Russian Blue Breed Photo

Russian Blue

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

Russian Blue

height
  • 9–11 inches
weight
  • 7–12 pounds
life span
  • 15–20 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 than they truly are. Their soft, silky coats are a dark, charcoal gray shade tipped with light, shimmering silver. 

lazy russian blue cat lying on bed
As a naturally occurring breed native to Russia, Russian blues have a short but dense coat to keep them warm during snowy winters.
| Credit: Drazen_ / Getty

Because these cats shed lightly and have lower levels of known feline allergens, some pet owners consider them "hypoallergenic." 

"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, veterinarian at Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago.

So while there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic cat, some breeds, including the Russian blue, might be a better fit for some people with allergies. Before bringing home a Russian blue kitten, spend time with the breed to see how your allergies react.

One of the most interesting aspects of a Russian blue's appearance is her eyes, which change in hue from yellow to green over time. Like all kittens, Russian blue kittens are born with blue eyes. The blue fades to a light yellow or golden, then turns to yellow with a green ring around four months old and, finally, turns fully bright green in adulthood.

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

closeup of a russian blue cat with yellow eyes resting his head on his paw
Credit: Ludibarrs / Getty

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 can be cautious and shy, but are incredibly affectionate once they get acquainted with a new human. 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, including other cats and the family dog—and despite their affectionate nature, they are calm and not at all clingy. That said, while these sensitive lapcats enjoy being with their people, they can become uncomfortable or withdrawn around strangers.

russian blue lying in owners hands looking at the camera
Thought a Russian blue might first be shy around new people, a well-socialized kitty will always be down for scritches.
| Credit: Westend61 / Getty

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 love to play (so make sure to stock up on cat toys!) but they get calmer with age.

Living Needs

Russian blues absolutely prefer a familiar schedule and might not do well when confronted with new situations. 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 whom they've had a chance to warm up to.

Their 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. But remember: While Russian blues are fine to spend some time alone, they'll happily greet you at the door when you make it back and need plenty of attention to be happy.

russian blue cat sitting behind window curtain looking at camera
small russian blue kitten sitting on a white window ledge looking out the window
Left: Russian blues have a strong hunting instinct, so watching neighborhood squirrels from the window will be a favorite pastime. | Credit: Kevin C Moore / Getty
Right: Russian blues can fit well into most households, especially when they're introduced to new human and animal siblings as a kitten. | Credit: Cavan Images / Getty

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. Buy a cat tree (or two), some scratcher toys, and play with your Russian blue whenever she gets the zoomies. A tuckered-out Russian blue will happily spend a few hours curled up in your lap.  

Marks says Russian blues are avid hunters. So don't be surprised if your kitty spends most of her day in the window watching and chattering at passing birds and squirrels. And because of her prey drive, you might want to think twice before bringing home a pet parakeet or hamster.

Potential owners should also know Russian blues can be very finicky about hygiene, especially their litter box. Make sure to clean their litter boxes on a regular schedule so these cats can feel their best. 

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 hairs and keep shedding to a minimum. Regular nail trimming, eye, and ear cleaning are necessary as well.

Russian Blue cat lying down
Russian blue kittens are born with blue eyes that turn golden yellow. But as they enter adulthood, their eyes turn a distinctive green.
| Credit: Senchy / Getty

These pets don't need any special exercise regimen—like most cats, they'll work out a lot of energy themselves by playing and running around the house. 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."

russian blue cat standing on a wood bath catty on a clawfoot bathtub
Though Russian blues can be shy and like their alone time, don't be surprised if they follow you around when you come home from work—even during bath time!
| Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty

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 long 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 Russian blue breeders will screen for health issues in kittens, but it's important to have your cat 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, according to The Cat Fanciers' Association, and their signature short-but-thick coats were to protect them from those harsh winters.

gray cat looking up at camera
With their beautiful silvery-grey coat and big green eyes, it's easy to identify a Russian blue.
| Credit: Westend61 / Getty

According to the CFA, the Russian blue cat was a favorite of Russian czars, and today's breed is a descendant of those long-ago royal cats.

Russian blues were first exhibited in 1875, and the cats 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

  • Some consider Russian blues omens of good luck.
  • Russian blue cats have been compared to the iconic Mona Lisa, thanks to their smiling appearance.