Russia is known for creating things of beauty, from ballet to animations. The Russian people are people of heart, courage and kindness. However, there is one slice of knowledge that seems to have eluded the masses: Russian cat breeds. Indeed, not many know of these breeds and they should. The cats of Russia are unique, beautiful and known to be quite affectionate. Tough and hardy animals, many of these cats emerged from the wilds of a cold and unforgiving climate, making them long-lived, strong and healthy.
1. Mekong Bobtail: The Royal Cats of Russia
At first sight, the Mekong Bobtail can be mistaken for a Siamese cat. After all, it has similar coloring. However, upon closer examination there is one big difference: The tail. It seems that the Mekong Bobtail has what is called a “pom-pom” bobtail.
Even though the Mekong Bobtail originated in Thailand, it became known as the royal cat of Russia. This is because Nicholas II, the Tsar of Russia, received around 200 of these gorgeous felines as a gift from the King of Siam, Chulalongkorn. Since Russia continued to develop the breed via breeding, it’s considered a breed of Russia. However, up until the 1980s not much was known of the breed. But today, it’s a different story. Still considered rare, the Mekong Bobtail is quickly becoming a favorite among cat fanciers the world over.
This is a sweet-natured cat, one that simply adores its family. They share similar traits to the Siamese, one of which is loyalty to their owner. These cats are so easy going and smart that it’s quite possible to train them to do basic tasks. Last but not least, these athletic, gorgeous felines have a soft temperament which makes them good candidates for families with young children and other pets. Just so you are aware, this attractive cat is still considered ‘experimental’. This means that once you find a breeder willing to sell kittens, you’re looking to pay around $1,000 a pop for them.
2. Donskoy: Absolutely Adorable Hairless Cat from Russia
The Donskoy is a relatively new Russian cat breed with a simple but unique history. For you see, in the 1987 woman named Elena Kovaleva rescued a kitten which soon began to lose its fur. When the cat, Varvara, was old enough she crossed it with a plain, old neighborhood tom. The result was the Donskoy. A sweet, smart and lovable breed, the Donskoy is far from independent, meaning it enjoys a social life with its human family.
Also known by its other names, Don Sphinx or the Russian Hairless, the Donskoy is anything but a couch potato. No indeed, it seems that the opposite is the case. This cat retains many of its kitten traits well into adulthood. In other words, it wrestles with other family cats, climbs furniture and draperies. Lets just say with the Donskoy, be prepared to own a cat where being curious is number one on its to-do list.
Recognized as a breed by the World Cat Federation (WCF), purchasing one of these mischievous felines can be on the costly side. In fact, if you are considering one, know that you’ll have to part with $500 to $2,500 for one kitten/cat.
3. Russian Blue: A Beautiful, Loyal and Attentive Russian Cat Breed
The Russian Blue is a gorgeous cat. Their dense double coat has a deep, steel gray/blue coloring. Also known as the Archangel Blue, the ancestors of this feline were favorites of Russia’s 19th century Tsars. Looking into the glorious, soft green eyes of the Russian Blue, you’ll definitely notice a sweet and serene soul. Wary of strangers, this breed is considered among the most loyal of cat breeds once they cement a bond.
Athletic and quite intelligent, this cat will definitely need attention. This means be prepared to have plenty of cat toys littered about the place. So if you’re looking for an independent cat that will take care of itself, it may be a good idea to scout around for a different breed.
As for general, all-around care, the Russian Blue is pretty much a low maintenance cat. Grooming is minimal, all that’s needed is a basic cat comb/brush. One very cool thing about the Russian Blue is that it loves to communicate with its owners. To say this is a vocal cat just may be in understatement. Why? Because every time it wants something, whether dinner or attention, the Blue will let you know about it, and loudly. Finally, if you don’t want a “chunky monkey” kitty, don’t overfeed the Russian Blue. This is a breed that loves to chow down and can get chubby pretty fast, so keep cat treats to a minimum.
4. Peterbald: Whimsical, Anguishing and Eccentric
In 1994 a cat breeder named Olga Mironova took a Russian Donskoy and bred it with an Oriental Short hair. The result was the odd but lovely, Peterbald cat. Endearing and affectionate, the Peterbald is the perfect companion for those wanting a high energy, smart and loyal cat.
Since they’re hairless, you won’t have to worry about grooming or shedding. However, as they are hairless, it’s important to get the Peterbald used to wearing little shirts and/or sweaters. After all, we all know how much cats love warmth, so they’ll need some help in the colder months to stay warm. They are also considered a hypoallergenic breed. Even still if you have someone in your home allergic to cats, do a test run before committing to one.
Definitely not an introvert, the Peterbald will require attention from its owners. Playful, trainable and highly intelligent the Peterbald is the perfect addition to an active family. One adorable trait of the Peterbald is its curiosity. This means there’s a hefty chance that your Peterbald will be under your feet during the day. However, please alert family members that the Peterbald is not some tough tom. Indeed, it is quite fragile and any rough play should be avoided. If this breed captivates you, know that the going price of a Peterbald rangers from $1700-$3000.
5. Toybob: Adorable, Retaining its Beloved Kitten Traits Through Adulthood
Have you ever wished that you could find a cat breed that would stay a kitten its entire life? Well, if so you’re in luck. The Toybob may be just what you’re looking for. The Toybob is just that, a cat that stays a kitten as long as you have it, in both appearance and behavior.
As for their origin, in 1983, Rostov Russia, a woman named Elena Krasnichenko took in a stray cat with a bobbed tail and Siamese coloring. This cat was then bred to another bob tailed cat. They gave birth to a kitten called Kutcly. It was Kutcly which truly began the breed. Since then, the Toybob has been undergoing continuous refinement and development. An interesting fact is that the breeder who created the Peterbald, Olga Mironova, actually gave the breed the name “Toybob” in 1994.
Currently, the Toybob is growing into one of the more popular Russian cat breeds due to its kitten-like behavior, size and appearance. Their loyalty, playfulness and intelligence make them a great companion for families. They get along well with kids and other pets. Perfect for apartment life and a great friend for elderly members of your family.
6. Siberian and Neva Masquerade: The Same Breed Separated Only by Color
Charming and captivating, it’s believed that the medium-haired, triple-coated Siberian cat originated in the snowy regions of Russia. Also known as the Siberian Forest Cat, this endearing breed is a great companion cat. When a Siberian looks up at you with that sweet expression, it’s hard to refuse them anything.
Before we go any further, it’s time to address the Neva Masquerade. The Neva Masquerade is the exact same cat as the Siberian.The only difference is the color: The Neva Masquerade has the Siamese coloration. That’s the only difference between them. Essentially, they are the same breed.
While not loud like the Siamese, the Siberian’s do tend to vocalize. However, when they ‘talk’, they tend to have a softer tone of gentle mews and gurgles. Expect this cat to make fast friends with your acquaintances. Unlike many other breeds who run and hide when visitors arrive, the Siberian may very well join the party.
The Siberian scores well on the playfulness chart, meaning it’s a good choice for families with kids. As for maintenance, despite its medium-length, triple coat, they don’t require excessive grooming. When it comes to being tough, this cat can live up to it’s name. The Siberian comes from time-tested stock, where it needed to be strong to survive. Despite it’s beauty, affectionate nature and sweetness, this cat is a survivor. A hefty cat, the Siberian can weigh up to 26 pounds. The going price for one of these cats can range from $1,000 to $2,000.
7. The Kurilian Bobtail: Sturdy, Muscular, Athletic and Loyal
The Kurilian Bobtail is a muscular, long-lived cat. With a lifespan of 20 years or more, expect this playful, athletic and smart feline to be with you for quite some time. The Kurilian Bobtail gets its name from its place of origin, the Kuril Islands. Loved and respected by the island inhabitants due to their ability to manage rodent populations, the Kurilian cat has a solid history as a companion animal.
A favorite in among Russian cat breeds, the Kurilian Bobtail still hasn’t found its way to other countries. There are several traits which make this breed a fascinating one. First, they only have one litter per year and the male assists in raising the kittens. Second, when there are more than one Kurilian cat, they tend to hunt in packs much like wolves.
Known as a breed who tends to get along with other pets in the family, this loving breed is a great choice for the elderly, singles or families. Not as independent as other breeds, the Kurilian can even be trained to do simple tasks.
Accepted by the International Cat Association, the Kurilian has kept much of its natural instincts. In other words, it’s a good idea to keep any small animals away from the Kurilian. There’s no guarantee that their hunting instincts won’t kick in when they see the pet parakeet or guinea pig.
Since this breed is rare in the States, expect to pay a pretty penny for one if interested. In fact, less than 100 of them are registered in the U.S. According to Boo Bee Pets, the average cost can run you anywhere from $700 to $3000.
8. Ussuri: Extremely Rare Forest Cat of Russia
Originating in the Amur River area of Russia, the Ussuri is a rare breed of cat. As there is no current breeding program for these cats, it’s doubtful in some circles that this breed will survive. It’s a shame they are not being bred as some are gorgeous, favoring miniature snow leopards. Extremely tough, strong and athletic, the Ussuri is a breed that’s hardiness is due to it’s living conditions. Known as a wild forest cat, the Ussuri is quite smart and a great mouser.
However, despite being a forest cat, they are known to be affectionate with family members. Like some breeds of dog, this breed tends to be a one-person cat. Yet even with that one-person bond, they still prefer to be active, hunt or play rather than snuggle. Considering their desire to hunt, they are not good candidates for homes that have small animals as pets.
Regarding maintenance, they are a low maintenance breed. Brushing will only need to be done once or twice a week. It’s good to note that if you do have this breed or are considering it, they do love to chow down on the kibble but aren’t gluttons.
9. Ural Rex
Considered by many to be a hypoallergenic cat due to their curly coat, the Ural Rex is an absolute delight to have around. In fact, it’s the coat which attracts most to give this breed a second look. While there are some Ural Rex enthusiasts that believe the curly coat is completely natural with no mutation whatsoever, such is not the case. In fact, in 2020 researchers Manakhov, Andreeva and Rogaev found that the curly coat was due to a mutation of the Lipase H gene.
When it comes to interacting with people, the Ural Rex is affectionate. An interesting fact concerns the bond they have with their owner. Once they bond with someone, they are known to pick up on their owners emotional state. Once they pick up on the state their owner is in, they’ve been known to actually adapt to it. These are great cats for families and singles. However, due to their ability to adapt to their owners, this just might be the perfect breed for the elderly.
As for their overall health and well-being, the Ural Rex appears to be resistant to genetic diseases and if cared for properly, can have a long life.
10. Karelian Bobtail
In 1942 a Karelian cat became an the official mascot in the Russian Army. Just one look at one of these easygoing, gorgeous felines and you’ll see why. Originating in the Republic of Karelia, this bobtailed baby is quite a rare breed.
It’s hard to discern why this cat is so rare as its beauty and pleasant disposition alone should make it a popular companion. The Karelian is quick to adapt to new situations and gets along great with kids and other house pets. Less on the independent side and more on the extrovert side, this breed likes to pal around with its owners. It’s distinctive, kinked tail can get it confused with the Kurilian breed, but they are two very distinct cats.
As for maintenance, the Karelian is a low maintenance cat. It has no problem keeping its own fur clean and shiny, so only a quick brushing down once or twice a week will be necessary. A long-lived cat, they can live up to 18 years of age or more.