There are many things that come to mind when one mentions “Russia.” Vodka is one; the Matryoshkas dolls another. But for us feline lovers, Russian cat breeds are undoubtedly what remind us most of this old superpower.
Russian cat breeds are considered among the best in the world for their unique physical features and endearing personalities. If you’ve always wanted to get a Russian cat breed, then continue reading to determine which breed best suits your preferences.
In this article, we will take a look at eight of the most popular Russian cat breeds in the world. We will focus on their unique features. By the time you are through reading this article, you should have a better appreciation of each Russian cat breed. And more importantly, you will have an idea of which breed to adopt.
#1: Russian Blue
Without a doubt, the Russian Blue is the most famous of all the cat breeds which trace their origins to Russia. It is so popular that it has numerous tales regarding its origins. But up to this day, most of those tales have not been backed with any facts. Still, that doesn’t take away from the aura of mystique that the Russian Blue exudes.
One legend has it that the Russian Blue descended from royal cats owned and cared for by the Russian Tsars. There’s also the story that the cat breed actually originated from the Archangel Isles in Northern Russia, which earned for it the nickname of Archangel Cat. Moreover, there is also the belief that the Russian Blue brings good luck and healing to their owners.
While none of those stories have been proven true, there’s no disputing the fact that the Russian Blue really originated from the world’s largest country. Their thick coat, for one, suggests that they developed the physical characteristics required to survive in colder climates.
The Russian Blue is beautiful with a long, slender body, large ears, wide eyes, and lean faces. They are gentle and quiet—at times very shy. While they do have a reserved nature, the Russian Blue is very affectionate with people they know. They love to play, jump, and climb to high places.
#2: Siberian Cat
Like the Russian Blue, the Siberian cat has a name suggesting it originated from Russia. The cat breed originated from the forested area of Siberia notorious for its cold climate, leading to the feline developing a long, thick, and protective coat.
Moreover, the cat has been known in Russia for more than a thousand years. In fact, this cat is often mentioned in many Russian folktales. Siberian cats are well-known in Russia for their ability to keep rats away.
Since their ancestors were forest dwellers, the Siberian cat today has a unique characteristic—they like playing with water. So don’t be shocked if you see a Siberian cat drinking from a fountain or playing with water in a tub—that is in their nature.
The Siberian is a calm and cool cat who won’t mind living in a noisy household. Their calm demeanor makes them excellent therapy cats. They will be more than happy to snuggle with you when you are feeling down or sick. And while they crave attention, they can be patient enough to wait until you are free to spend more time with them.
The Donskoy won’t ring a bell the way a Russian cat or a Siberian cat would, but this doesn’t mean that they are not as endearing as the other cat breeds. Discovered by Elena Kovaleva, a cat breeder, in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don in the 1980s, the Donskoy is also known as the Don Sphynx.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this cat breed is related to the Sphynx. On the contrary, the cat breed is very different from the Sphynx, even though both of them are hairless. These cats have elastic skin and large wrinkles under their cheeks, chin, and jowls.
The Donskoy is a cat breed best known for being hairless. While they are hairless, they do have a coat which can either be brush, flock, rubber bald, or velour. They also come in all colors.
The Donskoy can be a great addition to your household. Their natural playfulness makes them an active part of the family. They are also very inquisitive, friendly, intelligent, and affectionate. They are also easy to handle and groom. These social cats like to be around other felines and pets, so don’t make the mistake of keeping a single Donskoy in your home.
#4: Kurilian Bobtail
The Kurilian Bobtail is a very unique breed. The residents of Kuril Islands have loved these cats for more than two centuries because they are great at hunting rodents. They can easily manage rodent populations in any area. Their hunting skills are also noteworthy—they can fish salmon out of rivers.
Over the past two decades, the Kurilian Bobtail has become very popular in Russia, although they’re still not that well-known in other parts of the world. The reason? Kurilian Bobtails are rare; most of them are only able to produce one litter every year.
The bobbed tail is the most prominent physical feature of the breed. Their extremely short tail, which looks like a pom-pom, is a naturally occurring genetic trait. What’s even more impressive is that every Kurilian Bobtail has their own unique tail structure, meaning it is impossible to find two Kurilian Bobtails with the same bobbed tails.
Kurilian Bobtails have a muscular build, medium to large bodies, and walnut-shaped eyes. Their heads are large and their chest broad. They also have a coat which can range from short to long.
The Kurilian Bobtail is a great addition to any household because they can get along with anyone, whether it is your kid or your dog. They can also adapt well to any environment, whether it is a noisy home or a peaceful and quiet place.
This is an intelligent, smart, and active cat who enjoys playtimes. They are also very clever and inquisitive.
#5: Nevskaya Maskaradnaya
Also known as the Nevskaya Masquerade, this cat breed originated from a crossing between a Siberian cat and a Siamese cat. Discovered in Leningrad or the modern-day Saint Petersburg in Russia, in the 1980s, the cat breed is gifted with the power and strength of Siberian cats and the beauty of Siamese cats, exemplified by their fur and eyes.
The name comes from the combination of “Neva” which pertains to the place of origin of the breed and “masquerade” which pertains to the uniquely-colored muzzles of the breed.
The Nevskaya Masquerade is a large cat by any definition. In fact, there are only two cat breeds bigger than this one—the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Maine Coon. A male Nevskaya Masquerade can weigh from 16 to 20 pounds. Females, on the other hand, weigh slightly less at around 14 pounds.
They also have a long and thick coat that won’t require frequent bathing, being water-repellent. It also won’t cause allergic reactions, so the Nevskaya Masquerade can be a good pet even for those with cat allergy.
Aside from them being big and beautiful, the breed is also noted for being healthy. They can live for 20 years without getting afflicted with any serious ailment.
The Peterbald is a truly Russian creation. This cat originated from a breeding program by Olga Mironovo in the 1990s. This breed became popular throughout the city of Saint Petersburg in Russia, and that popularity gave them the name Peterbald.
The Peterbald can be compared to the Oriental and Sphynx breeds. They look like Oriental Shorthairs although they are bald. But the breed actually has a coat with five variations—bald, flock, velour, brush, and straight. What’s more impressive is that their coat could change texture within the first two years.
Their skin can get quite oily, but naturally, you won’t have to bathe them every day. Weekly baths should suffice. On the downside, you might have to spend more on their food because Peterbalds tend to have a higher metabolism compared to cats with full coats.
Peterbalds make excellent pets because they are extremely loyal. This cat will stick it out with you come hell or high water. They act as shadows to their human masters, following them wherever they may go. They are also very affectionate and sociable.
#7: Ural Rex
Originating from Ural in Ekaterinburg, Russia, the Ural Rex is a relatively new breed. It is a medium-sized feline with a sturdy and solid body. They have thin and slender legs and small paws.
Legend has it that Ural Rex cats have been living in Ekaterinburg as early as the 1940s. However, written records state that the breed originated from a cat named Vasilij. The said feline, who was bicolored with curly hair, was mated to his mother to address the curly-coated trait. Soon, further inbreeding continued in parts of Europe, particularly in Germany.
The breed has a short to medium long coat. They have dense and fine hair. Their coat, on the other hand, is densely curled. Their tail is thin and medium in length.
The Ural Rex is a friendly and affectionate cat. They are also calm and sociable; they can co-exist with other pets in the house. They are also very tender with kids.
#8: Mekong Bobtail
Last but not least is the Mekong Bobtail—a breed which is a direct descendant of the Siamese cat. You may very well know that the Siamese cat originated in Thailand, or Siam in the old days. But the Siamese cat was also imported to Russia in the 20th century. Moreover, the earliest breed standard of this feline was proposed by a breeder from St. Petersburg, Russia, giving the breed legit Russian roots.
The Mekong Bobtail is also found in other parts of Asia such as Burma, China, Laos, Vietnam, Mongolia, Iran, and Iraq. The Mekong Bobtail has one standout trait: it is the only feline breed capable of behaving like a canine.
Aside from being playful, they like to play fetch. They can also be put on a leash. They are also loyal and trainable just like dogs. And similar to dogs, they would rather bite their enemies when angered, unlike other cats who would scratch their ways out of a fight.
This cat breed is gifted with a medium-sized body with a lean and elegant frame. They have slender legs with their hind legs being slightly longer compared to their front legs. They also have short tails. Their glossy and short coats have virtually no undercoat and thus lie close to the skin.
These cats also have strong chins with medium-sized ears that are broad at the base. You would likely fall in love with the beautiful eyes of the Mekong Bobtail. Their eyes are blue just like those of their ancestors, the Siamese cat. The eyes are also shaped like a diamond, further giving them a distinctive look.
Aside from being loyal and smart like a dog, the Mekong Bobtail is gifted with athleticism and agility. They are capable of playing for long sessions. They like to climb or jump to high places. They may be very active, but they have a gentle temperament.
They can be demanding of attention, though, so make sure that you give them enough time if and when you decide to get one. Suffice to say, this cat breed can be an excellent addition to any household.
Russia is a huge country, so it is not really surprising that many cat breeds originated from it. From the endearing Russian Blue to the loyal Mekong Bobtail, there are numerous Russian cat breeds which can steal your heart.
Now that you have a better understanding and appreciation of these Russian cat breeds, you can start deciding which of these felines you should get as your next household pet. Let us know which one you decide on. If you have other ideas, do share your cat breed of choice with us in the comments section below.
Finally, once you have decided on a Russian cat breed to adopt, check out our article on Russian cat names for inspiration.