Havana Brown

havana brown cat
Havana Brown photo of Fraulein Katz  © Helmi Flick


Introduction

The Havana Brown is another rare breed and a hybrid. The hybridization is as a result of human intervention (i.e. not naturally occurring). 

I am immediately struck by the glossy nature of this cat’s coat. You can clearly see this in Helmi’s fine photograph of “Fraulein Katz” (great name) heading this page (of course she is lit beautifully by Helmi, to show off her coat).

The coat color is what is called “self-colored”. This means a solid color, caused by each individual shaft of hair being of a single color as opposed to a banding of colors caused by the Agouti gene. The Agouti gene is  referred to a lot as it affects the coat appearance of a number of cat breeds (e.g. The Abyssinian and Chausie). The self colored cat has a rich lustre.

This cat has had at least two names, the origins of both are founded in human consumable products. It seems that, “Swiss Mountain Cat”  originates in Swiss chocolate (well known country of manufacture) after the coat color. I can only presume this is the case as there seems to be no explanation. “Havana Brown” originates presumably in the famous Havana cigar (a brown object).

A third theory about the name is that it originates in the Havana Rabbit (similar color and silky coat).


havanna brown cat
Hershey © Helmi Flick
havana brown cat
Spider © Helmi Flick



History

The Havana Brown has had a long, but up and down history.

Date Event
1350 – 1767 Reference to this breed in manuscripts written between these dates
1890s – early 1900s In Europe “self-brown” cats shown. Called, by some, Swiss Mountain Cat”
Early 1900s World Wars I & II interfered with the breeding of this breed, which, when coupled with the 1920 (or 1930) declaration, (see below) had a very negative impact on this breed.
1920 or 1930 The Siamese Cat Club of Britain makes a statement discouraging the breeding of Siamese cats that are not blue eyed. This spelled the end for this breed as a show cat. I have not seen an explanation for this decision
1952 With research into the genetics of this breed and a breeding programme commenced by 5 breeders, the breed was “restarted” in the UK (see below). Also shortly beforehand an accidental mating between black Shorthair and Seal Point Siamese resulted in the first of this breed, apparently, to be registered in UK.
1950 First Havana Brown imported into the USA
1958 GCCF accept this breed for championship competition calling the cat “Chestnut Foreign Shorthair”
1959 First of this breed achieves CFA Grand Champion Status (name of  cat: Brown Satin of Sidlo).
1959 The breed was recognised by the then United Cat Federation
1960s? In UK breed, name changed to “Chestnut Brown”
1964 CFA grant full status to the Havana Brown (this appears to conflict with the 1959 entry
1970 In the UK this breed is renamed a “Havana” Note: this cat breed is an Oriental type appearance (see below – modern development)


havana brown cat
Photo of Cocoa © Helmi Flick


Modern Development

The breed having almost “died out” (see above 1900s), breeders developed the Havana Brown by mating black domestic cats (moggies) that carried the recessive gene with seal or chocolate point Siamese cats to produce a cat with a solid brown coat .

The most often used breeding programme to produce this cat is a cross between the black Shorthair and Seal Point Siamese with the chocolate gene.

In the UK, apparently, the Chestnut Brown or Havana, as the Brits call this cat, has been breed back to the Siamese (I presume this means the Modern Siamese) losing the original look and looking like the Oriental Shorthair (fine boned and very slender).

In the US as you can see from these pictures that she has retained for me at least a very nicely balanced and “normal” appearance. The cats on this page seem to show to the camera very pleasant characters through their open expressions.

Character and Appearance

This cat has a pleasant demeanour and is very people orientated (inherited from the Siamese no doubt). They are playful and inquisitive and need a lot of attention. As you can see she is an average sized cat, athletic looking, slim and lithe. Ideally, the coat is in fact a deep mahogany brown (reddish brown – see the top three photographs of Fraulein Katz, Hershey and Spider).

The eyes in perfect harmony are a gorgeous green.


havanna brown cat
Photo of Hershey © Helmi Flick

The Future

You can tell a lot from an Internet search. There are few Havana Brown breeders. In an article written I believe in or around 1997 (I could be mistaken) there is reference to there being 36 Havana Brown cats registered with the CFA. This is still a rare breed.

Apparently the small numbers are allegedly due to the failure to establish a sufficient number of breeding lines because it was forbidden to outcross.

This has meant few choices of cat from a limited gene pool from which to breed, restricting the breeding process. Outcrossing has now been permitted (since around 1998)

Breeders

As mentioned on other pages I only list independent websites (non-directory sites). There were none in the first 3 pages on a Google search listing. The only one listed before page 6 is:

Mokolea Cattery
It is not obvious where they are located but it is the USA. The owner is on the CFA breed council.

Sources:

  • CFA
  • Iams
  • Wikipedia
  • petcareguides
  • Messybeast
  • About.com

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