you do something proactive like investing in pet insurance, make sure to look for any breed-dispositions that your insurance won't cover."
In 1984, a long-haired blue kitten was born in a litter raised by breeder Cora Cobb of Colorado, according to the American Cat Fanciers Association. The litter parents were a black female domestic shorthair and a male cat that resembled a Russian blue. The kitten, named Siegfried, was the only blue longhair in the litter. The following year, that same pairing produced a second blue longhair: a female that Cobb named Brunhilde. It was those two kittens who became the basis for the nebelung breed.
The International Cat Association (TICA) granted recognition and championship status to the nebelung in 1997 after more than a decade of breed development.
- Nebelungs have been featured in the Animal Planet show "Cats 101," and in the animated Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw.
- A nebelung was also in the film Garden State, with Natalie Portman and Zack Braff.
- On the Harry Potter fandom site Pottermore, a nebelung is one of the animals young wizards can be given as their Patronus.