The Russian Blue cat breed is named for their iconic “blue” coat, which is short, thick, and plush. They are both highly intelligent and quite docile and loving to family. A medium sized cat, the Russian Blue can be up to 12 pounds in weight, and tends to have fairly good health. There are two commonly recognized variants of Russian Blue, the European and the American. They are largely differentiated by their size and body type.
What’s In This Guide
Russian Blue FAQs
Our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about the Russian Blue.
- Are Russian Blue cats cuddly?
- Do Russian Blues make good family pets?
- Are Russian Blue cats really hypoallergenic?
- How much do Russian Blue cats cost?
Russian Blue Breed Review: Contents
- Where do Russian Blues come from?
- Russian Blue personality
- Russian Blue temperament
- Can Russian Blues go outside?
- How big are Russian Blues?
- Russian Blue colors
- Grooming your Russian Blue
- Russian Blue shedding
- Are Russian Blues hypoallergenic?
- Russian Blue health problems
- Russian Blue lifespan
- Caring for your Russian Blue
- Feeding your Russian Blue
- Are Russian Blues good pets?
- Russian Blue breeders
- Raising a Russian Blue kitten
- Rescuing a Russian Blue
- Popular Russian Blue breed mixes
What Is A Russian Blue?
The Russian Blue is a relatively rare breed, not as well known as many cat breeds. They have plush coats that run the range of shades from gray to blue to silver, and almond-shaped yellow or green eyes.
Once you have seen a Russian Blue cat, you won’t soon forget it!
Breeders have traced the lineage back to a feral line of blue cats that inhabited Russia in the 17th century.
Today, as a result of careful breeding, two distinct lines exist:
- The large and stocky European Russian Blue cat
- And the leaner, lithe American Russian Blue Cat
In addition, there is the better known short hair Russian Blue cat, and the long haired cousin, the Nebelung.
Of course, for you as a cat lover, it is all about the cuteness, and these wonderful, smart, loyal and loving cats have plenty of personality and affection to go around!
Russian Blue History
Just in case you aren’t already fascinated with the enigmatic Russian Blue cat breed, did you know their most famous nickname is “Archangel cat?”
This nickname arose not because of an otherworldly encounter, however, but because the first Russian Blue cats originated in the Russian port city of Archangel.
However, they were clearly born to travel. They quickly made their way to other areas around Europe, courtesy of sailors who doubtless gave them free passage in exchange for their services on the shipside “rat patrol.”
It is thought the first Russian Blue cats arrived in the U.K. around 1860.
The formal name comes, of course, from these cats’ ethereal gray-blue coat color with a silver effervescent shine.
This unusually lovely coat, combined with the breed’s naturally regal and elegant presentation and almond-shaped green eyes as an adult, has ensured the Russian Blue cat its own devoted following in the U.K., the U.S.A., and around the globe.
Russian Blue Personality
The Russian blue cat personality is equally as lovely as its appearance. These cats will become intensely bonded with their owners, often subtly following them around with what some owners describe as a sweet “smile” on their furry feline faces.
Some Russian Blue cat lovers even call this breed the “Mona Lisa” of cats for their enigmatic smiles.
Russian Blue cats are great “family cats” and can sometimes act more like people than felines – even learning to open and close doors on their own!
But they also love to play and jump and climb and just be a fun-loving cat.
The high intelligence of Russian Blue cats can sometimes manifest as shyness or extreme caution at first. But they are really just keen observers of their environment and social dynamics.
For this reason, your Russian Blue cat may not warm up to strangers (human or animal) instantly, but given a bit of time and patience, these sweet cats will welcome new pets and people into their life fully.
Russian Blue Temperament
Overall, the Russian blue cat temperament is described as docile, quiet and gentle.
While your Russian Blue cat won’t ever demand that you pay attention to him or pet him constantly, and may even be happy without a lot of physical contact, these cats really need your company and may grow quite lonely if left alone for long periods of time frequently.
So when you are going through the Russian blue cat adoption process, you may want to consider bringing home two Russian Blue kittens or cats instead of just one cat.
This isn’t necessary if you can provide lots of one-to-one time with your new kitten or cat, but can make for a much happier Russian Blue pet cat if you will be gone a lot!
Can Russian Blues Go Outside?
Russian Blues have very thick fur. So even if you live in a cold area, they are well suited for outside time.
However, because they tend to be quite attached to their humans and prefer to be around them, it’s likely that they would rather spend most of their time indoors around you!
Making the decision to allow your cat outdoors depends a great deal on your individual circumstances, such as the safety of your area.
To help you weigh the pros and cons of an outdoor cat, we suggest taking a look through this article.
Russian Blue Weight
A purebred Russian Blue cat can range in size from 8 to 12 pounds, or 3.5 to 5.5 kg.
This places the Russian Blue cat in the “medium sized cat breed” category.
Their structure will largely depend on which type of Russian Blue they are.
European or UK Russian Blues, which were outcrossed with British Blue cats, tend to be larger and stockier.
The American variant, developed to a standard set by the Cat Fanciers Association, tends to be lighter and leaner.
Russian Blue Colors And Coats
The traditional colors of a purebred Russian blue are quite uniform, according to the Cat Fanciers Association.
Purebred Russian Blue kittens have yellow eyes and may have what breeders like to call “ghost stripes” that are a lighter shade than the underlying grey-blue coat color.
The Russian Blue cat eye color changes from yellow to green when your kitten becomes an adult cat. Any kitten-esque stripes will fade into the elegant grey-blue-silver coat color of a full-grown purebred Russian Blue cat.
The litmus test comes at breeding time. If you breed two purebred Russian Blue cats, you will always get kittens with yellow eyes and the blue-grey coat, with or without temporary stripes.
Traditional Russian Blues have short, plush coats. The Russian Blue cat long hair breed is the Nebelung. This musical word is of German origin and it translates to mean “creature of the mist.”
While the Nebelung was initially classed as a semi-long haired Russian Blue in the 1980s, traditional Russian Blue breeders objected. The end result was that the Nebelung was later classed as a unique breed.
Other than the difference in length of coat, the Nebelung purebred cat line shares the same basic personality and temperament characteristics as its shorter-haired cousins.
Grooming Your Russian Blue
This breed has a short coat, so grooming won’t be a huge job.
Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to brush your cat on a regular basis, such as once a week. If possible, start while your cat is still a kitten in order to get him used to grooming.
Use a slicker brush to help loosen and remove shed hair. There shouldn’t be much, and we’ll discuss shedding in the next section.
Grooming is a perfect time to really bond with your pet. This is especially important considering the loving personality of the Russian Blue.
If you happen to have a Nebelung, this long haired Russian Blue cat will need at least semi-weekly to weekly brushing and grooming, especially in the spring when their new lighter-weight spring coat comes in.
Russian Blue Shedding
While some pet cats shed prolifically regardless of coat length (short or long), you won’t ever have this issue with a Russian Blue.
These cats rank “low” on the shedding list, in part due to their naturally short coats and in part to a personality that lends itself to meticulous personal grooming.
Remember that a regular brush down is probably the best way to cut down on shedding and on potential hairballs.
The Nebelung will shed a bit more noticeably than the short hair Russian Blue cat. But overall, it will still shed less than most other pet cat breeds with either short or long haired coats.
Are Russian Blues Hypoallergenic?
People often define “hypoallergenic” as “non-shedding.” But in truth, there is no such thing.
All cats shed. The difference is in how much. And the Russian Blue sheds less than many other breeds.
But that isn’t the only concern.
Contrary to what many allergy sufferers still believe, it isn’t actually cat hair that produces an allergy to cats. It is a protein called “Fel d 1” that causes all the trouble.
Luckily, not all cats produce sufficient quantities of this protein to cause the allergic response. In fact, the Russian Blue cat is known to produce less Fel d 1 protein than most other cat breeds.
So if you are worried about experiencing Russian blue cat allergies, you can rest easy.
Russian Blue Health Problems
The Russian Blue breed history suggests that this breed is remarkably free from inherited diseases and drug sensitivities.
However, these cats do have known and documented predispositions to the following diseases and health issues:
- Renal failure. Russian Blue cats have an increased risk estimated at double that of other cat breeds.
- Urolithiasis. The term “urolith” means “stone.” Urolithiasis is the development of crystalized mineral stones in the bladder, kidneys or urethra/ureter. Russian Blue cats have an increased risk for developing this condition.
- Overweight/obesity. Russian Blue cats have a known tendency to over-feed, which can in turn increase the risk for renal failure and urolithiasis as well as other weight-related health issues. (They are also known to beg for seconds at mealtimes, feigning genuine hunger to convince their owners to give them more food!)
There is no genetic test currently available to verify in advance an increased risk for the above Russian Blue cat health conditions.
Russian Blue Lifespan
The average pet cat can expect to live anywhere from 9 to 12 years depending on breed, care, and life circumstances.
Happily, the estimated Russian Blue cat lifespan is far longer than that. A Russian Blue cat’s typical lifespan is between 15 and 20 years old!
The Nebelung cat, the Russian blue cat long hair breed, has a lifespan between 15 and 18 years old, so it can live nearly as long as its short-haired cousin!
We can thank the general good health of the breed for that.
Caring For Your Russian Blue
Caring for your Russian Blue cat requires no special accommodations. In general, the Russian Blue cat breed is considered hardy, long-lived and sturdy.
The only special consideration to keep in mind on a daily basis is the breed’s general tendency towards weight gain, which means you should offer treats sparingly.
The Russian Blue cat is an eager gourmand who is not at all picky. This can cause your fur baby’s waistline to take on a life of its own if you don’t watch portion sizes closely.
You should definitely plan for a weekly coat brushing and teeth cleaning, which your cat will likely love, since these cats really enjoy affection and one-on-one time with you.
It is also important to change your Russian Blue’s litter box very frequently, since this breed can be very picky about entering a dirty litter box.
Also, the Russian Blue cat can startle easily and tends to get distressed with sudden changes. So your kitty will appreciate any effort you can make to minimize sudden loud noises and other unnecessary environment alterations. Especially true when it comes to your cat’s personal space.
Russian Blue Food
Often, the choice between wet and dry cat food really just depends on the owner, as well as on the cat. Some cats are picky eaters.
Not so much with the Russian Blue.
Because of this breed’s tendency to gain weight, however, it is definitely recommended to keep an eye on their food intake.
Consult your vet for help with determining the correct amount of food for your individual pet, if you have any questions.
Overall, wet food is generally considered a better option for cats who are prone to obesity. This is because many dry foods contain fillers that up the calorie count without providing necessary nutrition.
Are Russian Blues Good Pets?
Due to their overall good health and longevity, coupled with their sweet and loving personalities, we do recommend this breed as a family pet.
Keep in mind that Russian Blues are attached to their humans, and don’t do well on their own for long periods of time.
Russian Blues are generally hardy enough to handle being played with by children, and will remove themselves if they feel the play gets too rough. But we always recommend supervising small children with pets, especially kittens.
This breed may be a bit aloof at first if other pets are introduced to the household.
Russian Blue Breeders
Choosing a single Russian Blue kitten out of a whole litter of cute Russian Blue kittens certainly won’t be the easiest challenge you will ever face! If you are like most cat lovers, you’ll likely want to pick the whole litter!
These guidelines can help you select the Russian Blue kitten with the best potential to be healthy, active, well-adjusted, and happy in his new home with you:
- Select a Russian Blue cat breeder in your local area just in case there are any issues later. Ask your veterinarian or the local cat association for referrals.
- If at all possible, meet the kitten’s parents and verify their good health and pedigree before deciding to purchase from Russian blue cat breeders.
- Choose a kitten with bright clear eyes and ears. In particular, check carefully to be sure the kitten’s ears are free from mites.
- Pick a kitten with a shiny, healthy looking coat. Don’t worry if your new kitten’s coat has striped markings (called “ghost stripes” by some breeders) that look somewhat like a tabby cat. This is common in kittens and usually resolves in adulthood.
- Pick an active kitten who is playful and curious and engaged with you, his litter mates and his environment.
Be sure to handle the kitten you are considering and make sure he is comfortable and does not shy away from you in general or from making eye contact with you.
If he does shy away, this can mean he wasn’t handled enough by the breeder early on and may never get fully used to human company as an adult.
Russian Blue Kittens
You may be understandably curious to know, “How much is a Russian Blue cat when purchased from a breeder?
Much of the Russian Blue cat price, which typically ranges between $400 and $600 (U.S. dollars), reflects the relative rarity of the breed in comparison to other much more common cat breeds.
Before choosing a breeder, be sure to ask what is included with the initial price. If one breeder is charging a higher price than all the others, it is perfectly fine to ask why. Perhaps that breeder has a championship line, or they may be including more extras, such as vaccinations, in the total price.
Caring for a vulnerable kitten is a big responsibility. But there is plenty of help and advice out there! We have included a walkthrough here with pointers for choosing your kitten and bringing him home.
We also recommend the Happy Cat Handbook, as an all-in-one guide to cats from kittenhood on.
Preparing Your Home For A Russian Blue Kitten
The U.K.-based Russian Blue Breeders Association (RBBA) has outlined specific recommendations for bringing your Russian Blue kitten to her new forever home with you.
These recommendations will be helpful whether you are a Russian Blue kitten expert or a novice.
- Select a quiet room for your new kitten’s bed area. Make a plan to sequester any other household pets away from this room until your new kitten has been able to get settled in and is feeling more comfortable.
- Purchase a kitten bed that is warm and cozy and able to be washed and sterilized with ease frequently. You can also purchase some extra cozy blankets if you like.
- Purchase a water dish and food dish for your new Russian Blue kitten.
- Pre-arrange a meal schedule where your kitten will be fed regularly at least four times per day (whether this is done by you or another family member).
- Get diet recommendations in advance from your kitten’s breeder so you can purchase appropriate food.
- Assemble a selection of fun toys plus a scratching pad for your kitten’s use.
- Purchase a kitten comb and soft chamois cloth to assist your new kitten with personal grooming as needed.
- Purchase a kitten-friendly toothbrush (ask your veterinarian if you need recommendations).
- Call your veterinarian to schedule an initial health check-up for your new kitten – ideally on rehoming day or as close as is feasible.
- Fully “kitten proof” your home – even the areas you think your kitten will never go to!
Bringing Your Kitten Home
On “rehoming day,” we suggest following these steps.
- Be sure your Russian Blue kitten is at least 13 weeks old before taking her home.
- Check to be sure your Russian Blue kitten has completed her last series of vaccinations at least 7 full days prior to you taking her home. This waiting period is essential to be sure she is fully protected by the vaccines before being exposed to new environments and possibly other cats who have not been vaccinated.
- Obtain the vaccination certificate from the breeder. Check to be sure your kitten has been vaccinated for feline enteritis, “cat flu,” feline leukemia virus (optional), chlamydia (optional).
- Obtain a written kitten health guarantee from the breeder – this should cover at least the first few months of your kitten’s time with you (this is a MUST for your kitten’s safety and your sanity – if it is not provided readily, walk away from the sale!).
- Obtain the signed pedigree certificate from the breeder (if applicable).
- Receive the signed transfer slip from the breeder transferring ownership of the kitten from the breeder to you (if applicable).
- Obtain the registration of new kitten insurance from the breeder (if applicable).
Rescuing a Russian Blue
Finding Russian blue cats for rehoming is not as common as with many other breeds of cat. This is because the Russian Blue purebred line is still a rarer breed of cat overall.
It is far more likely that you might find a Russian Blue mix cat at a shelter, since an intact purebred Russian Blue male might have snuck out to make kittens with a feral intact mixed or different breed female here or there.
A shelter may advertise that they have a Russian Blue cat rescue available, but keep in mind that there are several cat breeds that can also feature grey-blue-silver fur and yellow-green eyes.
The only way to verify that the rescue kitty you are considering is a purebred Russian Blue is to receive a certificate from a purebred breeder.
But if your most important goal is to give a shelter kitty a lovely new home, and the certificate is not important to you, then you can just admire your new fur baby’s beautiful fur and go home to cuddle and enjoy life together!
For possible Russian Blue cat adoption, take a look at this organization. And if you know of any Russian Blue cat adoption societies, please let us know in the comments!
Pros And Cons Of Getting A Russian Blue
- Rare breed, may not be easy to find
- Russian Blue “lookalikes” may not be purebred
- Can be aloof with other pets at first
- Does not do well alone for long periods of time
- Longer lifespan means a bigger pet investment
- A good choice for allergy sufferers
- Not a loud-voiced cat
- Will want to be with you whenever possible!
- Generally very healthy
- Quite low maintenance
Should I Get A Russian Blue?
The Russian Blue purebred cat has a very distinct appearance and an equally distinct personality.
So if you have never been up close and personal with a Russian Blue kitten or cat before, it is always a great idea to spend some quality time getting to know this breed before deciding if the Russian Blue is “the cat” for you.
It is also a great idea to take a step back and look at your home life and environment as well as the amount of time you have to offer your new feline sidekick. Russian Blue cats will thrive in a relatively quiet home environment where they can enjoy a regular and consistent daily routine.
A Russian Blue pet cat will appreciate the companionship of another feline if you have to be out of the home a lot, but ideally the Russian Blue cat loves spending lots of time in your company.
Overall, the Russian Blue cat breed is known to be beautiful, intelligent, elegant, long-lived, healthy, non-demanding, quiet, and easy to care for. Best of all, the Russian Blue cat is one of the few hypoallergenic cats that many cat-allergic owners can keep safely.
If you do decide to bring home a Russian Blue cat, we would love to hear about your experience and why you chose this unique cat breed!
Please feel welcome to share your story with us in the comments section here!
References And Resources
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats. Wiley Blackwell
- Hawes et al. Factors Informing Outcomes for Older Cats and Dogs in Animal Shelters
- O’Neill et al. Longevity and mortality of cats attending primary care veterinary practices in England
- Russian Blue, Cat Fanciers Association
- The Three Types Of Russian, CFA Russian Blue Cats
- Nebelung standard, World Cat Federation
- Know Your Cat: Russian Blue, VCA Animal Hospital
- Anderson, K.P, “An Introduction to the Russian Blue,” Russian Blue Breeders Association, 2016.
- Turner, D.C., “The Domestic Cat: The Biology of Its Behaviour,” Cambridge University Press, 1998.
- Coughlin, D., “The best and worst cat breeds for allergy sufferers,” MSN, 2015.
- Bell, J., et al, “Veterinary Medical Guide to Dog and Cat Breeds,” CRC Press, 2012.
- Brown, VMD, PhD, DACVIM, S., et al, “Urolithiasis in Small Animals,” Merck Veterinary Manual, 2016.