Legend of the Chartreux
 
 
 
 
 

 

Legend describes battling knights returning from the Crusades and bringing cats back to France. Stories of the “blue cats of France” began during the sixteenth century.  It is thought that these cats descend from the “Cat of Syria” described in the 16th century as a stocky cat with a wooly ash-gray coat and copper eyes.  The Chartreux still holds a reputation for being one of the oldest natural breeds in Europe. The name “Chartreux” was first used during the 17th century as the common name of a type of cat whose pelt was prized by furriers. Natural colonies of these cats were known to exist in Paris and in isolated regions of France until the early 20th century. They were valued primarily for their pelts and meat.

By the end of WWII there were no known colonies of blue cats left in France. Since that time Chartreux have been available only from breeders. 

Artists, champagne and croissants come to mind when listing contributions that France has made to the world. But the cat fancier immediately thinks of the Chartreux, a wooly blue “bear cat “ that has been labeled a national treasure. 

Despite their unusual conformation, Chartreux are extremely agile and supple cats. Their amiability makes them loving pets for everyone from singles living in apartments to families with a house full of children.

Chartreux are less talkative than other breeds, they are considered the strong silent type but when they do speak it’s a high pitched trill or chirps that pass for meows. Many are completely mute: they purr, but cannot meow. Some say that because the cats lived with the Monks they don’t meow because they took a vow of silence to live in the monastery.

Many of the cats will fetch, they are called “dog like”. They are tolerant and gentle with strangers, small children and other animals. They tend to withdraw from conflict rather than becoming fearful or aggressive.

They are natural hunters, more interested in chasing and “killing” a toy than in romping around or wrestling in play. Even in play they are efficient, watching until the perfect moment and then letting loose with a fast and accurate pounce. 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. 

Towards those they love, they display a passionate devotion. They prefer to be nearby, preferably getting their jowls scratched and giving loving head-butts to their owners. They will follow you everywhere, comfort you when you are sad or ill, and prefer to sleep with you or on top of you. 

The Chartreux is a massive, slow-maturing breed. Males may take as long as four to five years to reach their full adult weight of 12-16 pounds or more. Females usually weigh seven to ten pounds by the age of 3. The Chartreux's unique combination of stocky body and slim legs described as resembling “a potato on toothpicks”. 

When choosing a registered name for your Chartreux, it is customary to use the French naming system. The first letter of the cat’s name is determined by the year of the cat’s birth. The years follow a 20 year cycle (the letters K, Q, W, X, Y, and Z are not used. The year 2008 is a “D” year.

Chartreux have more nicknames than any other breed. They have been called Blue Teddy Bears, French Monastery Cats, The Smiling Cats of France, Couch Potatoes, a potato on toothpicks and Cheeky Cats (because of their ample jowls) especially on the mature males.

Waiting lists are common among Chartreux breeders. Many people wait up to two years to get one of these prized cats. But they all report that the reward is worth the wait. 

Of all the charming qualities a Chartreux embodies, it is still the coat that enchants the owner the most. The dense water repellant fur feels like no other and holding that soft furry body close after a bad day warms the heart of every Chartreux purrson. 

The name Chartreux is pronounced shar_TRUE. 

Even the European and American Chartreux reveal a general difference in appearance. American cats are more “refined” “They have a sweeter expression, the European cats tend to look more feral.

 

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