The Chartreux cat is one of the oldest and most treasured of French breeds. Legends abound to the origin of this breed and one of the most common suggested relations with the Cathusian monks. The breed was kept as companion to the monks and was known to be great rat hunters. However, there is still no verification for this version of the breed’s origin.
The modern history of the breed begun in the 1920s, where a breeding program that was set up in France. The program established a strong and healthy shorthaired Chartreux with beautiful blue coat. Dr Jumaud fixed the breed type in 1930 and named it Felis Cattus Cartusinorum.
Thought efforts were made to actively recover the Chartreux breed after the annihilation of World War II through the crossing of British Shorthairs and Persians, the breed remains utterly rare, even in France itself.
In 1931, the Chartreux breed made its first debut in the cat society at a Europe cat show. 1970 was the year where the first Chartreux was imported to the United States. The breed then claimed full recognition under the Cat Fanciers Association in 1987 and its breed standards differ between Europe and America.
Physical appearance and attributes
The Chartreux is a medium-sized cat that weighs between 12 – 16 pounds for a mature adult. It boasts of a well-muscled and robust body. Power and strength is displayed in its broad chest and muscular neck. It has medium-fine legs that end in large paws and a substantial tail that tapers into a rounded tip.
The head of the Chartreux has been described as trapezium shaped; where the base of the face is wider than the top with a flat space between the ears. Chartreux has a broad and straight nose that narrows into a tapered muzzle with corners pulled upward to give a smiling expression. Its pair of medium ears is set well-spaced above the head with the tips pointed upwards, giving the cat an alert look. Chartreux has large rounded eyes that gleam in pure vivid yellow or deep copper.
This breed may be mistaken as the British Shorthair; however, what distinguishes it from the British Shorthair is its double coat that can come in all shades of blue. The pale blue-grey is the most popular choice. Medium short in length, the hair composes of longer guard hairs over a shorter woolly undercoat, serving as a resilient covering that withstands all weathers and harsh conditions. The fine crimps created by the length, density and texture of the hairs around its neck, legs and chest have donned the cat with a fleece-like coat that is of the finest quality and elegance. Such characteristic of the coat and body type has given the breed an astute and fortitude stance mirrored by most Chinese princes graced in their royal robe.
Personality and temperaments
Chartreux has a temperament that bends towards the calm and quiet nature. It seldom vocalizes unless attention is necessary. It is a keen observer and will calculate and meditate on its moves and responses towards surrounding situations. They are easily adaptable and tolerant towards stranger, children and other animals.
Being exceedingly affectionate, it bonds well with the one or two loved ones in the home and is a ready comforter to those who are feeling low. Its cheerful and supportive presence can be a delight especially to older persons and those who live alone. The affection and devotion shown by the Chartreux is not obtrusive; it does not demand attention and would take pleasure in solitude. It is a breed that has a decorous disposition and is receptive to most situations without complaints.
Being accommodating, it will prefer withdrawing from conflicts to being caught in fear or aggression. Like all cats, playfulness is inherent to different degrees, and being a creature of habit, Chartreux finds contentment and relishes in the same games as part of the daily routines.
Besides being an excellent hunter, Chartreux’s high astuteness also adds to its charm and it enjoys challenges from tricks and puzzle toys. Its acute intelligence is seen in its witted manipulation of switches, controllers and taps and latches.
Care and health issues
Chartreux is a generally healthy breed with an average life span of between 13 – 1 6 years. Health issues that might be of concern include polycystic kidney disease and struvite stones in the urinary tract. Purchasing the breed from qualified breeders would ensure that it has undergone the necessary tests for genetic diseases and thus limit the possibilities of such conditions. Annual vaccinations, a balanced diet and active lifestyle would contribute to a hearty growth.
The woolly blue coat requires only combing and not brushing. A grooming glove that allows you to run your fingers through the coat will suffice to maintain the health of the luxurious coat. Frequency would increase during shedding periods.
Basic grooming of the nails, ears and teeth would need to be carried out regularly with vet-approved cleansers to ensure an overall healthy growth.
The ideal home
Though affectionate and playful, the Chartreux prefers a quiet environment. It can tolerate children but would appreciate the interactions with older children more. It loves the idea of space and would need a safe and escape-proof zone where it can explore, hunt and observe.
A breed of strong personality, it can be considered as a dominant cat and would be a better company to cat-friendly dogs than to other cats. Its calm, tender and devoted nature, coupled with its rarity makes Chartreux an enduring and much treasured pet to any home that is ruled by love.
Photo By hamadryades - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0