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The Russian Blue is a cat breed that has a silver-blue coat. These cats are known to be highly intelligent and playful, but tend to be timid around strangers. They also develop close bonds with their human companions and are highly sought after due to their personalities and unique coat.
The Russian Blue is a naturally occurring breed that is believed to have originated in the port of Arkhangelsk, Russia. They are also sometimes called Archangel Blues. It is believed that the first Russian Blues were brought from the Archangel Isles to England and Northern Europe in the 1860s by sailors. The first recorded showing of the breed 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 Russia and Scandinavia until after World War II. Prior to this, 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 English Russian Blues. The Siamese traits have now been largely bred out. Unfortunately for breeders and showers, the short hair slate gray/blue color is often seen in random-breed (or non-specific domestic) cats.
Although they have been used on a limited basis to create other breeds (such as the Havana Brown) or add type to a breed in creation (the Nebelung), Russian Blues themselves are short-haired, blue-grey cats.
During the early 1970s, a solid white Russian Blue (called the Russian White) was created by the Australian breeder, Mavis Jones, through the crossing of a Russian Blue with a domestic white cat. By the late 1970s, the Russian White and Russian Black colors were accepted by cat fanciers in Australia as Russian cats (in different classes). However, in North America, the Cat Fanciers Association does not recognize either variation of the Russian Blue.
The Russian Blue has bright green eyes, two layers of short, thick fur, and a blue-gray coat. The color is a bluish-gray that is the dilute expression of the black gene. However as dilute genes are recessive ("b") and each parent will have a set of 2 recessive genes ("bb") two Russian Blues will always produce a blue cat. 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, has very dull, almost unnoticeable stripes. Only Russian Blues and the French Chartreux have this type of coat, which is described as thick and wonderfully soft to the touch. 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 faults 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 known for being a very intelligent, curious, and tranquil animal. They have been known to play fetch, and are sensitive to basic human emotions. They enjoy playing with a variety of toys and develop extremely loyal bonds to their loved ones. The Russian Blue is also known for getting along very well with other pets and children in a household. They are known also for being vocal and clean animals that are normally reserved around strangers, unless they are brought up in a very active household. They also love to play with other small pets, such as dogs and other cats.
Russian Blues have an average life expectancy of around 10-15 years, and have few health problems as they tend to have little to no genetic problems and are not prone to illness. They are a moderate-sized cat with an average weight of 8-15 pounds when full grown. Males will typically be larger than females. Their gestation period is approximately 65 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.