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Is the Chartreux right for you?

The basics:
Immortalized in French poetry, literature, and art, and even as the official mascot of the Montreal International Jazz Festival, it’s hard to believe that this smiling grey cat is actually a very rare breed. Loving, loyal, and mild mannered, the Chartreux was even the preferred pet of French Prime Minister Charles de Gaulle. So where did the ‘blue cat of France’ come from, and where did they go?

The exact origin of the Chartreux is somewhat unclear. It’s been speculated they were bred in France by Carthusian monks, or that they are descendants of a feral mountain cat of Syria, brought back to Europe by returning Crusaders. All that’s certain is that they have been in France a very long time, and before World War II, were quite wide spread, with many natural colonies, valued for their hearty nature and pest-control-prowess. The war took a heavy toll on many cat breeds including the Chartreux, until the only Chartreux left were those that were part of breeding programs. The Chartreux was imported to the US in the 1970’s, and both French and US breeders have worked hard to preserve this historic breed.

Appearance / health:
One of the first things you’re likely to notice about the Chartreux is their distinctive smile. A broad, rounded head, full cheeks, and a small, tapering muzzle give the Chartreux an endearing, perpetual smirk. Their wide, round eyes curve slightly upward at the corners, and are quite captivating with deep hues of copper and gold.

Overall, they are a medium sized cat, with medium sized ears, and a moderate length tail. Quite unflatteringly, the Chartreux has been described as a “potato on toothpicks”, referring to their substantial, robust body, broad shoulder, deep chest, and short, finely-boned legs with almost dainty feet.

The Chartreux’s coat is another unique feature. They are a true grey cat, coming in no other shade or pattern but solid grey, though the grey may vary from blue to slate, and the tips of the hairs may be lightly silvered. The coat is medium-short, but distinctly thick with a dense undercoat. It’s described as being slightly wooly and even somewhat waterproof like sheep’s wool.

Behavior / temperament:
For all that the Chartreux has many fine physical features, they also have an incredibly worthwhile personality. They are truly devoted to their owners, following you from room-to-room, and preferring to sleep on the bed with you, and yet, they are never over-bearing or demanding. Theirs is a quiet, unobtrusive companionship. They are described as being particularly empathetic, lending a supportive presence and loving head-bumps to those in need.

They can be stand-offish with strangers, though not unfriendly. The Chartreux is a level-headed cat, neither over-anxious nor excessively hyper. They are intelligent and observant, and prefer to hang back and evaluate a situation before stepping in. Perhaps because of this evaluative nature, they prefer a life of habit and routine. They tend to get along well with other pets and children.


hair silky, family members, silvery gray coat, slate color, regal cat, easy going cats


HCM Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy


stocky body, couch potatoes, double coat, great travelers, Carthusian Monks

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