The Chartreux is a tough, shorthaired French breed that was prized in antiquity for its hunting abilities and strong, water repellent fur. This breed’s husky, powerful appearance is frequently referred to as primitive, as it is neither cobby nor classic. Despite their size, Chartreux cats are incredibly supple and agile; delicate, never rude or ungainly.
Monks may have invited Chartreux cats in to safeguard the monastery from pests. Chartreux cats, on the other hand, are popular today because they make excellent companions. Who can resist a cat who welcomes you with a powerful purr and a mysterious smile? They are friendly, loyal, affectionate, and adaptive, and when you sit next to your Chartreux, you will invariably end up with an exquisitely soft lapful of adoring blue cat.
Chartreux are the cat fancy’s strong silent kinds; they keep their comments to themselves even when standing next to empty food bowls. Chartreux may open their jaws to meow, but no sound is produced. When they do vocalize, it’s usually in the form of small chirps or trills—incredible it’s to hear tiny chirps emerge from those enormous, powerful bodies and strong jaws. They do, however, purr with zeal, especially when you’re serving out their favorite treat.
Furthermore, spending quality time with their favorite people usually makes them happy. Despite this, Chartreux cats have a subtle but developed sense of humor and appreciate a good joke, especially if it’s at your cost. They enjoy toys that move, ideally by human power, because they are known for their hunting prowess and powerful hunting instinct. Feathered toys that twirl through the air are especially popular.
They quickly learn to play fetch and enjoy frolicking with other cats and, on occasion, a friendly dog—as well as their human companions. They are quite bright cats; they quickly learn their names, and if you enjoy a challenge, you can even teach them to come when you call—if they’re in the mood, of course. In exchange for a bowl of food, a clean litterbox, and a comfy bed (yours) to sleep on, you get a constant companion who entertains, loves, and cheers you up with its angelic grin and loving devotion.
France’s gift to the cat fancy is the Chartreux (pronounced shär-TRUE), a true blue cat with a Mona Lisa smile and an agreeable demeanor. Because the Chartreux has been there for so long, it’s difficult to say where and when it first appeared. The Chartreux story, like that of other breeds with long histories, is the stuff of legends. According to popular belief, the Chartreux was cultivated by monks at the Grande Chartreuse Monastery, the Carthusian order’s major monastery located north of Grenoble in southeastern France.
According to legend, in their leisure time between praying, liqueur-making, and weapon-forging, the Carthusian order of monks at the monastery produced Chartreux cats with the same expertise and dedication that they created their world-famous yellow and green Chartreuse liqueurs. They allegedly intentionally bred the cats to have low voices in order to not disrupt the monks’ meditations. It’s a charming, romantic story, but it’s likely just that, because the monastery’s archives include no mention of cats, blue, or any other color.
However, the Chartreux breed is mentioned in the French naturalist Comte de Buffon’s 1749 36-volume Histoire Naturelle (Natural History), where he names four cat varieties widespread in Europe at the time: domestic, Angora, Spanish, and Chartreux. According to Jean Simonnet’s seminal 1980 book The Chartreux Cat, the Chartreux cat most likely originated in the Near East, and the cat identified as the Cat of Syria by the Italian scientist Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) was its ancestor.
An picture of the Cat of Syria in Jean Simonnet’s book depicts a stocky cat with solid blue coloring and brilliant, slightly almond-shaped copper colored eyes. A brown mouse cowers beside the cat, a testament to the Chartreux’s great hunting instincts and one of the reasons the breed was so highly coveted. The Chartreux was brought to Europe by commercial ships from the Near East countries and became a French breed.
The fact that the Chartreux survived at all is a credit to the breed’s resilience and flexibility, as members of the species were not treated with the respect and love they deserve for many generations. They were mostly appreciated for their rat-catching abilities and, for a while, for their rich pelts.
“One can truly say that the Chartreux cats treasured by us formerly did not enjoy the ‘best of times’ with our countrymen,” writes Jean Simonnet. Christine and Suzanne Leger, two sisters from the city of Le Palais on Belle Ile Island off the coast of Brittany in northwest France, discovered a colony of velvety, shorthaired blue cats in the 1920s. These free-roaming cats resided on the grounds of a hospital and resembled the Chartreux. (The hospital, by chance, was administered by a religious order.)
The Leger sisters were captivated by their beauty and thick blue coats, which were dubbed “hospital cats” by the people of Le Palais. Christine and Suzanne Leger were the first to work seriously with the breed, exhibiting the cats in Paris in 1931. The breed gained popularity, but WWII interfered, decimating both the country and the breed. To keep the lineages continuing after the war, the few remaining Chartreux were bred with blue British Shorthairs, Russian Blues, and Persians.
Today, the Chartreux Cat Club (du chat des Chartreux) seeks to maintain, promote, and defend the Chartreux. The first Chartreux arrived in the United States in 1970, thanks to the late Helen Gamon of La Jolla, California, who imported the first Chartreux from France. In 1987, the Chartreux was awarded CFA championship status; currently, all North American associations recognize the Chartreux as a distinct breed.
The Chartreux has a strong build, standing at medium length with broad shoulders and a deep chest. The bone structure of this breed is powerful, and the muscle mass is substantial and dense.
The Chartreux has a large, rounded head with a strong jaw and full cheeks. The breed has a high, delicately sculpted forehead and a medium length/width straight nose with a little halt at eye level. The muzzle is relatively tiny and thin. This cat has a beautiful, joyful grin on his face.
Medium in height and width; positioned high on the head; extremely upright posture
Open and rounded; alert and expressive. The color range is copper to gold, with a preference for a bright, rich, dazzling orange.
PAWS & LEGS
Legs are rather short and fine-boned, with straight and robust legs. Feet are round and medium in size; in comparison to body mass, they may appear nearly delicate.
Tail is medium in length, hefty at the base, and taper to an oval tip. Lively and adaptable.
Medium-short with a fuzzy texture; should break like a sheepskin at the neck and flanks. Longer, protective topcoat with a resilient undercoat. The degree of woolliness varies with age, sex, and habitat, with mature males having the thickest coats. Females and cats under the age of two may have a silkier, thinner coat.
Blue-gray shades ranging from ash to slate, with silver points. Color clarity and consistency are more important than shade. The preferred color is a vivid, pristine blue with an iridescent luster.
While the qualities listed below are common for this breed, cats are individuals with unique personalities and appearances. For more information about a specific pet, please contact the adoption group.
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