Introduction (Jan 10, 2022): Please read everything that follows in the light of this introduction. The information is now of historical interest. As at 2022, we have to refer to the York Chocolate cat in the past tense because it appears to have entirely fizzled out as a cat breed and is no longer in existence. Although, you will, today, still see non-purebred cats which look very similar to the York Chocolate. Perhaps this was a reason why this cat breed never took off. It was not distinct enough. It was too difficult to distinguish it from other breeds. That is certainly an issue when creating a new cat breed.
The breed was named after New York state where it was established in 1983. It was not recognised by the major cat associations such as the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA), both of which are in North America and neither in the European Fédération Internationale Féline.
By 2016 no registry accepted or registered the breed and there were no breeder websites. In Italy it became quite well known but once again it appears to have faded away. The International York Chocolate Federation website is now archived. Please read on…
It seems that the York Chocolate cat is more popular and well established than I had thought and I am sorry for that initial wayward assessment. There are some ‘fringe breeds’ that are very much on the fringes but that is not the case with this breed.
The York Chocolate is an accidental cat. Immediately, the Ocicat (Accicat) and Burmilla (new window) come to mind as accidental cats. I am trying to think of others; there are others. This means that the starting point for the breed was neither planned nor deliberate and neither was it the result of a genetic mutation (e.g., the rex cats – LaPerm, for example).
- 2009 – second attempt at page;
- June 7, 2017: The history of this cat breed needs to be updated. At this date, the International York Chocolate Federation appears to be defunct. Their website is closed. The two breeding catteries of this breed no longer appear to be in existence. Neither does the single American breeder (Debbie Reber) appear to be in existence. I tried to find a breeder online and failed today. It appears that this popular cat breed no longer exists although at one time it was popular. I would very much appreciate any information that a visitor can provide me in a comment;
- Jan 10, 2022 – checked, refreshed and republished. First published about 14 years ago.
Above: an adult male York Chocolate cat. My thanks to Wikipedia® (specifically Wikimedia) for this picture. There are other pictures but at Sept. 2009, I don’t have permission to use them. If you have pictures, please upload using the form at the base of this page – thanks.
The chart below sets out the origin of the breed. This York Chocolate cat was so named because of the cat’s chocolate colour and because its place of origin is the state of New York in the United States.
The York Chocolate cat was founded by Janet Chiefari. I don’t know if she is still breeding (can someone leave a note below?).
To continue with the breed history in a time line….here it is in a table:
|1983||Brownie is born of two non-purebred cats in NY state, one the neighbour of the other – see chart|
|1985||Teddy Bear and Cocoa are born of Brownie and Minky. This was, I presume, to fix the chocolate colour.|
|1985 onwards||Brownie, Minky, Teddy Bear and Cocoa where used to found the breed producing solid and bicolor brown kittens, with the objective of producing a consistent head shape, body and fur type.|
|1989||Things hotted up and by this date there were 27 chocolate brown kittens in a custom-made cattery at the home of Janet Chiefari. At this point Janet meet Nancy Belser, a cat breeder and a Cat Fanciers’ Federation, Inc. (CFF) judge who recommended that she show the cats at a CFF show. The CFF is a feline registry with clubs and judges in northeastern portions of the United States. She did as she was advised and success came.|
|1990||The York Chocolate breed standard (in outline below) was written paving the way for registration with the CFF and ACFA (American Cat Fanciers Association) as an experimental breed.|
|1995||Gained championship status at the CCA (Canadian Cat Association). The breed standard for the CCA was amended slightly so is different to that of the CFF and outcrossing controlled.|
|2009 – current|
There is a desire by the breeders of the York Chocolate cat for wider recognition of the breed and, as I understand it, for recognition by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA).
The breed standard of the York Chocolate cat is probably the best source of information on a purebred cat’s appearance. The immediate impression that one gets when reading the CFF breed standard is that this is a natural and well-balanced cat of moderate proportions and bravo for that. It is not an extreme cat, which is what we would expect judging from its origins. I am pleased personally because cats should look like cats.
In fact, while in no way detracting from this cat breed, just the opposite actually, this cat looks like a normal moggy. I consider that a compliment. The coat is medium long in length and there are four allowable coat types under the standard: solid chocolate, solid lavender, chocolate and white bicolor, lavender and white bicolor. I would have thought that the solid chocolate would have a similar appearance to the Tiffany.
I’ll base this section on the CFF standard taken, by the way, from the yorkchocolate.org website and not the CFF website, which (at Sept. 2009) has no breed profile for this breed. The comments are my views and probably not those of the CFF.:
- head: the classic modified wedge of medium size and in proportion to the body. In other words (for me) this describes a normal looking cat head. Although the website: furrycritter.com describes the head as “nearly round”. That would be describing the head of an Ultra Persian so I disagree with that and it doesn’t fit the standard as far as I can tell.
- ears: these are described as large, pointed and tufted. They are “set well apart”. Well for me, once again, this describes the average cat, I am pleased to say. Looking at the pictures of the York Chocolate personally I would not call the ears large relative to the average. Large compared to say a Persian cat, yes but not a moggy.
- body: this is a medium to large cat with a longish body. Well-muscled and “sturdy” boning.
- coat: medium long, silky. It should be rich in colour and lustrous in appearance.
- tail: plumed appearance desirable for adult cat
- legs: medium long
Dr. Fulvio Bresciani says that this cat has no undercoat and that this is an important characteristic of the appearance (phenotype or observable characteristic or trait) of this cat. However, cats with no undercoat are not uncommon in both purebred and purebred cats.
Dr. Bresciani makes these two points about this characteristic:
- he has hypothesized that the gene that produces the lack of undercoat is special to this cat and he has assigned a unique genetic code to the gene namely: the wild allele “yuc”, a recessive allele producing a normal thick under coat plus the mutation allele “Yuc”, which is dominant and which removes the undercoat.
- the lack of undercoat is an important element in producing a hypoallergenic cat as it is the undercoat that is the main source of human allergies of cats.
I don’t agree with either of these thoughts. Cats with no undercoat (down hairs) are common and not specific to the York Chocolate and the cat allergy is caused by a protein in the saliva of the cat (an allergen) that is licked onto the top coat (guard hairs). See; Fel d 1 (new window) and Cat Hair.
- an affinity for water. That is normally the domain of the wild cat hybrids. I would have thought that there would be some variation between individual cats in respect of this characteristic.
- loving personality (characteristic of most balanced domestic cats that are well treated)
- sweet temperament
As this is not a mainstream purebred cat there is little or no information on the subject of the underlying health of the breed. Some breeds, due usually to the breeding programs, have a predisposition to certain health problems although these are often contained and well managed. I can’t find any such health issues with respect to the York Chocolate. The York Chocolate cat’s origins (standard moggy) bodes well for health provided breeding is sound and for health as well as appearance.
Breeders and Clubs
Update: November 2013 – all three links are now broken. I presume they have closed their websites….
I had difficulty here. I think there are no clubs but two breeders stand out, both in Italy. The first is Fairies Cattery (page opens in a new window – this is a one-page website and no links I am afraid) of Anna & Francesco Baldi. It would seem that they wrote the website: www.yorkchocolate.org (new window) or could it be Fulvio & Alice (below)?
I would also like to mention Lavender Perfume Cattery (new window) of Fulvio & Alice Bresciani.
There is also the International York Chocolate Federation — this link is broken April 2013. The website is in English and Italian. It would seem that Italian breeders have embraced the York Chocolate cat more than breeders in other countries…now where is that bar of chocolate.
Comment from visitors
“I find the York Chocolate breed interesting. However, all the information which I have found, has become outdated. If the breed is still live, what are its prospects? And I ask whether the York Chocolate exists outside of the USA now?”…Dasha (Russia)
York Chocolate cat – Sources:
What Other Visitors Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…
My local Malaysian stray has the look of a York Choc!
I stumbled across the York Chocolate breed here while trying to figure out the mix of the local stray kitten I picked up off the street here in Malaysia….
Calypso was born in a litter of kittens, they all looked exactly alike. Black, soft, nice and cute. We got the cat, and it wasn’t until after a week we …
We got Lily from a rescue centre when she was 7 weeks old. She was with 3 littermates who were black and white, grey and then what I believed were two …
Jack and Jill
Our York Chocolates are litter mates. They are white and Hershey-chocolate brown, beautiful personalities, docile and affectionate. We love them so much!…
Is Minou a York Chocolate?
Wow! After doing so much research trying to find out what kind of cat I had I think I may have found it! Minou fits most of the description for a York …
Looking for a female York Chocolate for breeding
I have met the York Chocolate through an Italian magazine that showed a beautiful cat and described its fabulous character.
I met the breeder in Italy …
Rescued York Chocolate “Indy”
At about 6 AM on the morning of May 31st I saw some little animal moving down the highway gutter across the street form my home. A pair of binoculars showed …
Max and Misty, possible Yorks
My mom got these two black kittens from a nearby shelter in March of 09– they were scraggly and underfed at first, but filled out and grew up quickly….
Starlight, A Possible Coco Rescue Kitty
I believe that I have a York Chocolate. I cannot say with any degree of certainty though, as she is a rescue kitty.
We found her after leaving an …
The Coco Cattitude
Thank you for showing the previously submitted entry about my cat Coco . She has quite a lot of cattitude and is a joy to live with.
I have taken …
A Strange Birthing, A York Mutation
When I saw the picture above, I found nearly a close copy of my cat. If my comments can help on strange phenotypes appearing amongst a population of straycats,…
Ten years ago I spotted a very unusual kitten at my vet’s office. I noticed that she had unusually long arms and legs, a full plumed tail, and her coat …
I have always wanted to have a cat. I visited several animal shelters to find just the right cat. I knew I wanted an adult, calm, pretty, cuddly, cat …
Regis, the York Chocolate
This is my cat, Regis. The day I picked him up, I was answering an ad in the newspaper for “free long-haired kittens”. Upon seeing him and his litter-…
Luna, My York Chocolate?
I commented on a story here weeks ago, but why not write my own?! Luna came to live with us at Thanksgiving 2009. I was at my aunt’s in the Albany area …
Cats Without Undercoats Are Not Hypoallergenic
There are many misconceptions about allergies and cats. Clearly FALSE, and not scientifically validated is the comment by Dr. Fulvio Bresciani on the York …
Fostering A Potential York Chocolate or Chocolate Mix
I foster many cats and kittens for my local Humane society and one of the funnest things to do is try and figure out what type of cat it is. I have a …
Sammi De Cat
We are the proud parents of a beautiful York Chocolate. Someone had dropped off a little kitten that was more dead than alive. One day the neighbors saw …
Calcifer our York Chocolate
I rescued a black kitten and a black and white kitten and they had a litter with all black and black and white short hair cats and Calcifer a long haired …
Nightshade My York Chocolate Cat
I would like to say thank you for updating your site to better describe this wonderful breed. I was the one who pointed you in the right direction. I did …
Did you find this article useful and interesting? Can it be improved? Please tell me in a comment. I am always keen to improve the site for animal welfare and reader enjoyment.
My York Chocolate Cat
I own a york chocolate cat. He is a blue male with a really lovely nature. It was my intention to buy a female and breed yorks in Great Britain. I have …