What Makes That Cat A Russian Blue?
“That looks just like my cat Smoky! He must be a Russian Blue too!”
Russian Blue breeders all over the country have surely heard this at almost any show that they go to, just as Siamese (and Colorpoint Shorthair and Birman, and Himilayan) breeders hear it in reference to point restricted cats, and other breeders about their breeds.
People have a natural tendency to want to categorize things, to be able to name the group to which something belongs. And so it is with cats. We all want to be able to place a breed name on our favorite companion. But the truth is that the vast majority of cats in the United States are random-bred (often referred to as domestic) cats belonging to no breed whatsoever. This does not mean that is it a lesser cat, but that it simply is not a member of a defined breed.
To the untrained eye, a blue cat might appear to look the same as a Russian Blue with an 8-generation pedigree behind it. How then to determine what distinguishes a Russian Blue from Another Blue Cat. These differences fall into two main areas: Appearance and Genetic Background.
The Russian Blue has a very distinct appearance and several unique identifiers. The easier identifiers are:
· Green eyes (not yellow, blue, or orange but a dark bottle green)
· Solid blue all over with just the tips of the guard hairs being silver and producing a shimmering effect. Domestic blue cats will lack this tipping and be a flat blue. There are no white or other color markings whatsoever, except for the occasional white locket on the throat (considered a disqualifiable fault)
· A thick double coat. The first coat consists of the longer guard hairs. The second is the undercoat, which is very soft and gives the Russian Blue coat its unique feel. Looked at closely, these fine hairs appear wavy
· Mauve footpads. Most domestic blue cats have slate gray pads
For more additional characteristics such as body structure, profile, ear placement, please see the Russian Blue breed standards at:
The breed that we know as the Russian Blue did not spring into existence from the pairing of a couple of other-colored cats. It is a natural breed, which other breeders then took and selectively refined and defined its distinguishing traits. But they did this using known Russian Blues only (excepting the brief instance after World War II when blue-point Siamese were used as outcrosses to increase the then decimated genetic ranks). By this selectiveness the breed as a whole has a consistent look to it. The mating of two Russian Blues will always produce another blue genetic copy of themselves. The exception to this is the occasional “pointed’ Russian Blue which is the result of a recessive gene going back to that brief Siamese outcross over 50 years ago.
Domestic blues cannot reproduce themselves with this genetic accuracy. It is entirely possible (and indeed, probable) that that same random bred blue had littermates and parents who were not solid blue and will not produce solely blue kittens when mated with another blue cat.
“So how can I determine if my cat is a Russian Blue?” one would ask. The only sure method is via its pedigree – that piece of paper that documents the cat’s heritage back several generations and shows that all her forebears were also Russian Blues. There are the occasional occurrences where the undocumented cat is indeed a Russian Blue, but these “findings” are usually the result of a pedigreed pet ending up in a pet store without its papers or a pedigreed pet becoming separated from her original owner (either given away or she got out and got lost). An experienced eye might be able to declare it a Russian in that case. But most blue cats simply found on the street are not Russian Blues.
Does this mean that they are any less valuable a companion than a purebred Russian Blue? Of course not. It simply means that she does not have the documentation certifying her origins back for generations. She still has her place on your lap and in your heart.
written by Teresa Keiger and Ingeborg Urcia
for The Russian Blue Support Site
What's so bad about calling that blue cat a "Russian Blue rescue mix?" Read this article on a common myth.