Russian Blue

Russian blues are intelligent, loving, and loyal cats while preserving their independent streak. Learn more about this playful, pretty breed.
By Hilary Braaksma
September 09, 2020
Russian Blue
Coat Length
Pattern
Other Traits
Temperament
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Russian Blue

height
  • 9 to 11 inches
weight
  • 7 to 12 pounds
life span
  • 15 to 20 years
good with
  • children
  • seniors
  • dogs
  • cats
  • families
temperament
  • affectionate
  • neurotic
  • shy
intelligence
  • high
shedding amount
  • infrequent
playfulness
  • medium
activity level
  • calm
vocalness
  • frequent
coat length
  • short
colors
  • blue / gray
patterns
  • solid
other traits
  • hypoallergenic
  • easy to train
  • easy to groom
  • friendly toward humans
  • friendly toward other pets
  • tolerates being alone
  • high prey drive
  • high potential for weight gain
  • good for first-time pet owners
  • strong loyalty tendencies
  • good lap cat
  • tolerates being picked up

Russian blues are known for their thick, gorgeous blue-gray coat and bright eyes. These cats are sweet, loyal, and cautious animals who love having a routine.

A loving temperament, independent streak, and low grooming requirements make the Russian blue a great family pet. If you have the patience to socialize this shy kitty, you’ll gain an affectionate family member who is totally devoted to you.

The Russian blue is a fairly common breed, and kittens from a reputable breeder typically cost between $400–$600.

Appearance

Russian blues are medium-sized cats with plush, dense short coats of hair that stand out from their bodies and make them appear larger. Their soft, silky coats are a dark, charcoal gray shade tipped with light, shimmering silver. Because these cats shed lightly and have lower levels of known feline allergens, many pet owners consider them hypoallergenic.

One of the most interesting aspects of Russian blues’ appearances is their eyes, which change in hue from yellow to green over time. Russian blue kittens are born with light yellow or golden eyes, which turn to yellow with a green ring around four months old, and finally, turn fully bright green in adulthood.

These cats typically weigh 7–12 pounds and stand around 10 inches high.

Temperament 

Russian blues are sweet and loyal cats who love to follow their owners around and greet them at the door when they arrive. These pets are cautious and shy, but incredibly affectionate once they get acquainted. When Russian blues feel confident and comfortable in their new homes, they become playful, loving pets. They typically get along with kids and other animals—and despite their affectionate nature, they are calm and not at all clingy. That said, while these sensitive lap cats enjoy being with their people, they can become aggravated or withdrawn around strangers.

Russian blues can be very vocal, but are generally soft-spoken and will talk in quiet meows to let you know they need food, water, or attention. This breed is super smart, independent, active, and energetic. Russian blues are also good hunters who love to play, but they get calmer with age.

Living Needs

Russian blues absolutely prefer a familiar schedule and don’t do well with new faces. A calm, predictable living environment without frequent visitors is the best fit for these sensitive, shy cats.

Just because they’re wary of strangers doesn’t mean these cats don’t love company—they do! In fact, Russian blues are likely to be great fits with your family members and get along well with other pets and children who they’ve had a chance to warm up to.

An independent streak means these kitties are fine to be left alone for a while, so owners who work long hours or have active social lives outside of the home don’t need to worry. Russian blues are fine to spend some time alone, and they’ll happily greet you at the door when you make it back.

Because they’re highly intelligent, this breed needs physical and mental stimulation. They’ll appreciate having an abundance of toys to help them work out all that body and brain energy.

Potential owners should also know Russian blues can be very finicky about hygiene, especially their litter box. These cats need sparkling clean living environments to help them feel their best.

Additionally, “These cats produce very low levels of glycoprotein Fel d 1, which is the protein in cats that creates allergies in people,” says Natalie L. Marks, DVM, CVJ, Blum Animal Hospital, Chicago. “This breed is a great addition to families with a history of allergies.”

Care

Grooming needs for the Russian blue are pretty low maintenance. These cats require few baths and only weekly brushing to help rid them of loose shed hairs. Regular nail trimming, eye, and ear cleaning are necessary as well.

These pets don’t need any special exercise regimen—like most cats, they’ll work out a lot of energy themselves playing and running. You can help by leaving out some toys for your Russian blue to play with. “The Russian blue has a very strong innate drive to hunt, so a feather toy or fishing-pole toy is perfect to encourage physical and mental exercise,” Marks says.

The Russian blue is a smart breed, and they’re receptive to training. Teaching your cat to use a litter box and scratching post should be fairly easy, although lots of praise and petting are always helpful training tools.

“This breed is very vocal, loves having conversations back and forth with housemates or pet parents, but really thrives on routine and is not very adaptable to change,” Marks says. “Try to keep mealtimes and playtimes scheduled.”

Feed your Russian blue high-quality cat food and monitor food intake to help prevent obesity, which the breed is especially prone to. Check-in with your vet to know how much and how often to feed your cat.

Health

Russian blues have a lifespan of 15–20 years. These cats are generally healthy animals, thanks in large part to the fact that they are a naturally occurring breed.

“This breed loves to eat and may struggle with obesity,” Marks says. “They can develop progressive retinal atrophy (or PRA), which is a degenerative deterioration of the retina or vision center of the eye. Additionally, they can develop polycystic kidney disease (or PKD), in which the kidneys become full of fluid-filled spaces, obstructing them from working.”

Reputable breeders will screen for health issues in kittens, but it’s important to have them screened often into adulthood. Prioritize regular veterinarian visits for your Russian blue and take the advice of your cat’s vet.

History

Russian blues, unsurprisingly, hail from Russia. Some experts speculate that they are a natural breed that developed in the Archangel Isles in Northern Russia, and their signature thick coats were to protect them from those harsh winters.

It’s said the Russian blue cat was a favorite of Russian Czars of the past, and today’s breed is a descendant of those long-ago royal cats.

Russian blues were first exhibited in 1875, and were imported to the United States in the early 20th century. In the 1960s, the Russian blue began picking up in popularity, becoming the popular housecat known and loved today.

Fun Facts