Although it has never been proven where the Chartreux (pronounced shar-TRUE) originated from, an old legend exists that many cat lovers like to believe. It goes that the breed developed at Le Grand Chartreux monastery in the French Alps and the cats lived with the Carthusian monks. The monks bred Chartreux cats in their spare time with the same dedication with which they created their famous Chartreuse liqueur. Although the monastery was founded in 1084, the cats didn�t arrive there until the 13th century � apparently when the Crusading knights bought them back with them from the African coast. Legend has it that the monks selectively bred the cats to have quiet voices so they could concentrate on their meditation!
Documents written in the 16th century mark the verifiable history of Chartreux cats � the literature at the time noted that there were four common cat breeds in Europe: Angora, Domestic, Spanish and Chartreux. More recent history suggests the breed began in the 1920�s when two sisters discovered the cats off the coast of France. The sisters were the first to exhibit Chartreux cats in France. During World War II Chartreux cats were bred with Persians and British Shorthairs to prevent the breed from extinction. In European cat shows hybridization is allowed and the Chartreux is shown in the same breed category as the British Shorthair. In 1970, John and Helen Gamon took the breed over to the United States and helped in getting the breed accepted in the associations.
The Chartreux is sometimes described as a �potato on toothpicks� because of its stocky body and finely boned legs. Broad shoulders, a deep chest and well muscled are also (more flattering) traits of the Chartreux. The breed is often known for its smile � the narrow muzzle and powerful jaws gives this sweet, smiling expression and the Chartreux is therefore seen as a happy cat � the fact that this breed is highly affectionate adds to this perception.
The Chartreux�s fur is unique: blue, medium in length and slightly woolly in texture. The colour can range from any shade of blue-grey, from ash to slate and often the tips are lightly brushed with silver. The ears are usually very erect, probably relating to the high intelligence of this breed � always alert and interested. The Chartreux�s eyes are one of its best features; they too are open and alert, and very often expressive. They range from copper to gold, although copper is usually preferable to breeders.
Chartreux Character and Temperament
Chartreux are very intelligent cats; they soon learn their name and will respond to it when you call. They�re also fascinated by the television and love playing with the telephone cord! Chartreux make great companions � they quickly become attached to their family and are amicable, loyal and playful. They love rolling around with friends and family and can even be taught to fetch a ball! If the proper introductions are made, many even enjoy playing with other cats and even a cat-friendly dog!
They�re vocally quiet, chirping instead of meowing, and they love to be shown affection � they�ll often climb onto their owners lap and follow them around the house. Although Chartreux are known today for their companionship qualities, they used to be known for their hunting prowess � if the legend of Le Grand Chartreux monastery is to be held then the cats may have been taken in by the monks to rid the monestry of vermin. These days however, Chartreux are loving, affectionate cats, only too happy to spend their time with their family.
Some of the Chartreux' important characteristics are shown below: