28 facts about the Chartreux cat

Here are 28 succinct facts about the Chartreux cat in bullet fashion to make the reading of this post more convenient. The breed is relatively rare and hails from France.

Chartreux cat

Chartreux cat. A French cat breed and the only one recognised as such. Image: MikeB based on image in the public domain.

  1. The Chartreux cat is a French cat breed. It is what distinguishes this breed from all others and there is a long history.
  2. It is described as a natural French breed of great antiquity.
  3. It is also known as the ‘Smiling Blue Cat of France’.
  4. The smile is artificial in that it does not indicate that the cat is happy. It is an accident of evolution combined with selective breeding which affects the anatomy of the face to produce this very faint smile in some cats of this breed.
  5. The Chartreux is described as being “out of proportion”. This is a reference to a description of the breed as “a potato on toothpicks”. They mean that the legs are a little bit skinny compared to the substantial body.
  6. There are records of this cat breed in documents from the 16th century.
  7. Some people say that it is descended from the Cat of Syria taken from a 16th century description of a stocky cat with an ash-grey coat and copper eyes.
  8. Some people say that the original Chartreux was brought to Europe during the Crusades (between 1095 and 1291).
  9. And it is also reported that people were so enamoured of the beautiful grey/blue coat that cats were killed to be sold to furriers. This is a reference to the fur trade which regrettably is still very big business today.
  10. Back in those early days if they weren’t killed for their coats they were killed for their meat (I mean their flesh) or they were employed to kill rodents.
  11. The origin of the name is a bit murky perhaps due to this cat breed’s long history. Some say it is named after the Carthusian monks of France who developed Chartreuse liqueur.
  12. Others say that the breed is named after a Spanish wool of the early 18th-century.
  13. During World War I and World War II the breed was decimated in numbers and active steps had to be taken to preserve it. Urgent steps were taken successfully and in 1928 the Chartreux was exhibited in European cat shows. But World War II came along leaving very few Chartreux cats in France. Rebuilding took place again.
  14. In the 1970s the Chartreux was exported to the United States.
  15. The cat fancy and Chartreux breeders boast of the fact that today’s Chartreux are very similar to the original cat. The Chartreux’s breed standard has not changed and neither has the appearance, which is in contrast to, for example, the Persian and Siamese cats.
  16. This is quite a rare cat.
  17. This breed has a broad and round head with small to medium-sized ears which are set close together. The jaw is strong and there is often a faint smile. The eyes are copper coloured, large and round.
  18. The body is described as semi-cobby (stocky) and the cat is also described as “substantial” which means large in Fancy language.
  19. The legs are slim as mentioned.
  20. The blue coat is short and thick, but it is does not lie close to the skin. It is a woolly, double, soft coat.
  21. Gloria Stephens, a former cat show judge and breeder says that it is not advised to brush the coat except during shedding which is dictated by the seasons which in turn dictates the amount of light that the cat receives.
  22. The coat is thick and a water repellent.
  23. At a show cat, it is shown in the traditional category, solid division. Any shade of blue is okay in the cat fancy. The eye colour is gold or copper but copper is preferred.
  24. As to temperament, you might find that your Chartreux has a tiny voice in contrast to its substantial size. This reminds me of the Maine Coon.
  25. Some Chartreux are actually mute, and this reminds me of the British Shorthair which can have a silent meow.
  26. Chartreux are quiet, calm and reserved.
  27. They are independent and adapt well to apartment living or country life.
  28. Gloria Stephens says that they are “extremely intelligent” and will come when called by their name. They are said to have a doglike devotion.
Smiling cat, a Chartreux

Chatreux. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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