Depending on where you are the in the world, the Chartreux or Chartreuse cat is either a unique breed developed in France, or a breed to dissimilar to the blue British Shorthair to be considered a unique breed. In the UK and Australia, they are considered a blue British Shorthair, in the UK and Europe, they exist in their own right as a separate breed
The Chartruese cat purportedly gains its name from the Carthusian monastery, the Grande Chartreuse founded in 1084 near Grenoble in south-eastern France. There are several origin stories, one that the cats were brought to the monastery by knights returning from the crusades. Another states a party of Carthusian monks travelled to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa in the 17th century and brought back a pair of cats from there. These are both just stories and there is actually no evidence they were ever developed at the monastery regardless of their name being attached to the breed since the 16th century
Establishment of the Chartreus Pedigree
In the 1920’s two sisters named Leger relocated to the island of Belle-lle off the coast of Brittany. On their arrival they found a large population of blue-grey cats and began to breed from them. After several years of developing the breed, they showed them for the first time in France in 1931. One of their offspring, Mignonne went on to win two high prestigious prices, namely the Belgian Challenge Cup and the Paris Prix d’Esthetics two years later.
World War two was tough on all cats no less the Chartreus and numbers crashed to the pint there was no longer enough remaining to continue the breed without out-crossing. Attempts to maintain type by crossing with the similar British and Russian blues as well as Persians was attempted but this resulted in a cat too far from the original type. Breeders finally turned to scouring the countryside for wild Chartreus – (street cats!) to be included in the breeding programme. By 1970, the breed had been re-stablished and numbers somewhat recovered and all outcrossing was then abandoned.
Shortly thereafter, development of the breed was taken up in the US with 10 breed cats making their way there in 1970. They came from the original Leger cattery the Leger sisters still working breeding the cats some 40 years after they first started. In the US, breeders also struggled to have it recognised as a separate breed to the British Blue, but by 1990 it was accepted into most US cat fancy organisations.
They are a large, well-proportioned cat with a robust build, large muscular shoulders and a deep chest. Males are much more masculine and larger. Tail is moderately long, tapering to an oval tp. Coat may be longer than the American Shorthair’s with the females coat being silkier and thinner than the males. Coat is double-coated, dense yet soft with the double coat giving them a woolly feel.
Their head is large and broad but not rounded. The nose is short, straight with a slight stop allowed. Muzzle is narrow in relation to the head but not pointed. Cheeks are well developed, jaws are powerful and their neck is short and strong. Ears are small to medium, set high on the head with slightly rounded tips. Eyes should be large, rounds and full of expression colours from pale gold to orange with deeper tones preferred. Face is sweet, and smiling.
Any shade of blue-grey is allowed with silver highlights on the tips. Coat should be even in colour. Paw pads are rose, nose leather is silver grey.
Owners claim they have a dog like demeanour. They are inclined to exhibit short burst of energetic behaviour will retrieve a stick and will even defend an owner they perceive to be threatened. This dog like behaviour also translates to exceptionally calm and gentle behaviour when playing especially with children. Of all the cat breeds they are one of the easiest cats to train.
They are hardy, healthy cats, needing little care other than the occasional brush.