Chartreux Characteristics

Appearance and Colour

The Chartreux is a very old, natural French breed which has changed very little over the years. Indeed, if one was to look at the earliest verifiable photographs of this cat, it would be instantly recognisable. Unlike some cat breeds, these cats would not be out of place if shown at a cat show today.

This Chartreux cat group illustrated in an article in Country Living in 1935. It was taken by Christine Léger, so these 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 have the same abundance of strength. The Chartreux has a large robust well-proportioned muscular body. Their body is semi-cobby meaning they have shortish legs and a compact body. These are sturdy cats 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, still robust and well-muscled but much daintier looking than the males. Their looks are deceiving, they may appear smaller than other large breeds but they much heavier than they look.

The head is the shape of a trapezium, wider at the base and narrower at the top, and broad with rounded contours. The cheeks are full and adult males have well-developed jowls. The profile has a gently concave curve at eye level with a high forehead and a flat plane between the ears. The ears are broad at the base, slightly rounded and medium-size set high on the head. The nose is straight, wide and moderately long. The muzzle is narrow in relation to the overall width of the head, not long nor pointed, with full whisker pads and a firm chin, giving a sweet, smiling expression.

They have slate-grey nose leather, blue lips and rose-taupe paw pads.

The eyes are one of its most endearing features. They are large, open and expressive with the outer corner curving slightly upward, set moderately wide apart with the colour varying from amber-gold to copper.

The coat is medium-short, dense, slightly woolly and open in texture with an abundant soft and fine undercoat. It is supposedly water repellent. All uniform shades of greyish blue fur are acceptable.

It is renowned since antiquity for its hunting prowess and its beautiful thick fur 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.

Growth and maturity

The Chartreux is classed as a large domestic cat. The males are usually much larger than the females and are slower to mature. Female Chartreux take about three to four years to reach their full size of 7-10 lbs. Male Chartreux can take four or five years to reach their full size of 12-18 lbs. 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 12-15 years.

Personality and preferences

Despite its rather teddy-bear good looks, the Chartreux are not fluffy toys; they are lively, sturdy and agile cats whose ancestors had to struggle to survive 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.

They are particularly intelligent, which has probably enabled them to survive outdoors in the past and to quickly get 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 are athletic cats with a preference for being high up. 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 household.

The Chartreux has a gentle but seldom used voice, some chirp rather than meow at things. Others are completely silent. There are of course exceptions who hold almost coherent conversations with their humans using a variety of meows to let their staff know exactly what they want.

They are playful well into maturity, most enjoy playing particularly pouncing and catching games. They can be taught to return a ball much like a dog. But they do not demand attention and are content to sit quietly when you are busy. They can accommodate themselves to most situations without complaint, they are very adaptable and most are very good travellers.

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