History of the Russian Blue
The Russian Blue is a natural breed , it is not the result of crossings with other breeds.Russian Blues always lived at the Russian court and were favoured by the Csars and Russian aristocracy for their plush double coats which are sometimes compared to the coat of a beaver or seal. In particular Csar Peter 1st and his daughter Elisabeth loved the beautiful Russian Blue with its deservedly haughty air, but gentle soul. Csarina Katharina 2nd however preferred dogs to cats and started to give these beauties away to the foreign ambassadors as a present for their Principals, one of them became the favoured pet of the English Queen Victoria. This is how the Russian Blues spreaded to other courts and blue cats in general became known as royal cats. The thus exported Russian Blues have had a profound influence on the Maltese Blues, the Chartois Blue, the British Shorthair Blue and the Spanish Blue. They gave them their fine colour and muscular body but never the double dense coat.
Also some illegal ofspring of escaped cats from the Russian Court were smuggled to England on ships that left the Russian port on Archangel Isle, so common people called it the Archangel cat or the Foreign Blue. First shown in 1875 at the Crystal Palace in England as the Archangel Cat, the original Russian Blue competed in a class for all blue cats. In 1912 the Russian Blue was given a class of its own. but during the Second World War, the breed almost became extinct, being saved only by the outcrossing to Siamese. Eventually Breeders made a co-ordinated attempt to return to the pre-war characteristics of the breed, and in 1965 the show standard was changed to state specifically that Siamese type was undesirable in the Russian Blue. From its early origins until after World War II, English and Scandinavian breeders worked to develop the foundation bloodlines for the contemporary Russian Blue. Although Russians were imported to the United States as early as 1900, there is little recorded work with the breed in America until after World War II. American breeders combined the English bloodlines with their plush, silvery coats and Scandinavian bloodlines with their emerald green eyes and flat profiles to produce the Russian Blue we know today.
The Russian Blue has a double coat which is very different from any
other breed; it is short, thick and very fine, its density causes the
double-textured coat to stand out from the body. A clear, even blue
colour, with the silver tipping of the guard hairs giving the cat an
overall lustrous silvery sheen. The head is wedge shaped with a flat
skull, broad at eye level, nose of medium length, and a strong chin.
The prominent whisker pads are a distinctive feature of the Russian
Blue, and excitement or alarm causes them to "puff up".
The ears are large, wide-based and set vertically on the head. Eyes are wide set, almond in shape and a vivid green in colour. The Russian Blue has a build which is very muscular. The body is long and graceful in outline, with a long tapering tail, long legs and small oval feet.The overall impression of the Russian Blue is a powerful elegant cat with a long, well muscled body and graceful carriage. It is not a cat of extremes - neither fine or cobby, but gives the impression of strength. It can appear heavy because of the plushness of the coat. Arranges itself neatly and, when at ease, looks majestic. Russian females have a slightly finer, smaller build and a sweet, serene expression.
Living with Russian Blues
The Russian Blue is the aristocrat of cats due to its its elegant athletic appearance: its slender, muscular grace and its serpent-like stare. Nevertheless, Russian Blues are gentle, and affectionate; kittens as well as adults are playful lovemachines . Because they are quiet and clean, and they enjoy the comforts of a secure home, they make excellent pets. The silver tipping on each hair seems to make the cat himmer. The soft, velvety feel of the coat is also immediately distinguishing. "Handling a Russian Blue feels like running a silk scarf through your hands." Those who have a Russian and another breed of cat in the household, can tell with a single touch which cat jumped onto the bed in the middle of the night. Russian Blue cats are intelligent, quiet, and sensitive. They like to be clean, and they shed very little. They love to play with small toys around the house, and they enjoy jumping and climbing, but -- unlike some other playful breeds -- Russians are rarely destructive. Because they are intelligent, they can train their people to perform simple tasks such as throwing toys so that the Russians can retrieve them. They are agile, light-footed cats that may seem to fly around the house with the grace of a dancer.
Russian Blues easily bond with their people and are loyal to those
who love them - frequently following them from room to room to be
near them. They keep talking all day to you. Russians show their
affection in a variety of ways. Some enjoy leaping onto the shoulder
of their person and riding there. Other Russians are eager to butt
heads with their person.
They can live with dogs in the house and are then generally on top of them as a Russian considers the house its own palace and all others living there as staff.
Typically, Russian Blues are hearty, healthy cats, and with proper
diet, exercise, veterinary care, and affection, they are capable of
living well into their teens and beyond.
A Russian Blue is a good choice for the modern home because their undemanding nature fits perfectly into today's busy schedules. They will entertain themselves if left alone for the day and be a contented companion upon your return. The Russian requires a minimum of grooming with periodic nail clipping and a coat that can be kept looking good by frequent petting and an occasional combing.
But beyond appearances, the real pleasure of the Russian Blue is its unique personality which sets it apart from other cats and makes it an interesting, entertaining and affectionate companion to its owners and friends.
Russian Blue colour genes: wwaaBBdd
The Russian Blue is the end of the line in colour and markings selection. The effect of the ww, aa and dd recessives mean that Blue to Blue should always breed blues. Blues bred to blacks show a 50/50 blue black result and the resulting blues will again only breed blue cats bred to another blue.
Russian White colour genes: WWaaBBdd or WwaaBBdd
The Russian White carries a dominant white gene which masks all other colours. Therefore, under the white coat can be any other Russian colour: Blue, Tabby or Black. In white breeding 50% of the progency can be expected to be white.
Russian Black colour genes: wwaaBBDD or wwaaBBDd
The Russian black carries a dominant dilution gene 'D' (ie no dilution!). Russian blacks bred to blues produce only blues or blacks. In the rare event a black carries only DD genes then all progency would be black.
In the 60's, Mavis and Richard Jones, Myemgay Cattery, Sydney, Australia, learned of the Russian White. They have been credited with the first import of a Russian White however this original cat is often referred to simply as a domestic or "Siberian", (Siberian is also the name given to a different Russian breed), inviting misrepresentation. This cat was indeed imported from Russia via a government official but was not registered and therefore documented only as “domestic”. This original import displayed the Russian phenotype necessary and was initially taken as a pet from Russia due its local credibility.
Those interested in the reintroduction of the Russian White color to
the Western Russian Blue gene pool understood the white allele, W,
is dominant and produces a translucent all white coat.
The non-white allele, W, is recessive and allows full expression of coat, color, and pattern. It was fortunate that the first Russian White import masked the dominant Agouti allele (expressible as Tabby) and the dominant Maltesing allele (expressible as Black). With only one outcross the Russian Tabby and all four natural Russian colours could be realised.
Under a four generation program supervised by the RAS of NSW,
the Jones' white female was mated with a blue stud, and the best
progeny subsequently mated to different blues. White Russians were
accepted for registration in 1975. Black and Tabby Russians
appeared as a natural evolution in the breeding program.
Science and history embraced the validity of the Russian Black and Tabby when Australia completed the redevelopment of the natural Russian breed and recognised the Russian Group of four colours.
The Russian Black is an ebony beauty that is breathtaking to
behold. The Russian Blacks are a stunning breed and are most
prized for their soft, luxurious coat and brilliant emerald eyes.
Their coat is lustrous, plush and dense. The head of the Russian Black is broad and wedge shaped. The vivid green eyes are round and wide set. Their profile is relatively flat. Like the Russian Blues, the Russian Blacks also have the prominent whisker pads that give them the appearance of smiling. Their body is firmly muscled, but maintains much grace, as they are finely boned. Their graceful carriage and clean lines add to the already regal appearance of this stunning breed.
The Russian Black does not display the characteristic silver tipping of its blue counterpart, but the Russian Blue could not exist without the genetic contribution of the Russian Black. In all ways a Russian Blue is a Russian Black with only one variable, a gene which dilutes and disperses its black pigment.
In other words the Russian Black is a Russian Blue with a denser pigment distribution. Its sheer black coat plays upon the type and structure of the breed's lesser recognised characteristics, heightening the visibility and shine of its silk coat, emerald eyes and overall refinement.
The standard for Russian Whites is identical for Russian Blues, the only exception being for coat colour, which must be a brilliant, dazzling, pure white and soft as silk, with no hint of any discolouration. The Russian Whites have beautiful soft silky plush coats with an abundance of fine downy undercoat that is unique to the Russian cat.Their body is long and elegant and their eyes are almond shaped and brilliant green with a depth of expression.
As with the Russian Blue and Black, the whisker pads are prominent
and the Russian can "puff" his pads like no other cat. Ears are very
upright and large, giving them a very alert expression. When a white
kitten is born, it usually carries a smudge of colour between its ears,
which indicates the true colour hidden under the white coat.
Breeders also look for this as a reliable sign of good hearing. This little patch of colour disappears as the kitten matures to adulthood.
For more pictures and info on Russian Black and Russian White, click on the picture