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1 year old Russian Blue male (American style)
|Other names||Archangel Blue, Archangel Cat|
|Domestic cat (Felis catus)|
The Russian Blue is a cat breed that comes in colors varying from a light shimmering silver to a darker, slate grey. They develop close bonds with their human companions and are sought out as pets due to their personalities, beauty and coat. It is their short, dense coat which has been the hallmark of the Russian breed for more than a century. The dense coat stands out from the body and you can draw patterns in the coat that will stay until you smooth them out again.
The Russian Blue is a naturally occurring breed that may have originated in the port of Arkhangelsk, Russia. They are also sometimes called Archangel Blues. It is believed that sailors took Russian Blues from the Archangel Isles to Great Britain and Northern Europe in the 1860s. The first recorded appearance outside of Russia was in 1875 at the Crystal Palace in England, as the Archangel Cat. The Russian Blue competed in a class including all other blue cats until 1912, when it was given its own class.
The breed was developed mainly in England and Scandinavia until after World War II. Right after the war, a lack of numbers of Russian Blues led to cross breeding with the Siamese. Although Russian Blues were in America before the war, it was not until the post-war period that American breeders created the modern Russian Blue that is seen in the US today. This was done by combining the bloodlines of both the Scandinavian and British Russian Blues. The Siamese traits have now largely been bred out. The short hair and slate-gray/blue color is often seen in mixed-breed cats, which can affect breeders and showers due to mislabeling a cat as a Russian Blue.
Russian Blues are plush short-haired, shimmering pale blue-gray cats with emerald green eyes. Guard hairs are distinctly silver-tipped giving the cat a silvery sheen or lustrous appearance. They have been used on a limited basis to create other breeds (such as the Havana Brown) or alter existing breeds (such as the Nebelung). Currently they are being used in Italy as a way to make Oriental Shorthairs healthier and more robust called RUS4OSH in FIFe.
Russian Whites and Russian Blacks were created from crosses with domestic white cats which were allegedly imported from Russia. The first line was developed by Frances McLeod (Arctic) in the UK during the 1960s and the second line produced by Dick and Mavis Jones (Myemgay) in Australia in the 1970s. By the late 1970s, the Russian White and Russian Black colors were accepted by cat fanciers in Australia as well as in South Africa and now also in the United Kingdom as Russian cats (in different classes). However, the Cat Fanciers Association and FIFe does not recognize any variation of the Russian Blue. Due to the breeding with Siamese after WWII there are color-point genes floating around. If you breed 2 carriers together then you will get a litter of mixed colors - blue or white with blue-points like a Siamese.
The Russian Blue has bright green eyes, pinkish lavender or mauve paws, two layers of short thick fur, and a blue-grey coat. The color is a bluish-gray that is the dilute expression of the black gene. However, as dilute genes are recessive ("d") and each parent will have a set of two recessive genes ("dd") two non-CPC Russian Blues will always produce a blue cat. Due to the breeding with Siamese after WWII there are colorpoint genes floating around. If you breed 2 carriers together then you will get a litter of mixed colors - solid blue or white with blue like a Siamese. People call these CPC cats"colorpoint", "whites" or "pointed" Russians. In most registries you cannot register, breed or show a colorpoint Russian.The coat is known as a "double coat", with the undercoat being soft, downy, and equal in length to the guard hairs, which are an even blue with silver tips. The tail, however, may have a few very dull, almost unnoticeable stripes. The coat is described as thick, plush and soft to the touch. The feeling is like the softest velvet. The silver tips give the coat a shimmering appearance. Its eyes are almost always a dark and vivid green. Any white patches of fur or yellow eyes in adulthood are seen as flaws in show cats. Russian Blues should not be confused with British Blues (which are not a distinct breed, but rather a British Shorthair with a blue coat; the British Shorthair breed itself comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns), nor the Chartreux or Korat which are two other naturally occurring breeds of blue cats, although they have similar traits.
The Russian Blue is an intelligent, curious, and tranquil animal. They are known for their friendliness, smartness and are somewhat reserved. They have been known to play fetch, open doors, and are sensitive to human emotions. They enjoy playing with a variety of toys and develop loyal bonds to their loved ones and other family pets. They are generally considered to be a quiet breed but there are always exceptions. They are clean animals that are normally reserved around strangers, unless they are brought up in an active household. Many Russian Blues have been trained to do tricks. Russian Blues can also be fierce hunters, often catching rodents, birds, rabbits, and small mammals, or reptiles.
Growth and maturity
Russian Blues have an average life expectancy of around 10–20 years, some have even lived up to a maximum of 25 years, and have few health problems as they tend to have little to no genetic problems and are not prone to illness. However, inbreeding can cause them to have many health problems. They are a small to moderate-sized cats with an average weight of 2 to 7 kg (4.4 to 15.4 lb) when full grown. Males will typically be larger than females. Their gestation period is approximately 64 days.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Russian Blue may be better tolerated by individuals with mild to moderate allergies. There is speculation that the Russian Blue produces less glycoprotein Fel d 1, one source of cat allergies. The thicker coat may also trap more of the allergens closer to the cat's skin. Glycoprotein is one source of cat allergies, but this does not mean they are suitable to be homed with people allergic to cats; they will still cause the allergy to be affected, only to a lesser degree for short periods of time.
In popular culture
- Felicity, a character in the novel and film Felidae, was a Russian Blue.
- A Russian Blue kitten is a trained assassin in the Cats & Dogs film. According to audio commentary on the DVD, several kittens were used due to the kittens growing faster than the filming schedule.
- Eben and Snooch are Russian Blues in the comic Two Lumps.
- Nyan Cat was based on a Russian Blue cat named Marty
- Russian White, Black and Tabby
- Nebelung, a moderately-long haired breed which used the Russian Blue as an outcross.
- "Russian Blue". Breed Profiles. The Cat Fanciers' Association. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
Many believe the Russian Blue is a natural breed originating from the Archangel Isles in northern Russia, where the long winters developed a cat with a dense, plush coat. Rumors also abound that the Russian Blue breed descended from the cats kept by the Russian Czars. Assuming the Russian Blue did migrate from northern Russia, it was likely via ship to Great Britain and northern Europe in the mid 1860s.
- Alderton, David (1992). The Eyewitness Handbook of Cats. Dorling Kindersley. p. 182. ISBN 1-56458-070-9.
- "Is my cat a Russian Blue?". Russianblue.info. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
- "Allevamento YesWeCat gatti Siamesi e Orientali". Allevamento YesWeCat gatti Siamesi e Orientali. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
- "Russian Black & the Russian White in the UK". Russianblue.org.uk. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (2011). "Cats": 1–2.
- Helgren, J. Anne (12). "Rhapsody in Blue". Cat Magazine: 54, 4. Check date values in:
- Smith, Derek. "Russian Blue Life Expectancy". Russianbluelove.com. Retrieved 7 February 2015.