Section 3 – BRITISH – Group 2
The Chartreux is a shorthair French breed with a robust well-proportioned muscular body. It is renowned since antiquity for its hunting prowess and its dense greyish blue slightly woolly coat. They are extremely supple and agile cats, and their qualities of strength, unrivalled intelligence and adaptability, enabled them to survive in the wild for centuries.
The expressive eyes are one of its most endearing features. The Chartreux is calm and affectionate and has a gentle but seldom used voice. Males are much larger than females and slower to mature.
Stories of the blue cats began during the 16th century, describing them as stocky cats with a woolly ash-grey coat and copper eyes. The name Chartreux was first mentioned in 1723. The exact origin of the name remains unclear, but, because of the soft and woolly coat, it is possible that these cats were named after the luxurious Spanish wool ‘la pile des Chartreux’. Although known as the ‘cat of France’, they were also referred to as ‘the cat of the common people’. They didn’t lead easy lives as they were valued primarily for the pelt, the meat and as ratters. At the beginning of the 20th century only a few wild colonies were left, so some French breeders became interested in preserving this ancient breed for posterity. They put together a breed standard based on the 18th century naturalists’ descriptions and the breed has changed very little since then, which is unusual in the cat fancy.
The head is broad with rounded contours. The cheeks are full and the jowls, especially in males over 2 years of age, make the head look wider at the base than at the top. The profile has a high forehead with a slight curve at eye level. The nose is straight, broad and moderately long. The muzzle is narrow in relation to the overall width of the head, not pointed, with full whisker pads and a firm chin giving a sweet smiling expression. The eyes are large, rounded, open with the outer corner pointing slightly upward, set moderately wide apart with the colour varying from yellow to copper. The ears are medium size set high on the head with slightly rounded tips. The body is semi-cobby, sturdy with broad shoulders and a deep chest. Medium length with a strong bone structure and dense powerful musculature. The neck is short, thick and muscular. Females are significantly smaller, but still robust and well-muscled. The coat is a distinctive feature of the breed. Medium-short, dense, slightly woolly in texture with a ‘breaking look’ and an abundant undercoat. All uniform shades of greyish blue are acceptable. The nose leather is slate-grey, the lips blue and the paw pads rose-taupe.
The Chartreux are calm, observant, intelligent, non-aggressive, affectionate and good with children and other animals. They are playful well into maturity, which is reached at 3 years for females and 5 years for males. They tend to bond with one person in their household, preferring to be in their general vicinity, though they are still loving and affectionate towards the other members of the family. They play in short spurts, sleeping and relaxing the rest of the time. They are creatures of habit and enjoy the same games and rituals day after day. They are also known for being particularly intelligent, which has probably enabled them to get quickly used to modern indoor life and to become perfect pets loved by everybody. They like to be close and being made a fuss of. Their supportive, cheerful presence can be wonderful for elderly people and people living alone, yet this devotion is never obtrusive. They accommodate themselves to most situations without complaint and do not mind being left alone for many hours now and then. Most are also good travellers.
The Chartreux is regarded as a ‘low-maintenance’ breed. Because of the dense, slightly woolly coat, it should be combed regularly, not brushed, and the claws trimmed. It is an indoor cat, but it does like to spend time outdoors when the weather is nice. When outdoors, its movements must be restricted, it must not be allowed to roam freely. The normal ways of achieving this is either with a purpose built enclosure or, if the garden is fenced in, by adding cat fencing or a radio containment system. They also enjoy being taken out on a lead and even for walks.
The Chartreux is considered to be one of the healthiest of all pure breed cats with little to no genetic problems.