It is very easy to fall in love with the brilliant green eyes and the silvery, sparkling blue coat of the Russian Blue. After all, you don’t get to see such a beautiful cat very often. But for the pet parents of these felines, it is their playful disposition and highly intelligent nature that makes the Russian Blue such the perfect pet for the modern home. It’s a gentle cat, with its own unique way of showing its affection to its loved ones. They are especially sensitive to the moods of their human masters and will do everything and anything to warm your heart. Could this be the cat you’ve been waiting for? Let’s find out.
History of the Russian Blue Cat
The Russian Blue is regarded among fans of the feline breed as an intrepid explorer, having been born in the Russian port of Arkhangel’sk. It’s a local cat that naturally thrived in sub-Arctic environments with its dense, plush coat. Legends have it that the Russian Blue rode with Cossacks as they ventured towards warmer waters. There are also stories of Russian Blues having been the favorites of the Russian Czars primarily because of its jewel-green eyes and lavish coat making this cat a prized possession for any member of the royal family. As a matter of fact, not only is the Russian Blue famous among the wealthy and noble of Mother Russia, it has also found a very unlikely patron in Queen Victoria of the British Empire.
How the Russian Blue got to British shores is still a mystery. It is said that enterprising Russian sailors, or perhaps even English sailors who visited Russian shores, brought several Russian Blues to Scandinavia and the British Isles as early as the 1860s. It was in 1875, however, that the Russian Blue made its first appearance at a Crystal Palace cat show. It was presented as the Archangel Cat, referring to its Russian city of origin. It was during this time that the Russian Blue competed with other members of the feline kingdom that exhibited the shade of blue. These included the French Chartreux, the Thai Korat, and the British Isles’ British Blue.
As British and Scandinavian breeders worked double time to develop what were to become the Russian Blue’s foundation bloodlines, the breed was given its own classification for competition in 1912 by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy.
The breed flourished until the Second World War when the devastation of Europe also meant scarce resources for Russian Blue breeders, killing many of the cats. The Finns and the British wanted to revive the Russian Blue so they mated the Russian Blue cats in their respective regions with Bluepoint Siamese cats. The problem with the crossbreeding is that it produced a coat that is a combination of slate gray and blue, not all-blue. Additionally, the hair is also short, not plush and short. There was also a very different temperament and personality.
British breeders wanted nothing of the Siamese gene in the Russian Blue. As such, many of them sought original Scandinavian- and British- bred Russian Blues and combined their bloodlines to create the contemporary Russian Blue. Scandinavian Blues are prized for their vivid green eye color and good head type. On the other hand, British Russian Blues have graceful and elegant bodies plus silvery-blue coat. This led to the formalization of the distinct characteristics that have made the Russian Blue a highly prized feline in the cat-loving world.
It was in 1949 when the Russian Blue was recognized by and registered with the Cat Fanciers’ Association. It would take 15 years before the breed brought home a CFA Grand Championship award primarily because these cats of the mid-20th century were very skittish when it came to cat shows. It was only through intense training and selective breeding that the Russian Blue was developed into a confident cat destined to steal the show and wow the crowd.
Quick Facts About the Russian Blue Cat
It is quite easy to mistake a Russian Blue from a mixed breed of cat, especially since the breed has been used in the creation of other breeds like the Havana Brown. It was also used in the modification of certain cat breeds like the Nebelung and Oriental Shorthairs. There are also Russian Blacks and Russian Whites which are both the result of mating a Russian Blue with a domestic black or white cat, respectively. As such, if you’re really serious in bringing home a Russian Blue, then you must know the characteristics that you simply have to look for.
- The coat of a Russian Blue should always feel plush to the touch. It is short, but dense and has a very silky texture to it.
- The Russian Blue doesn’t shed very often.
- The color of its coat is bright blue with an even hue. It may have a lustrous appearance and a silvery sheen because of the presence of silver-tipped guard hairs.
- A true Russian Blue should only have two very important characteristics. First, the color of its coat should be blue. Second, the length of its coat should be short. If it is not blue and short, then it is not a Russian Blue.
- Its eyes are round and wide. These have vivid green sclera, equivalent to the white of the eye in humans.
- The head is wedge-shaped that is neither too short nor too long.
- It is a fine-boned, medium-sized, firmly-muscled, long-legged, and long-bodied cat.
- The ears are large with pointed tips and a wide base.
- Some Russian Blue kittens can have ‘ghost stripes’ which can make them look like tabbies. These markings disappear as the kitty develops its adult coat.
- The eyes of a Russian Blue kitten are not yet green. They have a yellowish hue, but with greenish rims. As the kitten grows older, the yellow color of its eyes turns into the bright green that everybody loves about the Russian Blue.
- A male Russian Blue can weigh 10 to 12 pounds while a female Russian Blue can be lighter by around 2 to 3 pounds.
- Russian Blues are excellent for asthma and allergy sufferers because the cat has lower levels of Fel d 1, a type of glycoprotein that is implicated in cat-associated asthma and allergic reactions.
- This cat has a very long lifespan, often reaching 2 decades with a minimum of 15 years.
Things You Should Know
The Russian Blue is definitely a great cat to have in one’s home. But, the real question is whether you are prepared to take care of its exotic feline beauty or not.
One of the best things about the Russian Blue is that it is a generally healthy breed. The main reason for this is that it was never really an amalgamation of different breeds. It’s a naturally-occurring breed of cat that originated from the shores of Northern Russia and migrated to the shores of Scandinavia and the British Isles. It is this genetic soundness that has freed the Russian Blue from many of the diseases and illnesses that continue to plague cats that have mixed breed in them.
However, this doesn’t mean it is immune to all cat diseases already. There are still some health concerns such as intestinal parasitism, mites, and ticks as well as cat heartworm infestations. Perhaps one of the most pressing concerns is the tendency of this cat to grow obese. Pet parents love to pamper their Russian Blues and as such will often give them the freedom to devour their meals. Sadly, this can lead to feline obesity especially if you don’t exercise or even play with your kitty.
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Unlike dogs that can get some of their nutrition from vegetables and fruits, cats have to get majority of their nutrient requirements from meats, fishes, and other non-plant food sources. The reason is quite simple. Animal proteins have all the essential nutrients, especially amino acids that cats need.
Some may advocate the giving of plant-based proteins to cats, citing the possibility of supplementation with the right kind of nutrients and other substances that are grossly missing from plant food sources. Unfortunately, the issue is not just with the proteins found in plants, but rather the ability of cats to extract the nutrients from these ingredients. It is for this reason that a Russian Blue should always be given a high-animal protein, high-quality cat food.
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Caring for your Russian Blue starts with a veterinary checkup so that your vet will be able to establish baseline information about the health status of the kitty. Immunizations and other preventatives need to be administered at their recommended dosing schedules.
Russian Blues are very fastidious. They don’t like their surroundings dirty, especially their litter box. This should be cleaned at least twice weekly with daily scooping of dried-up or clumped litter.
They should be maintained indoors and be given cat toys and other playthings to keep them fully engaged. It is wise to keep in mind that the Russian Blue is a very rare breed of cat and can easily net tens of thousands of dollars in the black market. You don’t want it going outside, unless you can guarantee its safety by keeping an eye on it every time, all the time. If you cannot guarantee this, don’t tempt fate as there are plenty of cat-nappers out there who know if they’ve got a prized one or a simple local kitty.
The dense, silky-soft, and ultra-plush coat of the Russian Blue requires meticulous combing or brushing at least once a week. If you can brush it a lot more frequently, it will be so much better for the Russian Blue. Despite its dense coat, the Russian Blue doesn’t shed that much. And even if it does shed, it will not bring harm to a family with a known asthmatic member since this cat produces very low levels of an allergenic glycoprotein. Take note that the Russian Blue still produces the said allergen so it is still possible to trigger an allergic or asthmatic reaction in highly susceptible people.
Brushing its coat more frequently can help prevent the unnecessary shedding of dead skin cells onto various surfaces of your home. This can aid in the prevention of triggering an allergic reaction.
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Calm and with a very pleasant disposition, the Russian Blue can be a darling to its family and an enviable pet among strangers. It is sweet and affectionate especially to its loved ones, but is totally reserved when you’re just new in its life. Give it time and once the Russian Blue is already comfy with you, it can be your loving yet playful companion. It loves to chase laser lights, interactive cat toys, and other moving objects. Once it is in a playful mood, its owners will be the ones who will give up first because of the intense energy that this cat has.
Perhaps one of the things that endear people to the Russian Blue is its ability to be in touch with its owner’s mood. It can feign injury or sickness if it feels its owner is ignoring it. The Russian Blue will perform its crazy feline antics if it knows that its owner is depressed. If it hears the cry of a baby, the Russian Blue will let out its clownish self just to calm down the little one. And if it sees you crying or simply sad, expect the Russian Blue to go near you and pat your face with its paws as if telling you everything’s going to be alright.
Sadly, there’s one minor flaw in the Russian Blue’s temperament. It is skittish and very shy especially when in an unfamiliar environment or in the company of a stranger. They also hate change. They like things that are very predictable and uniform. These can be easily addressed with careful training and socialization. Good thing the Russian Blue is a smart cat. Training it shouldn’t be a problem.
If the cat of your dreams is one that is gentle, intelligent, graceful, and quiet, then the Russian Blue should fit right in. It’s the perfect kitty for the family that needs an elegant-looking cat with a colorful history and an even more remarkable temperament.