Russian Blue History

 

The origin of the Russian Blue breed is clouded.  There are many tales and legends of the Russian Blue. These tales range from that the Russian Blue cat is a descendant of the royal cat of the Russian czars; to that the cats are good health charms; to one of them being the favored pet of Queen Victoria.

Most believe that Russian Blue cats originated in the wild from Arkhangelsk (meaning archangel), a port on the White Sea in northwest Russia. This led the cats to be called archangel cats. An understandable description with their beautiful short, blue, silvered fur and emerald green eyes.

In the 1860s, the cats traveled from the Archangel Isles to northern Europe with sailors.  They were first shown in 1875 at the Crystal Palace show, in England. Initially they  competed in a general class of short-haired blue cats but in 1912 the Russian Blue was given a class designation of its own, the “Foreign Blue.”

The Second World War had a huge impact on cat breeding, and especially on the Russian Blue cats. It forced many breeders to stop breeding, or to set their cats free to live in the wild. By the time the war ended, the ‘official’ Russian Blue gene pool was too small to rebuild from. To recover and re-establish genetic diversity, some English breeders crossed in blue British Short-hair to guarantee the short, luxurious, coat.  Other breeders used the Blue Point Siamese; breeding cats with graceful bodies, long fine legs, and a distinctive head with its large ears and eyes. Scandinavian breeders used the Siamese and also a blue cat from Finland, creating cats with short, tight, dark coats and splendid, emerald, green eyes set perfectly in the triangular head.  Slowly the breed was re-built, although with two distinct ‘styles’ – the British and the Scandinavian.

Russian Blues came to America in the early 1900’s. American breeders started serious breeding programs to unite the characteristics of the English and Scandinavian bloodlines. The silver fur of the English cats merged with the green eyed, statuesque and flat profiled Scandinavian cats, which combined, make today’s Russian Blue. The breed is now pretty stable, and mating of two Russian Blues will produce a litter of beautiful Russian Blue kittens, shining with the characteristics of their ancestors.