Breeds

Russian Blue Cat: Care, Traits, Facts & More

Looking to learn more about the Russian Blue cat? We investigate where this breed came from, care, character traits, behavior and more in our comprehensive breed profile.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: July 19, 2022 | 19 min read

Russian Blue Cat Portrait while being stroked by Hand

Russian Blue cats are an elegant breed, known for their silvery gray to deep blue coats of plush fur. These cats have a striking appearance and very agreeable temperament. They are popular worldwide as pets, due to their docile temperament, and extremely soft fur.

This delightful kitty will steal the heart of anyone they meet, especially people who like to sit and cuddle cats. They are not pushy kitties and love to sit by and observe, rather than being the center of attention. This breed may be just perfect for your family.

There is a lot that goes into caring for a new kitty, every breed has unique traits and care. Along with that, all cats are individuals, and despite their breed will have behavior quirks, health issues, and care needs that may differ from other cats, even those of the same breed. We cover breed history, behavior, and care in our comprehensive breed profile. Let’s jump in and get to know the amazing Russian Blue cat.

Russian Blue Cat
    • weight iconWeight7 - 12 or more pounds
    • height iconHeight10 Inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan15 - 20 Years
    • color iconColorsBlue, Gray, Greyish Blue
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Exercise
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Kitten Costs

Breed History

Russian cat outdoors in autumn nature

The exact origins of the Russian Blue cat are unknown. This is a naturally occurring breed meaning they were not started by a specific breeder and happened naturally. This breed is native to Russia, and several theories surround its history. It is said the breed originated in northern Russia (near the Arctic Circle) on Arkhangelsk Island. Arkhangelsk translates to Archangel, giving this breed the alternative name of Archangel Blue.

One story suggests that the elegant breed is the modern descendants of beloved pets of Russian czars. Another school of thought believes these cats were feral felines who lived in the wild and often were hunted for their thick, dense coats. In the mid-1860s, the breed started appearing on ships and made its way to northern Europe and England.

One of the first noted appearances of the Russian Blue cat was in 1875 in an “Archangel Cat” exhibit at London’s Crystal Palace. Most early pedigree developments occurred in England and Scandinavia following World War II. The breed popped up in the United States in the early 1900s and was given its own competition classification in 1912. The breed was in the United States before the war, but the Archangel Blue became more popular after World War II.

For a time, breeders mixed the pedigree with crossbreeding with Siamese cats due to a low population of the Archangel Blue. Today’s Russian Blue has largely had all the Siamese traits bred out. Breeders also combined the British and Scandinavian bloodlines to all be encompassed under the same breed.

Russian Blues have consistently gained affection from cat lovers worldwide. This sleek feline is also known as the Archangel Blue, Archangel Cat, Foreign Blue, Nebelung, and the Maltese. Currently, they are the ninth most popular feline breed in the United States.

Personality & Temperament

Cute Blue Russian cat running in nature

The Archangel is a sweet, elegant cat with a reserved, quiet personality. They are affectionate and like people once they get to know them. This is not a breed known to be very clingy. They often seem aloof. It is not a kitty that will be waiting at the door to greet guests. In fact, he may try to avoid folks he does not know well. That does not mean these cats are not cuddly and affectionate; they reserve that for their special humans.

This breed has a reputation for being well-behaved. They do not like to push limits much. They love to explore and can be adventurous to the point where owners may want to kitty-proof small openings and places in the house they do not want curious felines getting into. Though they are shy, this breed is no dummy. This kitty is quite intelligent and clever, though known to be cautious around new people and situations.

The Archangel is a friendly feline that generally gets along reasonably well with children and other household pets. This breed is known to do well with other cats and dogs after proper training. Because they are a breed known to be shy, they may do better in homes with older children rather than babies and young toddlers. It can take them some time to warm up to people and other animals, so do not get discouraged if a Russian Blue does not seem interested in getting to know someone new right away. These cats will approach new visitors, both animals, and humans, in their own time on their own terms.

Russian Blues are extremely intelligent cats and have an independent streak. They are also born hunters who are happy to spend a good portion of the day staring out the window and chattering at the wildlife that passes by. While these kitties do very well with other pets like cats and dogs, owners should be incredibly cautious with animals like hamsters, lizards, and birds. This kitty’s high prey drive means they are likely to stalk and go after pets kept in enclosures, so owners will want to ensure that these are always closed securely.

Despite being a bit shy, these cats are pretty playful. While they retain a calm demeanor even while playing, these kitties are easily trainable and love to play games. These kitties are smart enough to understand games like fetch, and owners with enough patience can teach them how to walk around on leashes. This can be a delightful activity for a cat such as the Maltese, one that is highly intelligent and curious. Walking on a leash is also an effective way to allow them to get outside and hunt a bit while keeping them out of trouble.

Appearance

The name Russian Blue indicates that this cat breed has a range of blue-hued coats. Their coats come in a range of gray and bluish colors that can range from a deep Gray to a light silverish color. All true Archangel Blues have green eyes and pink to lavender-colored paws. Their eyes are large, round, and wide-set. This breed is born with blue eyes that change to yellow. Eventually, this yellow turns into a rich emerald green when they are fully developed. This is a unique feature as most felines are born with light blue eyes that will darken with age, often turning brown. Russian Blue’s eyes tend to start turning from yellow to blue around four months of age. During this time, they will have the very unusual coloring of yellow-rimmed eyes with green centers.

The Archangel cat has large, pointed ears that are widely spaced out on their heads. They have long, graceful necks, wedge-shaped heads, and flat skulls. They are medium-sized, muscular cats with a fine bone structure. This breed has what has been referred to as a “Mona Lisa smile,” the corners of their mouth turn up slightly, giving them a constant half-smiling expression like the famed painting.

Size

Archangel Blues are fine-boned with long muscular bodies. They are not a large breed. Females will reach 7 to 10 pounds fully grown, and males range about 10 to 12 pounds on average. Some will reach around 15 pounds. Males will be larger and more muscular than females. This is a feline known for a love of food, so obesity runs high with this breed. While there may be many Russian Blues larger than 15 pounds, naturally, this breed is a medium-sized cat that ranges from about 10 to 12 pounds fully grown.

They stand about 10 inches tall as adults. Not counting the tail, the Russian Blue is about 15 to 18 inches in length. This breed is known for having delicate slender legs and petite rounded paws. Their tails are medium to long.

Many people confuse the Russian Blue for other blue feline breeds. They are most often mixed up with the British Blue or the Chartreux. One way to tell these felines apart is that British Blues have gold copper or blue-green eyes, and the Chartreux has orange. Russian Blues have yellow eyes when young, and most have bright green eyes as adults though some may have grayish-blue eyes. Maltese have longer bodies than the other two breeds and are more active and limber.

Coat & Colors

The Maltese, as this breed is also called, has a thick double coat of dense plush fur. A soft, supple undercoat is adorned with a plush outer coat with silver tips. Their coats are a range of bluish-gray with silver-tipped hair making them shimmery. This is a short-haired breed, though a long-haired version called the Nebelung does exist. Their fur has been compared to the softness of velvet. It is incredibly luscious and smooth. Their coats have been described as similar to that of a beaver’s pelt or the soft coat of a silky seal.

Maltese have solid-colored coats that range and color from a deep bluish-gray to a light silver or slate. The blue fur is a diluted version of black. The gene that creates their silvery-blue coats is a variation of the black hair gene. Registered Russian Blues are only registered as blue and short-haired. The very selective breeding and pedigree have allowed only blue short-haired cats to create the unique appearance of the Archangel cat. Different breeders will select certain shades and hues to breed for.

Kittens of this breed are sometimes born with what is called ghost stripes, a trait of the tabby gene. However, these markings usually will fade into a solid-colored coat as the kitty matures. In some places, including New Zealand and Australia, this breed comes in a broader range of colors, including tabby, white, and black, along with bluish-gray. These cats are simply called Russians. Black Russian cats are recognized by the American Cat Fanciers’ Association. Black Russians were first created in 1971 and share all the same physical characteristics as the Russian Blue, other than the jet-black coat color. They share the same striking yellow to bright emerald-colored eyes.

Shedding & Hypoallergenic

Cat being brushed on the head

Surprisingly, the Russian Blue is a feline that does not shed very much, despite having such a thick double coat. Like all feline breeds, they shed a little bit of hair regularly and experience a thicker, heavier shed twice a year as the seasons change from warm to cold and back again.

These cats are often labeled as hypoallergenic. To be clear, truly hypoallergenic felines do not exist, as all cats produce some level of the allergy-inducing protein Fel d 1. However, Archangel Blues produce lower levels of this protein than many other feline breeds. That means that less of this protein, which is spread through saliva, dander, and urine, is exposed to owners. For cat lovers who suffer from feline allergies, this can be a terrific choice of breed. It is always advisable to spend time with a specific breed before adopting one if allergies are a concern. Keep in mind that everyone has a different level of sensitivity to the allergy-provoking protein, so one person may have a stronger reaction to a specific cat than another.

Grooming

This cat will need grooming at least twice a week, if not every day. Their coats are incredibly dense and need regular removal of excess hair, dirt, and other debris. This regular grooming also keeps their natural oils distributed throughout their coats and skin.

When grooming this breed, it is imperative to have the best cat brushes. A high-quality wire tooth or metal comb works very well. A slicker brush or fine-tooth plastic comb that is very sturdy can also work well. It may also be handy to keep a de-shedding tool around, which helps keep a cat’s coat free of excess hair and does so in a pain-free way. Maltese are exceptionally good about self-grooming, and regular brushing by their owners should keep them clean most of the time.

Occasional bathing may be necessary every few months. When bathing a feline, makes sure to always use feline products and not human products, as felines can be allergic to them.

During grooming, owners should take the opportunity to inspect their cat’s skin and body for any cuts, sores, pests, or excess shedding. It is also an excellent time to work on nail trimming and dental health. These two areas are often overlooked or avoided, partly because they can be challenging. Yes, we have brushed a cat’s teeth and can tell you it is no small task. However, practice makes perfect. Dental disease is widespread among felines. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, more than half of all cats over the age of three years old have had a form of dental disease. Periodontal disease is quite common and starts with inflammation of the gums called gingivitis. Eventually, this can lead to tooth loss and pain if not treated.

Care

The Archangel is a cat that needs a lot of TLC but is not as clingy or needy as some other breeds. This breed has an independent streak, which has both advantages and disadvantages. Though they love being outdoors, it is best to keep this breed as an indoor-only feline, with the occasional excursion outside on a leash. When left as outdoor only cats, they are at risk of disease, attack by other outdoor animals and wildlife, and risk of injury by people and cars.

Russian Blues are one feline breed that does not mind being left home alone during the day. They are pretty agile, limber, and graceful and are not known to be very destructive when left alone. These cats are thrilled to nap in the sun and spend hours a day peeking outside and exploring the nooks and crannies of the house. They are particular about routine and do not take sudden change very well, so it is always best to gradually introduce new things such as pets and new people to these cats. They might even be wary of new furniture.

This breed does well with children, though they prefer quiet, calm environments best. For owners with small children who want to bring an Archangel into the fold, it is best to get a young kitten so they can be accustomed to children, noise, and other animals from a very young age. These cats can take their time to develop a trusting relationship with both people and animals but are quite loving and affectionate once they do.

Archangels need access to regular physical activity and play every single day. Make sure they have things to climb on like cat towers and tunnels, as well as plenty of toys and entertainment. Like other highly intelligent breeds of cats, they can get destructive and exhibit unruly behavior if bored, especially cats left home alone during the day. Because of their small to medium size, dexterity, and keen intelligence, these kiddos can get into some remarkably interesting places. It is not unusual to find them in dresser drawers, food pantries, and even inside backpacks. Owners need to ensure that they kitty-proof areas of their home they do not want a Russian Blue to explore because if there is a way in, this cool cat will find it.

One key thing to remember about the Russian Blue cat is that they are extremely meticulous about their living areas and litter boxes being clean. Owners should clean these kitties’ litter boxes at least once or twice daily. They are very fussy about this and may start to exhibit some very strange behavior if their litter box area is dirty. It is a good idea to have more than one litter box, even if it is a one-cat household. Do not keep food and litter near each other.

Nutrition

Russian Blue Cat eating canned catfood on table

Domestic cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat to develop properly and remain healthy. Cat food should include high-quality animal protein such as turkey, chicken, seafood, fish, and beef. Their diet should consist of high-quality well, balanced dry food, and wet food. For many reasons, it is particularly important to include wet food in this kitty’s diet. It is high in animal protein and adds moisture to a feline’s diet. It is quite easy for felines to get dehydrated, so wet food provides essential moisture. This breed is extremely susceptible to polycystic kidney disease. Feeding them wet food helps prevent this profoundly serious condition.

Avoid generic cat foods. These foods, especially dry kibble, use fillers, added ingredients, animal by-products, preservatives, and chemicals. Fresh, whole ingredient, natural premium cat food varieties are best. Some owners may want to feed their kitty a raw food diet, which can significantly benefit them. However, raw food diets must be done under the guidance of a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. It is quite easy to feed them an unbalanced diet; even well-meaning owners can make a mistake here. Many people are big supporters of a raw food diet for felines. However, always discuss any dietary changes with your veterinarian first.

Archangel Blues are allergic to several different foods and can get quite ill if consumed. These include all dairy products, corn, soy, and gluten. It is best to prevent an Archangel from eating foods containing these ingredients. Foods high in Omega-3 and Omega 6 fatty acids can help prevent cat allergies and contribute essential compounds that support skin and coat health.

A cat’s diet is directly related to its overall health, long-term health, and appearance. A high-quality, well-balanced diet will support them, allow for healthy development, provide for long life, and keep the Archangel cat looking as beautiful as possible.

Training

Training is significantly important for this feline. An Archangel cat should start training as soon as possible, even if just brought home at eight or nine weeks old. This will help them learn proper behaviors right away, but also things that will help them survive, like where food is and what areas are safe for them to go. They should be socialized with other animals and people as young as possible. This kitty is known to be extremely shy and reserved, so exposure at an early age to other animals and children in the home will help them learn to tolerate and interact appropriately. These are not aggressive cats. However, they do have high prey drives, so they must be given firm boundaries when it comes to smaller pets in the house, particularly rodents, birds, and reptiles.

All cats, regardless of the breed, should be trained in some basic behaviors so they can coexist peacefully with other humans and furry family members.

Common Training For Cats

  1. Do not bite people
  2. No scratching on walls or furniture
  3. Proper litter box/ house training
  4. Not to play on furniture
  5. Do not attack or chase other pets
  6. Standard commands like no, sit, come, and stay
  7. Training to tolerate bathing and grooming
  8. Tricks and games like fetch, hide and seek, finding lost things, and walking on a leash

These kitties will respond very well to positive behavior reinforcement and things like toys, cuddles, and treats. Using these rewards, they can be trained to behave well around people when left alone and know boundaries around other animals and visitors in the home.

Health & Lifespan

Russian blue kitten is resting on the rug in the living room. Calm relaxed mood. Morning of the cat.

The Archangel is known to be a highly healthy cat, as are most naturally occurring feline breeds. They love to eat and are prone to overeating, meaning that this feline has an elevated risk for obesity. Many serious health concerns come with being overweight, including the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Besides being prone to overeating and obesity, he is also highly susceptible to urinary tract issues. This includes bladder stones and polycystic kidney disease. Some pet owners may want to consider pet insurance if they own one of these breeds, as treatments for urinary tract issues can be pretty expensive. In some cases, these cats will need to eat a special prescription diet which will cost significantly more than commercial cat food brands.

This breed may also develop an eye condition called progressive retinal atrophy. This is a degenerative condition of the eye. Most reputable breeders will screen for serious health concerns for hereditary and degenerative diseases. Always ask the breeder to see these chests and statistics before adopting or purchasing a Maltese or mix.

Russian Blue cats have an exceptionally long lifespan, on average, 15 to 20 years old. Many live to be 18 years or so. With high-quality nutrition, proper care, and regular veterinary visits, this breed can live an exceptionally long time. Because of this, it is a great breed to get when children are young as they will grow up with them and be around for a very long time.

Price

This breed can vary in price. Price will often depend on pedigree and bloodline. High-quality pedigrees from incredibly famous breeders or bloodlines can cost anywhere from $1,500 to over $3,000. Archangel kittens from other breeders may cost less, ranging from about $700 or $800 to about $1,200 or more. Companion quality kittens may even be found in the $500 to $600 price range. Competition quality bloodlines and pedigree will cost much more. These kitties may show up in shelters and rescues. These kitties will cost much less; some can be adopted anywhere from $25 to about $100.

There are several Russian Blue cat breeders throughout the United States and worldwide. Several who have signed and agreed to The International Cat Association’s breeder code of ethics can be found here. However, potential cat owners should always do diligent research before purchasing any kittens. High-quality breeders will readily have information on health screenings, bloodlines, and previous litters and be willing to answer questions.

Reputable breeders should have no trouble allowing potential owners to see their facilities and answer any questions that come up. Good breeders will also offer a guarantee on their cats and ask for an agreement to return the kitten to them should an adoption situation not work out.

Rescues and shelters can be found locally or through the National Animal Humane Society. Veterinarians and city animal shelters are always great places to start looking for cats that need homes. Older cats often end up in shelters when they develop health conditions or are simply too much for an owner to handle. Adopting an older feline may be an option for someone who does not want to raise a kitten but is looking for the solid companionship of the Archangel Blue.

Mixes

Russian Blues are a naturally occurring cat breed, so they already have a diverse mix of feline genetics. It is pretty common to find this breed mixed with others, both naturally and on purpose. The breed was often mixed with Siamese cats in the mid-1900s when the population of purebred Archangels dwindled. It can be mixed with many other breeds to create exquisite-looking loyal, intelligent feline companions. Many people prefer the purebred Russian Blue.

The Russian Blue Siamese mix is a gorgeous mix that makes an excellent feline companion. Though both are common breeds, there are not a lot of breeders that specialize in this specific mix. They may be hard to find, and owners looking for this specific mixed breed may have to wait a considerable time before finding one. They can occur naturally and make for a highly intelligent, affectionate kitty with an incredibly unique and striking look. These kiddos are medium-sized cats, males will be larger. These cats have a silver to blue colored coat with color point markings like the Siamese kitty.

A Russian Blue Maine Coon is an exquisite and elusive feline that fans worldwide would go to great lengths to have. This is one of the rarest mixed breeds to find but one of the most strikingly beautiful. One will never forget crossing paths with a Russian Blue Maine Coon mix. This crossbreed is not often done on purpose, though it can occur naturally as well. They are not as large as the portly Maine Coon, but still muscular, athletic kiddos full of spunk and highly intelligent.

Ragdolls are lovable felines known for their habit of going completely limp in their owners’ arms. Mixing one of these adorable furballs with the elegant Russian Blue creates a furry, dense kitty. They may or may not exhibit the trait of going limp in their owner’s arms but are still delightful cats to have around. These kitties are sometimes called Russian Ragolls or Blue Ragdolls. As with many other Russian Blue Cross breeds, it may be hard to find this specific mix, as breeders do not often purposefully blend the two. However, many of these mixes happen naturally, and it is common to find mixed-breed Maltese in shelters and rescues.

As Family Pets

Russian Blue Cat licking paw

An Archangel Blue will make a particularly good feline addition to the right family. They love people but are not constantly in search of human attention. This breed will form intensely close bonds with their specific humans, though it may take some time to warm up to anyone. They are quite intelligent, though they often prefer to sit back and watch rather than be involved in high-volume and busy activities. When they do form a trusting bond with humans and other animals, they are fiercely loyal, loving, and seek out attention. These kiddos are not very vocal but let their opinions be known when needed.

This is an extremely sweet kitty, which is easy to train, loves to cuddle, but does not mind being left to fend for themselves for a while. They make fantastic family pets with proper care, training, and patient owners. In homes with young children, they should be introduced as young kittens if possible. When introducing an Archangel Blue to a new household, owners need to be patient and allow cats to become comfortable with their new homes and new family members on their own time.

Fun Facts

  1. One of the most famous Russian Blues is the lovable cartoon troublemaker Tom Cat from the famous classic cartoon Tom & Jerry. Other famous Russian Blue kitties include Felicity from the film and novel Felidae, the character Arlene in Garfield, and the trained assassin in the film Cats & Dogs. Additionally, the Nyan cat meme was inspired by a Russian Blue named Marty, who unfortunately passed away in 2012.
  2. These felines have such lush double coats that it is possible to draw a pattern in them as one pets them. Because of the dense structure of their coats, this pattern will stay until they are brushed or petted out.
  3. Russian Blues are thought to be somewhat of a good luck charm. In some folklore, they are mentioned as being used as guardians of newborn babies warding off otherworldly evil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Russian Blue cats hypoallergenic?

Yes, Russian Blue cats are hypoallergenic. Despite their dense double-layered coats of thick hair, this breed is considered one of the least allergy-triggering breeds of feline. This breed does not shed very much and produces less of the allergen-provoking glycoprotein produced and spreads through dander, saliva, and urine.

Are Russian Blue cats rare?

Russian Blue cats are not rare, but it can be hard to find champion bloodlines. Russian Blue mixes are often harder to find than purebred. This breed is growing in popularity, and there are several breeders spread throughout the United States.

Why are Russian Blue cats so expensive?

Russian Blues can be expensive depending on bloodline and pedigree. Cats that are descended from champions and very old bloodlines will cost more. Breeder fees cover care, genetic and health testing, and more. Companion animals will cost less than those intended for show or breeding purposes. Though some can have an extremely high price tag, this breed is reasonably priced for companion cats. They can also often be found in shelters and rescues, making them more affordable than when purchased from a breeder.

Are Russian Blue cats mean?

No, Russian Blue cats are not mean. They are incredibly affectionate, loyal, and intelligent felines. This kitty is known for being extremely shy and timid, especially around new people and situations. This kiddo takes a long time to trust people and may give off an air of being uninterested or meat. However, most kitties of this breed are incredibly agreeable and docile Companions.

Final Thoughts

The Russian Blue is an elegant breed that occurred naturally several centuries ago. They are said to be traced to the Archangel Isles and spread throughout the world as companion cats on explorer ships. This kitty has many nicknames including the Maltese, Archangel Blue, and Foreign cat, The elegant breed is quite gorgeous, with sleek shimmery silvery-blue fur. They have strikingly vivid emerald-colored eyes. This kitty’s luxuriously thick, soft, double coat of fur makes them incredible cats to cuddle with. They make wonderful pets but need patient owners who do not mind taking some time to bond and build a trusting relationship. These cats live for an exceptionally long time, on average 18 years, so it is well worth the wait to develop a strong bond.

Owning any breed of feline is a fantastic privilege and a great responsibility. Owners must make sure to give their cats enough exercise, high-quality diets, and lots of love and attention. Regular veterinary care, high-quality nutrition, grooming, and upkeep can keep this breed and any other feline healthy for many wonderful years. Keep in mind that the information we have presented here is not meant to be a substitute for advice from a veterinarian, trainer, or breeder. We have offered a comprehensive overview of what to expect from the amazingly beautiful breed known as the Russian Blue, the Maltese, or the Archangel Blue cat.

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