The Russian Blue
The Archangel Cat
The Russian blue has traits regarding aesthetics and character that result in an animal of elegant beauty and a rewarding companion. These animals, of long and muscled body, are thoroughly feline in their look and attitude, which provokes their owners' pleasure only by looking at them.
A little bit of history...
There are different theories about the breed origins, although there is no certainty about any of them. The most popular one has its origin back in the 17th century, when it is known that some blue coat cats more or less longhair, might have lived on the shores of the White Sea, in the port of Arkhangelsk region. In the 1869s, a British or Russian merchant vessel carried some of these cats to Great Britain, where they were shown, beginning in 1875, in London, under the name of "Archangel Cat".
Initially, the Russian Blue competed in cat shows as part of blue cats group. It was in 1912 that the Russian Blue competed for the first time as an independent breed, under the "Foreign Blue" class.
During the World War II, the breeding of Russian Blue came to a halt and the breed was about to disappear. Therefore, when the war ended, breeders chose to outcross them to other blue cats, as the British Shorthair or the blue point Siamese, in order to recover the breed. The goals were to keep the Russian Blue's thick, pale coat, long legs, distinctive profile, and large ears.
At the same time, in Finland, breeders also worked on saving the breed, resulting in a type of Russian Blue slightly different, with a bit darker coat, not so soft and dense, and with emerald green eyes, very glittering, well placed in triangular heads.
Physical characteristics and personality
The work of breeders in different geographical areas has led to slight differences in the type of Russian Blue, described normally in the standards of each organisation.
As for Fédération Internationale Féline (Fife), its standard defines the Russian Blue as a cat with long body, medium bone structure, lean and flexible, graceful in outline and carriage.
The most distinctive treats are the coat and the eyes. The Russian Blue is a cat with short and very fine hair, with double coat, hairs standing out a 45 degrees angle, creating the thick and dense look. In fact, these cats usually seem to be bigger than they really are due to their coat. The colour is blue-grey, with a distinct silver sheen that emphasises his musculature when light and the characteristic feline movement of the animal itself are combined.
Russian Blue's head is short and wedge-shaped, with the top of the skull long and flat, high and flat forehead, straight nose and strong chin, lined up with the tip of the nose in the same vertical plane. Forehead and nose form a convex angle at the same level as the eyebrows, with no stop, break or nose bump from here to the tip of the nose. The corners of their mouths are somewhat upturned, as if the cat were smiling, which gives them a characteristic expression.
The neck is long and straight, although it may seem shorter because of the effect of thick coat. Ears, broad-based and rather pointed, are triangular-shaped with blunt vertex; they are large and long, set wide apart, although set vertically to the head.
Legs are high and fine, with small and oval paws. The tail, broader at the base, is long and tapering to a point.
Full description of the physical characteristics of the Russian Blue according to Fife standard can be found here.
In addition to the aesthetics, other factor that determines the choice of a cat belonging to a particular breed is the personality related to that breed. And, which are the main characteristics of the Russian Blue personality?. Well, they are affectionate and empathic, although a bit timid with strangers. Even though they adapt perfectly to domestic life and coexistence with all the family members, including other pets and children, they usually establish a bond with a member in particular, to whom they will show their complete devotion. They will spend most of the day close to this person, watching every movement, being sensitive and responsive to this person's moods, and, in conclusion, loving this person above all.
His voice is soft and low. They do not like changes or noisy environments. In fact, this is a methodical cat, that appreciates the regularity of his owners' behaviour and, in general, in their daily life.
The Russian Blue is an entertaining and playful cat. They are excellent hunters, their natural instincts remain firmly intact, and they demonstrate it by stalking, chasing and jumping on their prey, whether they are real ones or it is their favourite toy. They are intelligent and curious, what makes them perfect cats for learning tricks, even by themselves, to their owner's surprise. And the best of all: when you share your life with them, not a day goes by that some "crazy idea" of them does not make you laugh.
Sources: Russian Blue Cats as Pets. Karola Brecht.
The World Encyclopaedia of cats. B. Brunetti, M. Magno, M. Cappelletti.
Russian Blue Standard. Fédératión Internacionale Féline.