After being a pet owner of Russians for over 20 years, I can honestly say that I am now “owned” by the most magnificent cat breed in the world. Yes, we all desire something different from a pet, but for me, the gracefulness, elegance, intelligence, and loyalty of this breed has won my heart forever. Each Russian that I have shared my life with has been unique in their own “special” way, but the overall breed characteristics are the same. Nothing short of pure joy.
The sparkling plush “blue” grey coat and brilliant green eyes of the Russian Blue draw immediate attention to this shorthaired breed. But it is the intelligent and playful disposition that makes the Russian Blue a perfect pet for many households. The Russian blue is a striking feline. While being medium sized at maturity, their body is muscular and elegant. They are a friendly, relatively quiet cat, who can be shy with strangers. They are devoted to and affectionate with their loved ones. Sensitive to their owner’s moods. They are also an exceptionally clean cat.
What makes the Russian Blue more than “any other grey cat?” The many years of selective breeding and careful registration of ancestry via pedigrees, has resulted in a breed with a distinctive appearance and a unique personality that sets it apart from other cats.
The Russian Blue Cat is a naturally occurring breed, which means we will never know its true origin. However, they likely originated somewhere in northwest Russia. One theory is that these sleek kitties descended from the esteemed pets of the Russian czars. Sadly, others speculate that the first Russian Blues lived in the wilderness and were hunted for their prized pelts – such thick, dense fur with unique colouring would have brought in the big money.
In any case, it is believed that Russian sailors befriended the felines sometime around the 1860s and brought them aboard their ships as companions, most notably in the bustling port city of Arkhangelsk. This could explain how the breed came to Great Britain and Northern Europe. Arkhangelsk translates to “Archangel,” which is also why Russian Blue cats are sometimes called Archangel Blues.
Once Russian Blue cats made it to Great Britain, the breed took the cat world by storm. In 1875, Russian Blues were shown at one of the world’s first cat shows held at London’s Crystal Palace. They did not win any prizes but left quite an impression – mainly that they were incredibly handsome.
In 1912, around the same time Russian Blues were making their way to the U.S., they were officially recognized as a breed. The Russian Blue had competed in a class including all other blue cats until this time, when they were given their own class. The breed was developed mainly in England and Scandinavia until after World War II.
After World War II, Russian Blues were in decline, but enthusiasts managed to save the bloodline. In Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, they crossbred Russian Blues with Siamese cats to produce slightly longer and more angular kitties. In Great Britain, they crossbred with Bluepoint Siamese and British Blues for thicker, stockier cats. The Siamese and British Blue traits have now largely been bred out. However, we believe, the Russian Blues we know, and love today more closely resemble the original breed.
The Russian Blue was first officially recognised as a breed in Great Britain in 1948. In 1962 Ann Vise, of Myemgay cattery in Sydney, imported the first two Russian Blue cats into Australia from England.
The Russian Blue has a reputation as a gentle, quiet cat, somewhat shy, but do not get the wrong idea. Like all breeds, personalities vary from cat to cat. Their keen senses and cautious nature may be a throwback to a time when the Russian Blue had to fend for itself and fight for survival. While most Russian Blues are wary around strangers, some are extremely outgoing and friendly and do not seem to know what the word stranger means. Like making a new friend, it usually takes a little effort and time to win its trust and love. Once won over, you have a loyal and very affectionate friend. These cats become extremely attached to their owners. They like a small circle of close friends, so they are not inclined to bond with everyone who enters your home.
Once a Russian Blue settles in, you soon discover what a charming, entertaining creature you have invited into your home. Your Russian Blue will follow you from room to room just to be with you. Often, their favourite place is on your lap, shoulder or just sitting beside you. They show their love for you by rubbing against your head and licking your face. Thoughtful creatures, these cats are sensitive to their surroundings.
While the Russian Blue loves your company, they are capable of entertaining themselves during the day while you are at work or out. They are generally not destructive but move through the house with the grace of a ballerina.
Although Russians are careful when trying something for the first time, they become quite stubborn when they decide they want to do something. They are intelligent cats. Russians never forget. They remember where you put the feather or the food and will often open the cupboard or drawer to get the object of their desire. They love to play and will train you to throw toys that they can retrieve. Russians are great jumpers and go crazy for feathers and other toys.
The Russian does best in a quiet, stable environment. The generally do not like change, and it is especially important to them that meals arrive on time. Count on them to be a faithful alarm clock in the morning, just so they do not miss a meal.
If you take the time to develop a relationship with a Russian Blue, your reward will be a deep bond with this loving cat.
The Russian Blue is a robust breed, with firm muscles and an overall dose of good looks. It is long, slender, and elegant. Mostly referred to as majestic and regal. It is of a medium size, and muscular, but compared to a swimmer in the compactness of its musculature. When it is in full motion and stretched out, one can see that it has a long, graceful neck, but the neck is hidden by thick fur and high set shoulder blades when the cat is sitting, making it look as though it has a short, thick neck.
The Russian Blue’s elegant yet muscular body led one cat judge to proclaim him the “Doberman Pinscher of cats.” They have what’s called a semi-foreign body type, meaning it is moderate in shape, falling somewhere between the short, compact body of breeds such as Persians and the sleek angles of Oriental breeds such as the Siamese.
They are small to moderate-sized cats with an average weight of 3.6 to 6.8 kg when fully grown. Males will typically be larger than females.
The Russian Blue appears bigger than it is because of its double coat, which is the most eye-catching feature of this breed. Dense, silky, and plush, the hair stands out at a 45-degree angle, allowing you to literally trace patterns into it, where they will remain until you smooth your hand over them. The coat is bright blue, preferably lavender at the base (root), darkening along the shaft up to the tips of the guard hairs (protective hairs in the topcoat), which are tipped in silver. The coat shimmers with reflective light. The tail may have a few very dull, almost unnoticeable stripes.
You might think that a Russian Blue would only come in blue, however in Australia, they come in white and black as well as the traditional blue and are known as Russian Cats.
Adding to the captivating physical qualities of this breed is the eye colour. The eyes are blue while the Russian Blue is a kitten, and by four months and even older, there is a bright green ring around the pupil. As the cat matures, the eye colour graduates into a bright, vivid green, aesthetically intensifying the already remarkable blue-silver colouring of the cat. The eyes are wide set and almond shaped, and only slightly slanted at the upper corners, giving the Russian Blue a sweet expression that matches well with its gentle temperament.
One of the more curious and amusing features of the Russian Blue is its “smile.” It has a slightly upturned mouth, which is frequently compared to the enigmatic Mona Lisa smile. A broad muzzle with prominent whisker pads and a unique straight profile.
They have large ears, wide at the base but set high on the head with pointed tips.
Health and Care
There are no specific health problems related to the Russian Blue. It is a genetically sound breed, mainly due to it being a naturally occurring breed. Brushing the coat is not essential but is a nice addition to the weekly routine of other grooming, such as brushing the teeth, clipping nails, cleaning eyes and ears. This breed has a fondness for human company and will sit quite happily while being combed or brushed, since it is spending time with the one it cares for.
One important note to keep in mind with this breed is its love of food. It will eat beyond its need and ask for seconds, making it a sure candidate for weight related conditions if it is allowed to eat as much as it wants. The best prevention is measuring the food and giving it only at assigned times of the day and making sure that everyone in the house knows that they cannot give the cat too many treats or scraps.
It is essential to keep a Russian Blue as an indoors only cat with possible access to a safe, outdoors enclosure to protect them from diseases spread by other cats, attacks by dogs or other creatures, and the other dangers that face cats who go outdoors, such as being hit by a car. Russian Blues who go outdoors also run the risk of being stolen by someone who would like to have such a beautiful cat without paying for it.
Many owners train their Russians on a harness and take them for supervised walks in a safe area.
Children and Other Pets
Russian Blues have a tolerant nature toward children who treat them kindly and respectfully. They will even put up with the clumsy pats given by toddlers, as if they recognize that no harm is meant, and if necessary they will walk away or climb out of reach to escape being hit on the head. That said, the patient and gentle Russian should always be protected from rough treatment, so always supervise very young children when they want to pet the cat.
The Russian Blue is also accepting of other animals, including dogs, as long as they are not chased or menaced by them. Introduce pets slowly and in controlled circumstances to ensure that they learn to get along together.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Russian Blue may be better tolerated by individuals with mild to moderate allergies. There is speculation that the Russian Blue produces less glycoprotein Fel d1, one source of cat allergies. There is no solid evidence with respect to Fel d1 and the Russian Cat to prove that they produce less of the protein. The thicker coat may also trap more of the allergens closer to the cat’s skin. Glycoprotein is one source of cat allergies, but this does not mean they are suitable to be homed with people allergic to cats as they will still cause the allergy to be affected, only to a lesser degree for short periods of time.