The Chartreux is a natural French breed of great antiquity. It is known for its gray-blue color, wooly double coat, powerful build, and mild temperament. Although it is a massive cat, it has a sweet, smiling expression and a tiny voice. It is always gray-blue in color, with gold to copper eyes. Authors through the centuries have praised the Chartreux as a gentle cat, a quiet cat, an excellent hunter, devoted to its master, easy to keep and a good traveler. These characteristics were prized in a working breed, and are still true of the Chartreux today.
Stories of the
"blue cats of France" began during the sixteenth century. It is thought that
these cats descend from the "Cat of Syria," described in the 16th century
as a stocky cat with a wooly ash-gray coat and copper eyes, which was first
brought to Europe during the Crusades.
People probably began to use the name "Chartreux" for these cats during the 17th century. By the beginning of the 18th century, trade dictionaries and encyclopedias listed "Chartreux" as the common name of a type of blue cat whose pelt was prized by furriers. The naturalists, Linnaeus and Buffon, wrote of the Chartreux as the cat of France and gave it a Latin name (Felis Catus Coeruleus, "blue cat") to distinguish it from the domestic cat (Felis Catus Domesticus).
Natural colonies of these cats were known to exist in Paris and in isolated regions of France until the early twentieth century. They were never very numerous. Although known as the cat of France, they were also thought of as a cat of the common people. They did not lead easy lives, as they were valued primarily for their pelts and meat, or as ratters.
After WWI, French cat breeders became interested in preserving this ancient breed for posterity. The initial breeding stock came from geographically isolated colonies of Chartreux; one important colony was on an island, Belle Ile. Early breeders put together a breed standard based on the 18th century naturalists' descriptions. They were careful from the beginning to utilize only those cats that bred true to the standard. Chartreux from these breeding programs were exhibited in European shows beginning in 1928.
By the end of WWII, there were no known natural colonies of blue cats left in France. Since that time Chartreux have been available only from breeders. They are still relatively rare, even in France. They are unknown in many countries including the UK. Chartreux were first imported to the US in the 1970s, and since then, the US is known to have some of the purest breeding lines of Chartreux.
Breeders in the US and France have tried to preserve the Chartreux unchanged through the years. The early show cats from the 1930s could be Grand Champions in our shows today. This is unusual in the cat fancy (many breeds have changed substantially in that time). It is due to the continuous effort of breeders dedicated to preservation.
Quite a few notable French have owned pedigreed Chartreux, including General de Gaulle, and the well-known writer, Colette. Colette's book La Chatte features Saha, one of her Chartreux.
Chartreux are less
talkative than other breeds. Many Chartreux are completely mute: they purr,
but cannot meow. Others have a quiet, high pitched meow or chirp which they
use infrequently. This quietness can be a plus, but remember that a silent
cat cannot let you know when it is lost or in trouble.
Neither gregarious nor shy, Chartreux are calmly attentive to the world, and will tend to hang back and observe, rather than rushing in. They are tolerant and gentle with strangers, small children, and other animals. They tend to withdraw from conflict rather than becoming fearful or aggressive. They accommodate themselves to most situations without complaint, travel well, and do not mind being left alone for long periods.
They are natural hunters, more interested in chasing and "killing" a toy than in romping around or wrestling in play. Even in play they are efficient, watching until the perfect moment and then letting loose with a fast and accurate pounce. They play in short spurts, sleeping and relaxing the rest of the time. They are creatures of habit and enjoy the same games and rituals day after day.
Towards those they love, Chartreux display a passionate devotion that strangers would never guess at. They prefer to be nearby, preferably getting their jowls scratched and giving loving head-bumps to their owners! They will follow you everywhere, comfort you when you are sad or ill, and prefer to sleep with you or on top of you. Their supportive, cheerful presence can be wonderful for elderly people and people living alone.
Yet this devotion is never obtrusive. They do not demand attention, and are content to sit quietly when you are busy. They have a strong sense of proper behavior and strive to be "good citizens." They likewise appreciate courtesy from others, and remember how they have been treated. Chartreux are highly sensitive to scolding and praise, although they can sometimes be slow learners. Be patient and forgiving with this gentle breed.
The short thick
coat does not require much maintenance. During shedding season you will want
to spend some time brushing out dead hairs so that they do not cover your
clothes and furniture. If you ever need to bathe your Chartreux, be forewarned
that it will take time to get it wet down to the skin. The coat repels water
due to its thickness and texture.
Chartreux are not picky eaters, but can sometimes be sensitive to changes in diet or very rich food. Some Chartreux breeders switch to adult food around age 4 or 5 months because the premium kitten foods are so rich. Older Chartreux may need to be switched to a "light" cat food so that they do not become overweight.
Some Chartreux have small and close-set incisors which can get pushed out of line when the adult teeth come in, and might need to be pulled. Also, some Chartreux tend to get gingivitis if their teeth are not well cared for. It's a good idea to bring your Chartreux to the vet for periodic tooth check-ups and cleaning.
Patellar luxation (displacement of the kneecap) is sometimes seen in Chartreux. This condition, when mild, does not usually cause any symptoms in the cat, but if it is severe, it can cause lameness. Because this condition is hereditary, most reputable breeders screen their breeding animals for it and do not use questionable animals for breeding. You may want to ask questions about patellar luxation when you talk to breeders.
Some cat books
claim that the Chartreux is the same cat as the British Blue, or that it
"once was a separate breed, but has now become identical to the British Blue."
This is not true. Not only do the two breeds have different physical and
temperamental characteristics, but pedigree research and blood typing confirms
that the breeds have distinct ancestry. These books are referring to the
confusing use of the name "Chartreux" by certain European cat clubs to refer
to the British Blue.
In 1970, FIFe (the European federation of cat fanciers) decided to assimilate the Chartreux with the British Blue under the name "Chartreux" but with the breed standard of the British Blue. This decision came about because many of the member countries were not interested in the Chartreux as a breed, but preferred the name "Chartreux" with its long history to the less interesting name "blue British Shorthair." They sought to save the name and apply it to another breed.
Chartreux breeders protested, and in 1977, FIFe overturned its earlier decision and returned to separate registries and standards for the two breeds. However, since the 1970s, a few "independent" (non-FIFe) European cat clubs have continued to use the name "Chartreux" for the blue British Shorthair, or for the blue European Shorthair, or for hybrids between these breeds and the Chartreux. This practice is more common in those countries like Germany where there are fewer genuine Chartreux available.
championship status in all major associations in the US (CFA, TICA, ACFA,
and CFF). They also have championship status in the major European association,
FIFe. The US associations and FIFe do not allow hybridization with other
breeds. Chartreux registered in these associations are pure Chartreux.
Chartreux are not recognized by the major association in the UK (GCCF).
Use caution when buying Chartreux from European breeders that are not FIFe affiliated. Some European cat clubs that are not affiliated with FIFe use the name "Chartreux" for cats of other breeds such as the British or European Shorthair. These "Chartreux" are not the same breed as the Chartreux accepted in the US and in FIFe. Some of them even have long hair or come in colors other than blue.
When choosing a registered name for your Chartreux, it is customary to use the French naming system. The first letter of the cat's name is determined by the year of the cat's birth. The years follow a 20 year cycle (the letters K, Q, W, X, Y, and Z are not used). For example, 1993 was an "I" year, so Chartreux born in 1993 have names like Isabelle and Indigo.
This is a highly condensed and edited version of the CFA breed standard for the 1994-1995 show year. Other US associations have similar standards for this breed; European standards differ slightly. If you want to show or breed your Chartreux, you should get a copy of the current breed standard from your favorite association, and study it carefully!
The Chartreux is
a sturdy French breed coveted since antiquity for its hunting prowess and
its dense, water repellent fur.
Broad, rounded head with powerful jaw and full cheeks. Straight nose with a slight depression between the eyes. Comparatively small, tapered muzzle. Sweet, smiling expression. Medium sized ears set high on the head, with a very erect posture. Rounded, open, expressive eyes.
Robust, medium-long body with broad shoulders and deep chest. Solid and dense. Females are medium in size, males are large. Tapering, moderate length tail. Comparatively short and fine-boned legs. Feet are round and appear almost dainty compared to body mass.
Slightly wooly, medium-short coat (slightly longer than most shorthairs). Dense undercoat; longer, protective topcoat. The coat should clump up like sheepskin (we say the coat "breaks") at the neck and flanks. Silkier, thinner coat permitted on young cats and females.
Color: Any shade of blue-gray from ash to slate; tips of hairs lightly brushed with a pale silvery color. The coat should be clear (not have shadow barring) although young cats may have some barring or tail rings. Slate gray nose leather, blue lips, rose-taupe paw pads. Eye color is copper to gold, with brilliant orange preferred.
Cats with a white spot, kinked tail, green eyes, or any signs of lameness in the hindquarters, are disqualified and may not be shown.
Point score (the
relative importance of these characteristics):
Head structure: 35
Body structure (including legs and tail): 30
Coat length and texture: 20
Coat color and eye color: 15
Looks can be deceiving with the densely built Chartreux. An average sized male Chartreux has the same bulk as many of the other large breeds, but the Chartreux appears much smaller because of his shorter legs, compact build, and short coat. Pick him up, however, and you'll be surprised at his weight!
Another hypothesis is suggested by the early mentions of the Chartreux as "a type of blue cat whose pelts are traded by furriers." The pelt was valued for the thick, wooly texture of the fur. It is possible that fur traders and clothing makers named the cat after a type of fine wool called "pile de Chartreux" which was considered very luxurious at the time.
CFA affiliated Chartreux breed club since 1983. The club publishes a newsletter, "Griffonage", and gives the Gamon Award to CFA's highest scoring Chartreux kitten, adult, and premier. Contact: Kitty Kisrow, 202 Scott Ave, Nashville, TN 37206.
Large, active FIFe affiliated breed club which promotes the Chartreux throughout Europe. Also publishes a newsletter. Contact: M. Simonnet, 66 rue de Ponthieu, 75008 Paris.
Last UpDate : Friday 14 August, 2014, 21:53:02
Author : Alexande KAPPA
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