Russian Blue cats are among the most sought-after breeds among cat fanciers, and rare. They are viewed as one of the most elegant breeds due to their famous blue gray coats. The color is almost uniform within the breed and is prized for its tendency to shimmer. Each hair in the outercoat of this beautiful breed is tipped with silver, and that accounts for the soft silver sheen of the coat.
But Russian Blues are also adored for their affectionate nature, their playful intelligence, and their ability to become part of the family with ease. They are cats which thrive on routine, but they also enjoy chasing toys and sunbeams.
Their stunning beauty is equally matched by their quiet, polite natures. Though they can be take-charge cats, they can also be trained to play games or train their owners to play games with them.
The Russian Blue History
Russian Blues trace their history to the White Sea port town of Arkhangelsk. The town is located in the northern area of Russia, and some scholars believe that the northern location gives credibility to the story that Blues have thick fur coats which originally developed in the cold climate of that region. British Sailors carried Blue to Great Britain as early as 1860, and that is how they eventually became part of the public consciousness.
But, it is their graceful physical beauty and aristocratic temperament which made Blues famous. Their stunning green eyes and shimmery blue gray fur was something unusual, and cat fanciers everywhere came to appreciate their extremely elegant and unique appearance.
For a time, Russian Blues were under threat of extinction. But breeders in Europe, Great Britain, and eventually in the United States, rallied to ensure that Blues continued as a breed, using unique crossbreeding techniques which saved them.
Today, the stunning appearance of these thick-furred, intelligent cats has brought them world-wide attention, while their amiable nature has caused many to fall in love with them. For all the beloved Blues, their current and would-be owners, this list offers up some fascinating facts less known about them.
1. The siblings Snooch and Ebenezer are Russian Blue cats
They are the main characters in the webcomic Two Lumps, which tells all about their adventures from their point of view. The internet comic strip is written and drawn by Mel Hynes and James L. Grant. It first appeared in March 2004.
The intriguing Russian Blues communicate with tail twitches, facial expressions, and thought bubbles. Snooch is often described as the not very bright one, while his brother Ebenezer is usually described as the smart one.
Ebenezer often pretends to be an explorer-just like Indiana Jones. Ebenezer likes to think deeply and can become completely engrossed in mental mathematics. Though Snooch is clumsy and obese, he will defend his brother fearlessly.
The two cat characters are based on two real cats named Caramon and Raistlin who live with the authors of Two Lumps. The comic strip is updated on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It is drawn by hand and colored in grayscale.
Hynes is responsible for writing and Grant is responsible for the drawing for the themes which vary between story arcs and one-time gags. The Lumps are their perfect vehicles for expressing sardonic and intellectual jokes. The two artists are regular guests at ComicCon and other industry conventions.
2. The Russian Blue’s silvery colored fur is the result of an unusual genetic trait.
For this reason, the Russian Blue is not related to other blue cat breeds, such as the British Blue Shorthair, the Chartreux from France, or the Korat from Thailand. Though some think that these three breeds many have shared a common ancestor, the Russian Blue’s genetic make-up is quite different from the other breeds.
Russian Blues’ blue-gray coats result from a dilute gene, which is also responsible for black coats. The dilute gene creates the blue-gray color, but it is simply an expression of the black gene. The dilute genes are recessive.
Because some Russian Blues were bred with Siamese to strengthen breed for a period of time after World War II, the Siamese colorpoint genes do appear. When Russian Blues who carry the colorpoint genes are bred, they will have a litter of mixed colored kittens including white kittens with blue Siamese points on their ears, mask, paws and tails.
These are often called pointed Russians, but they are not considered purebred and cannot be registered or shown as a Russian Blue.
3. Bluestar is a Russian Blue cat in the Warriors series
Bluestar is a member of the StarClan, the fifth clan and spirit home of the cats warrior ancestors, in the Warrior series. She is described as strong, kind, wise, and beloved. She was six and a half years old when she died by drowning.
During her lifetime, she was a member of the ThunderClan and eventually rose to a leadership position within the clan. She appears many times throughout the series. In Warriors: The Ultimate Guide, which is the sixth book of the Field Guide arc, she introduces ThunderClan.
She describes the hunting attributes of the clan’s warriors and describes their territory. She has her own page in the guide, which tells her history. Her mother was Moonflower and her sister was Snowfur.
After both were murdered, Bluestar grieved over them. Though her eyes have been described as sky blue, her eyes are green on the cover for A Dangerous Path.
4. Russian Blue cats have double fur coats
Their fur grows in two short and thick layers called the topcoat and the undercoat. It’s the topcoat which makes their fur shiny and evenly blue. It is filled with blue colored guard hairs which have silver tips.
These add to their overall blue-gray sheen. The undercoat has the same length of hair as the topcoat, though the fur is downy soft. Their tails also have very light-colored stripes which are easier to see when they are close.
Though their coats are double, they don’t shed annually in huge amounts as dogs with double coats do. But, they do need to be brushed once or twice a week help to control the small amount of shedding they do have.
The Russian Blue doesn’t need to be brushed daily, though some may enjoy a gentle brushing periodically. Like all short-haired cats, they bathe themselves, and only need to be taken to a groomer for bathing if they happen to become particularly dirty.
5. Nyan Cat was inspired by a Russian Blue cat named Marty
It was 2011 when Nyan Cat became the famous 8-bit animated flying cat and Pop Tart hybrid. Chris Torres is the illustrator who created Nyan Cat; who flew through outer space with a rainbow wake trailing behind.
The Internet meme was part of a YouTube video which went viral, and the 25-year-old Torres became famous, as did his Russian Blue cat Marty. It all started when Torres was part of a Red Cross donation drive.
Torres had received requests to draw both a cat and a Pop Tart, so he drew a hybrid of both. Torres named his cat after the character in Back to the Future, Marty McFly. Torres was inspired by McFly and many of his comics were influenced by the character. Marty the cat inspired Nyan Cat and made history.
6. In Russian folklore, Russian Blues were considered good luck and healing charms
One legendary story is that a Russian Blue once healed a Russian prince who was sick. Another legend is that Russian Blues traveled around the world with Cossacks, riding on their horses.
They were thought to bring good luck to fellow travelers and to have the ability to heal. During the time that Russian Blues were considered to have the ability to cure people of various diseases, those who were powerful and rich enough to own one would give them a special spot to live in the same room with newborn babies.
It was thought that Russian Blues had the magical power to ward off evil spirits and keep away bad luck from babies.
7. Russian Blues must have a very clean litter box
These cats need a lot of consistency. They can be nervous when first moved to a new home but are more comfortable once they settle into a routine. They are easy to train to their own litter box, and rarely have accidents.
But they are known for their extremely fastidious behavior. They absolutely hate having a dirty litter box and will decide to eliminate elsewhere it the box is not kept clean to their liking. Because of their need for orderly lives, they can become depressed if their litter boxes are not kept clean. Some families with multiple Russian Blues make the decision to provide each cat with its own litter box.
8. Russian Blues adore playing fetch
Part of the reason they enjoy this game usually associated with dogs is that they are very playful. They like to jump and climb, so fetching gives them some of the activities they like best. They also love playing with feather toys. They are well-known for being intelligent and easy to train, too. They also like to train their owners to fetch.
When they are kittens, they need a combination of toys and playmates to keep them from becoming naughty when they are bored. They are very athletic and need plenty of exercise to keep them entertained. They can be trained to find toys which have been hidden because their memories are excellent.
9. Vadka belonged to the Emperor of Russia, Nicholas I, in 1850
Vadka held the distinguished place of being the first Russian Blue to be recognized as owned by royalty. It was during a time of Russian Nationalism when Russian culture and customs were enthusiastically promoted.
After Vadka, the breed became popular with the royal courts throughout Europe. By 1902, a pair of Russian Blues were given to Queen Victoria as a gift, and the breed became highly popular with the British aristocracy. Since the 8th Century, the elegant blue cats had been well known in both Russia and Northern Scandinavia.
10. Russian Blues have paws and eyes which are colored differently than other cat breeds
While most cats have gray, pink or black paw pads, Russian Blues have paw pads which are mauve or lavender. Their paws are color-coordinated with their fur coats. While most cats have yellow or orange eyes, or blue as is the case with most Siamese; Russian Blues have vivid green eyes.
They start out with yellow eyes as kittens, but buy the time they reach four months old, their pupils become surrounded by a bright green ring. Then, as they become more mature, their eyes become completely green. The process is quite fascinating to see. Ultimately, their green eyes almost shimmer like liquid.
11. Russian Blues should be kept indoors
There are a few reasons why breeders recommend that Russian Blues live inside. They are the product of generations of selective breeding and are often in short supply. Their distinctive blue color makes them perfect objects of desire for cat thieves.
Families often must wait longer for a Russian Blue to be ready for adoption. Many breeders keep kittens with their littermates and mother for three to four months so that they are old enough to have their full list of vaccinations, and to have time to become socialized.
They are highly desired cats and need the protection that living inside provides them. But owners must also be certain to have them spayed or neutered and provide scratching posts for them to enjoy.
12. Russian Blue cats are one of the most expensive cat breeds in the world
Priced at about $1,000 to $3,00 or more, its highly prized blue coat is a favorite among cat lovers. They are loved for both their beautiful coat of fur, but because they bond with their humans and are highly intelligent. In historical times, they were hunted for the thick coat of blue fur.
The hunters prized their coats as highly as they did the warm coats of other wild animals. In similar fashion, there was a time when the Russian Blue fur coats also commanded highest prices because of their warmth, but also because of their beautiful blue gray coloring.
13. Russian Blues were used to create other breeds
The Blues have been successfully crossbred with other breeds to create the Havana Brown. In the earliest breeding, English cat fanciers included a Siamese type of Russian Blue in the breeding process for creating the Havana Brown.
They were added to the planned breeding which took place with domestic black cats and traditional Siamese cats. Ultimately, none of the Russian Blue genes remained in the gene pool, and this was demonstrated with modern genetic testing. Russian Blues were also bred with long haired gray cats to modify the new breed called the Nebelung.
The Nebelung also have dense, silky blue-gray fur. Blues were also used to improve the health of the Oriental Shorthair in Italy. They have been bred with white domestic shorthaired cats to create Russian Whites.
They have also been bred with black domestic shorthaired cats to create Russian Blacks. These variations are recognized in the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa, but are not recognized as official by FIFe or CFA. The CFA (Cat Fanciers Association) did award a male Russian Blue the 1964 Grand Championship. His name was GC Maja Acre Igor II.
14. Russian Blues from Europe are often larger than those bred in the United States
That’s also the case in Australia and New Zealand, where Blues tend be smaller as well. The main reason is that breeders bred Blues with British Shorthair cats in Europe, and these are heavier and larger than the Siamese cats bred with Blues in the other countries. But due to the efforts of these dedicated breeders, the Russian Blues grew in numbers and became recognized as their own distinct breed.
15. Russian Blues have lived for 25 years
The natural breed is a healthy one, with a very long, life expectancy. Most live between 15 to 20 years. The breed doesn’t seem to have genetic problems, though some may develop bladder stones or have urinary track issues.
For owners, its important to know that a Russian Blue will become part of a family for a very long time. This means that the commitment is great, and because Russian Blues develop strong attachments to the humans they choose, being prepared to deal with their famous tendency to need routine feeding times and regular attention is important.
Russian Blues depend on regular schedules for their sanity. Their humans must be ready and willing to take on these requirements in a loving and caring way, as the elegant Russian Blue needs them.
16. The Russian Blue made its cat show debut in London in 1875
It was called the Archangel Cat, and it was judged together with a grouping of all the blue cats which were at the show that year. The breed was not known at the time, but its first outing at The Crystal Palace brought it into the public awareness.
By 1912, the Russian Blue was classified as “Foreign Blue” when presented during cat shows. The breed was almost extinct after World War I and World War II. Breeders in Great Britain and Sweden began an effort to save the breed by crossing Russian Blues with blue-point Siamese. In the United States, breeders began to import Russian Blues from Scandinavia and England.
They began breeding programs to strengthen the breed and continue it. The breeders were very successful, and today the Russian Blue is a recognized breed in all registries for purebred cats.
17. The Russian Blue is not completely hypoallergenic
The breed is registered as hypoallergenic, though, which means that people who have light to medium allergic conditions will be able to tolerate the breed more easily. Russian Blues produce less Fel d1 glykoprotein, which is one source which contributes to allergic reactions.
The thick coat of fur that is distinctive to Russian Blues helps to keep most of the allergens enclosed and therefore, closer to their skin. In essence, their heavy fur coats seal in the things which cause allergies and keeps them away from the noses of those who tend to suffer allergic reactions. It’s not a complete guarantee that they won’t be completely hypoallergenic; but much better than other cat breeds.
18. Russian Blues have only one recognized coat color
Their dense, shiny blue coat is the only coat color officially accepted by the Cat Fanciers Association. When breeders advertise colorpoint Blues for sale, they are selling cats which have resulted when the random gene for colorpoint Siamese makes its presence known.
It is a genetic difference which goes back to the time when breeders were breeding Russian Blues with Siamese to strengthen the Russian Blue breed after the two World Wars almost killed off most of the Russian Blues at that time.
With careful breeding, Russian Blues without the colorpoint Siamese gene emerged. Today, the Russian Blue is accepted around the world as an established breed,
19. The Russian Blue is most likely to be descended from the cats of the Russian Czars
Though its ancestral roots are difficult to trace, the breed most likely has its origins in the northwest area of Russia in the port town of Arkhangelski, where it was a common breed. The town on the Archangel Isles gave the breed the names Archangel Blue and Archangel Cat. It’s also said that the Russian Czars kept them as both pets and hunters of brown bears.
20. The Russian Blue is a shy cat
It’s one of the primary traits of the breed, which owners understand well. This breed can be very affectionate with its owner, gentle and playful. They can be independent, but they will become attached to their family.
They do well with other pets and children. Some owners say they do best with older children. But when strangers come to visit, then the Russian Blue will become very shy and often avoid visitors. They will either become very wary or they will run away and hide someplace where they feel safe.
You can also read:
- Tips for Finding a Reputable Russian Blue Breeder
- Before Choosing a Russian Blue Kitten, What Should you Be Looking For?
- 10 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Russian Blue
- A Complete Price Guide for the Russian Blue