The Legendary Russian Blue


Russianblue.org note:  This article originally appeared in the March, 2001 issue of Cat Fancy Magazine, and is copyrighted 2001 by both Cat Fancy and the Author Theresa Meyers.  We have obtained permission from both Fancy Publications Inc., and Theresa Meyers.  Please do not reprint this article.  For more information you can contact Fancy Publications at www.animalnetwork.com and Theresa Meyers at www.theresameyers.com.  


KNOWN AS THE BALLERINAS OF THE CAT FANCY, THESE CATS WILL
CHARM YOU WITH QUIET INTELLIGENCE AND MONA LISA SMILES.

BY THERESA MEYERS

Peg Johnson's computer screen went dark again for the third time in an hour.  She peeked beneath her desk to discover the blink of emerald eyes and the shimmer of a silvery coat as her kitten, Amethyst, stepped on the red, glowing button on the power strip to turn it off and on.
    "Russian Blues are intelligent.  They don't demand a lot of space or attention and amuse themselves until you're ready to play,"  she says.  Johnson, who is former Russian Blue Breed Secretary for the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) and owner of Heartbeeps cattery in Clarkston, GA., says that intelligence often is interpreted as shyness.  But don't be fooled.  Perhaps your Russian Blue is just waiting until he has figured out how best to win your heart.

A QUIET INTELLIGENCE
   
Russian Blues often surprise their owners with their quick and quiet intelligence.  Artie, a 1-ear-old neutered male, astonished his owner, Andrea Thompson, the first time she walked in her bathroom to find him using the facilities.
    "He toilet-trained himself," says Thompson, who operates Rubanthom Cattery in Thomson, Ga.  "These are incredibly intelligent cats.  They use their paws to open doors and cabinets.  They're fast and sneaky, playful and mellow all at the same time."
    That curiosity and cleverness can make them interesting and challenging companions.
    "I liken them to living with a 2-year-old when they are young.  They have to know that 'no' means no.  They'll test you all the time to see if you're serious," says Ann'a Zimmer, TICA Chairperson for the Russian Blue breed committee and owner of Blumajik Cattery in Tulsa, Okla.  "If you let them get away with something just once, they take that as permission to get away with it forever."
    Russians, for the most part, are considered a quiet breed and have small sweet voices.  Zimmer says her cat, Alija, however, will chirp whenever shi passes by.  As long as she gets an answer back, she'll carry on an entire conversation with a wide range of vocal tones and sounds.
    Despite their chatter, Russian Blues are shy cats.
    "It's more accurate to say they are cautious and like to check things out before they jump in," Zimmer says.
    While the breed is very adaptable, they prefer a quiet, laid-back household.

 "I think Russian Blues are fairly wary of anything that makes a lot of noise.  They tend to startle easily," says Annette Wilson, who is a CFA all-breed judge, member of the CFA Russian Blue Breed Council and Russian Blue breeder at Wynterwynd cattery since 1976.  "They are extremely easy to live with, quiet and affectionate in a very subtle way.  They are not pushy cats, but are always as affectionate as you want them to be."
    That includes greeting you at the door at the end of the day.
    "If you've been gone during the day, they'll certainly let you know they're glad you're home.  They exhibit a real delight in their people.  But they are not an absolutely, all-the-time, clingy type of cat.  The Russian Blue is very astute about when to sit beside you rather than you," says Diana Doernberg, a CFA all-breed judge, member of the CFA Board of Directors and one of the long-time breeders of the Russian Blue in the United States whose Velva Cattery is in Akron, Ohio.

MYSTERIOUS BEGINNINGS
   
Russian Blues are a minority breed in the cat fancy, ranked approximately 17th in registrations by the CFA, according to Doernberg.  "The popularity of the breed is limited more by the small number of cats bred than by folks liking the breed.  The average litter size is only three kittens.  We fare well in competition and are very popular with the judges,"  Johnson says.
    With their origins shrouded in mystery, the elegant, regal Russian Blue is the breed legends are made of.  Some say they were the favored cats of the Russian czars, and that Queen Victoria had two as pets.  There are even stories of them riding into battle on the shoulders of Cossack militia.  They most probably arrived in England with Russian sailors from the Archangel Isles.
    The breed mad its first appearance in a cat show at the Crystal Palace in England in 1875 as the Archangel Cat, competing in a class with other all blue cats.  In 1912, it attained recognition as a separate breed and was accepted by the CFA in 1947.

COLOR CONTROVERSY
   
In 1975, Russian breeders in Australia introduced a domestic white cat from Siberia into the breed, creating colored Russians in white, black, and tabby.  They believe they have re-created the original Russian spectrum of colors.
    Ruth Nesenkar, a breeder since 1974 and owner of Pau-nes and Taiga catteries in Silercity, N.C., explains:  "To achieve a blue cat in the first place, you must have a black cat and a Maltese gene which effects the color to produce the blue."  She also points out that the white color gene masks all the other colors including blue.

 

There is some debate in the cat fancy about these new colors.  Breeders in the United States and Europe cling to the true-blue-or-nothing coloring of the breed, while cat fancier associations in Australia have recognized the broader palette.  The structure of the Australian Russian cat is somewhat different from that in the United States.
    "If I weren't serious about maintaining the breed identity, which for the Russian Blue includes a blue, short coat, then I'd have to question my purpose for breeding cats," Wilson says.  "The Russian Blue as we know it has been around for a very long time.  There are no health reasons or show reasons to go outside the breed guidelines."

MONA LISA SMILES
   
Russians are medium-sized, elegant cats with long legs and a solidly muscled body.
    "They are like ballerinas:  lithe, muscular and elegant.  They act like prima donnas as well.  They seem to know they are more special than other cats," Johnson says.
    Their triangular heats resemble a cobra, rather flat with a two-plane profile:  a flat forehead meets a straight nose at eye level.  Their ears are translucent and rather large and wide a the base.
    And, of course, what would a Russian Blue be without a blue coat?  An even-colored blue, its lustrous looks come from guard hairs that are tipped in silver.
    Because of limited breeding, Russian Blue kittens that are sold as pets are often very close to show quality, Doernberg says.  "Sometimes you'll find a Russian Blue that has less tipping, although it might otherwise be a show quality kitten," she says.  "Russian Blue breeders think the best life for a cat is as a loved family member and therefore, we sell the majority of our cats to pet homes."
    According to the CFA show standard, features that would disqualify a kitten from show status include a kinked or abnormal tail, a white locket of hair, a long coat or any color other than blue.
    Overall, Russian Blues are easy to care for.  "They are wash-and-wear kitties that require very little grooming," Johnson says.  "Very infrequently they may require a bath.  Regular combing prevents them from shedding."
    "The most distinguishing features are their vivid green eyes and little Mona-Lisa-like smile.  They look like kitties with a secret; as though they've gotten into something they shouldn't have," Johnson says.
    Russian Blues have a secretive smile for a reason.  They are just as curious about you as you are about them.  "They may take time to get to know,"  Johnson says, "but if you take that time to win them over, they'll become a devoted companion."

 


This page and article are copyright 2001 by Theresa Meyers, and Fancy Publications Inc.  All Rights Reserved.  Reprinted with permission.  For more information about the Author - Theresa Meyers, go to www.theresameyers.com.  More more information about Cat Fancy, go to www.animalnetwork.com.

   

Created and copyright 2005 ~ 2008

Hit Counter
hits - thanks for stopping by