It's not just the popular and beautiful Russian Blue that is native to Russia. If you're interested in other Russian Cat Breeds, we have outlined five domestic cats that have their origins in this Slavic nation.
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The Donskoy came about by accident relatively recently. A professor at the State Pedagogical Institute in Roston-on-Don in Russia rescued a kitten being cruelly treated by a group of boys in 1987.
This little female began losing her hair and, despite the professor's efforts, she remained hairless. After mating with a local tomcat, the subsequent litter contained a number of hairless kittens. Although there was little interest in the litters produced by this cat, named Varvara, when a professional breeder took on one of the kittens, a breeding programme began. The cat was referred to as the Don Sphynx. They were named after the river Don and in recognition of their similarity to the famous hairless breed— the Sphynx. The breed is sometimes also referred to as the Don Hairless and the Russian Hairless.
Known for being affectionate and smart, the Donskoy is sometimes seen as being rather dog-like in terms of how sociable they are. They're a popular choice for people that have allergies. Although there's no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic cat, the hairless Donskoy only minimally sheds dander.
These cats will suit a household where they'll have company for most of the day. If you live in a cold climate, be prepared to keep the heating on, and your Donskoy may even appreciate a little sweater to help keep them cosy.
Given how rare and unusual Donskoys are, and the fact that they're susceptible to the cold and sunburn in hot weather, they're best suited to being indoor cats. They'll also need daily wipe-downs and monthly baths to help prevent a build-up of oil that can lead to skin problems.
Height: 11 to 12 inches
Weight: 6 to 12 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Rubber Bald, Flocked, Velour, and Brush coat types, various colors
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The Kurilian Bobtail, unlike most other cats on this list, is a naturally occurring breed that has not been selectively bred. They lived on the Sakhalin Island and the Kamchatka peninsula of Russia for over 200 years. They could also be found on the Kuril Archipelago, which joins Russia with Japan
It was only when the Islands began to be used as bases for the military and researchers, that the cats, with their distinctive, naturally stumpy, pom-pom tail, were discovered by a wider audience.
Growing in popularity across Europe, they're still rare in the United States. The Kurilian may have the look of a wild cat, but they're surprisingly mild-mannered and affectionate and can make very sociable pets.
Given their feral heritage, be prepared for your Kurilian being a prolific hunter, and you'll have to ensure they get plenty of exercise and enrichment as they're an active and athletic breed.
Height: 9 to 12 inches
Weight: 11 to 15lbs
Physical Characteristics: Soft, silky short or semi-long coat, distinctive bobtail; colors most commonly seen are red, to grey, to bobtail stripes
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The Mekong Bobtail, which used to be referred to as the Thai Bobtail, was named after the famous river that runs through Southeast Asia. Although the breed occurred naturally in Asian countries located along the river, the Mekong Bobtail wasn't formally developed as a breed until it was imported to Russia.
The founding stock for the Mekong that we know today were a large number of cats that had been gifted to the Russian Emperor Nicholas II by the King of Siam in the 19th century. These cats were bred with other bobtail cats, and possibly also Siamese cats, to arrive at the look and temperament they have today.
The breed can be easily confused for being a Siamese as they have the same color pointings and piercing blue eyes. Their body is shaped slightly differently, though, and they, of course, have a stumpy bobtail. Like the Siamese, the Mekong Bobtail is known for being friendly, playful, curious and sociable.
Height: 7 to 9 inches
Weight: 8 to 10 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Medium-build, athletic cat; they look similar to a Siamese with a bobtail; have a short, smooth coat that comes in a variety of pointed colors
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This breeds definitive origins aren't clear, although it's widely accepted that they're native to Russia. They were previously named Archangel cats with reference to the ships they were found on that had sailed from Russia's Archangel Island or Arkhangelsk. Russian Blues, with their athletic and graceful appearance, were favored by the Tsars of Russia during the 19th century.
Blues came to the attention of cat fanciers outwith the country when a British breeder imported them in the late 19th century. They were among the first breeds to be presented at the early cat shows in England.
World War II almost resulted in the breed becoming extinct, but a small number remained and Americans began to develop their own lines from cats imported after the War. Their numbers grew, and they're now the most popular of the Russian cat breeds.
With their striking blue/gray coat, elegant physique, and large green eyes, Russian Blues are certainly attractive. They do tend to have rather reserved natures and can be wary of strangers, but, once they get to know you, they develop strong bonds. They're gentle, affectionate and playful, but still independent enough that they'll usually be content if they have to entertain themselves for a few hours a day.
You may hear people saying that Russian Blues are a hypoallergenic cat breed. No cat is ever truly hypoallergenic, but it has been suggested that this breed produces less dander than some. For those with mild allergies, Blues may not cause as strong a reaction as some other cats would.
Height: 8 to 10 inches
Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Their short, dense coat comes in silver to dark gray shades; they have bright green eyesContinue to 5 of 5 below.
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This breed hails from the Siberian taiga, a vast forested subarctic region in eastern Russia. The region has very long, extremely cold winters and short mild summers. This is why the Siberian Cat has a very dense, semi-longhaired, triple coat which would keep them well insulated in these conditions.
Siberians frequently feature in Russian folktales, and their history goes back at least a few hundred years, and possibly even longer. They proved popular with the local communities as their hunting skills helped to keep grain stores and other food sources free from vermin. The breed didn't gain international recognition until relatively recently. After the cold war ended in the late 20th century, Siberians were imported to the United States, and their popularity is continuing to grow.
Known for being affectionate, Siberians love to be in the company of their humans. They're also playful, active and intelligent and will need plenty of enrichment to keep them from becoming bored. Like, the Russian Blue, the Siberian doesn't produce as much dander as some breeds, so they're less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Although their thick coat sheds profusely during its annual blowouts, it's not prone to matting. This means their grooming regime isn't too intensive.
Height: 8 to 10 inches
Weight: 8 to 15 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized, semi-longhaired, strong and agile cat; their coat varies from coarse to soft; moderately long to longhaired triple coat with a full collar ruff; they come in a wide variety of colors
These Russian cat breeds all have their own unique appearances, temperaments and care requirements.
Before making a decision to bring home a kitten or adopt a cat, you should always do your research to make sure the breed you're considering will be suited to your lifestyle and home arrangements.
It's also important to make sure you seek out a reputable breeder or rescue organization.