Chartreux wins your heart with a smile!
A large and muscular breed with relatively short, fine-boned limbs and fast reflexes, Chartreux is one of the rare domestic cats from France. This breed is unique with her blue (grey) water-resistant short coats which are often slightly spongy in texture. Due to the structure of her head and tapered muzzle, Chartreux often appears to be smiling.
Chartreux is mentioned for the first time in 1558 by the French poet Joachim du Bellay in his poem Vers Français sur la mort d’un petit chat (French verse on a small kitten’s death). There was another representation of the cat in 1747 in the Jean-Baptiste Perronneau’s painting Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange into which the cat was depicted as a rare pet at that time.
There is a legend that the Chartreux cats are descended from cats brought to France by Carthusian monks to live in Grande Chartreuse monastery in the Chartreuse Mountains located in the north of the city of Grenoble. Legend also has it that the Chartreux’s ancestors were feral mountain cats from Syria, brought to France by returning Crusaders in the 13th century.
Return from extinction
Chartreux was greatly diminished during the World War-I and wild populations were not seen after World War-II. To recuperate the breed from extinction, some breeders crossed the last Chartreux with British Blue, which produced what is now popularly known as British Shorthair. In the cross-breeding process, Chartreux was endangered because the breed risked being completely assimilated to British Shorthair. However, in the 1970s, a group of dedicated breeders decided to resume the selection of Chartreux on rigorous bases and their efforts helped them find the original Chartreux. Since then, crossing of Chartreux with other breeds has neither been done nor allowed.
A quite pal
Chartreux tends to be quiet, rarely making noises like mewing or purring. She is also a quite observant and intelligent, as some Chartreux cats learn how to operate radio on/off buttons. Chartreux reaches adulthood in two years of age. She is a playful cat well into her adult years and can play fetch too. Chartreux is good with children and other animals. She is generally very healthy and a good traveller. She tends to bond with one person in the household, often following the favoured person from room to room. This doesn’t mean she doesn’t affectionate to other family members in the house.
A solid and muscular cat, Chartreux has the ears that are placed high on the skull giving her an alert look. The eyes are wide open from a colour that varies from sustained yellow to intense copper. The head has the shape of an inverted trapezoid. The jowls are full and well developed, especially in adult male, but it’s less apparent in female. Short-hair of Chartreux requires little maintenance. Rather than a real necessity, grooming is more of a privileged moment between the cat and her pet parent. Chartreux is an easy-going, sociable cat who is easily adaptable to lifestyle of any pet parent. This breed is affectionate and very present, and always watches over the slightest movement of her per parent. Chartreux is not talkative, her gaze is devoted and full of tenderness—this is how Chartreux expresses.
(Philippe de Guerny Ventura lives in Lyon, France. He has been breeding Chartreux over the last 17 years. He is an international judge at FIFe (FÊdÊration Internationale FÊline), a cat federation protecting and preserving a line of feline breeds worldwide).