Russian Blue: A Beautiful yet Timid Cat

close-up image of a russian blue cat
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

Some people think that cats are prideful, arrogant little creatures that look down on us humans. Just because they have gorgeous, luxurious looks, they think they can put themselves on a pedestal and consider us their slaves. While it’s true that all cats are beautiful, not all of them are pretentious. Just take a look at the Russian Blue.

Legend has it that Russian Blue cats were the descendants of royal cats. With their vividly-colored eyes and plush coat, these felines were beautiful enough to catch the attention and win the hearts of Russian Tsars. You can’t blame the Russian royalties if they fell in love with these cats. Russian Blues have that distinct look what with their green eyes, blue coats, and a smile that has been compared to that of Mona Lisa.

russian blue cat lying on the side

However, despite their status as royalties, they are actually quite shy—especially around people they don’t know. They may be timid, but you can find a true friend in these felines as they can act very affectionate towards their masters. They are also smart and playful—two qualities that endear them to many pet lovers. Do you want to learn more about the Russian Blue? Continue reading as we explore the history, personality, characteristics, care features, and more about this well-loved cat breed.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Moderate; can adapt if they have to, but they won’t like it

  • Grooming: Moderate; double-coated but not prone to heavy shedding

  • Health: Good; watch out for obesity

  • All Around Friendliness: Good; shy around strangers

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate

Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired / Semi Long-Haired, Natural Breed
SizeAverage, a height of up to 10 inches
Weight9 - 12 pounds
Lifespan10 - 15 years

While Russian Blues can win just about any beauty competition with their velvety looks, they are surprisingly shy when in the company of strangers. They may not even show up when your boss drops by your house to say hello. Don’t get them wrong—it’s not that they are a snub; they are just very reserved and cautious around strangers.

The Russian Blue is very loyal and affectionate with family members. They tend to play favorites, though. They often have that one person in the family whom they get along with very well to the point that they would follow him or her around the house. They can be very sensitive; they will get hurt if they don’t receive the same amount of affection they give.

russian blue cat sitting in a studio

Russian Blues can entertain themselves while their masters are out of the house. They can roam around without causing destruction, unlike many other active cat breeds. Although, one thing you should note about Russian Blue cat personality is their inability to adapt to changes. They don’t like changes especially when it comes to food. You must feed them as scheduled. They won’t hesitate to wake you up because they need to eat.

Since we are talking about food, here’s another thing you should take note of if you are interested in taking care of a Russian Blue—they won’t say no to food. Because of this trait, they are very prone to weight gain.

Main Highlights

  • Like most natural cat breeds, there is little information about the origin of the Russian Blue. One legend has it that they are the direct descendants of the cats of Russian Tsars.

  • Russian Blues are gifted with a short and dense coat that doesn’t shed a lot. Their coat is colored blue. It is complemented by large and round vivid green eyes.

  • The Russian Blue is a medium-sized cat with long bones and a muscular body—earning them the nickname “Doberman Pinscher of Cats.” They also have other nicknames like “the Mona Lisa of Cats,” which refers to their enigmatic smile, and “Archangel Blues.”

  • Russian Blue cats are shy and reserved especially around strangers. It can take quite a long period of socialization before they would get comfortable around other people. But when they get comfy with their masters and their family members, they can be very affectionate to the point that they will follow you everywhere you go.

  • Russian Blues may have a beautiful and colorful coat, but they are surprisingly a low-maintenance cat. You’ll only have to brush them twice a week.

  • Russian Blues are generally healthy cats but can be prone to weight problems. It is recommended that their owners keep a close eye on the amount of food as well as the frequency of the meals given to their pets.

Breed History

The Russian Blue is said to trace their roots to the port of Arkhangelsk in Russia. In fact, this is the reason why they’re also called the Archangel Blues. Legend has it that sailors took them away from the Archangel Isles and brought them to Northern Europe and Great Britain in the mid-19th century. There may be some truth to this legend as the dense and plush coat of the cat may have been developed after they were exposed to the long winters up north in Russia.

The first Russian Blue outside of Russia was recorded in 1875 at the Crystal Palace. Named the Archangel Cat, he competed in a cat show against other blue cats. One newspaper report described him as very handsome and furry, with the same report describing him to be a look-alike of the wild grey rabbit.

russian blue cat lying down and looking away

In 1890, a British cat fancier named Carew-Cox started to import the cats and breed them. By the turn of the century, Russian Blues had developed a characteristic short and silvery blue fur with large ears, lean faces, and a set of wide eyes. Of course, they also had the sweet and intelligent personalities which are considered hallmark Russian Blue characteristics.

Russian Blues are so beautiful and striking that soon, other nicknames were coined for them—like “the Foreign Blue” and even “the Mona Lisa of cats” due to their enigmatic smiles. Other nicknames for this cat breed are:

  • Russian Shorthair

  • Maltese Cat

  • Blue Maltese Cat

  • Spanish Cat

  • Spanish Blue Cat

  • Russo-American Blue

  • Chartreuse Blue

  • Blue Russian Cat

The breed almost became extinct during the Second World War as only a few cats survived. Breeders, particularly from Great Britain, turned to other breeds like the Siamese to help revive the Russian Blue bloodline. The infusion of Siamese blood into the Russian Blue breed gave the latter a more extreme look while affecting the texture of their coat.

The move paid dividends as the breed was saved from potential extinction. In the United States, American breeders started developing their own lines from Russian Blues imported after World War II. The breed was first registered in 1949 with the Cat Fanciers’ Association.


Russian Blues are medium-sized cats blessed with a long and muscular body. They have a long and thin tail and round paws. Their head is shaped like a wedge. They can weigh from 7 to 12 pounds. This cat breed is gifted with a set of large and almond-shaped eyes. It is undeniable that the eyes give Russian Blues a more exotic appearance.

russian blue cat lying on a wooden floor in the yard

Russian Blue kittens are actually born with yellow eyes. The color, however, changes to bright green once they reach their fourth month. As they mature, the color shifts into a bright green that further complements the amazing blue-silver coat of the cat. Moreover, the eyes are slightly slanted at the upper corners—giving them a sweet expression.

Personality and Character

Russian Blues may have the beauty to captivate the fancy of any cat lover, but surprisingly, this cat breed is known to be shy and timid. They won’t be the first pet to line up and greet your visitors. In fact, they may not even show up at all when you call them out whenever there’s a guest in your house.

Aside from being shy, another trademark trait of Russian Blue temperament is their inability to adapt to changes. They abhor changes—preferring routine instead. They can get upset when their meal times are adjusted, for instance.

squinting-russian-blue-cat looking up to his owner

They may appear like a Prima Donna, but they can really be a lovable pet. They love being around their owner. They would follow you when you are at home and demand some playtime. Russian Blues can entertain themselves when their owners are not around. However, they could grow lonely if they are always left alone for extended periods of time.

Health and Potential Problems

As a naturally-occurring breed, they are genetically healthy. Russian Blue lifespan can reach up to 15 years. Russian Blues have no known health problems specifically associated with them, but as you will learn later on, Russian Blues are prone to overeating. Aside from watching their food intake to prevent obesity, you may have to avoid giving them dry food too often because this can cause vomiting.

Russian-blue-cat sitting in nature

Just like any other cat breeds, Russian Blues may develop food allergies which can manifest as rashes and at times result in increased shedding. Food allergy is a very common side effect found in cat foods rich in carbohydrates and grains, so you might want to give them protein-rich foods instead.

Care Features

This cat breed thrives well both indoors and outdoors. Their thick double-coat allows them to withstand the harsh cold weather, just like their ancestors. But because of their propensity to spend most of their time indoors, they are pets who would do well in apartments and condos.

Although the Russian Blue is a gentle, quiet, and shy cat, around the people they actually know and love, they will come out of their shells and show their playful nature. They won’t say no to a game of fetch. They also love climbing or jumping to high places, so we suggest investing in tall cat perches such as cat condos or cat shelves.

close-up image of a cute russian blue cat sitting

These cats are also very particular with their litter box. They are generally clean animals who demand that their litter box be kept clean all the time. Russian Blues will use another place to relieve themselves if they find their litter box dirty.

Feeding Schedule

While they can be shy with other people, they aren’t shy about their love of food. They tend to overeat, which makes them prone to developing weight problems. The best way to prevent this is to measure their food intake and give it only at assigned times. You’ll also have to remind your housemates not to give the cat too many treats. Also, if you keep them on a dry food diet, be sure to mix it up with wet food to balance their nutrient intake.

close-up of a Russian-blue-cat

Another way to ensure that Russian Blues don’t become overweight is to encourage them to play and exercise. The good news is that this breed can be very playful. They will be more than happy to chase toys. Make time for at least 20 minutes of daily play with them not only to keep them fit but also to prevent them from becoming anxious.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

As you may have deduced from their name, Russian Blues have a blue coat. The color may vary from light to gray with a silver sheen. However, in some countries, other color variations like white, red, and black are accepted. They’re known as the Russian Whites, Russian Reds, and Russian Blacks.

The coat isn’t just the most eye-catching physical feature of the Russian Blues, but it also makes them appear bigger than their actual size because it is, in reality, a double coat. The dense coat is silky and plush. It also shimmers when reflected with light.

Despite having a double coat, Russian Blues are considered to be low maintenance cats. Most Russian Blues don’t shed a lot of hair although it is also possible for some felines to shed heavily. This can be attributed to their lifestyle and poor diet. Russian Blues who spend most of their times outdoor are also more prone to heavy shedding.

close-up of a beautiful close-up of a Russian-blue-cat

Seasons can also be considered a contributory factor. Russian Blues experience more shedding during spring and autumn. Therefore, you may have to brush your pet up to four times a week. Still, if you keep them mostly indoors and feed them high-quality food, you’d only need to brush them twice a week to maintain their beautiful coat. Regular brushing can remove dead hair as well as distribute skin oils.

Trimming nails should also be part of a Russian Blue cat’s grooming routine. Their nails should be trimmed every two weeks to prevent breaking and splitting. Brushing their teeth at least once a week is also recommended.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Russian Blues are very friendly with children—especially those who treat them well. They are also quite tolerant of toddlers who may clumsily pat them, especially if the children are a part of the family.

Russian blue cat with big black eyes  playing with a toy in house

Still, this doesn’t mean that you should not supervise young children who may be interested in playing with the cat. They’ll likely walk away or climb to a higher place to escape rough treatment. Russian Blues can also get along well with other animals like dogs as long as those animals won’t be a menace to them. It’s advisable to introduce them to other pets in a slow and controlled manner.

Wrap Up

Russian Blue cats won’t make the list of the most active cats, but they can be on the short list of the most beautiful. Their blue double coat coupled with their green eyes give them a very unique look.

They may be one of the most physically-gifted cats, but they’re amazingly timid. They are very shy around people especially those they don’t know. But that trait endears them to a lot of people. Russian Blues may be as meek as a lamb, but they are also very affectionate with their masters. Moreover, these are low-maintenance felines who won’t give you a lot of pressure as far as grooming is concerned.

Russian blue cat with big black eyes laying on the bed.

Are you excited to own a Russian Blue anytime soon? If you’re actually looking for a more outgoing cat, check this breed out. These foxy felines don’t lose out to the Russian Blues in terms of beauty and grace. Let us hear your thoughts about the Russian Blue by writing in the comments section below!

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.