The Chantilly cat was once thought to be extinct until a pair was discovered in the estate sold to Jennie Robinson, a breeder who owned the Neotype cattery in New York. The cats - one 18-month-old male and one 6-month-old female - had a chocolate brown coat and amber eyes. However, there are some who believed that the cats were found in a pet shop in New York instead. Whatever was the case, the cats were of a natural find and were also thought to be a natural breed. The background and the development of this breed are a little bit of a mystery. There were rumors about it being a mix of the long-hair Abyssinian and the Havana Brown, but only the cats will know for sure.
Robinson named them Thomas and Shirley of Neotype and started a breeding program for these two cats in 1969. The first litter includes six kittens that were all identical to their parents. Thomas and Shirley were later registered by the American Cat Association (ACA) as Sable Foreign Longhair. The cats continued to produce kittens in subsequent years and many were brought to an exhibition in the New York metropolitan area by Robinson. Some of them were sold off to buyers who brought them into Connecticut and Long Island.
Sigyn Lund, a Florida breeder of the Sig Tim Hill Cattery, was one of the purchasers, who then got involved in the breeding program. Lund was a Burmese breeder, and because Sable Foreign Longhair was thought to be similar to the Burmese breed, many had assumed that the Sable Foreign Longhair was the result of a crossing between the Burmese and another breed. However, besides the full coat length, the Burmese and Sable Foreign Longhair are not identical in any other traits. In order to differentiate these two breeds, Lund decided to name the Sable Foreign Longhair "Tiffany". She was inspired by a posh theatre in Los Angeles and though that this elegant name would conjure images of nostalgia and grandiosity, both of which reflect the stance and disposition of the cat. Rumors about the Tiffany being a cross prevailed still and because it was still very new and rare, Lund had a difficult time having this breed accepted in its own right.
It was not until the 1970s, when Canadian breeders joined the breeding program. This has helped expand the gene pool of the Tiffany cat, introducing more colors and making the line to be sounder genetically. During the same period, breeders in England were also inspired to create a new breed and had the Governing Council of Cat Fancy decided on the name Tiffanie for this new breed. This same name, which differs only in its spelling, muddled the distinctiveness of the Tiffany breed even more. Thus, Canadian and United States breeders decided to change the name that Lund gave for another that was not in use, i.e., the Chantilly.
Physical appearance and attributes
The Chantilly is a medium sized cat that weighs within the range of 8 – 12 pounds. The semi-foreign (neither cobby nor svelte) body disposes a moderate musculature and bone structure. Complementing the body are long slender legs that extend into small rounded paws. Adding to its elegant stance is a well-proportionate tail of a gorgeous plume.
It has a medium sized head that is a broad wedge shape with gentle contours. Atop the head is a pair of medium ears that are wide at the base with rounded tips. They show a slight forward tilt and an outward slant, and are well adorned with ear tufts. Viewed in profile, a gently loped nose as well as a short, broad muzzle is evident. The muzzle is vaguely square with gentle contours and whisker break. It has a firm chin and distinctively broad and high cheekbones. The eyes of the Chantilly are of a modified oval shape, striking and expressive with colors within the gold – amber range.
The coat of the Chantilly is considered its most distinctive feature. It is long, smooth and plush with the absence of an undercoat. The hair grows slow, taking about two years to reach its full luxuriousness. This will show in its contrasting ruff that generously adorns its neck. Furnishing or streamers will also extend from the ears. The coat will thicken over time, especially on the hind legs. Its tail will also develop into a gorgeous plume. While it was first discovered in chocolate color, the Chantilly has widened its coat color range to include blue, cinnamon, lilac and fawn. Variation in patterns has occurred and includes mackerel, ticked, solid and spotted tabby.
Personality and temperament
Moderate is the word that best describes the personality of the Chantilly. It is neither as placid as the Persian nor as active as the Abyssinians. It is able to tolerate extended periods of lounging, which makes it an ideal companion both for traveling as well as for the seniors. The Chantilly is able to bond extremely well with one or two of its favorite people and can be seen snuggling by them or following them around the house in an undemanding manner. Even though it can tolerate solitude, but it is only able to do so for a short period of time. It thrives under human contact and will become melancholy if it is left alone often. One interesting trait of Chantilly is in its chirpy voice, which it uses to sing like a bird or to respond when spoken to. It is a great family cat that can get along well with children. Even though it is more reserved towards strangers, it remains unfazed and calm. This trait also makes it a good choice for a house with other family pets.
Care and health issues
Chantilly breed is a generally healthy cat with a possible average lifespan of 10 years. There are no known genetic health issues, but this cat is prone to psychological stress if it is left alone too often.
Grooming the Chantilly is fairly easy since the absence of undercoat reduces matt and tangles. However, a weekly brush will help to maintain the health and sheen of the coat as well as to remove dead hair. The ears of Chantilly cat are prone to waxing, thus, it will be necessary to check the ears regularly and clean it with a damp cloth whenever necessary. Other basic grooming care should include trimming of the nail as well as the frequent brushing of the teeth with vet approved toothpaste.
The ideal home
The Chantilly’s well-balanced temperature is suitable for most types of household. However, adequate amount of attention will need to be given for it does not tolerate solitude for long. Chantilly is a friendly and unassuming cat that will appreciate companionship without demanding for it. Even though it is moderately active, it should still be provided with running and playing space. Equip the adventure zone with cat toys, cat trees and cat gym sets to promote an active and hearty growth. Since its long hair can easily conceal the appearance of a pot belly, it will be necessary to keep a look out for its weight and to control its food intake if necessary. With adequate love and care, this supermodel of the acting world will be a joy to have in the family.