Breed: Russian Blue cats
Temperament: Timid, affectionate
Cost: From $350
Lifespan: 18-20 years
Recommended for: Families, single persons, the older cat lover
The Russian Blue is thought to have originated as a wild cat in Russia, and from the port of Archangel spread to the UK via merchant ships. Russian Blues were reportedly shown in the Crystal Palace in England as early as 1871, and by 1912 they had achieved separate breed status. During the World Wars, the breed changed slightly in appearance as British breeders crossed their limited stock of Russian Blues with British Blues. Today the breed is favoured for its beautiful coat, and affectionate nature. The cats make great family pets and companions for the older cat lover.
The Russian is an elegant, fine to medium boned cat, with males being slightly heavier in build than females. The ears are erect and their green eyes intensify in colour as the cat ages.
The Russian has a sleek coat. Short, thick and uniform like velvet, it can take up to two years before the insulating double-coat is fully developed. Russians are available in three coat colours: blue, white and black. The Blue, which has been the most popular in Australia, covers all shades from pale silver blue through to darker greys. White and black varieties are also available but are rare. The orginal breeder of black Russian Blue cats in Australia is Betty Payne of Western Australia. (see ‘Further information’ below).
Russians have been described as being extroverted and active, but are also timid. The breed is known to be affectionate, tending to play favourites amongst its human family, but is also aloof with strangers.
Health and lifespan
The breed is longlived and has a reported life expectancy of 18-20 years. Some lines of Russians suffer from entropion, a congenital condition of the eyelid, which requires surgical correction. The breed is otherwise hardy.
Russians are not fussy eaters. Breeders recommend a diet of dry, tinned and fresh food. Russians need access to a clean water supply, and fresh grass, particularly if kept inside.
Litters average four kittens, but can be as large as eight. Kittens are born with blue eyes which turn green. Russian cats are protective mothers.
Russians shed hair with the change of the seasons. To remove loose hair, dampen your hands and stroke the cat. Russians can be gently groomed with a soft brush once every one to two weeks. It is important not to over-brush Russians because it can damage the coat.
Housepet potential and space
Russians are active kittens, and to protect your furniture breeders recommend providing distractions and scratching posts. Russian cats of all ages enjoy nibbling potted greenery, so remove any toxic plants from your house. The breed is adaptable to backyards or unit dwellings.
Breeders suggest Russians can be upset by noise and disruption,and so are recommended for families without young children. They prefer consistent attention, and they are wonderful companions for the older cat lover.
Costs and availability
Russian start from $350, and there is no price difference between the coat colours. Russian Blues are becoming more popular, and interest is increasing in the White and Black varieties.
Capital Cats Incorporated
PO Box 404
5 Hughes Street
Phone: (02) 4578 1229 or (02) 4578 1229
Phone: (02) 4721 8515 or (02) 4721 8515
The Cat Association of the NT
GPO Box 3897
Queensland Feline Administration
89 Evenwood Street
Coopers Plains, 4108
Phone: (07) 3344 2267
Feline Association of SA
21 Poole Street
Phone: (08) 9248 2106
Cat Association of TAS
PO Box 116
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Feline Control Council of Victoria
Epsom Road, Ascot Vale, 3032
Phone: (03) 9281 7444
Rex, Abyssinian and Russian Enthusiasts
Lot 108 Racy Prince Court
Phone: (08) 9525 0071