Chartreux Characteristics

Appearance and Colour

The Chartreux is a very old natural French breed which has changed very little over centuries. If one was to look at the earliest verifiable photographs of these cats, they would be instantly recognisable. The show cats from the 1930s could be Grand Champions in shows today, which is unusual in the cat fancy, as many breeds have changed significantly in that time.

This is a Chartreux group illustrated in an article in Country Living in 1935. It was taken by Christine Léger, so they must be Belle-Île cats. The article noted that these cats were extremely elegant, that the males were very muscular and very powerful, and that the females had the same abundance of strength.

It is a shorthair breed with a robust well-proportioned muscular body and is renowned since antiquity for its hunting prowess and its dense greyish blue slightly woolly coat. They are extremely supple and agile cats and the qualities of strength, unrivalled intelligence and adaptability, enabled them to survive in the wild for centuries.

The head is broad with rounded contours and a narrow flat plane between the ears. The cheeks are full and the jowls, especially in males over 2 years of age, make the head look wider at the base than at the top. The profile has a high forehead with a slight curve at eye level. The nose is straight, broad and moderately long. The muzzle is narrow in relation to the overall width of the head, not pointed, with full whisker pads and a firm chin, giving a sweet, smiling expression. The eyes are one of its most endearing features. They are large, rounded, open and expressive with the outer corner pointing slightly upward, set moderately wide apart with the colour varying from yellow to copper. The ears are medium size, set high on the head with slightly rounded tips. The body is semi-cobby, sturdy with broad shoulders and a deep chest. Medium length with a strong bone structure and dense powerful musculature. The neck is short, thick and muscular. Females are significantly smaller but still robust and well-muscled. The coat is a distinctive feature of the breed. Medium-short, dense, slightly woolly in texture with a ‘breaking look’ and an abundant undercoat. All uniform shades of greyish blue are acceptable. The nose leather is slate-grey, the lips blue and the paw pads rose-taupe. 


Growth and maturity

Chartreux are classed as medium size cats. The males are usually much bigger than the females and they are both slow to mature. Females take about 3 to 4 years to reach their full size of up to 4-4.5 kg and males take 4 to 5 years to reach their full size of up to 6-6.5 kg. As the male matures, his head and body broaden, he develops jowls, and his coat becomes thicker and woollier. These are relatively long-lived cats, living on average 15 years.

Personality and preferences

Despite its rather teddy-bear looks, Chartreux are not fluffy toys. They are lively, sturdy and agile cats whose ancestors had to struggle to survive in the wild and they still bear reminders of that determined behaviour. They play in short spurts, sleeping and relaxing the rest of the time. They are creatures of habit and enjoy and expect the same games and rituals day after day.

Chartreux are very intelligent, which has enabled them to switch from living in the wild in the past to quickly getting used to modern indoor life. They can problem solve and they can learn from each other and their unsuspecting humans.

They are calm, observant, curious, non-aggressive, affectionate and good with children and other animals. They tend to bond with one person in their household, preferring to be in their general vicinity, though they are still loving and affectionate towards the other members of the family. They like to be close and being made a fuss of. They have a gentle but seldom used voice and chirp rather than meow, but some can be mute.

They are playful well into maturity, mostly enjoy playing particularly pouncing and catching games. They can be taught to return a ball much like a dog. They do not demand attention and are content to sit quietly when you are busy. Their supportive, cheerful presence can be wonderful for elderly people and people living alone, yet this devotion is never obtrusive. They accommodate themselves to most situations without complaint and do not mind being left alone for many hours now and then. Most are also good travellers. 

Thus their strong, distinct personality with their many admirable traits, together with their good looks have earned them many admirers. People who have owned a Chartreux, often say they would never want to own a cat of any other breed.