The Russian Blue, a rare cat breed in the U.S. and Canada, is known for being independent, intelligent, and beautiful. An agile, medium-size cat that typically weighs 7–12 pounds, Russian Blues are fine-boned with eyes that go from golden in their youth to a brilliant green in adulthood—and, as their name suggests, their short, dense double coat comes in just one color: blue (a deep shade of gray with silver tips, to be precise).
“This is a hallmark and gives the breed a shimmering effect when it moves,” says Stephanie Grady of Northernblue Cattery, a CFA-registered cattery near Minneapolis, where she’s been breeding and showing Russian Blues for 10 years. Striking as their signature coat may be, it’s remarkably low maintenance, requiring little in the way of grooming.
Caring for a Russian Blue Cat
Reserved, especially with new people, Russian Blue cats are not known for being particularly cuddly or clingy. But they are sweet and, with proper socialization, bond closely with their family.
Opportunities to climb and perch are a must for these keen observers, and they love a routine—but that doesn’t mean they need to be with you all the time. In fact, they generally do well as the only cat in the house, even if you leave them during the day. If you have a boisterous household, make sure your Russian Blue has a space for some peace and quiet.
Russian Blue Health Issues
As a naturally occurring breed, Russian Blue cats have a long lifespan of 15–20 years and tend to be healthy, Grady says. However, as with all cats, there are a few potential health issues pet parents should be aware of.
Excess weight is the No. 1 health issue cats face, says Bruce Kornreich, DVM, PhD, director of the Cornell Feline Health Center. Russian Blues often love to eat, making it particularly important to feed them measured amounts and keep an eye on their body composition. Obesity in cats increases their risk of diabetes, certain types of cancer, respiratory and heart diseases, and more.
Kornreich also points to dental health as a potential trouble spot for cats in general. “It’s really important, for all cats, that pet parents are really diligent [in dental care],” he says. “And the best thing would be to brush the cat’s teeth regularly.” Always use a toothpaste made for cats, as human toothpaste is toxic to kitties. Routine dental cleanings by your veterinarian are also recommended to help prevent dental disease and periodontitis.
Other issues, such as polycystic kidney disease and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), can affect the Russian Blue; any reputable breeder should screen their cats for these and other issues. While there is no official link between the Russian Blue and these heritable diseases, Kornreich says it’s wise to listen to your breeder regarding what they’ve seen and make consistent veterinary care a priority.
What To Feed a Russian Blue Cat
The best way to ensure your Russian Blue kittens and cats receive all the vitamins and nutrients they need is to feed them a high-quality, commercially available food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Choose a food appropriate for your kitty’s life stage (kitten, adult, or senior), and consider a combination of dry and wet food, as each has its benefits.
How To Feed a Russian Blue
This breed doesn’t have specific feeding requirements. But, in general, feed Russian Blue kittens three to four measured meals a day, and adult Russian Blues twice per day. Free-choice feeding isn’t recommended for most cats, as it can cause obesity.
This is particularly important for cats who have a tendency to put on weight, like Russian Blues, because free-feeding cats can lead to overeating. You might also consider food puzzles or lick mats to engage your cat—but if you’re using these methods, always make sure they are getting their full meal.
How Much Should You Feed a Russian Blue?
The appropriate amount of food for your cat is based on the specific food you choose, as well as your cat’s age, activity level, and body composition. Use the labels on your cat food as a guide, and if you have questions about whether you should feed more or less food, bring that label to your veterinarian at your next appointment
Keep in mind that, if your cat is deemed to be overweight, your veterinarian may recommend smaller portions or a lower-calorie food. Increased exercise, such as additional playtime, can also help your cat lose weight.
Nutritional Tips for Russian Blues
Your cat will get all the nutrients they need from their cat food, though your vet may also recommend supplements. Never give your cat supplements without talking with your vet first.
Behavior and Training Tips for Russian Blues
Russian Blue Personality and Temperament
Russian Blue cats might not be the perfect fit for every family. This is not a clingy cat who needs to hang on their family members, Grady says. “They will grace you with their presence on their terms and time,” she says. “They are gorgeously present, like a piece of art.”
That said, sometimes that “art” might leap—gracefully—from the floor to your shoulder for a little ride or to supervise what you’re doing. “They like high places; observation is best there,” Grady says.
While they can be aloof, they are affectionate (in their own way) with their family. Russian Blues tend to get along with other pets, as well as children who know how to play gently and respectfully with their furry friends. Overall, this is an easy cat to live with and can be an excellent choice for first-time pet parents who don’t need a cuddly lap cat.
Russian Blue Behavior
The Russian Blue is a relatively quiet cat who Grady describes as extremely intelligent and independent. “Because of this, they tend to observe closely and can’t be tricked easily,” she says. “At times, we wonder if they speak English.”
While Grady says routine is important to the breed and they don’t like change, Russian Blues can easily be the only cat in the house and generally don’t get lonely if left to their own devices during the day. “They will ignore a chaotic household, tending to just not take part in it,” Grady says. “But they are social with their people.”
In fact, she says, once a Russian Blue engages with you, the breed can be quite playful, even fetching tossed toys 15 or 20 times in a row.
Russian Blue Training
While Russian Blues are intelligent cats, they have a mind of their own. So when it comes to training, you may need to temper your expectations.
“Staying off counters, probably not,” says Grady. “Coming when called or to a particular sound, yes. But remember: They are very independent, and for this reason they are a harder breed to show in competition.” In other words, have great rewards to offer and be aware that, even then, you may not always get the response you want.
Still, you shouldn’t have too much trouble teaching these clever kitties how to use the litter box, and they’ll have no problem learning where to find food. In fact, Grady says, they may actually turn the tables on you. “They tend to train their [pet parents], often sitting patiently in front of a cupboard or closet where toys or treats are kept to communicate, ‘Now is the time for this,’” she says. “They will tell you what they want.”
Because Russian Blue cats thrive on a schedule, consider having set playtimes they can look forward to.
Fun Activities for Russian Blues
Perching up high to observe
Taking shoulder rides
Watching birds or squirrels through a window
Russian Blue Cat Grooming Guide
When it comes to grooming, the Russian Blue is a low-maintenance cat breed. “The Russian Blue doesn’t need any routine washing, brushing, or combing,” Grady says. In fact, too much fuss can actually ruin the cat’s double coat.
The Russian Blue is a pretty hands-off breed in terms of coat care and sheds very little. But during the spring and fall, when most of their shedding happens, Grady recommends wiping them down with a microfiber or dampened washcloth.
No special eye care is required. But because Russian Blue cats can develop PRA, it’s important to know what your cat’s eyes typically look like so you can note any changes.
Russian Blues don’t need much ear care. But if you notice signs of an ear infection (such as debris or an odor), contact the vet to get your kitty checked out.
Considerations for Pet Parents
With their bright minds and independent spirits, Russian Blues can come across as shy. But in their own way and on their own time, they will show affection—to those they deem worthy.
These are gorgeous, graceful cats who love to observe the world from a tall perch. Provide them with a structured routine and the opportunity to find peace and quiet as needed, and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your Russian Blue happy.
Featured Image: iStock/GoodLifeStudio
Russian Blue Cat FAQs
Are Russian Blue cats hypoallergenic?
The Russian Blue is a relatively light shedder, so the breed may be a good fit for some people who have cat allergies. But no cat, the Russian Blue included, is actually 100% hypoallergenic.
Are Russian Blue cats rare?
Yes, Russian Blues are rare in North America, which means you’ll need patience if you’re interested in adding one to your family. “Currently there aren’t many reliable, reputable breeders in the U.S. and Canada,” Grady says. This means that a healthy, purebred Russian Blue is rarely available right away. “A waitlist is not uncommon,” she says.
Additionally, there are a number of scams and backyard breeders with Russian Blues. “If searching for a Russian Blue, start early, develop a relationship with a reputable breeder, ask questions, and be prepared to wait,” Grady says.
A reputable breeder should be able to tell you about your kitten’s parents (and even introduce you), discuss vaccinations and socialization, and provide information regarding their cattery’s registration.
How much do Russian Blue cats cost?
A purebred Russian Blue with a pedigree can cost $2,000–$2,500.
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