Brief history of "Le Chat Des Chartreux"
16th century Mention of
blue cats living in France.
First text about the French blue cats. "French verses on the
death of a small kitten",
Joachim du Bellay.
"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."
Read the poem in French
18th century "Chat des
Chartreux" is used to refer to these blue cats for the first
The Chartreux are Carthusian monks and were long thought to
have raised the "Chats des Chartreux", therefore given their
names to the blue cats. It is now believed that they were called
"Chat des Chartreux" because of the wooly texture of their coat
responsible for its similarity to a spanish wool called "la pile
des Chartreux". However, the exact origin of the name remains an
"Chat des Chartreux" mentioned in the "Universal Dictionary of
History and the Arts and Trade of Savvary of Brusion" refering
to blue cats.
"Finally we find several cats which tend toward bleu, these
latter are commonly called
Chartreux. This name was used to distinguish the blue cats.
Incidentally, the furriers
trade in the skin of the cats, especially those cats which were
1727 In "The Cats" by François-Augustin-Paradis de Montcrif
cats are reported in North Africa from Malta and coming from
Portrait by Jean-Baptiste Perroneau:
Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange holding a
gray cat which appears to be a Chartreux (very large body,
yellow eyes, and head
shape of the breed). The painting is at the J. Paul Getty Museum
in Los Angeles, CA.
Denis Diderot, French philosopher and poet, writes: "...without
my three beasts my
Canary, my Chartreuse (female Chartreux) and Callirhoe, I am
1753 Brande Aldobrande, Italian scholar, describes a cat of ash gray
color originating in
Syria and writes: "Of all the variety and number of cats, the
best is that which is
streaked with a diversity of pale dark ash colors; it comes from
Syria, the place from
whence comes the name (?). Its blood is very mild, it lets
itself be domesticated and is
a smart hunter. Moreover, its snout (?) is round, its chest
muscular, it has strong legs,
it is always vigilant and makes a habit of watching over the
household. It is content
with little food and supports its hunger; it feeds at times on
its own capture and never
fills its insatiable tummy to the detriment of its owners."
Article called "Chartreux", in "Grande Encyclopédie":
"Chartreux: a sort of cat whose
fur is gray ash and tends toward bleu. It's one of the skins in
which the furriers trade
and employ in the manufacture of furs."
Description of the Chartreux cat as different from the European
and Angora cat by
Buffon, French naturalist. The plate illustrating the book shows
the Chartreux cat
compared to a domestic cat with: a shorter size, a straight and
no-stop nose, a little
longer fur of a woolly texture, and a tail set straight up and
tapering at the end.
Beside the use of the Chartreux Cat fur, Carl Von Linné
mentioned another sad
destiny : "One can still meet daily some people who eat big well
fed cats called
Josephus Flavius Martinet, from Holland, writes: "We in Holland
have also some blue
cats mostly at Overijasel where they are brought to Holland to
be bought and sold;
their fur is gray ash, blackish brown at the base, the coat is
very dense of the sort
which, when one sees the gray of the tips and the brown
underlaying, the mixed
colors make the appearance of the cat to be blue."
"Reasoned and Universal Dictionary of Natural History",
published in Switzerland,
mentions the Chartreux: "In Persian one sees these (cats) whose
color is that of our
Dictionary of Natural Science reads: "The Chartreux cat, whose
fur is very fine and
generally a beautiful uniform gray, the lips and the bottom of
the feet are black."
Edition of Buffon's « Natural History » with the plates colored
: the Chartreux cat is
deep slate blue gray with yellow eyes.
Charles Ross writes in "The Book of the Cat":"Blue is not a
common color, these
species are styled Chartreux cats and are esteemed rarities.
Merit of being extremely
gentle, pure blue cats were very rare and greatly prized."
Heath's "French-English Dictionary" defines the Chartreux cat as
a "cat with bluish-
Cassell's "New French-English Dictionary" lists the "Chartreux
cat of bluish gray color."
Chartreux are used by furriers. Dr. Beauregard, "Our Beasts":
"after death the coat is
used in different ways. That of the Chartreux is cut and dyed
and sold as Otter fur."
Léger sisters (Christine et Suzanne) after Versailles
Horticulture School move to Belle-
Isle-en-Mer (Guerveur) and start the selection of the breed from
a wild population on
The Federation Feline Francaise (FFF) is founded in Paris,
France, and the Chartreux is
listed and a standard written; registration began then and
continues to the present.
Prior to and after World War II there was considerable
breeding between the Chartreux, European cats (in other words,
Feral cats), British Shorthair (blue, blue-cream, and cream),
Russian blue, and Persian (blue.)
Colette writes "La Chatte" (The Cat), where the heroin is Saha a
female Chartreux is
inspired by her own cat.
Publication in the magazine "Life in the Country" dated from
April 15, 1935 of an article
in which the Leger sisters from Guerveur Cattery tell their
beginning of Chartreux
breeding: read the article.
The FFF, Fife, and GCCF Judges change the standard of the
British Shorthair and the
Chartreux, without consulting the breeders, and put both breeds
under the same new
The Chartreux by 1970 were reduced to cats with one or
more of the above breeds in their pedigrees, so that the cats
from the de Guerveur Cattery (Leger sisters), de Saint Pierre
cattery (Mme. S. Bastide), and the Cat Club of Paris stock all
had, at some point, one or the other of the above breeds behind
FFF outlaws all cross breeds.
Fife, after discussion with the breeders of Chartreux, rules
that all cats of mixed
lineage will be registered with the letters RIEX attached to
indicate an experimental
The 1972 ruling outlawing all cross breeds is strictly enforced
at FFF show in Paris.