One of the earliest references to this french gray cat dates to 1558, an epitaph for Belaud, who belonged to poet Joachin de Bellay. Bellay describes Belaud “death to rats,” which is certainly an attribute of the breed, then and now.
This cat was commonly found in France at least as far back as the 18th century, performing rat patrol in stables, shops and homes. This French beauty is famously known for its woolly cloak of gray fur. Unfortunately, the beautifully furred felines, were also prized by furriers for their thick blue pelts. A type of luxurious wool called “pile de Chartreux” may have taken its name from the soft, woolly coated cats.
As with so many breeds, it’s never really known how the cats came by their name or how or where they originated. So a little bit of online digging reveals that the first reference to the name Chartreux for the blue cats is found in the Universal Dictionary of Commerce, Natural History and the Arts and Trade of Savvary of Brusion, published in 1723, which also mentions the cats’ association with the fur trade. French naturalist George-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, described them as the cat of France and gave them the Latin name Felis catus coeruleus, meaning blue cat.
Free-living groups of the cats lived in Paris and other areas of France until the early 1900s. They were not much valued, except for their skins and their aptitude for vermin control. It wasn’t until after World War I that French cat lovers took steps to preserve the breed. They gathered as many cats as they could and wrote a breed standard. Using only the cats that met the standard and produced kittens that met it, they were able to begin exhibiting the cats in European shows in either 1928 or 1931, depending on the source. It was fortunate that fanciers had begun to breed the Chartreux when they did, because after World War II, none of the free-roaming cats could be found. The Chartreux is even the official mascot of the Montreux Jazz Festival. They are less known in Europe, even in their homeland of France. Unlike many cat breeds, they have changed little over the years and remain, as Bellay wrote: “the most handsome perhaps, that nature ever made in cat’s clothing.”
Love learning about cats? Check out the Butler & Milk Blog, Cat Breeds category at https://www.butlerandmilk.com/butlerandmilkblog for pictures and information on cat breeds that you love.
Home environment - As with most cats, they can be sociable when introduced to an environment that is peaceful, stimulating and where they feel safe. This cat can thrive in a household with children who can treat this delicate beauty politely and respectfully. Always introduce any pets, even other cats, slowly and in a controlled setting.
Entertaining – A good butler knows how to entertain! To keep your cat entertained and to help them stay fit and active, provide various play stations and treats. Cats love playtime with their owners which helps them to socialize well and thwarts boredom and troublesome behaviors.
Hair – The Charteux has gorgeous thick hair however, it allows for easy care. Shedding is to be expected as with any cat however, combing or brushing can be done maybe twice a week to reduce furniture coverage.
Teeth – The use of small finger toothbrushes for weekly clean can help keep your cat’s teeth and gums healthy and may prevent periodontal disease. Careful with your fingers, cats have impressive jaw strength and can give quite a finger crushing bite! Annual checks at the vets will also pick up on anything that might need professional attention.
Nails – Now, be careful with this one. Cat’s nails are live so there is the potential to cause pain especially if the nail is dark and you cannot see clearly to differentiate live areas from ‘safe’ areas to clip. Probably best to schedule a visit to your vets or local shelter where there will be someone trained to carry out this procedure. I clipped my cat Tiny’s nail tips while she sat in the sink about once a fortnight. She would only allow me to clip her front ones and would happily bite and crunch her back paw nails.
Clean – You can use a soft cloth and wipe the eye area. Use a separate area of the cloth for each eye so that you don’t spread any infection. Gently wipe out ears, warm water is fine. Never poke or use cotton buds (Q-tips) inside the ears.
Litter Box – Keep the trays meticulously clean and have more than one (if possible). Remember to keep trays away from food areas.
Roam or not to roam – It’s a good idea to keep your lovely inside, apart from attacks from other cats or dogs or traffic dangers, such a beauty might be stolen. However, if you’re going to allow roaming, remember to microchip and use a collar with an ID tag.
Check out Butler & Milk https://www.butlerandmilk.com/butlerandmilkshop for toothpaste, shampoo, cat collars, organic balms, anxiety treatments, toys and much much more goodies exclusively for cats!