The Blue Breeds: The Chartreux, The Korat & The Russian Blue

Published September 2013

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In this article we'll explore the differences between three cat breeds that come only in the color blue: the Chartreux, the Korat and the Russian Blue. The first breed is French, the second is Thai, and the third is a breed from Russia. All three are minority breeds — meaning even people who show regularly may seldom see more than one or two of these cats at an occasional show over the course of the show season. This may explain why even experienced exhibitors struggle to identify the breed of a blue cat when spotted on the judging table.

Certainly, most spectators at a cat show cannot tell the difference between these three breeds. To make things even more complicated, although the British Shorthair is available in many colors, for years blue Brits were so dominant that the cats were known simply as British Blues. Because British Shorthairs are a popular breed, spectators often think any blue short-coated cat must be a British Shorthair.

For the uninformed, one blue cat looks much like another blue cat — but upon closer examination, the three breeds are quite different from one another. The series of photos and descriptions below analyze and demonstrate those difference . . .

All photos have been provided courtesy of Chanan.
Information about each breed's attributes is taken from both CFA and TICA breed standards.

General Appearance

The Chartreux

The Chartreux is a rare breed of  cat from France.

It is large and muscular, with relatively short, fine-boned limbs, and very fast reflexes.

They are known for their blue  water-resistant short hair double coats which are often slightly nappy in texture showing "breaks" like a sheepskin. They have orange or copper eyes.

Chartreux are also known for their "smile": due to the structure of their heads and their tapered muzzles, they often appear to be smiling.

Photo by Chanan

The Korat

The Korat is a natural breed that originated in Thailand where it is known as Si-Sawat, meaning "color of the sawat seed".

Its general appearance is of a silver blue cat
with a silver sheen, semi-cobby, medium-sized,
broad-chested, hard-bodied, powerful, and muscular. All smooth curves with large, wide open,
luminous green eyes.

Among Korats' distinguishing characteristics are their heart-shaped heads and large green eyes.

Photo by Chanan

The Russian Blue

The Russian Blue is a naturally occurring breed developed mainly in Russia and Scandinavia until after World War II.

The Russian Blue is a distinctively elegant cat of foreign body type with an angular, modified wedge-shaped head. The slightly upturned corners of the
mouth give a sweet smiling facial expression. Its most outstanding characteristic is its double coat:
Short, silky and upstanding. Of a medium blue color with silver tipping of the guard hairs, the coat reflects light, giving a silvery sheen to the fur.
The eyes are as vividly green as possible at maturity.

Photo by Chanan

Now that you have an overall impression of each of the blue breeds, let's analyze and compare the three breeds, looking at different categories and parts that make up the cats.

To begin, we will consider color. While you may think a blue cat is a blue cat is a blue cat — the knowledgeable breeders will point out that there are many shades of blue.

The Color
Russian Blue

Although a Chartreux can be any shade of blue-gray from ash to slate, the preferred tone is a bright, unblemished blue with an overall iridescent sheen.

The tips of the hair are lightly brushed with silver which, in the light, appears bluish.

Emphasis is on uniformity and clarity of color rather than shade.

The Korat is silver-tipped blue all over. The silver should be sufficient to produce a silver halo effect. The hair is usually lighter at the roots with a gradient of blue which is deepest just before the silver tips.

Where the coat is short, the sheen of the silver is intensified.

The silver sheen in the Korat is called " sea foam" in its native Thailand.

The Russian Blue's coat is an even bright blue throughout with lighter shades of blue preferred. The guard hairs are silver-tipped giving the cat a silvery sheen or lustrous appearance. A definite contrast should be noted between ground color and tipping.

The hair appears more silver tipped in a Russian Blue when compared to a Chartreux or Korat.


The Coat
Russian Blue

Photo by Chanan

Photo by Chanan

Photo by Chanan
The Chartreux coat is medium-short and slightly woolly in texture. It should break like a sheepskin at neck and flanks. It has a resilient undercoat; longer, protective topcoat. The Korat has a single short to medium length coat. The hair is glossy and fine, lying close to the body. The coat over the spine is inclined to break as the cat moves. The Russian Blue's coat is short, dense, fine, and plush. It has a distinct soft and silky feel. The double coat stands out from the body because it is so dense.


The Shape Of The Head
Russian Blue

Photo by Chanan

Photo by Chanan

Photo by Chanan

The Chartreaux's head is rounded and broad but not a sphere. It has a powerful jaw; full cheeks, with mature males having larger jowls.

High, softly contoured forehead; nose straight and of medium length/width with a slight stop at eye level.

The muzzle is comparatively small, narrow and tapered (but not pointed) with slight pads. The Chartreux has a sweet, smiling expression.

The neck is short and heavy set.

When viewed from the front, or looking down from just back of the head, the Korat head is heart-shaped with breadth between and across the eyes.

The eyebrow ridges form the upper curves of the heart, and the sides of the face gently curve down to the chin to complete the heart-shape.

The forehead is large and flat. An indentation or crease, predominantly in males, accentuates the heart shape, giving the ideal head the appearance of a double heart, or a heart within a heart .

The Russian Blue head is a smooth, medium modified wedge, neither long and tapering nor short and massive.

The muzzle is blunt, and part of the total wedge, without exaggerated pinch or whisker break. The top of the skull is long and flat in profile, gently descending to slightly above the eyes, and continuing at a slight downward angle in a straight line to the tip of the nose. No nose break or stop. Length of top-head should be greater than length of nose. The face is broad across the eyes due to wide eye-set and thick fur.


The Profile
Russian Blue

Photo by Chanan

Photo by Chanan

Photo by Chanan

The Chartreux has a high, softly contoured forehead.

The nose is straight and of medium length and width with a slight stop at eye level.

The Korat has a well-defined profile with a slight stop between forehead and nose.

The nose has a lion-like downward curve just above the leather.

The Russian Blue's skull is long and flat in profile, gently descending to slightly above the eyes, then continuing at a slight downward angle in a straight line to the tip of the nose.

There is no nose break or stop. The straight nose and flat forehead form two planes. The chin is a flat vertical plane from tip of nose to the bottom of chin

The Ears

The ears of a Chartreux, a Korat and a Russian Blue are very different from each other.
They differ in size, in shape and in the way they are set on the head.

Russian Blue

The ears of a Chartreux are small to medium in height and width with minimal flare at the base and with slightly rounded tips.

They sit high on the head and are held very erect,

The Korat's ears are large, with rounded tips and a large flare at base. The ears are set high on head with the outer contour in line with the
outer contour of the head. Sparse furnishings inside; outside extremely short and close.

The Russian Blue has a proportionally large ear that is wide at the base. The ears are set far apart, as much on the side as on the top of the head. The tips are more pointed than rounded.

The outside is covered with short, fine hair
and furnishings cover approximately
½ inside ear.


The Eyes
Russian Blue
The Chartreux has round, open eyes set moderately wide apart, giving it an alert expression.

The eyes are large but not

Eye color can range from gold to copper but a deep, brilliant orange is preferred.

The eyes of a Korat are wide open and oversized for the face. The eye appears round when fully open but slightly slanted eye-set when closed or partially closed.

The preferred eye color is luminous green, however an amber cast is acceptable.

The Russian Blue has eyes that are very round and set wide apart.

Color is vivid green in adults, with kittens changing from yellow to green.


The Body & Legs & Feet

The Chartreux

The Chartreux has a robust and well proportioned physique. The shoulders are large and muscular with a well-developed chest giving a solid, sturdy appearance. The cat has good boning.

The Chartreaux's legs are straight, fine-boned and comparatively short for the body size.

The feet are round and medium in size and may appear almost dainty compared to the body mass.

Photo by Chanan

The Korat

The Korat is a semi-cobby cat, neither compact nor svelte. The torso is distinctive. It has a broad chest with good space between the forelegs.

The cat appears muscular, supple, with a feeling of hard coiled spring power and unexpected weight. The back is carried in a curve.

Distance along the back from nape of neck to base of tail appears to be equal to distance from base of tail to floor.

The front legs are slightly shorter than the back legs. The paws are oval.

Photo by Chanan

The Russian Blue

The Russian Blue is fine boned, long, firm, and muscular; lithe and graceful in outline and carriage without being tubular in appearance. 

It has long, fine boned legs with small, slightly rounded paws.

The cat may appear to be chunkier due to density of coat.

Having solid weight, not excessive

The feet: are small and well-rounded. The cat almost appears to stand and walk on tiptoe.

Photo by Chanan

While no one is going to identify a cat by its tail, there are distinct differences in the three breeds tails . . . so this seemed an appropriate ending to the comparison of the three breeds.

The Tail
Russian Blue
The Chartreux has a tail of moderate length; heavy at base; tapering to an oval tip. Lively and flexible.  The Korat's tail is medium in length, heavier at the base, tapering to a rounded tip. The Russian Blue has a relatively long tail, but it is in proportion to the body. Tapering from a moderately thick base.

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