You may have heard of some of the more popular Russian cat breeds—hello, Russian Blue—but many of these fancy felines are incredibly rare.
Russian cat breeds drastically differ in appearance and temperament. Even their origins are unique. Hybrid cats, like the Caracat and Ussuri, are seldom-seen companion animals that share many characteristics of their wildcat ancestors. Others have special features, like colorpoint coats or curly hair. Russia is even home to the world’s smallest domestic cat: the Toybob.
Here are 11 great cat breeds from Russia.
With sandy brown fur, tufted ears, and an impressive size, from afar, the Caracat may look like an actual wild cat. In reality, this is one of the rarest domestic cats in the world, with only a handful of breeders of Caracats worldwide.
The Caracat is a hybrid of the wild Caracal and the domestic Abysinnian. The Abyssinian breed has a long history, dating back to ancient Egypt; however, you might not be as familiar with the Caracal. This wild cat has gained notoriety because people have come to take them in as pets.
With the popularity of hybrid cats, like the Savannah (Serval/domestic cross) and Bengal (Asian Leopard/domestic cross), you might assume that the Caracat was intentionally bred to be a mix of the Caracal’s features with the safety of the domestic breed. In actuality, the history of the Caracat first began as an accidental breeding when a domestic cat entered a male caracal’s enclosure at the Moscow Zoo in 1998. Later, American felinologists Joy Geisinger and Allison Navarro attempted to recreate the cat by crossing a Caracal with an Abyssinian feline. Breeding advancements continued by Russian felinologists, thus distinguishing the Caracat as a Russian breed.
Like other hybrid cats, breeders categorize Caracats by their generation of breeding. Catteries produce F1 Caracats directly from a Caracel and domestic cat. An F2 cat has at least one parent that is an F1. This second-generation cat will have a Caracel grandparent. An F3 is a third-generation offspring with a Caracel great-grandparent, and so on.
F1 Caracats are the most expensive and share more traits with their wild ancestor. Typically, they appear more substantial in size with distinctive black-tufted Caracal ears. F1 cats will range between 25 to 30 pounds—outweighing another hybrid, the Savannah cat. Second-generation Caracats reach the 20-pound range. Unlike Caracals, who speak in the hisses and growls or a wildcat, the Caracat meows, chirps, and trills like your childhood housecat.
The Caracat is still considered an experimental breed, and their price tag indicates their rarity. Purchasing one of these cats will cost you over $25,000.
Are they a Sphynx? Are they a mixed breed? Is there something wrong with them? Not at all! The Donskoy is just another hairless cat breed with unique coat development. Also called the Don Sphynx, the Donskoy is a natural, hairless breed with a few coat varieties, with all but one resulting in hairlessness.
Rubber bald Donskoys are entirely hairless, with a slightly shiny appearance. These kittens are born bald and remain hairless their whole lives. Flocked kitties are similar to what you would see in a Sphynx cat. They appear hairless but are born with a fine peach-fuzz coat that gradually disappears as they age. Velour-coated Donskoys are born with wavy, wool-like hair and a bald spot on the top of their head. Usually, their fur is patchy and disappears within the first two years of life, but it can remain in the chest and the paws. Finally, the brush Donskoy is born with a full coat that can be soft, wavy, wiry, or bristly. Only a portion of their coat disappears within the first two years.
Experts can trace the Don Sphynx’s origin back to one kitten. In 1987, Elena Kovaleva, a professor at the State Pedagogical Institute, rescued a kitten in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Kovaleva took the kitten home and named her Varvara. When the kitten began losing her hair, Kovaleva attempted to treat the condition to no avail. Later, when the feline produced a litter of her own, the litter contained both haired and hairless kitties. The kittens with a full coat of hair just like their mother did, causing people to believe an illness caused the hair loss.
It wasn’t until professional cat breeder Irina Nemikina recused one of the discarded kittens that the cats’ hairlessness was proven to be a result of genetic mutation—not an illness. Nemikina continued to develop the breed, which she called Don Sphynx—Don after the nearby Don River, and Sphynx as a nod to another hairless cat breed. The World Cat Federation (WCF) recognized the breed in 1987, with The International Cat Association (TICA) following in 2005.
Doskoys are more common than you think, but people often can’t tell the difference between this breed and the Sphynx. But genetically, they are entirely different. Donskoys are typically a healthier cat breed and have a longer lifespan. They do not carry hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart disease prevalent in Sphynx cats.
Cat enthusiasts love the Don Sphynx for their active, intelligent, and friendly nature. They are incredibly affectionate and are very loyal to their owners. These high-sociable cats require constant company to avoid behavioral problems. Donsokys would be a great addition to a home with other companion pets.
Karelian Bobtail Cat
The Karelian Bobtail is a rare breed that developed naturally in the Republic of Karelia, a region in northwest Russia bordering Finland. People do not know this breed well outside its native area, and most major cat registries have not recognized it. However, the WCF does recognize the Karelian Bobtail.
Karelian Bobtails are medium-sized felines with hind legs distinctly longer than the front legs. Their coat can be short or medium-length with a well-developed, soft undercoat. The top coat is firm, glossy, and in various colors and patterns.
The kinked tail of the Karelian Bobtail is short with longer fur, giving it a pom-pom effect. The bobbed tail is a recessive gene for the Karelian Bobtail, meaning both parents must have bobbed tails for the kittens to share this characteristic.
Karelian Bobtails are friendly cats enjoying the company of humans and other cats alike. These kitties are pretty curious and are also very adaptable. Overall, the Karelian Bobtail is an easygoing cat that enjoys spending time with their human companions.
Kurilian Bobtail Cat
Often confused with the Karelian Bobtail cat, the Kurulian Bobtail is actually an entirely different cat breed. While breeders are developing the Kurilian Bobtail in Russia, few recognize these cats outside of their original territory. According to TICA, there are less than 100 Kurilian Bobtail cats in the United States.
Kurilian Bobtails developed naturally on the Russian-owned islands of Kuril and Sakhalin. Experts believe the breed to be a mix of Japanese Bobtail and Siberian cats. People also call these felines Kuril Islands Bobtails, Kuril Bobtails, and Curilsk Bobtails.
The Kurilian Bobtail has medium-to-large-sized, semi-cobby covered in short or long hair. Coat colors vary from solid to tabby. Females generally reach 8 to 11 pounds, weighing as much as 15 pounds. These kitties are prized for having a pom-pom-like tail. Every Kurilian Bobtail has a different tail structure. Tails may be shaped like a spiral, snag, or whisk comprising two to 10 vertebrae.
Temperamentally, these cats are playful and intelligent. Kurilian Bobtails are also talkative and very social. They adapt well to most situations and work well with other cats, dogs, and children.
The WCF adopted the Kurilian Bobtail in 1994, and TICA accepted the breed for championship status in 2012. The CFA has yet to recognize the breed.
Mekong Bobtail Cat
The Mekong Bobtail (formerly known as the Thai Bobtail) is a breed named after the famous river that passes through Southeast Asia. While the Mekong Bobtail occurred naturally throughout Asian countries, the breed wasn’t formally developed until it was imported to Russia. The breed’s history began when cats were gifted to Nicholas II, tsar of Russia, by Chulalongkorn, king of Siam (now Thailand). These royal felines displayed kinked tails resembling those of the modern-day Mekong. Experts believe that these cats bred with other bobtail and Siamese cats to form the Mekong Bobtail breed.
A breed standard for the Mekong was created in 1994 when Russian felinologist Olga S. Mironova drafted one. The WCF recognized the Mekong Bobtail in 2004, at which time the name was changed from Thai Bobtail to Mekong Bobtail.
Mekong Bobtails look similar to the Applehead Siamese cat, with an athletic build and a short, glossy coat in various pointed colors. These are medium-sized cats, weighing 8 to 10 pounds. The feline’s characteristic bobbed tail contains at least three vertebrae but is still shorter than a quarter of the cat’s body length.
The breed is friendly, affectionate, and very active. They are fun-loving and develop strong bonds with their human companions. Mekong Bobtails have lots of energy and require regular playtime.
Another naked cat breed, the Peterbald, is a medium-sized, elegant cat with a lithe body and long legs similar to the modern Siamese. The Peterbald was first bred in 1995 when a felinologist and breeder named Olga S. Mironova introduced the dominant hairless gene of the Donskoy into an Oriental Shorthair cat. The breed was named after the location it was created in: St. Petersburg, Russia.
While considered a naked cat, the Peterbald may be totally hairless or have light fur in various colors, textures, and lengths. Like the Donskoy, Peterbald’s hairlessness is caused by a dominant gene, but this gene is not very predictable. Kittens from the same litter can be completely bald or have a coat made of wiry, kinky hair.
The breed has five coat variations: naked, chamois, flock, brush, or straight. Naked Peterbalds are completely hairless with skin that has a slightly sticky, elastic feel. Chamois cats have a peach fuzz coat. Flock cats have a fine, velvety-soft coat. Brushed-coat Peterbalds have wiry, curly hair that is very sparse; you can typically see through to the skin. Finally, straight-coat Peterbalds have standard, short coats that won’t change over time.
Peterbalds act very playful and are often praised for their dog-like demeanor. These curious kitties are very social and love interacting with those around them, whether people or other pets. They thrive on attention and require lots of it.
Peterbalds are also notoriously expensive, with kittens costing up to $5,000.
Russian Blue Cat
Easily the most-renowned Russian cat breed, the Russian Blue is also the oldest of the Russian cats. Humans discovered this naturally occurring feline in the Russian port of Arkhangelsk on the White Sea, about 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Thus nicknamed Archangel Cats, these felines boarded ships—likely as mousers—and eventually arrived in other parts of Europe.
People love Russian Blues for their thick silvery-blue fur and bright green eyes. These medium-sized cats are unique in that their coats only come in one color—blue—and one length—short. Their distinctive, plush double coat requires minimal grooming, and the breed produces less Fel d 1 protein, the leading cause of cat allergies.
The Russian Blue is sweet-tempered, loving, and loyal but with an independent streak. These kitties may shy away from visitors, actively seeking a quiet, private space away from the activity. Russian Blues tend to attach to one person in particular but can also give affection to a whole family. You can leave them alone without incident, making them an excellent option for one-person households.
Russian Blues are generally soft-spoken but very vocal. They are extremely intelligent, playful, and affectionate.
The Russian Blue is another expensive breed, costing up to $3,000 for a kitten.
The Siberian cat is a medium to large, longhaired cat breed that is known for their thick, full coats that keep them warm in their native Siberia. This breed is an excellent option for people with cat allergies. Siberians produce less of the Fel d 1 protein in cat dander, saliva, and urine, which causes an allergic reaction in some people.
This is a natural breed that reflects the climate it developed in. The Siberian’s massive triple coat is water-repellent and highly dense. Siberian cats also have thick, majestic ruffs around their neck, fluffy britches, and bushy tails to keep them warm.
Due to their size, Siberian cats take a long time to mature—up to five years. People often confuse the Siberian with another large cat, the Maine Coon, thanks to their large, fluffy bodies and affectionate natures.
Siberians are known for their friendly temperament. They are easygoing, with little to disturb their natural calm.
While many consider the Siberian hypoallergenic, that doesn’t mean they are low shedding. The Siberian sheds substantially. Their long fur can quickly become matted and tangled and requires meticulous grooming.
Neva Masquerade Cat
The Neva Masquerade is a Siberian breed sub-breed with a colorpoint coat. The colorpoint markings result from a gene found initially in Siamese cats. People often mistake Neva Masquerade kitties for the popular Ragdoll breed because of their similar features and affectionate personalities.
Aside from their coats, there are no other discernible differences between the Neva Masquerade and Siberian.
Toybobs are small kitties with big hearts, making them fantastic cuddling companions. The Toybob is actually considered the world’s smallest domestic cat breed, with cats weighing only four to seven pounds and reaching a maximum height of eight inches. Full-grown, these compact kitties are comparable in size to a six-month-old (or smaller) domestic cat.
Other standout features of the Toybob are their kinked, bobbed tails and expressive, large eyes. These kitties can have either semi-long or short coats, with shorthaired coats feeling soft and slightly plush. In contrast, longhaired Tobobs have a soft coat with a slight ruff, plus ear and feet furnishing. While Toybobs are often seen in a seal point Siamese coloration, their coats come in all colors and patterns.
The Toybob is a natural breed, first discovered in 1983. Ms. Elena Krasnichenko adopted a stray seal-point cat resembling a traditional Siamese, aside from their kinked, bobbed tail. When the feline mated with another bobtail seal-point domestic shorthair, the two felines produced a tiny bobtail kitten. This kitten became one of the foundation cats for the Toybob breed.
The personality of the Toybob is sweet and playful. While these cats are active, they are not over-demanding. Toybobs are affectionate, gentle, and easy to handle. They are friendly and will live cohesively with other pets.
In 2022, the CFA accepted the Toybob into its non-competitive class. Toybobs are currently a preliminary new breed with TICA.
Ural Rex Cat
Rarely found outside of Russia, the Ural Rex has the distinction of being one of the few “rex” cats—those felines with crimped or curly fur. (View our article on curly-haired cat breeds to learn about other rex cats.) The Ural Rex was first documented in 1988 and was officially recognized by the WCF in 2006. No other significant registries have accepted the breed, including the CFA and TICA.
The most distinguishing feature of the Ural Rex is their wavy coat that is soft to the touch. The “rexed” fur results from a naturally occurring genetic variation in rabbits, rats, and cats. Rex fur lacks the longer, sturdy guard hairs, resulting in a plush or velvety feel to the coat. This breed may have short or semi-long hair in various color and pattern variations.
Besides their coat, you’ll notice the Ural Rex’s large, almond-shaped eyes. These kitties also display high cheekbones and crimped whispers to match their coat. Their bodies are slender yet muscular and relatively short.
The Ural Rex is social, affectionate, playful, and active. They will be your best friend and will not shy away from company. Despite their social natures, they are independent and don’t require constant attention like other breeds.
The Ussuri cat breed is so rare that these felines are challenging to find—even in their native Russia. The Ussuri is a naturally occurring feline hybrid with an uncertain origin. Experts theorize that Amur leopards or Amur forest cats mated with domestic cats to create this hybrid feline.
As one of the world’s rarest cats, the Ussuri has yet to be recognized by any formal cat registry. There is no breed standard or formal breeding program for Ussuri cats. However, people describe these cats as wild-looking tabbies with athletic builds and lynx-like ear tufts. They may have a variety of stripes, spots, and rings on their bodies.
These cats are athletic and active, with a strong prey drive. They are intelligent and loyal but are not very social or outgoing felines. Still, they can form strong bonds with their preferred human in the family.
Experts do not recommend Ussuri cats for homes of families with young children. Their independence and wildcat instincts make them difficult to train.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Pick A Russian Cat Breed?
When choosing a rare cat, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the breed’s requirements. This lets you judge whether the breed’s tendencies fit your lifestyle. The cost of the cat will be another factor to consider. Typically, the rarer the cat, the higher the price.
What Is the Most Expensive Russian Cat?
The most expensive Russian cat is the Caracat, with prices reaching $25,000 and beyond. Following this is the Peterbald (around $2,000-$5,000). For a less-expensive but equally purrfect cat, consider the Russian Blue. Costs for Russian Blues typically start around $400.