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Cat Breed Profile: Bon ami the friendly Chartreux

Little Priscilla was found as a stray and is now at the Angels Rescuing Kritters shelter in Weimar, CA. Notice the orangy eyes and the slight smile.
Angels Rescuing Kritters

Centuries ago there lived a cat with soft wooly fur of silvery blue. Her orange eyes were bright and she was light on her feet. However, what made this cat truly special? Her smile.

It is believed that knights fighting in the Crusades of 13th Century became enamored of a beautiful cat found in the cities of Persia, now modern day Iran. At the end of the Crusades they brought these cats back with them to Europe stopping to rest at French monasteries on their return. Some of these creatures stayed behind when the knights left. The ancestors of these creatures were renowned for their mousing prowess as well as their beauty. As a result, this special cat become a favorite of the French countryside and was given the name Chartreux. Some people believe the name came about because the cats’ silver coat was similar in color the special Chartreuse liqueur produced by Carthusian monks.

The Chartreux went on to become the national cat of France and a source of pride. Unfortunately, World War II took a toll on the cats and they became scarce. While breeders in England bred their Chartreux cats with blue British Shorthairs to keep the breed going, some of the cats made it to the US where breeders were able to continue direct breeding these cats.

The Chartreux is now a registered breed of the Cat Fanciers Association. The breed is easy to spot with its bright rust-colored to orange eyes and silvery bluish fur. The cat’s body is on the small side, but very robust and muscular. However, the most unusual feature of the Chartreux is the smile that is permanently placed on its face. The cat’s round face tapers to a narrow muzzle which pulls the corners of its mouth into an adorable smile. The Chartreux is not much of a talker, but when she does talk, she chirps more than meows.

Chartreux cats are calm, reserved animals and devoted to their human families. However, purebred Chartreux are difficult to find. Because the breed was so reduced in France, many American Chartreux have been returned to France to help rebuild the breed. However, Chartreux mixes are found in shelters around the country. Check to find a feline friend today.

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