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Monday, January 20, 2020

The French Chartreux

Don’t mistake Chartreux cats for British Shorthairs. With their plush blue-gray fur and round faces, the two cats look a lot alike.

The French Chartreux is one of the oldest domestic cat breeds. The exact origins of the breed are somewhat uncertain. There are a number of theories as to its origins, most of them suggesting the breed came from the middle east, Russia, Syria, Siberia or Northern Europe.A type of wool called Pile de Chartreux was imported to France from Spain and it is suggested the cat derived its name from this.Whatever its origins, the Chartreux became of interest to French breeders in the 1920’s and in 1928 they wrote a breed standard. The Leger sisters of Guerveur Cattery who lived on the island Bell-Ile began selectively breeding these cats. The foundation pair being a male called Coquito and a female named Mariquire. However, the second world war put a stop to this and decimated Chartreux numbers. By the end of the war, the breed barely existed, which was common among other breeds of cat also.The Chartreux arrived in the USA in 1970, imported by John and Helen Gamon. Some of these cats coming from Guerveur lines. US breeders worked hard to keep Chartreux lines pure and due to their hard work, Chartreux lines in the US are some of the purest in the world. The breed was awarded Championship status with the CFA in 1987.
The Chartreux remains unchanged from that of the champion Mignonne de Guerveur a female Chartreux named the “most beautiful cat” in a 1931 Paris show. This is quite unusual when you look at how other breeds of cat have changed in the past 50 or so years.
A unique naming system is used with the Chartreux where each year a specific letter of the alphabet is used. This runs on a 20-year cycle, as the letters K, Q, W, X, Y, and Z are omitted. So, if your cat is born in an F year, only F names are used. Felix, Fred, Freya etc. This makes it easy to know the exact age of the cat by the letter its name starts with.


Don’t get a Chartreux if you don’t want a cat on your lap every time you sit down. The smiling Chartreux is highly affectionate and will follow his people from room to room. With his sweet, personable nature, he gets along well with other pets and is suited to homes with children who will pet him gently. The Chartreux is quiet, some rarely making a sound, but don’t let him fool you. He has a quick brain and is capable of figuring out how to get into cabinets or out of louvered windows to go exploring.
Like most cats, the Chartreux loves to climb, and he has also been known to perform acrobatic feats as he chases a fishing pole toy. And if you have mice? Well, they’ll be packing their bags if a Chartreux moves in. These cats have a reputation as excellent mousers when given the opportunity.
The Chartreux coat is easy to groom with twice weekly brushing. You’ll need to brush him more often in the spring when he sheds his winter coat. Trim the nails as needed.
According to legend, the Carthusian monks selectively bred Chartreux cats so they wouldn’t interrupt the monks’ meditation. This explanation for the felines’ muted meow is likely more fictional than fact-based. However, the Chartreux isknown for being a quiet breed. They rarely make noise, and when they do, they chirp and trill.