Chartreux

Chartreux cats are as quiet and calm as they are silly and personable. Learn more about this fun French breed.
By Hilary Braaksma
August 24, 2020
Chartreux
Coat Length
Pattern
Other Traits
Temperament
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Chartreux

height
  • 9 to 11 inches
weight
  • 6 to 12 pounds
life span
  • 12 to 15 years
good with
  • children
  • seniors
  • dogs
  • cats
  • families
temperament
  • sociable
intelligence
  • high
shedding amount
  • normal
playfulness
  • medium
activity level
  • calm
vocalness
  • quiet
coat length
  • short
colors
  • blue / gray
patterns
  • solid
other traits
  • easy to train
  • easy to groom
  • friendly toward humans
  • friendly toward other pets
  • tolerates being alone
  • high prey drive
  • good for first-time pet owners
  • tolerates being picked up

Overview

The Chartreux (pronounced shar-true) is a French breed that’s been around for centuries. These cats are known for their short, blue-gray coats and quiet demeanor.

This undemanding breed is calm, independent, and at times silly. If you would relish the company of a sweetly silent companion—and you’re open to interpreting her mimed body language—the Chartreux makes a wonderful pet.

These cats are somewhat rare today. Because of that, Chartreux kittens usually cost around $1,000–$1,500, depending on age, pedigree, and other factors.

Appearance

Chartreux feature short gray coats, sweet, round faces, and glimmering copper-color eyes. These cats have large, muscular bodies with short, slight limbs, and they’ve been lovingly referred to as a “potato on toothpicks.” These cats typically weigh 6–12 pounds and stand 9–11 inches tall.

“This is a slow-maturing breed that reaches adulthood in three to five years,” says veterinarian Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD and Chief Veterinary Officer at Purina.

The Chartreux’s solid blue-gray coats are a defining trait of the breed—although kittens can have light tabby markings or spots that go away with age. As these pets grow older, their silky, water-repelling coats also become more woolly in texture. Not a fan of shedding? Be forewarned, Chartreux do leave behind their fair share of loose hairs—especially in the spring.

The Chartreux has been compared in appearance to British shorthairs and Russian blues. Russian blues have more silver-looking hair and more dense and plush coats than the Chartreux, while British shorthairs have wider heads and are generally a larger breed.

Temperament

These cool cats are independent and somewhat aloof. They do love you, but they’re smart enough to entertain themselves. Following you from room to room or sleeping in your bed are little ways they show their love without being too intimate. The Chartreux will never demand your affection, but they will always appreciate your attention. They’re also incredibly observant and prefer to watch from the sidelines silently.

In fact, this quiet breed barely makes a peep. When the Chartreux does pipe up, it’s more of a small chirp than a real meow. Chartreux cats appear to use body language at times rather than sounds, giving the impression of a mime. Yet while these stone-cold kitties may seem serious, they can actually be quite silly—and they’re smart enough to know when they’re being funny. Some Chartreux owners swear these cats have a real sense of humor.

These gorgeous gray companions also have super-fast reflexes and are excellent mousers, thanks to their silent and observant nature.

Living Needs

Living with a Chartreux, you’ll likely need to be as observant as your pet. Because these soft-spoken kitties are unlikely to make much noise if things are bothering them, you should pay close attention to their habits and temperament and take notice of changes.

These cats are far from shy and timid, but they definitely don’t go out of their way to make new friends. Their calm, undemanding nature means Chartreux cats are fine to be left at home alone for a bit—they won’t knock over your things or wail in protest.

Speaking of not wailing, this is a great breed for apartment dwellers who worry about noisy pets being heard through thin walls. Chartreux cats prefer to mime their needs to their human companions, and will never wake you up with loud meowing in the night.

This breed’s general good nature and tolerance makes them a great fit for families with kids and other pets, and also makes them ideal travel companions. Be sure to give your cats some element of routine to help them know what to expect, though—Chartreux cats are laidback, but they do crave stability.

Care

The Chartreux’s short, thick coat is typically easy to care for. Weekly brushing will usually do the trick, but these cats are known to shed more in the spring and require more brushing during that time to help rid them of loose hairs. Bathing needs are infrequent, but when you do give them baths, remember their water-repellent coat needs some work to get fully wet.

These cats don’t need any special exercise regimens—like most cats, they’ll work out a lot of energy themselves. One thing your pet Chartreux would certainly appreciate is toys left out to play with.

“[They are] historically known as fine mousers with strong hunting instincts,” Venator says. “The Chartreux enjoys toys that move.”

Because these cats are intelligent and usually enjoy following rules, litter box training should be relatively easy.

The Chartreux isn’t a super social pet, but he does appreciate the company of humans. His biggest socialization needs are relatively steady schedules at home and pet parents who are willing to initiate affection and give these French felines time to warm up to new faces.

Feed your Chartreux high-quality cat food and monitor food intake to help prevent obesity. Check-in with your veterinarian to know how much and how often to feed your individual cat.

Health

The Chartreux is generally a healthy pet with an expected lifespan of 12–15 years. That said, these cats are prone to some health problems like urinary tract issues and kidney disease. Responsible breeders will test kittens for genetic health issues, but it's important to keep regularly scheduled vet appointments and take the advice of your cat’s vet. Health issues can pop up later in life for all cats.

History

The Chartreux is similar in name to the Carthusian order of monks, from the Valley of Chartreuse in France. Some legends say these French kitties may have been companions to the monks, but there’s no way to know for sure. Perhaps it was the Chartreux’s monk-like silence or soft gray cloaks that inspired the comparison.

Regardless of their relation to the Carthusian brothers, the Chartreux’s existence has been recorded back to the 1700s. These cats were on rat duty in the homes, shops, and stables of France and unfortunately, sometimes prized by furriers for their lush blue-gray coats. This breed ran free in packs until the 1900s, and began being shown in European breed shows around the 1930s.

After World War II, the wild Chartreux was no longer found roaming in groups through France. Luckily, the work of breeders in the early 20th century helped preserve the Chartreux, although the breed remains rather uncommon today.

Fun Facts

  • The Chartreux is the National Cat of France.
  • Chartreux is one of the oldest natural cat breeds, dating back to the early 18th century and possibly before.
  • In the 1747 Jean-Baptiste Perronneau painting Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange, a Chartreux is depicted as a pet in the arms of the subject. Showing a cat in this way was quite unusual at the time.
  • While there are very few Chartreux breeders today, one of the most famous historical breeders of this cat was French President Charles de Gaulle.
  • If you can't get enough eye candy of these silver beauties, follow Chartreux.cats on Instagram.