Liquid silk, a connoisseur’s cat that will ignite your heart, let your self be mesmerised by the eyes that will look at you with a hundred years of breeding behind them. She will smile at you and place her delicate paw on your hand telling you stories of Cossacks, Queens and Empresses, of journeys over seas with sailors in a quiet voice.
Steeped in mystery and myth this cat comes with a reviered past, linking it to many a folk tale in Russia involving good luck to the home. Is it any wonder that these cats were taken aboard Russian ships.
Thought to have originated from the Archangelsk port of Northern Russia it became known originally in England as the Archangel cat and is documented as one of the oldest known natural breeds in today’s cat fancy.
The Russians we now know in South Africa can trace their pedigree’s back to England and Northern Europe, perhaps even to those first seen at a cat show held in England in 1875.
Although having a relatively long history in the cat fancy the Russian remains a fairly rare breed with only a hand full of breeding cats here in South Africa and world wide only a few hundred registered breeders.
Known for their athletic elegant build (likened to a swimmer or dancer) they are a medium sized cat with the females being smaller in size to the males, however they all give the impression of walking on egg shells with their dainty feet. The first thing that you will notice about the Russian is its plush short thick silver coat, found on no other breed. Each hair is a medium blue tipped in silver giving it a shimmer, its double coat ideal for cold conditions stands at 45 degrees away from its body and if you trace your fingers through the fur the marks made will remain until groomed away. The almond shaped eyes are the next thing you will notice; they are a vivid green and set wide apart. The profile is straight ending with the chin firm and muzzle being prominent. The ears are large and set on top of the head, the expression is referred to as the “drunken donkey look” in the cat fancy and I do believe the smile these cats always seem to have is that of this intelligent breed’s private joke of being anything but. The Russian is mainly seen in Blue but they are also found in Black, White and Tabby. The Russian White is pure white magic and the tipping gives it the look of sparkling crystal or perhaps frost on snow. The Russian Black shimmers like a raven’s wing, the panther of the breed. The Russian Tabby is simply a delight to behold with their unusual markings.
Personality, Health & Habits
Addictive is probably the best way to describe their personality. The Russian will take your heart captive and hold it to ransom and the result will be another Russian, for once you have come to know one your house will not be the same with out another. They are very sensitive to your mood and know exactly what you need whether it be a purr and a head butt or to hang upside down from a scratch pole to make you laugh. Gentle and quiet they will talk to you in the tiniest little meow’s.
How ever be warned, as a kitten they can be quite a handful having been described as naughty with their inquisitiveness getting them into constant trouble. Rescuing one off the top of a door, you will wonder how on earth they got there. But who can be angered by a cat that comes running when you call it or sits waiting at the door when you return home from work?
The Russian is a healthy hearty breed known to live into their mid to late teens given the right environment and nutrition. They are a very playful breed being knows as clowns and even in later years will exude kittenish behaviour. They love to play fetch and will train their humans to throw toys for them, bringing the object back over and over again and placing it in your hand. The Russian is very adaptable and although known to be *fairly reserved they will settle into and accept most environments. They tend to be very sociable and will get on with pretty much all breeds of cats especially loving kittens or playful breeds like themselves. The Russian is exceptionally gentle and will not scratch or bite maliciously. To sum up a Russian in just a few hundred words is near impossible the only way to get to know the multifaceted, intelligent, loyal, loving and gentle breed is to own one and then you will understand what a true aristocrat is all about.
*Testimonials from Russian owners here in South Africa show them to be anything but reserved.
As a breeder now of all four of the colours it must be noted that all colours were accepted and registered in England in the late 1800's ... proof being these quotes:
"The earliest registrations in the years 1898 to 1899 show that a Mr Brooks imported a white Russian female, no name given; another white Russian was registered as "Granny". There was also "Olga", a Russian Blue with a white spot."
The Cat by Grace Pond this book was printed in London in 1974 and reprinted in 1975,1980,1982.
The Book of The Cat by Francis Simpson, printed in 1903 also has an article
By Mrs Carew Coxs
Quote "In 1890 I owned a very pretty soft-looking blue female- she was in fact, a blue tabby (one of Canon Girdlestone's breed); also a male of the same variety".
"On the Continent two main types of black cats are to be found, the short, thick set Cobby type with round yellow eyes, and the slim,elongated, small boned type with pointed heads and almond shaped green eyes. From very early on, these cats would throw blue sports, as they are called, and these gradually extended their range all over the continent from Chartruse to the Baltic . . .Buffon, in his natural history, lists a shorthaired blue, orange-eyed cats, as existing more than 200 years ago. These cats are somewhat similar to present day British Blues, though much more powerfully built. The green-eyed blues were to be found mainly in the Northern half of the Continent, and as the climate grew steadily more severe, they were found to have beautiful thick short, sleek hair which protected them from the rigours of the Northern winter. These cats lived mainly in the woods, and made their homes with people only in the winter when food was scarce. Some of them were brought over to England at the end of the last century, and they became the earliest ancestors of present day Russian Blues. We are indebted to Frances Simpson for most of the information."
"The Field", May 30, 1968
F.H. Laugher, V.P.
Russian Blue Newsletter Editor
So now that we know that the Russian originally came in the variety of colours it is only fitting that Dick and Mavis Jones started up a breeding program to re-introduce them. All of my Russian colours can trace their pedigree back to the Jones's original Russian White that they imported to Australia.
You can read more here and of course here.