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Chartreux Cats 101 : Fun Facts & Myths

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In today’s video, we are going to talk about some interesting facts and myths, about the Chartreux Cat.

Upon hearing the word «Chartreux,» you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a French wine. It isn’t, though. Chartreux is a truly unique breed of cat. Watch this video, and discover some fabulous facts about this pious cat from France.

Don’t mistake Chartreux cats for British Shorthairs. With their plush blue-gray fur and round faces, the two cats look a lot alike. However, the Chartreux is thought to hail from France, where it’s unofficially known as the country’s national cat.

The Chartreaux is a medium-sized cat. She is heavily muscled, and has heavy boning. She has a thick, rounded appearance. Males are larger than females.

As a powerful cat, all components should be well developed. She has a broad chest, a muscular neck, strong jaws, and a well developed muzzle. The legs are relatively thin, but strong. She looks like what it originally was, a cat to keep rodents out of the barn and the house.

The coat of the Chartreaux is thick, and dense. It becomes much longer, and thicker during the winter. The texture of the coat is relatively hard, as it is protection for the cat.

1. THE CHARTREUX’S ORIGINS ARE UNCLEAR.

Like most cat breeds, there are colorful (and potentially mythical) tales surrounding the Chartreux’s origins. The most enduring explanation is that, the Chartreux’s ancestors were feral mountain cats from the Middle East. During the 13th century, merchants or Crusaders brought the cats to France.

It’s said that Carthusian monks later bred the cat at the Grande Chartreuse Monastery, in southeastern France. The monks have distilled a liqueur called, Elixir Vegetal de la Grande-Chartreuse from herbs, plants and flowers, since 1737, so the gray kitty was called, the Chartreux after their famous alcohol. However, monastery records don’t mention the Chartreux cat, so the jury’s still out on whether this romantic story is true.

Meanwhile, others say the feline received the name “Chartreux” thanks to their thick, wooly coats, which look similar to a Spanish wool called, la pile des Chartreux.

2. IT’S LIVED IN FRANCE FOR CENTURIES.

While experts don’t know where the Chartreux comes from, they say it’s lived in France for a very long time. In 1558, French poet, and critic Joachim du Bellay, wrote a poem called, Vers Français sur la mort d’un petit chat, (French verse on a small kitten’s death). The verse mourns a tiny gray kitty’s untimely passing—a cat, that many people believe to be a Chartreux. He wrote:

«Here lies Belaud, my little gray cat,
Belaud, that was the most handsome perhaps
That nature ever made in cat’s clothing.
This was Belaud, death to rats.
Belaud, to be sure his beauty was such
That he deserves to be immortal. »

And in 1747, French portrait artist, Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, painted an aristocratic woman, Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange, holding a large cat with gray fur. Thanks to its distinctive coloration and build, art experts say that the kitty is a Chartreux. Many naturalists, historians, and writers have also mentioned the elegant cat in their works.

3. THE CHARTREUX BREED WAS THREATENED BY WORLD WAR 2.

Like many feline breeds, the Chartreux cat’s existence was threatened, after cat fanciers stopped breeding it during World War 2. To save it, breeders outcrossed the Chartreux with cats, including Persians. Today, you’ll still occasionally see a poufy Chartreux appear, in a litter of shorthaired kittens, if both of its parents carried the recessive gene for long fur.

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