The Chartreux Cat, an internationally recognized breed of domestic cat from France. Chartreuxs are large and muscular, with relatively short, fine-boned limbs, and very fast reflexes.
They are known for their blue (grey) water-resistant short hair double-coats which are often slightly nappy in texture (often showing "breaks" like a sheepskin).
The eyes of the Chartreuxs are one of its most endearing features. They are rounded, but not as round as the Persian's. The outer corners curve slightly upward. Their eyes are sharp, expressive eyes with color ranges from gold to copper, the latter being most preferred by breeders.
The ears of this cat breed are erect, the reason why they are so intelligent and always alert.
Chartreux cats are also known for their "smile", this is because of the structure of their heads and their tapered muzzle, they often appear to be smiling. Chartreux are exceptional hunters and highly prized by farmers.
The first letter of the official name of a Chartreux cat encodes the year of its birth; all Chartreux born in the same year have official names beginning with the same letter. The code letters rotate through the alphabet each year, omitting the letters K, Q, W, X, Y and Z. An example, a Chartreux born in 2002 would have an official name starting with the letter T.
Though the Chartreux cat is a study of contrasts, the overall appearance of power and beauty is very pleasing to the eye and touch. During the crusades this breed was hunted to near extinction for its pelt.
Today these cats are still quite rare worldwide, even in France. Historically famous pedigreed Chartreux owners include the French novelist Colette and French general/president Charles de Gaulle.
Breeders are very protective of the Chartreux cat. Preservation is very important to this feline community; therefore waiting lists are usually long. A Chartreux kitten must be reserved. The wait list is usually 6 months. The cost of a kitten ranges between USD $800-$1000 as of 2010 estimates.
Unlike any other cat, the Chartreux's blue fur is medium in length and woolly, with the proper coat breaking at the neck, chest and flanks. A dense undercoat gives it resistance and a feeling of sheep's wool.
The double coat is soft and luxurious, the thickness makes both the male and female appear bulkier. The top coat is water-resistant. They enjoy being softly stroked and petted and this is almost the only grooming that they need.
Many ask this question, "where did the Chartreux cat breed originate from?" There is a legend that the Chartreux are descended from cats brought to France by Carthusian monks to live in the order's head monastery, the Grande Chartreuse, located in the Chartreuse Mountains of the French Alps north of the city of Grenoble.
The monks would breed these cats in their free time.
It is believed that to concentrate on their meditation, these cats were bred to have quite voices! Maybe that is why they do not 'meow' much.
In 1972, the Prior of the Grande Chartreuse denied the archives of the monastery held any records of the monks' use of any breed of cat resembling the Chartreux (Simonnet 1990.
Legend has it the Chartreux's ancestors were feral mountain cats from what is now Syria, brought back to France by returning Crusaders in the 13th century, many of whom entered the Carthusian monastic order.
The first documented mention of the breed was by the French naturalist Buffon in the 18th century. The breed was greatly diminished during the first World War and wild populations were not seen after World War II. A concerted effort by European breeders kept the breed from extinction.
The first Chartreux were brought to the U.S. in 1971 by Helen and John Gamon of La Jolla, California. In 1987, the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) advanced the Chartreux cat breed to championship status. There are fewer than two dozen active Chartreux breeders in North America as of 2007.
Chartreux cats tend to be quiet, rarely making noises such as mewing or crying, and some are mute. Being a quiet breed they often chirp rather than meowing at things it finds interesting - and those are common as this intelligent cat is fascinated by everything, including television.
They are quite observant and intelligent, with some Chartreux learning to operate radio on/off buttons and to open screen door latches. Taking about two years to reach adulthood, Chartreux cats are playful pets well into their adult years; some can even be taught to fetch small objects in the same manner as a dog.
They love to be near their people, most of the time not on their lap but love to be beside them.
Being very affectionate, they have been called the dog-like cat. They usually learn to get along well with the family dog. Whomever the Chartreux bond with, they are forever devoted.
Neither gregarious nor shy, Chartreux are calmly attentive to the world and tend to hang back and observe, rather than rushing in. They are tolerant and gentle with strangers, small children and other animals. Chartreux have always been known for their gentle amiable spirit. Though dignified, they are also amazingly tolerant of other cats, dogs and children.
They are sensitive and their feelings can be easily hurt. They know when they are being made fun of. If pestered too much, they will withdraw from the situation rather than retaliate.
They are therefore a breed that values good comfort over territorial warfare. They accommodate themselves to most situations without complaint, travel well, and do not mind being left alone for long periods.
In general, Chartreux are non-aggressive, tolerant and affectionate, good travelers that are typically very healthy.
They are natural hunters, very interested in chasing and "killing" a toy, romping around or wrestling in play.
Even in play hunting they are efficient, watching until the perfect moment and then letting loose with a fast and accurate pounce that leaves the prey no chance to escape.
They play in short spurts, messing around wildly for 30 minutes and then sleeping and relaxing the rest of the time, especially after a particularly good meal. As most cats, Chartreux purebreeds are creatures of habit and enjoy the same games and rituals day after day.
Towards those they love, Chartreux display a passionate devotion that strangers would never guess at. They prefer to be nearby, preferably getting their jowls scratched and giving loving head-bumps 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. Their supportive, cheerful presence can be wonderful for elderly people and people living alone.
Yet this devotion is never obtrusive. They do not demand attention, and are content to sit quietly next to you when you are busy. They have a strong sense of proper behavior and strive to be "good citizens", avoiding certain behaviours if they feel they have been criticized harshly.
They likewise appreciate courtesy from others, and remember how they have been treated; Chartreux are highly sensitive to scolding and praise.
As all cats, Chartreux need a constant supply of fresh clean water. They are not fussy eaters, usually content with premium quality dry cat food in front of them at all times as they are usually “grazers.” A Spayed and neutered Chartreux cat can easily become overweight.
You may need to change to a “less active” or “lite” cat food or only feed him twice a day, to keep proper weight. Be judicious in offering treats.
You may need to exercise your cat daily by playing games with him. He will run after a spot of light, such as that from a penlight or laser, but never let the light shine into his eyes.
He will also delight in playing with feathers, ping-pong balls and other kitty toys. Chartreux love catnip, which initially excites cats, then makes them very mellow.
The mascot of the world's largest jazz festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, is a blue Chartreux cat affectionately named 'Ste Cat , after the festival's hub, Sainte Catherine Street in Montreal.
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