The Russian Blue is an extremely popular breed of cat, owing to its beauty, loyalty, sweet temper, and bright green eyes. Russian Blue cats are also known as Archangel Blues and they are small cat breeds that look bigger due to their thick coats. They love running fast and can be quite playful, though they also enjoy some quiet time. They don’t tend to be destructive, making them good even for apartment living.
I’m fairly sure my part Siamese when I was growing up was also part Russian Blue, mostly because of her coat color and huge ears! She also displayed some of the fun personality traits of a Russian Blue like bonding strongly with one family member (me! And my dad) and she enjoyed her downtime. Russian Blues are intelligent and can be trained to do tricks! What more should you know about this beauty of a breed of cat?
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The History of the Russian Blue Cat
The Russian Blue is actually a naturally occurring breed and absolutely no breeding went into their coat or eyes aside from rescuing the population from total collapse after World War II by breeding them with Siamese cats. Their double thick coat speaks to them originating somewhere cold and their timid nature has some people thinking they used to be hunted (likely for their coats). There was very little done to the breed as a result of human intervention which also makes them quite sturdy and not prone to genetic defects.
It’s unknown precisely where these cats come from, but it’s generally thought that they originated in the Archangel Isles in Russia. They accompanied sailors to Northern Europe and Great Britain in the 1860s and were shown at London’s Crystal Palace in 1875. After that, the breed became highly coveted, though it was still shown alongside other blue cats until 1912. In 1912, they were recognized as a distinct breed and could be shown on their own.
After World War II, it was one of the breeds that nearly suffered a complete population collapse, but breeders in Scandinavia and England brough their numbers up again by crossbreeding them with Siamese cats. Over time, they were then bred back into the British Russian Blue and Scandinavian Russian Blues while breeding out Siamese traits to get the breed of Russian Blue we have today.
Purebred Russian Blue cats are somewhat rare and cost into the thousands of dollars, particularly for a show cat. Crossbreeds are a little more common, though other breeds of blue cat are often mistaken for them.
Common Characteristics of the Russian Blue Cat
The Russian Blue is distinguished by its extremely thick double coat which makes it look a lot bigger than it actually is! It’s so thick in fact that you can draw a pattern in it, and it will stay there until you smooth the fur away. (Not sure how well the cat will take to that!) They have a blue-gray fur with silver tips and bright green eyes. Sometimes they have striped tails, but rarely have stripes anywhere else. They have large ears and a long tail.
Russian Blue cats are a medium size cat, but a lot of their size is fur! They tend to be more finely boned, though they are also somewhat athletic, with particularly long legs that they use for running about at top speed when they are playing, startled, or just feel like running. They can be quite athletic and enjoy playing and running.
Russian Blue cats are fairly distinctive due to their bright green eyes and very plush coats, though sometimes they get confused with other breeds, so it’s something to keep in mind when looking for one of your own if you want the genuine article. Other domestic shorthairs for example can have a very similar coat color and even thickness, though they may not have the vivid green eyes that the Russian Blue is known for.
Russian Blues have an average life expectancy of ten to sixteen years, but cats living to be twenty or even twenty-five years of age is not unheard of. This is a generally robust, long lived breed.
What is the Temperament of the Russian Blue Cat?
Russian Blue Cats are an odd combination of stately, shy, affectionate, loyal, and skittish. There are stories that they were once hunted for their coats which made them more skittish around strangers, though whether this is true or not is completely unknown. What is known is that Russian Blues tend to be quiet and avoid strangers, but once they get to know someone, if they choose to, they can be remarkably loyal, playful, and friendly. They are not very vocal or chatty, but they will make their displeasure known if something annoys them (like a late meal!)
Russian Blues are very intelligent and are one of the few breeds which can be trained to do tricks and even use a toilet (though this might not agree with your indoor plumbing so much). It’s easy to teach them to stay out of things they aren’t supposed to get into, and they often enjoy playing with puzzle toys. They can be trusted to stay at home alone for longer stretches of time without getting anxious or bored – usually they nap or play solitary games – and then they like to play with their humans in more hands-on games when there’s time. Providing a Russian Blue with a few places to hide away from other people is a good idea as they can burn out on social time or be alarmed by strangers and a safe place to hide will make them feel better. (My cat used to hide under my bed).
Although shy at first, Russian Blues bond hard and can come running to greet their owners every day. They are quite firm about how they want things done, to the point where it’s a quasi joke that Russian Blues train their owners, not the other way around.
Russian Blues don’t usually have a problem with children or other pets, though the loud noises from babies can startle or annoy them, so keep that in mind. They do best in a household with a few people, not too many guests coming in and out all the time, where they can bond with their humans and have quiet places to play and rest when there are guests or when no one is around. They also tend to get along with other animals, assuming introductions are properly made, and everyone is patient about the process. They can even get along with dogs!
Russian Blues also firmly believe that their manners should be reciprocated with manners from their humans. They do not like to be embarrassed or laughed at and have a long memory for slights. (Pretty sure this showed true in my childhood cat who could carry a grudge for weeks at a time if she was so inclined). Russian Blues also prefer a fixed daily routine and absolutely hates household changes, especially when it comes to food, which they will gladly let you know. Miss or be late on their dinner time at your peril! They are very clean animals and expect the same from their area – particularly their litter box. Russian Blues will quite happily do their business elsewhere if the litter box is not kept clean.
Although a bit high maintenance, Russian Blues reward their, er, followers, with a strong sense of loyalty, often bonding firmly with one or two people and enjoying the company of everyone else. They aren’t particularly cuddly, but they will follow people to see what they are up to. They often look as though they are ‘smiling’ due to the build of their faces, and they enjoy being around their people. They enjoy playing with toys and sunbeams, will learn tricks (if they want to) and are generally very fun to be around once they trust you. They love food, so using treats as training rewards is a good idea.
Health and Common Conditions of the Russian Blue Cat
As a naturally occurring breed, Russian Blues have surprisingly few health concerns and are very sturdy. A few minor conditions that come up:
- Urinary tract issues (usually minor)
- Bladder stones
- Russian Blues love to eat, so obesity can be an issue if you give in to them too often. Make sure they get a proper diet of quality food and that you don’t overfeed them. Obesity can lead to feline diabetes which has all manner of health complications later in life.
- Hip dysplasia. Russian Blues are known for hip dysplasia and it can be a serious condition if left untreated.
Russian Blues have a longer life expectancy than many other breeds of cat with a few cats living to be twenty-five, many living to be twenty and most living to be between ten and sixteen years of age. If you get a Russian Blue, make sure you are especially committed to a long haul because these cats bond hard and won’t take it well if they are left in a shelter or given away.
Russian Blues should be groomed at least a couple times a week to keep their coat plush and healthy. They don’t shed a lot, but their dead hairs can be irritating to them. Routines around grooming (including tooth and nail care) comforts them, so make sure to establish it early so that you don’t have to fight with them later.
What Type of Owner is the Russian Blue Cat Best Suited For?
Cats will of course display their own personality and as such, some cats will fit well with a family or people that another cat will not, even within the same breed. But overall, Russian Blues will be happiest with owners who:
- Able to make and stick to routines, especially around feeding time
- Work regular hours and come back at regular times (routine again. Russian Blues don’t mind being left alone for hours, but they want it to be consistent)
- Don’t have too many children or family members or too many guests coming all the time
- Don’t have loud babies (Though Russian Blues will likely get used to it or you can provide them with a safe, quiet place to hide out in while the baby fusses)
- Don’t go on too many long trips – Russian Blues will miss their family and they don’t take well to ‘cat sitters’.
- Can provide a consistent home environment with routines
People who lead chaotic lives, travel a lot or have a lot of people coming in and out are probably not going to be a good place for Russian Blue cats to live. That much unpredictability, noise, strangers, and changes can make these cats extremely unhappy, and they will usually let you know about it, making everyone miserable.
Russian Blue cats can also be good for people who have allergies to cats. This is not because they don’t shed (all cats shed), but because their fur and skin contains a lot less of the allergen glycoprotein Fel d 1. This protein is produced in the cat’s skin and is a common cause of allergic reactions for humans. The protein molecules their skin throws out to the air is further reduced by that double thick coat.
This is not to say that the Russian Blue is 100% hypoallergenic because there’s no such animal. But people with Russian Blue cats may feel less impact from their allergies compared to other cat breeds. Combining this with regular cleaning, limiting your cats access to certain parts of the house, and taking care to groom, feed, and play with your cat carefully and properly will all help to keep those allergies in check and make the Russian seem a lot more allergy friendly.
The Russian Blue Cat!
The Russian Blue cat is a very intelligent, trainable cat with a dignified manner. It bonds well with a few people, but is slow to warm up in many cases. They are quite beautiful and distinctive animals with vivid green eyes and grey coats with silver tips that is double layer and very plush. And don’t leave doors open around ones that like to sneak out because they can run when they have a mind to! Russian Blues love routines and consistency, don’t like a lot of people coming in and out, and enjoy playing with their favorite people. If this sounds like you, a Russian Blue may be just the cat to bring into your life!
Do you or have you ever had a Russian Blue? What was your experiences like? Let us know in the comments!
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.