British Blue vs Russian Blue cat—what's the difference?
If any two cat breeds can pass as doppelgängers, they are the Russian Blue and British Blue. They have the same plush short-haired coats with the signature greyish-blue tint, and from a distance, they even resemble in bodyweight and proportions—but that’s where the similarities end.
Spotting the British Blue vs Russian Blue cat differences is easy if you know where to look. We'll explain how to tell these breeds apart within seconds.
If you’re planning to adopt one of these breeds but struggling to make a choice, Untamed can help. Our guide will present the unique personality types of British Blues and Russian Blues and lay out the individual exercise, care, and nutrition plan you’d have to follow to preserve the long-term welfare of each breed.
British Blue cat vs Russian Blue cat—different origins
Cats with blue-tinged coats have diluted black coat genes. British Blues and Russian Blues are two prominent blue breeds, but they have entirely different origins.
The purebred Russian Blue cat—also called the Maltese, Foreign Blue, and Archangel Blue—most likely originates from Archangel Isles in Northern Russia. The breed’s early history isn’t documented well, but it is speculated that they were raised by Russian Czars.
Russian Blues were brought to the UK by British sailors in the late 1860s and eventually recognised as a unique breed in 1912. They nearly went extinct during World War II, but a handful of European breeders managed to preserve this bloodline.
The British Blue is a British Shorthair (BSH) with a blue-hued coat. The breed is also called Domestic Shorthair or English Shorthair. There are several theories regarding the origin of British Shorthairs, but according to most historians, this cuddly kitty was first created by crossbreeding Egyptian domestic cats with European wildcats.
BSH kitties have been bred with several other breeds over the decades and are believed to have a wider gene pool than Russian Blues. That’s why BSHs come in various coat colours, including golden, cream, cinnamon, and fawn, but since most purebred BSHs are blue, they are often referred to as British Blues.
What is the difference between a Russian Blue and a British Blue cat?
Russian Blues (RBs) and British Blues (BBs) may be lookalikes, but their genetics tell a different story. Let’s take their respective coats as an example. Both breeds have double-layered, thick coats ranging from dark, charcoal-ish grey to light, smokey grey, but if you observe them closely, you’ll find the following differences:
Russian Blue’s coat
British Blue’s coat
Nerding out on the intricacies of a cat’s coat may not be for everybody. Luckily, many other physical features can help you tell these breeds apart!
Best way to tell the two apart? The secret’s in their eyes!
British Blue and Russian Blue—differences in physique
You must train your eye to spot the defining features of both breeds. Refer to the following table to understand the primary physical distinctions between Russian Blues and British Blues:
Triangular to apple-like face with a protruding nose
Chubby, broad face flattened around the nose like in Persian cats
Paws and nose
Russian Blue kittens are born with yellow eyes with a bit of green pigment. The eyes turn vivid green when they’re about six months old
Like most breeds, British Blues have blue eyes as kittens that take a shade of gold to copper as they reach adulthood
3.6 to 6.8 kilos, there’s no sexual dimorphism observed in this breed
Russian Blues are smaller, leaner cats than British Blues.
Russian Blue cat vs British Blue cat—the difference in temperament
Russian Blues and British Blues have similar temperaments. On the surface, you’ll find them both fairly introverted and moderately active kitties with a sweet disposition. They are equally easy-going with dogs and kids, but if you hang out with them long enough, you can tell the slight differences in their behaviour.
A good way to look at their respective personalities is their Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality type. British Blues are usually typed as ISTJs (Introversion-Sensing-Thinking-Judging), implying that they are easily trainable and loyal to their families but dislike being cuddled or carried all the time. They need plenty of time to rest and introspect indoors, so they won’t mind being left alone for long periods. BSH kittens may be a bit destructive because of their high energy levels, but a sturdy scratching post can keep them engaged and calm.
My quality me-time includes napping, checking if the kitchen’s safe, and having intellectual conversations with the houseplant.
Source: Vu Nam
Russian Blues are INFJs (Introversion-Intuition-Feeling-Judging), so they are also reserved kitties, but their alone time is mainly directed towards observing their humans. They love cuddling but won’t mind leaving you alone if they sense you need space—they engage with you based on your mood. An RB would have a natural inclination to be “helpful” in times of need, so they’re fantastic at interactive games like fetch and hide and seek.
Unlike British Shorthairs, Russian Blues desire mental stimulation and engagement from the human they have bonded with the most. They can handle being left alone indoors but will be hurt if you keep ignoring them or don’t return the level of affection they seek.
British Blue or Russian Blue—which one to get?
Your primary consideration should be how much time you can devote to your kitty. In case you have a busy lifestyle without much time left to spend with pets, go for a British Blue/Shorthair. They’d be happy by themselves as long as they have access to food, water, and toys.
If you go for a Russian Blue, make some time for them in your daily routine. These kitties tend to bond with one family member more than the others, but who they pick is really up to them!
Russian Blues are tagged as almost hypoallergenic cats as they release less cat allergen (Fel d 1 protein) than average felines. British Shorthairs are not hypoallergenic, so they may not be ideal if you or a family member is allergic to cats.
Russian blue vs Domestic Shorthair—are there any differences in care and upkeep?
Russian Blues and British Shorthairs require similar care and upkeep. Here’s an overview of their grooming needs:
- Brushing—Russian Blues and British Blues don’t shed a lot, so you can brush them once or twice a week. Increase the frequency during early spring and autumn when they shed their coats
- Bathing—These kitties, unsurprisingly, aren’t fond of bathing. Even though it might be a challenge, try to bathe them at least once every month
- Dental care—Try to clean your kitty’s teeth every day, but if you’re pinched for time, do it at least once a week
- Nail trimming—Once every week or two should be fine for RBs and BBs
These health issues can be delayed or prevented by regular vet visits and a proper meal plan.
My radar senses my hooman could use some cuddles—always ready to oblige!
Source: Dave Sandoval
The best nutrition for Russian Blues and British Blues
Wet food made with chicken, salmon, turkey, tuna, and similar ingredients is natural to their system and contributes to bone and muscle density without making them fat. It's important to feed them whole meat and not meat derivatives, as the latter are over-processed and low in nutritional value.
Avoid giving these breeds the following food products:
- High-fat meat—Regular consumption of beef, pork, and lamb might lead to unhealthy weight gain and clogged arteries
- Dairy—Some RBs and BBs are intolerant or allergic to milk and other dairy products like cheese and ice cream. Their consumption may cause gastrointestinal issues like gagging, vomiting, and diarrhoea
- Dry food—Dry food is a popular product, but it is highly processed and often contains a lot of unhealthy binding agents like sugar and corn concentrates. These ingredients are high in carbs and cause diabetes. Kitties on a kibble diet are also at a higher risk of developing FLUTDs like UTIs and bladder stones
- Raw meat—Stored raw products are not recommended for British Shorthairs and Russian Blues as the risk of bacterial contamination can never be eliminated completely. Consuming anything toxic can turn into a life-threatening case of food poisoning
Russian Blue or British Blue, everyone’s drooling over whole-meat delicacies from Untamed.
Image (c) Untamed
Try Untamed—the best wet food for RBs and BSHs
- Protein content—Our meals have 60%–63% whole meat, which is double the industry average. We only use human-grade meat rich in taurine, iron, and vitamin E
- Cooking methods—We know what harsh processing can do to the nutritional value and taste of food. That’s why we stick to gentle steaming that preserves the heat-sensitive nutrients
- Allergies and sensitivities—We make meals with hypoallergenic ingredients and skip harsh additives to ensure even kitties with sensitive tummies enjoy our food
- Taste—Open a can of Untamed, and even the fussiest of cats will start pawing at you for a bite. Many cats who’ve rejected wet food before are now in love with our tender and aromatic dishes!
- Variety—British Shorthairs and Russian Blues love variety on the menu. Untamed offers numerous options, including chicken, liver, ham, salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, duck, shrimp, and prawns
Untamed will grab your kitty’s attention right from the first sniff!
Image (c) Untamed
We provide reliable nutrition at every life stage
You don’t have to worry about changing cat food as your kitty develops. Since Untamed uses only lean meat, it is processed effortlessly by a kitty’s carnivorous digestive system at any life stage. Here’s how our food complements:
- Kittens—Once your kitten is weaned off milk, give them our high-protein wet food. With a proper feeding schedule, they will:
- Adult cats—Our dishes are grain-free and sugar-free, which keeps adult cats from piling on unnecessary pounds due to extra calories. With the right serving sizes, our food can also help with the diet and blood sugar management of diabetic cats
- Senior cats—Regular consumption of Untamed can help delay age-related issues like dramatic weight loss, lethargy, and inappetence
Many cat parents in the UK have opted for our monthly cat food subscription after witnessing how our products boosted their kitty’s health. Here’s a timeline of the benefits:
The Untamed magic!
Around two to four months
After six months
Lilacs or blues, Untamed teals the deal for kitties of all hues!
Image (c) Untamed
Get the Untamed trial pack
Get our trial pack and let your furry friend enjoy our delicacies for a week. If the dishes suit their taste buds, we can start delivering monthly supplies of their favourites.
Our online cat food ordering system is super convenient—here’s how it works:
- Complete our TRY NOW quiz
- Choose the products
- Place the order
Our shipping is free, and we are always ready to modify your subscription—change your selection of products or cancel an order whenever you wish.
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When the doorbell rings, and you can already smell your favourite food from two rooms away.
Other cat breeds similar to a Russian Blue
Here are some other blue cats breeds resembling Russian Blues:
- Burmese—Burmese cats tend to be smaller than Russian Blues and are huge explorers inside and outside the house. RBs aren’t big on adventures unless their human is involved
- Blue Maine Coon—Blue Maine Coons are much larger than Russian Blues and need to be groomed more frequently
- Korat—Korats are slender like Russian Blues, but have more angular, heart-shaped faces. Korats are jungle cats originating from Thailand and naturally have more spunk and energy than Russian Blues
- Nebelung—Nebelungs are close cousins of Russian Blues, often called the long-haired version of RBs. They are a rare breed and not easily found in the country