Today's Russian Blue

We have records of early breeding programs and key cats such as Theydon Fairy Prince however World War I and World War II intervened between our knowledge of the very early Russian Blues and today's cat.  "In 1939 when war broke out, descendants of the old Blue Foreigns (an old designation for the Russian Blue) or Archangel cats were to be found at the famous Theydon Bois cattery owned by Miss Pelly.  They were Theydon Blue Boy and Theydon Fairy Prince."  (Source:  Cat World, September-October 1974,  The Archangel Cat by Florence Laugher)  As far as we know, all the offspring of Theydon Blue Boy were lost during the war however Dunloe Silver Toes traces back to Theydon Fairy Prince and many pedigrees can trace back to Dunloe Silver Toes.  Key British lines include Archon (especially Archon Niccolo), Sylphides, Meadliam, Jennymay and Crumberhill.

World War II in particular had a major impact on the cat fancy in Europe and Siamese were introduced into the breeding programs to preserve the lines and maintain genetic diversity.  Key Siamese that were used in breeding programs are:  Lela Do, Southampton Tinky Too (Great Britain) and Longfellow of Annam (Scandinavia).  The Siamese outcrosses also introduced the pointed gene which still shows up in litters occasionally.  However, Russian Blue breeders were, and are, adamant about maintaining the uniqueness of their breed and, unlike other breeds, recognition of them is not desired.  The pointed gene came about as a byproduct of preserving the breed and not as part of a breeding program.  This decision has recently been affirmed by the majority of modern breeders when FIFe made the decision not to recognize the pointed cats.  Nowhere in the world are the pointed cats recognized.

The Scandinavians were also working with the Russian Blue cats.  Pierrette and Pan du Bois are widely regarded as two of the original cats used in their modern breeding programs.  Pierrette was bred to Long fellow of Anna (Siamese) to produce another famous cat, Muzzette (of Rossia). The Scandinavian cats developed along a different line although they too used the Siamese as an outcries.  The magnificent Scandinavian cats also contributed key cats to the Russian Blue breed worldwide -- cats such as Kabbbarps Blue Iris and Bounty Blue Lefine (who were both imported to Britain) as well as Pavel af Braheborg and Erosjina who were imported to the USA.  Key Scandinavian lines are:  Lefine, Kabbarps, Braheborg, Guldvingen and Skvallergrand.

When we think about the breed today, we think of the magnificent emerald eye color as coming from the Scandinavian cats and the paler color as coming from the British cats.  It is hard to get the best features of both in one cat as the lighter coats and the darker eye color tend to be mutually exclusive.  North American breeders have worked to contribute elegance and balance to the breed -- nowhere is that contribution more evident than in the refinement of lines and the position of the ears to continue in harmony with the planes of the face.  Temperament has often been an issue throughout the history of the breed.  The cats could be very difficult to handle at shows.  Again, North American breeders have focused on the temperament and today's Russian Blue is much more amenable to the show environment.  Velva, Tsar Blu, Jontue, Ro-Lin, and Blue Sands are behind many of the Russian Blues in today's showring.

Nowhere in the world can one read a Russian Blue pedigree without eventually coming back to cats from these breeders.  Throughout the modern years, Russian Blues have been exchanged throughout the world which has contributed to the overall strength of our breed and to the basic stability of the type.  The Russian Blue has maintained throughout the years -- and soon throughout the centuries -- a common set of characteristics which are summed up in this 1951 description:
"The Russian Blue differs entirely from the British in every way save color.  The body of the Russian is long and svelte, the head long and wedge-shaped, the ears wide at the base, large and pointed, the legs long and slender, the eyes a deep grass-green, and the coat of the texture of sealskin or plush."
Not so very different from the description in today's TICA standard:
"The Russian Blue is a distinctively elegant cat of foreign body type with an angular, modified wedge-shaped head consisting of seven flat planes.  The slightly upturned corners of the mouth give a sweet smiling facial expressions.  Its most outstanding feature is its double coat:  short, silky and upstanding, like the coat of a seal or a beaver.  Of a medium blue color with silver tipping of the guard hairs, the coat reflects light, giving a silvery sheen to the fur.  Eye Color: As vividly green as possible at maturity.  Ears:  Almost as wide at base as tall; appear pointed; slightly rounded tips...Body:  Foreign, long, lithe, slender, solid weight without excessive bulk...Legs:  Long, fine."

Standards throughout the associations around the world are similar.  There are differences in interpretation but even these remain merely interpretations and a perspective of balance and are primarily focused on the set of the ears and the interpretation of the blue color tipped with silver.

All associations appear to have the desire to have the ears set as much on the top as on the side.  The difference comes in the direction in which the ears point as a result.  Some associations want the ear to point vertically where others prefer the ears to continue the flow of the planes in the modified wedge and point outward rather than vertically.  North American associations and Finland all prefer that the ear point outward and maintain the balance and flow of the head.

Color is critical in the Russian Blue -- just how much silver tipping, and how pale a base coat are a major topic of discussion.  European cats, particularly the Scandinavian cats, tend to be darker and with less silver tipping.  North American cats tend to have a lighter, brighter base coat with heavier tipping.  But all agree that the coat should be blue and tipped with silver -- the coat should never be so light or so dark as to obscure the tipping and the silver tips should never be so heavy as to obscure the base coat.  In other words, the cat should NEVER appear as one color, whether that one color be silver (because of too much tipping or too light a base coat blending into the silver tips) or gray (because of too little tipping).  The contrast must always exist giving the cat a shimmering appearance.