Russian Blue Cat: Cat Breed Information, Characteristics and Facts
Cat-loving folks all around the world love the Russian Blue’s gentle, quiet, and reserved demeanor. It is a true gentleman of the cat world and one that possesses the intelligence to match its luxurious coat. This cat has long been prized for its remarkable bluish coat with silver tips. It is not surprising why many people would want to bring a Russian Blue home despite its prohibitive price tag.
History of the Russian Blue
Cat fanciers recognize the Russian Blue as a naturally-occurring breed. This means it is not the product of man’s insatiable appetite to create a breed that espouses his ideals. Nobody knows when the breed first came into being, however. What everyone knows is that they were once called the Arkhangel’sk cat, after the Russian port city of the same name. One of the most enduring theories about their origins is that the Arkhangel’sk Blue is a descendant of some of the feline pets of Russian Czars.
Sometime in the middle of the 19th century, sailors brought some of these cats to Northern European cities and the British Isles. It made its debut in the international cat scene at the 1875 Cat Show at the Crystal Palace. Around this time, the cat was known as the Archangel Cat. Show organizers categorized the Archangel in the group of blue-colored cats like the Chartreux from France. In 1912, the Russian Blue gained its own competition class.
Throughout the first 4 decades of the 20th century, Russian Blues underwent breed development in Scandinavian countries and England. The Second World War exacted a severe toll on the breed. In an effort to increase the population of Russian Blues, breeders began experimenting with other breeds. In the US, however, breeders utilized British and Scandinavian Russian Blues in their breeding program. This helped build the genetic pool of the modern Russian Blue.
In the early attempts, Siamese cats were mated with domestic black cats to produce the Havana Brown. Some also mixed the Russian Blue with longhaired kitties to create a longhaired version of the breed, the Nebelung. In Italy, breeders mated the cat with the Oriental Shorthair to produce the Russian White. Some breeders mated the feline to black domestic cats, creating the Russian Black. Frances McLeod developed the first line of Russian Whites in the 1960s. Dick and Mavis Jones produced the first line of Russian Blacks in the 1970s.
It is important to know that the Cat Fanciers’ Association and the Federation Internationale Feline do not recognize these variations. Cat fanciers’ associations in the UK, South Africa, and Australia recognize these breeds, nonetheless.
Quick Facts about the Russian Blue Cat
There are several things that many people do not know about this feline breed, save for its bluish coat, of course. Enhancing your knowledge about this kitty should help you determine whether it is the right cat to bring home to your family.
- Double Coat for the Russian Winters
One of the striking characteristics of the Russian Blue is its coat. As would be expected from a cat born and raised in the frigid environment of Russia, this breed has a short and thick double coat. The topcoat consists of blue fur, complete with bluish guard hairs with silver tips. The undercoat is as long as the topcoat. However, the fur has a downy soft texture. These coat characteristics give the Russian Blue the ability to keep its body warm through the Russian winter.
- Color of Coat is Due to a Unique Genetic Trait
Some people believe that the Russian Blue is related to the French Chartreux, the Thai Korat, and the British Blue Shorthair. This is not accurate. The genetic makeup of the breed is different from other blue-coated felines. The cat has a dilute gene. This trait is also responsible for giving some cats their black color. In other words, the bluish color of the breed is due to the expression of the black coat gene, albeit in diluted form. One has to understand that the dilute gene is recessive in nature. As such, only two purebred Russian Blues will produce kittens with bluish coats.
- A Lucky Charm
There is a legend in Russia where the cat was able to heal a Russian prince who was ill. There are also stories of how the cat would accompany travelers and Cossacks around the world. The Russian aristocracy and oligarchy always brought with them these cats because of their belief that it can ward off evil spirits. Wealthy Russian families also have the breed in their homes to help ensure good luck for their babies. In general, Russians valued the Blue because of its ability to heal. Two of the famous people who owned a Russian Blue included Russia’s Nicholas I and the UK’s Queen Victoria.
- Not a Fan of Change
If there is one thing that the Russian Blue hates, it would be “change”. This is a cat that thrives on routine. It wants to eat at the same time every single day. So, if you started feeding it every 7 in the morning and 7 in the evening, then you should stick to this routine throughout the cat’s life. The same is true with other activities like sleeping, resting, toileting, and playing. It wants everything to the T. As such, this is a breed that doesn’t do well with very mobile families. They also hate having to move from one owner to another.
- Different Color of Eyes and Paw Pads
Most felines have black, pink, or gray paw pads. Russian Blues have lavender or mauve paw pads. This blends well with the bluish hue of their coats. Most cats also have orange, yellow, or blue eyes. The Russian Blue has very vivid green eyes. It is not always green, however. As kittens, they have yellow eyes. As they reach their 4th month of life, their pupils begin forming a bright green ring.
- A Very Expensive Cat
The lowest price you can get a Russian Blue is about a thousand dollars. If you get it from reputable breeders, expect to pay at least $3,000. This breed is not the most expensive feline but it does command a very hefty price tag. It is the cat’s blue coat that many fanciers prize so much. Throughout much of history, these cats have been sought after for their rare blue coats.
- European Russian Blues are Larger than their American and Oceania Counterparts
Russian Blues bred in the US, New Zealand, and Australia tend to be smaller than their European counterparts. The reason is in the feline breed used to outcross the Russian Blue with. In Europe, breeders used the stocky and hefty British Shorthair. In the US and Oceania, breeders used the lankier and lighter Siamese.
- It is Not Hypoallergenic
Many individuals consider the Russian Blue as a hypoallergenic cat, as already proven by many studies. There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic feline breed. The main allergen that triggers a response in susceptible individuals is the Fel d 1 protein. This allergen is often found in the cat’s saliva and its sebaceous glands. What makes the Russian Blue ideal for asthmatics and allergy sufferers is that it has a very thick coat. This helps trap the allergen on the surface of its skin so they do not get airborne. Also, it produces the Fel d 1 allergen in fewer amounts than other cat breeds.
- A Russian Blue that is Not Blue is Not a Russian Blue
The Cat Fanciers’ Association only recognizes one color for the breed: blue. In the past, breeders used the Siamese to strengthen the gene pool of the Russian Blue. This was after the breed went almost instinct. As such, you could see colorpoint Russian Blues in the past. However, because of continuous selective breeding, the bluish color of the breed is now quite strong that there can be no other color than blue.
Things You Should Know
There are two fundamental issues that potential pet owners have to understand. First, it is expensive. Second, it thrives on routine. If you cannot address these two concerns, then the Russian Blue is not for you. But if you do, then you are one step closer to owning one. The last step should be to learn what this cat needs to be happy.
This cat is a healthy breed. On the average, they can reach a ripe age of 20 years. However, some Blues are known to reach 25 years. This is human years, of course. In cat terms, this is already equivalent to about 130 years. That is exceptional longevity for a cat that thrives on routine and with a dilute recessive gene.
More than the numbers, however, is the fact that it is a healthy cat. There are no significant diseases that are specific to the breed. Although this does not mean they are already immune to health problems. They are still at risk of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and kidney disease. The most common kidney-related problem is the formation of bladder stones. This can cause pressure to build up in the kidneys because of the blockage of the urinary tract.
Obesity is also a major concern. It is true that Russian Blues are very playful. However, most pet parents often forget making the necessary adjustments in the cat’s calorie intake to account for its level of activity.
Russian Blues need the right amounts of the right nutrients in their meals. It is crucial to pick a cat food that contains animal proteins. This helps ensure that it receives the right amounts of taurine necessary for optimal heart and brain development. Plant proteins do not contain taurine. If you do decide to give your kitty a plant-based protein, then taurine supplementation is a must.
A crucial aspect of the Russian Blue’s feeding is the determination of its calorie requirements. All cats have the tendency to become obese. You have to know that about two-thirds of cats in the US are either obese or overweight. Working with a feline nutritionist or your veterinarian is a must to help determine the right number of calories to give with each feeding.
Playtime and exercise are crucial to a Russian Blue’s wellbeing. It is an energetic cat that thrives on plenty of stimulating activities. Whether it is with fellow Blues, dogs, or their human owners, playtime is an important activity. In many instances, they can outclass the Abyssinian when it comes to jumping and leaping from platform to platform. They are intelligent and will love to learn new tricks as well as play with puzzle toys.
Bringing the cat to the veterinary clinic is important, especially for kittens. They need their mandatory vaccine shots to help protect them against certain health conditions. They also need protection against heartworm, fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, and other pathogenic organisms. It is true that this breed is an indoor-only cat. One has to understand that disease vectors can still find their way inside your house.
If there is one thing that the Russian Blue hates the most, it is a stinky toilet. It is for this reason that daily cleaning of its litter box is necessary. A once-a-week thorough cleaning is also important. Otherwise, if they see or sense that their litter box is not as tidy as they want, then expect the cat to relieve itself somewhere else.
As mentioned, keep the feline breed indoors. You do not want to waste a few thousand dollars by exposing it to outdoor threats. There are dangerous animals outdoors that can injure the Russian Blue. There are also unscrupulous individuals who may want to take advantage of the hefty price of the breed.
Grooming is never a problem for this cat. Aside from having a very fastidious nature, its short and silky-smooth coat makes it very easy to brush. It does not need a bath but it needs combing or brushing once every 3 to 7 days. In the spring, however, they need more frequent brushing.
Brush the cat’s teeth once every 3 days using a cat-safe toothpaste. Clean its ears and the corners of its eyes every week. Clip or trim its nails or claws once every 2 to 3 weeks.
Russian Blues are a very reserved breed. However, they do have an affectionate disposition and sweet demeanor that makes them well-loved. It needs to build trust first with whom it considers to be its family. Once trust is already established, the Russian Blue can be a very loving and playful companion. You can always expect the cat to stay on your bed. It can also serve as your therapy cat, lifting your spirits when you’re feeling the blues.
This is one kitty that adores the attention and admiration that it receives from its family. The problem is that it is very shy when it comes to strangers. It does not show the kind of aloofness that most cats display. But do not expect the Russian Blue to act comfy and cozy with your guests. It takes time for the cat to ‘warm up’ to strangers but only if it senses that they are ‘good’ people. If you have plenty of visitors coming to your home every day, this is not the cat for you.
It is true that this cat is loyal and affectionate. However, you can never expect the Russian Blue to be the Velcro cat you’ve always envisioned. This is a feline that will never follow you around the house. It will also not demand attention. It will be happy if you give it your undivided attention. But it will still be content if you don’t, for as long as you adhere to its routine activities. This is one of the most crucial things everyone has to know about the breed. It thrives on routine. As long as you can meet its routine activities on the dot, then it is already a happy cat.
While the cat may not become your dog’s best friend, early socialization can still offer hope. It also thrives best with children who know better not to scare the cat or to rush it into doing some things. They love to play with feather toys as well as climb up their cat tree and jump from one platform to the next. They love observing their human owners as well as other pets in the household. They have this very cautious nature, making sure everything is safe first before they jump right in.
Russian Blues are not very vocal. However, they will let out a very soft and almost-melodic meow when they do. This breed is also intelligent and can learn what certain words mean. Puzzle toys and tricks are great for honing the intelligence of the Russian Blue.
While the Russian Blue is affectionate, it is a cat that is never clingy. This makes the breed the ideal companion among individuals who love the idea of having a lovable kitty, but one that will never demand constant attention. That is, if you can afford the price tag.