For several decades after the cat fancy had been started in Great Britain in 1871, all shorthaired blue cats competed in one class. Some members of that class were homebred domestic shorthairs. Others were foreign-born cats known by a variety of names: Archangel Cats, Russian Blues, Spanish Blues, Chartreuse Blues and American Blues. Harrison Weir, the father of the cat fancy, did not believe that blue cats constituted a distinct breed. They were “merely a light coloured form of the black cat,” wrote Weir in 1889. He was “bound to admit,” however, that blue cats from Archangel “were of a deeper, purer tint than the English crossbreds.”
Archangel cats were named after the city of Arkhangelsk, a port on the White Sea about 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Whether they actually originated in or about this city is not certain, but they most probably did originate in Russia; and they were, most probably, carried to Western Europe by sailors in the 1860s.
Body Structure:The Russian Blue is a fine-boned cat with a long, firm,muscular body that is lithe and graceful without being tubular in the manner of the Oriental breeds. The Russian’s head is a smooth, medium wedge, neither long and tapering nor short and massive. The muzzle is blunt without an exaggerated whisker break. The top of the skull is long and flat in profile, descending gently to a point just above the eyes and continuing at a slight downward angle in a straight line to the tip of the medium-length nose. There is no stop or nose break, and the length of the nose should be shorter than the length of the line from the top of the skull to the eyes.
Large ears, wide at the base, and more pointed than rounded, crown the Russian Blue head. The ears are set far apart, as much on the side of the head as on the top.
Eyes:Wide-set, vivid-green eyes, at least one eye’s width apart, confer a broad look to the Russian Blue’s face. The eyes, according to most registries, should be round; but the American Cat Fanciers Association prefers eyes that are “almost round, just oval enough to show an oriental slant.”
Coat:The Russian Blue has a short, dense, fine double coat that stands out from the body. In a double coat the two outermost layers of hair, the guard hairs and the awn hairs, are the same length.
Color:An even, bright blue throughout, the soft, silky coat has silver-tipped guard hairs that give it a silvery, lustrous appearance.