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.
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.