Let's talk Chartreux

It’s easy to fall for a Chartreux as they’re beautiful to look at with a calm disposition to boot. Their soft blue-grey coat and expressive eyes draw you in while the playful temperament of a Chartreux makes them a joy to be around. Content to explore outside or nap indoors, this cat likes to stay close while maintaining a safe distance. Shocker, a feline contradiction! They’re attentive, discreet, and easy-going - character attributes that make them a welcome addition to any family dynamic, including children, cat-friendly dogs, and even other felines.

Official name: Chartreux

Other names: Kartauser

Origins: France

Black and white portrait of a Chartreux sat with paws together

 

Shedding level

High

Warm weather? Medium
Physical activity needs Medium Kid-friendly? High
Compatibility with other pets
High


Inline Image 15
Illustration of a Chartreux cat
Male
23 - 28 cm Height
4.5 - 7 kg Weight
Female
18 - 28 cm Height
3 - 5 kg Weight

 

 Baby cat  Birth to 4 months
 Growing kitten  4 to 12 months
 Adult  1-7 years
 Mature  7 to 12 years
 Senior age  12+ years

Front on headshot of a Chartreux cat

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Get to know the Chartreux

All you need to know about the breed

Good news - Chartreux cats meet many pet-owner criteria. The relaxed temperament of the breed makes them a delightful companion for first-time cat owners, older people, as well as those who live alone. They tend to adapt well to new environments and settle swiftly into a routine, while their independent spirit means that they can be left alone for a few hours and not hold it against you.

The breed doesn’t reach physical maturity until quite late, aged three for females and five for males, so the Chartreux can get in touch with their silly side quite easily. Hobbies include: chasing after toys, climbing onto surfaces and showing off their acrobatic skills. When playtime is over, Chartreux cats enjoy going outdoors for brief spells, if you live in a quiet area, as well as chilling out and napping, pretty much the same thing.

The Chartreux is not a lap cat but they do enjoy being close to their owners, observing from a respectful distance. There’s no one way to have a good relationship, right? They are not demanding but do respond well to attention - purring reaches high volumes when they are scratched beneath the chin or behind the ears.

Chartreux cats are a winning combination of intelligent and curious, often capable of responding to their name. When they want to. They’re also non-confrontational so instead of hissing or scratching they will simply walk away from any drama, making them a calm feline companion at any stage of their lives - or yours.

Chartreux kitten tucked in under a grey blanket

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2 facts about Chartreux

1. Friends in high places

President Charles de Gaulle was the devoted owner of a Chartreux with the official name of Ringo de Balmalon, but more commonly referred to by their nickname “Gris-Gris” (Grey-Grey). The two were often spotted together on walks in the park. French author Colette was also a Chartreux devotee, making the breed the star of her novel ”La Chatte” (The Cat).

2. Quiet as a church mouse

If you like the strong, silent type, with an emphasis on the latter, then swipe right on the Chartreux. Preferring to communicate or direct with their eyes, this breed rarely makes a sound and is significantly quieter than your average feline. Certain Chartreux cats don’t utter a single peep in their whole lifetime but if there’s something to report, they’ll let you know with a chirp or meow.

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History of the breed

The first Chartreux recording dates back to 1723 and it is believed that the breed arrived in France from the Middle East. There’s a lovely theory that Chartreux cats became the companions of Carthusian monks, matching their quiet demeanor and cloaks of grey, but while the name of the breed certainly lends the story credibility it is hard to prove through lack of official documentation.

With their former hunting talents, the breed was put on rat duty in homes, shops and stables throughout the 1700s and 1800s. At that time, they also, sadly, became the target of furriers, who favoured the beautiful colour of the Chartreux fur for expensive pelts. Happily, this practice has not returned since and remains a distant memory.

There is little information on the breed until the 1920’s, when sisters Christine and Suzanne Leger discovered a pack of blue-grey cats off the coast of France, believed to be Chartreux. They went on to domesticate the breed. In the following decade, the Chartreux appeared at European cat shows, gaining recognition.

After almost becoming extinct during World War II, the breed was carefully crossbred with Russian Blue, British Shorthair and Persian cats to ensure their survival. Making their first appearance Stateside in 1970, Chartreux were officially recognised in 1987.

Today the Chartreux is the treasured national cat of France though remains rare outside of Europe.

Black and white portrait of a Chartreux kitten walking towards the camera

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Chartreux

1. Head

Wide head with full cheeks and steady chin.

2. Eyes

Round, open eyes that are golden, amber or copper in colour.

3. Ears

Medium-sized ears that sit high and straight on the head.

4. Body

Sturdy medium-sized length body with broad shoulders and delicate legs and feet.

5. Coat

Wool-like top coat, blue-grey in colour, with dense double coat.

Chartreux cat stood in hay turning head back to camera

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Chartreux
Chartreux cat sat in a living room with a fireplace

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Caring for your Chartreux

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Grooming the Chartreux is a nice bonding moment - they purr like crazy with pleasure. Brushing or combing is advised once a week to keep their woolly top coat and thick undercoat looking sleek, and to prevent knotting. Increase to once a day when seasons change and they shed their undercoat. Highly intelligent, Chartreux cats are receptive to discipline. As they are welcoming to other felines, dogs and children who show them respect, it is essential to establish good behaviour in your Chartreux from the get-go to ensure that everyone gets along. Athletic, capable of moving faster than expected - surprising because of their stocky physique - they prefer exercising in short bursts and appreciate interactive stimulation with toys and games, a nod to their hunting heritage.

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All about Chartreux

The Chartreux has a good life span of 12 to 15 years, so they’re here for the long haul.  Because this breed of cat experiences minimal health problems, you shouldn’t have too many vet trips beyond the recommended annual check-up.  However, do think to give your Chartreux antiparasitic treatment if they have outdoor access or share their space with other pets. They also manage to stay relatively active throughout their life so overall, the opportunity for quality time and loyal companionship is high. 

No cat is 100% hypoallergenic. But the Chartreux cat sheds its undercoat generously one to two times a year and also has a dense double coat. So it probably shouldn’t be a top choice breed for those with allergies as the sneeze factor is high. Sorry!

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Cat Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book