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Chartreux Cat Breed History, Appearance, character, Health & more

Chartreux, Carthusian, or Maltese cat - many names, one breed. The Carthusian cat is one of the most popular cat breeds in Europe, and yet there is a lot of confusion around it. And this is not only because of the different names for the breed but also because of its checkered history!

Everyone knows the gentle cats with blue-gray fur and yellow eyes. No wonder, after all, the Chartreux is known and loved not only since its appearance in the famous Sheba cat food advertising! In common parlance, the cats are often referred to as "Chartreux". A name that causes confusion, since the term stands for different blue-gray color strokes of well-known cat breeds, from the long-haired, blue Angora cats to British Shorthair with blue-gray fur and finally cats that belong to the breed "Chartreux".

Chartreux History

The origin of the Chartreux cat is believed to be in present-day Syria - from there they reached France via trade routes. Allegedly, the monks of the Order of the Grande Chartreuse near Grenoble should have bred Léger Chartreux cats since the Middle Ages. Even if the Chartreux seems noble and majestic and one can imagine it well in weathered monastery walls, this is not true. The monks devoted themselves less to cat breeding, but rather to the production of a herbal liqueur called "Elixir de Vegetal de Chartreuse". However, it cannot be ruled out that they were involved in the creation of the Carthusian wool known in France in the 16th century. As already indicated, Carthusian cats have long appreciated as suppliers of wool and fur a few centuries ago.

In fact, the foundation of Chartreux breeding was laid on the Breton islands. There, under the kennel name "de Guerveur", the Léger siblings began the selective breeding of gray-blue beauties that lived semi-wild on the islands. During the Second World War, the stock of potential breeding cats dwindled, therefore the Chartreux was crossed among others with the British Shorthair. This is not allowed nowadays according to the breeding standard, but it explains why the breedings are closely related. So it's no wonder that the blue color pattern of both breeds was combined by the international breeding association FIFe under the common name Chartreux cat in the early 1970s. In Germany and Austria, this was translated as "Kartäuser". Crossing with Persian cats also changed the original type of Chartreux. What remained was their blue-gray coat.

At the same time, the few Chartreux of the old type continued to be bred in France and the Benelux countries and thus also reached Germany. The original characteristics of the breed were thus preserved until today. In 1977 the Chartreux was recognized by FIFe as an independent breed with its own standard. Thus, only the Chartreux is allowed to call itself "Carthusian". Nevertheless, the blue representatives of the breed "British Shorthair" are sometimes still called Carthusians - here confusion is guaranteed! According to the breed standard, however, Carthusian cats must belong to the breed "Chartreux".

If you are interested in a Kartäuser cat, you should therefore only trust a professional breeder!

Chartreux Appearance

The semi-wild cats of the Breton islands shaped the appearance of the Chartreux. It is strong and muscular with a well-defined, angular muzzle and a trapezoid skull: it should be broad at the base and narrow at the forehead. The cheeks are particularly pronounced, framing the face like a hood, especially in males. This makes for pronounced differences in appearance between males and females! The erect ears are set high and are quite close together. The chest is strong, the legs are of medium length and muscular. They are carried by large, broad paws. Particularly striking are the intensely colored yellow eyes of the Chartreux. The color can vary from dark yellow to copper. Their coat is also characteristic: blue-gray colored, short, and particularly dense, it is one of the trademarks of the breed. The dense undercoat gives the coat a slightly woolly appearance.

The origin of the blue-gray color is interesting: In the Chartreux and also the Russian Blue, the black pigment eumelanin is diluted to blue by a so-called "diluent". This disposition is inherited autosomal recessively. In other cat breeds, this gene causes red to be diluted to cream and brown to lilac. Despite the similar color, the appearance of the Carthusian cat is said to be distinctly different from Russian Blue and British Blue. Crosses between Carthusians and these two breeds are undesirable.

Chartreux cat character

The Chartreux cat is considered a particularly intelligent and people-friendly breed. In France, it is often called a dog cat, because it loves to play fetch in addition to extensive cuddling sessions. The Carthusian joins humans unconditionally, quickly becomes at home in a new environment, and is considered to love harmony! This makes the Carthusian a particularly problem-free, uncomplicated breed - its often "smiling" face is a perfect expression of its character. The so-called "Carthusian smile" is also reflected in their voice: In contrast to the rather loud oriental cat breeds, the meowing of the Carthusian cat is also rather calm and quiet.

Chartreux cats are rather calm animals, they are considered sociable and a little aggressive. They are thus suitable for keeping in the apartment, but also enjoy free running in the garden or secured exercise. Their short, dense coat does not tend to tangle and is easy to clean - an advantage especially for outdoor cats who love roaming around in the bushes and undergrowth!

If kept alone in the house, the Chartreux should be offered sufficient stimuli so that it can also let off steam in the apartment and is mentally occupied. This includes climbing and scratching opportunities, resting places, and potential hiding places. Many ceiling-high scratching posts offer all of this in a small space, but you can still let your imagination run wild! A bookshelf can be converted into a cat climbing wall, heated couches and non-slip cushions on the windowsill invite you to rest and watch.

Chartreux Health

Responsible breeding is the first step to a healthy, balanced cat. This results in the Chartreux not being particularly susceptible to certain hereditary diseases. The exception: FNI, or "Neonatal Isoerythrolysis in the Cat". Due to the prevalence of blood type B in Chartreux cats, if a cat with blood type B is mated to a male with blood type A or AB, there is a risk of Feline Neonatal Isoerythrolysis in the kittens. In plain language, this means: The blood groups of the mother cat with blood group B and kittens with blood group A are incompatible after birth. With the first milk the kittens take up antibodies against the blood group A - this drives to the excretion of the red blood pigment via the urine and anemia. Acute feline neonatal isoerythrolysis is fatal to kittens. With 44 percent the Chartreux shows the largest proposition for FNI.

In general, the mating incompatible blood groups can be avoided. Essential is a previous blood group determination by the veterinarian. Fortunately, a number of different commercial blood testing methods are available for this purpose! Professional breeders, who care about the welfare of their cats, therefore rely on a prior blood group test to avoid FNI in their kittens.

Chartreux Care and husbandry

Apart from the proposition for Feline Neonatal Isoerythrolysis, the Chartreux is considered uncomplicated and robust. This is also reflected in optimal care and keeping. Chartreux cats can be kept indoors and with outdoor access due to their rather quiet nature. They get along with other cats, children, and even dogs. However, too much stress should not be expected of these friendly, harmony-seeking animals. On the other hand, in individual cases, they are even suitable as single cats, as long as there is enough contact to "their" human.

Species-appropriate husbandry is the best prerequisite for a long, healthy cat life. This includes a species-appropriate diet with plenty of healthy meat that provides high-quality protein and regular care by the vet. Don't forget to take a look at the cat's mouth! Because even the cat's teeth are not protected from caries.

Cats that enjoy outdoor access should receive vermin prophylaxis and be vaccinated as needed during regular check-ups with the veterinarian. For outdoor cats, basic immunization against rabies, feline rhinotracheitis, and feline epidemic diarrhea is recommended. If you get your cat already in kitten age, a vaccination against leucosis may also be appropriate. However, this makes less sense for older cats, as they have often already come into contact with the pathogen. The vaccination recommendations for veterinarians are constantly being updated - in the meantime, one refrains from annual vaccinations and vaccinates only every two or three years. Unique marking with a microchip makes it easier to return the cat in case of an emergency. Just don't forget to register your cat for free with one of the pet registries after marking.

That being said, a cat-friendly environment is essential for your Chartreux to feel completely at ease. All cats should be able to enjoy numerous scratching, hiding, resting, and playing opportunities. This is especially important for animals that spend time exclusively indoors. As a people-oriented cat, the Carthusian especially enjoys play and cuddling sessions with her human family. And with her famous Carthusian smile and velvety soft coat, the Chartreux will convince any cat lover to cuddle her for a few more minutes after all.


Has the Chartreux convinced you with her well-known "Carthusian smile", her soft coat, and her uncomplicated character? Now it goes to the search for a new, four-legged family member! If you are interested in a Chartreux, as with other cat breeds, you should only trust a professional breeder. Even if classified ads offering "pedigree cats without papers for a small price" are tempting and you don't actually need breeding papers, but just want to offer a lifetime home to a fancier cat, going to a breeder has many advantages.

Professional breeders, for example, attach importance to a targeted mating of their animals. This avoids inbreeding, hereditary diseases are minimized and the appearance of the Chartreux is optimized according to the breeding standard. Responsible cat breeders do not let their dams mate continuously. They allow them a certain grace period for recovery. After all, raising a litter of cats is a lot of work for both the mother cat and the breeder! The breeder gives his animals enough time to grow up and learn all cat necessities from their mothers and siblings before they can move to their new home at the earliest twelve weeks. By this time, they are ideally vaccinated, have been fed a species-appropriate diet, and have been seen by a veterinarian several times. The breeder can show these health documents and those of the parents as well as the entries in the studbook. Ideally, he is also a member of one of the large breeding associations or the Chartreux d'Europe, the association of breeders and lovers of Carthusians.

Breeding is an expensive hobby, which is unfortunately also reflected in the prices. Who attaches importance to a species-appropriate diet of his animals, does not shy away from visits to the vet, and fully cares for his kittens for at least twelve weeks, must demand around 1,000 euros per cat to cover his costs. But with that, you will get a real Chartreux, who will enchant you with her smile and enrich your everyday life!

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