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Russian Blue
Recognized Breed

Russian Blue Activity Level 6
Playfulness 6
Need for attention 5
Affection towards its owners 6>
Vocality 2
Docility 7
Intelligence 8
Independence 8
Healthiness and hardiness 7
Need for grooming 3
Compatibility with children 5
Compatibility with other pets 5
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History
The most commonly held theory regarding this breed┐s origin is that Russian Blues were brought to Great Britain in 1860 by British sailors from the White Sea port town of Archangel (Arkhangelsk) in northern Russia. Whether this story is true┐and if true, whether the cats really originated in that area┐is anyone┐s guess. Their thick coats give credence to the theory that they developed in a cold climate, and, according to accounts, blue shorthairs still exist in Russia.

The Russian Blue is not known to be related to the other three shorthaired solid blue breeds: Thailand┐s Korat, France┐s Chartreux, and Britain┐s British Blue (now called the British Shorthair). The four breeds have distinct differences in coat, type, and personality, although the Korat, Chartreux, and Russian Blue share a similar silver-blue sheen. Since all four of these breeds have been around for so long that their ancestries are shrouded in legend and conjecture, a common origin is certainly possible.

In 1871 a Russian Blue was shown at the first cat show at the Crystal Palace in London, under the name Archangel Cat. At this point, Russian Blues were shorthaired, solid blue felines with foreign body types. From photos and published sources of the time the original coat was thick, dense, glossy, and colored a light silver-blue.

Russian Blues competed in the same class with all other shorthaired blues, despite obvious differences in type. Since the round-headed, cobby British Blues were favored in the show halls, the svelte Russian Blues rarely won. Finally, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy acknowledged the breed and in 1912 the Russian Blue was granted a class of its own. The breed then made progress until World War II when it almost became extinct, as did many other breeds.

During the 1940s and 1950s two independent groups of breeders worked to resurrect the Russian Blue by crossbreeding the few hardy survivors with other breeds. In Britain, breeders crossed the Russian Blue with bluepoint Siamese and British Blues. Because of the Siamese influence, the British Russian Blue┐s moderate foreign body style became more extreme.

At the same time, Scandinavian breeders attempted to ┐recreate┐ the breed by crossing blue cats from Finland with Siamese cats that carried color factors that would enhance the solid blue coloration. These cats were larger and had larger heads and shorter, denser coats than British Russian Blues.

In 1965 a group of British breeders, not pleased with all the changes, began efforts to restore the Russian Blue to its original condition. In 1966 the show standard was again changed, now stating that the Siamese type was undesirable. By breeding the Scandinavian cats, with their good head type and vivid green eye color, with the British Russian Blues, with their silver-blue coat color and graceful body style, the breeders finally achieved consistency.

The Russian Blue arrived in America in the early 1900s, but it was not until 1947 that serious attempts at breeding and promoting in the United States began. Because of the inconsistency in the breeding stock, and because three other blue breeds existed upon which fanciers could focus their esteem, the Russian Blue didn┐t get as much attention as it might otherwise have received. However, imports from Britain gradually improved the bloodlines, and the Russian Blue gained much needed stability.

Hard work by dedicated breeders has improved the Russian Blue bloodline to the point that American Russian Blues have even been exported to Europe to improve their bloodlines.

Personality
Russian Blues are gentle, genteel cats, and are usually reserved┐or absent ┐when strangers are around. When they┐re with their own beloved humans, however, they are affectionate and playful. Russian Blues are active but not annoyingly so. They like nothing better than to spend time retrieving a favorite toy or chasing sunbeams. They willingly entertain themselves, but prefer that their favorite humans join in the fun. When you┐re home, they follow you around, unobtrusive but ever-present companions. The slight upturn to the corners of the mouth makes most Russian Blues appear to be forever smiling.

Russian Blues like their usual routine and dislike environmental changes more than the average cat. They particularly dislike changes to their dinner schedule. They are also fastidious about their litter boxes and will complain if they┐re not spic and span.

The members of this breed are polite, quiet, and well-behaved. It┐s easy to train them to stay off counters and out of off-limit areas with a simple ┐No,┐ but Russian Blues seem to think politeness should go both ways and take offense at being made to look silly. You can trust them to know when you┐re laughing at them┐and they won┐t soon forget it either.

Conformation
This breed┐s most distinctive feature┐its beautiful double coat┐is silky, plush, and so dense it stands out from the body. You can literally draw pictures in the fur with your fingers and the patterns will remain until you smooth them over or until your feline friend tires of the game and walks off. The coat┐s guard hairs bear silver tipping that reflects light, giving the coat a silver sheen. Combined with the vivid green eyes, the Russian Blue is a strikingly beautiful breed. Even though it┐s short, the dense double coat does require some grooming to keep it looking its best.

Although blue is the only color accepted by the North American registries, in Australia, New Zealand, and England, other colors are recognized.

General
The ideal Russian Blue is a foreign-type cat in good physical condition with firm muscle tone.
Body
Fine-boned, long, firm, and muscular; lithe and graceful in outline and carriage; not tubular in appearance.
Head
Smooth, medium wedge, neither long and tapering nor short and massive; blunt muzzle without exaggerated pinch or whisker break; nose medium in length.
Ears
Rather large and wide at base; tips more pointed than rounded; set far apart, as much on side as top of head.
Eyes
Set wide apart, aperture rounded. Color vivid green.
Tail
Long but in proportion to body; tapering from moderately thick base.
Coat
Short, dense, fine, and plush; double coat stands out from body due to density; distinct soft and silky feel.
Color
Even bright blue throughout; lighter shades of blue preferred; guard hairs distinctly silver-tipped giving the cat a silvery sheen or lustrous appearance; definite contrast between ground color and tipping.
Disqualify
Kinked or abnormal tail; locket or button; any color other than blue.
Allowable Outcrosses
None.

Picture(s): Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Corbis | |

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