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Chartreux cats are a beautiful, charming, and rare cat breed. If you are lucky enough ever to meet a Chartreux, you’ll quickly understand why people have adored these felines for so many years.

Breed History

When it comes to the Chartreux cat breed history, legend says that these placid cats lived in the head monastery of the Carthusian monks. Due to these felines’ easy-going personalities and quiet dispositions, they supposedly were perfect companions with the monks’ peaceful lifestyle. However, this legend remains just that, as no official record of these cats exists in any of the monk’s archives.

Another tale suggests that the modern-day Chartreux is a descendant of feral cats from Syria, brought to France by Crusaders sometime in the 13th century.

One of the first references of a French grey cat is in Joachim du Bellay’s 1558 poem, “Vers Français sur la mort d’un petit chat.” A cat of similar description is additionally represented in a 1747 painting by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, titled “Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange.” Interestingly enough, the Chartreux is painted as a pet, which was still relatively rare for that time.

Officially, the first mention of the Chartreux breed name was in the 18th century. French naturalist, George-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, described these felines as blue cats of France. Until the beginning of the 19th century, not many people took note of these cats. Mainly used in the fur trade industry or to catch vermin in barns and homes, it wasn’t until post-World War I that citizens began taking a greater interest in the breed.

By the end of World War II, the Chartreux population had declined drastically, and hardly any of these cats could be found in the wild. Thanks to the efforts of various breeders around Europe, the Chartreux was saved from extinction.

By the 1970s, this breed was brought to the United States, where people also recognized the brilliance, beauty, and uniqueness of these cats. Today, the Chartreux breed is still rare, even in their home country of France.

After World War II, when cat breeders were working to keep the Chartreux breed from extinction, they often crossed these cats with other breeds such as Persians, British Shorthairs, and Russian Blues.

Attributes

The Chartreux cat personality is delightful and considered to be middle-of-the-road. For instance, these cats are not too extroverted to the point that they will constantly be demanding your attention, while they also aren’t so introverted that they hide away anytime someone is visiting.

These felines are also relatively quiet. Not only do they not “talk” often, but even when they do, they are still pretty soft-spoken. Chartreux enjoy being lap cats and curling up near you whenever you are relaxing on the couch. While they also enjoy playing games, many cats of this breed don’t mind entertaining themselves.

Although these cats can do well being left alone at home, they don’t mind the extra company of another cat or dog. These are also a great choice of feline for families with kids. Just be sure to teach kids (of all ages) how to interact properly with cats.

On average, Chartreux cats weigh around 7-16 pounds, and they have an expected lifespan of 11-15 years. Though these are the normal ranges for this breed, each cat is unique and may weigh more or less than expected or live outside of the typical life expectancy.

All Chartreux cats have a solid, blue-gray, double coat, which has a natural shine to it. The fur itself is short, thick, and water-repellant. Their orange-colored eyes are perhaps one of their most prominent characteristics. These husky felines have rounded features, including chubby cheeks. Plus, most Chartreux often appear as though they are always grinning.

Chartreux cats are known for having fast reflexes, which is partially what makes them such prized hunters.

Grooming

Compared to some felines, Chartreux cats are relatively easy to groom. They will shed heavily once a year, typically around springtime, during which their coat will require daily attention. Throughout the rest of the year, your pal may just need a quick brushing just a few times a week.

The remainder of a Chartreux’s grooming routine is quite standard. Their nails will need to be trimmed about once a month, though this time frame varies slightly between each cat.

Be sure to check your four-legged friend’s ears regularly and clean them out whenever they are dirty. Suppose their ears ever appear to be unusually red, or you notice an unpleasant odor. This could be a sign that they have an ear infection, in which case they will need to visit their veterinarian as soon as possible.

Never use cotton swabs to clean out your cat’s ears or clean down into their ear canal, as this could accidentally cause pain or injury. Instead, be sure to use cotton balls or a soft cloth, a cat-safe ear cleaning solution, and only clean their outer ear.

It is additionally beneficial to brush your Chartreux’s teeth, preferably multiple times a week. With the help of cat-safe toothpaste, you can keep your cat’s teeth clean and breath smelling fresh.

If you ever notice that the corners of your cat’s eyes need to be cleaned, you can use a damp, soft cloth. Starting in the corner, gently wipe down and away from their eye. Just be sure to use different corners of the cloth or a new cloth altogether for each eye. This can help prevent the spread of any infection.

chartreux cat resting on a colorful blanket atop a bright blue couch

Care

When it comes to caring for a Chartreux cat, everything is fairly standard—these cats can be a great choice for first-time cat parents. Chartreux are relatively easy to please. They require a nutritious diet, daily exercise, mental stimulation, and attention from their family.

To help keep your cat’s weight under control, measure each meal that you give them. Also, although there is no doubt that your feline friend deserves that extra treat, too many will cause your pal to start packing on those extra pounds, so be reasonable with treats. Equally as important, keep an eye out if you notice your cat is losing weight. Talk with your veterinarian if you ever have any questions or concerns about your Chartreux’s weight and meal plan.

Providing opportunities to play and exercise will also help keep your cat’s weight under control. Not to mention, it will allow your cat to burn off any extra energy they may have.

It may also be worth your time (and money) to purchase your cat a puzzle game. Chartreux are intelligent cats and enjoy being mentally stimulated. Many cat parents have even taught their Chartreux various tricks and commands.

Common Health Issues

As a cat parent, it’s essential to keep in mind that felines are notorious for hiding when they don’t feel well. Since they are naturally lethargic, it may take days or even the presence of severe symptoms before you realize that your pal isn’t feeling their best.

To help keep your Chartreux in tip-top shape, schedule them yearly appointments with their veterinarian and stay up to date with their flea, tick, and heartworm medication. Never hesitate to talk with your veterinarian if you notice your cat acting differently than usual.

Although they are a relatively healthy breed, Chartreux cats are still susceptible to developing some health issues. According to our claims data,** the top five issues that affect these cats include:

  1. Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  2. Digestive issues
  3. Behavioral conditions
  4. Ataxia (loss of coordination)
  5. Sensitive skin

By no means should any cat parent feel the pressure to be an expert on all of these conditions. That said, it can be helpful to have some knowledge on preventive measures or primary symptoms for each issue.

Fun Facts

With Chartreux cats being a rare breed, there is still much for people to learn about them. Some interesting and fun facts include:

  • Based on a unique naming system, every French cat with a pedigree has their official name beginning with a letter that coordinates to the year they were born. In other words, every Chartreux born in the same year will have names starting with the same letter. Every year this system rotates to the following letter in the alphabet, omitting just a handful of letters.
  • Some well-known Chartreux parents you may have heard of include the French novelist Colette and the French poet Charles Baudelaire.
  • A Chartreux is the mascot for the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the world’s largest jazz festival. This four-legged mascot is named “Ste Cat” after the festival’s central hub in downtown Montreal, Sainte Catherine Street.
  • Many Chartreux can learn to play fetch.
  • In Buffon’s first mention of the Chartreux breed, he gave them the Latin name Felis catus coeruleus, meaning blue cat.

When it comes to this breed, one thing is for sure—there is more than meets the eye.

Chartreux Cat Names

After adopting your new best pal, now comes the tricky but fun process of selecting a name. In honor of their French roots, here is a list of French-inspired cat names and their meanings.

  • Babette- small baby
  • Belle- beautiful
  • Clémentine- small orange
  • Duchesse- duchess
  • Gisele- bright light
  • Figaro- named after a French newspaper “Le Figaro”
  • Isidor- gift
  • Leroy- named after French hardware store Leroy Merlin
  • Marcel- old name meaning “dedicated to Mars”
  • Ripley- compensation

Even if you have yet to adopt a Chartreux, it’s never too early to begin thinking about possible names.

**Internal Claims Data, 2015-20
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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