Russian Blues of Russia and America

This is an attempt to make a comparison between how Russians breed the Russian Blue and how Americans do it. Are there any differences? If so why? And how has the breed evolved over the past 100 years? Historically, there is often a substantial difference between how Russian and American breeders bred purebred cats. This should be because of the differences in the breed standards. There are differences in breed standards because Americans generally follow the CFA and TICA while Russians follow FiFé and WCF (World Cat Federation).

I don’t profess to have all the answers, far from it, but I do have a pictorial comparison and I can refer to the cat association’s breed standard in an attempt to make sense of the difference. I fail in that purpose by the way.

Russian Blues of Russia and America

Russian Blues of Russia and America. Photo of Russian, Russian Blue by Nickolas Titkov. Photo of American Russian Blue copyright Helmi Flick. The 1889 drawing is in the public domain in my opinion.

The examples in the picture show a difference between the Russian and American cats. Is it significant? Perhaps these two examples are not typical. The Russian cat is less slender or perhaps an American would say it is less “refined”. The American cat looks more “foreign” (slender) and the Russian cat looks more standard in shape. I have to say, there is a big difference in the placement of the ears.. The American cat’s ears are much more on top of the head. Ear placement is a factor in breed standards.

What I can do is to refer to the breed standard adhered to by Russian and American breeders to see if the breed standard guides breeders in different directions.

The Russian breeder of the cat in the picture followed the FiFé standard, a European cat association. Their FiFé breed standard for the head of the Russian Blue is:

Short wedge, skull long and flat. In profile forehead and nose form a convex angle at the same level as the eyebrows…

This makes little sense to me, I have to say. It is typical cat association language. What is a “flat skull” in this context? What is a “short wedge”? Does this mean a short face and if so why is the skull also “long”. I presume a “long skull” means a long face, Siamese style. If that is true the cat in the picture is less likely to meet the the FiFe breed standard than the American cat. Result: confusion.

OK, what does a major American cat association such as the CFA, say about the head of a Russian Blue? This is the first part of their breed standard:

..smooth, medium wedge, neither long and tapering nor short and massive…

Well, the CFA standard seems to be promoting a more normal looking cat than the FiFé standard, which is unintelligible to anyone but the most ardent cat breeder with insider information.

Incidentally, both cats are substantially different to the original 1889 Russian Blue. Of course this is a drawing by Harrison Weir. However, he was a very knowledgeable cat fancier and an excellent draftsman. I would expect the drawing to be reasonably accurate.

The Russian Blue drawn by Harrison Weir was not considered to be a distinct cat breed by Mr Weir. He thought that this cat was simply a light colored black cat (dilute black moggie). He called the cat in the drawing above an “Archanget Blue Cat” in reference to the place, Archangel, on the north coast of Russian from whence this cat originates.


  • The breed standards are bizarre and need clarification, a picture perhaps?
  • The Russian Blue has changed in appearance since its beginnings
  • The American, Russian Blue is more “refined” or more slender. Americans don’t like middle of the road appearances. They favor more extreme styles.
  • The Russian, Russian Blue is more standard in appearance.
  • The ears are wildly different in position. Why? The FiFé standard does not refer to position: “Large and rather pointed, wide at the base.” The CFA say “rather large and wide at the base…Set far apart, as much on the side as on the top of the head.”. The two standards don’t really help but it seems the Russian cat is more in tune with the American breed standard.

Breeding is not a science. The breed standards are rather odd to me.

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Russian Blues of Russia and America — 5 Comments

  1. Late August 1976 we had the privilege of being adopted by a young cat (4-5 months old) he was different than most cats, our motto is to take new member to vet, we learned that Keke was in fact a purebred American Russian Blue, a gorgeous male with striking green eyes. He adopted my husband & would take showers ONLY when Frank was taking one (perched on shoulder, wish I had taken pics).
    Enjoyed riding in cars/trucks, if Keke found an open window he’s sneak in, not surpringly scaring driver out of wits, chased large dogs (esp Dobermans) but terrified of birds, sadly our green eye American Russian Blue succumbed to renal failure & was PTS early October 1988, twenty four years later, we still miss him & his antics:
    Taking showers with my husband but only with him. Playing with water hose so someone would turn it on for him, riding as a king on hood while my husband drove about 5 mph around local shopping center.
    Southeast Arizona (USA)

  2. Hi

    We had a beautiful Russian Blue called Dakota, which means taken as a friend. We lost him at 13 years of sge along with his other sibing pet family in a fire Dec. 11/10 which was sad for us as we had him since he was a baby and of course, losing all our other babies. He was a handsome boy indeed All our baby pet picture were also lost in the fire but he will always be in our hearts.

  3. The Russian one in the photo looks rather like a couple of burmese cats I know in Finland. Finland is right next to Russia I suppose. May its just sa random observation. I do prefer the look of the Russian one. They are both nice but the Russian one is a bit more special looking with those far apart ears. Cat breed standards are probably about as wierd as what people who run modeling agencies talk about as standards for humans. It’s all rather unattractive and weirdly objectifying to value animals according to sets of physical standards which are purley fabricated according to human preference and, dare I say it, fashion even.

    • Agreed. For me too there is something very odd and frankly not that pleasant about describing a cat’s anatomy in these ways and then trying to sculpt a cat into that shape through selective breeding. From what I can tell Russians have different ideas about cat breeding to Americans.

      I have always found the language of breed standards hard to comprehend. They are written for breeders, insiders. They should be written for everyone.

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