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Get to Know the Chausie: From the Jungle to Your Living Room

This hybrid breed has the energy and intelligence of her wild ancestors and the outgoing nature of her domestic kin.

JaneA Kelley  |  Jun 16th 2015


Of the several wildcat hybrid breeds, the Chausie (pronounced CHOW-see) is the most recently developed. Despite that, this cat is just as outgoing and people-oriented as any domestic cat.

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Brown-ticked tabby Chausie. Photo CC-BY-SA Wilczakrew

Origins

The Chausie’s origins begin in the 1960s, when a few people launched an experiment to breed the Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) with the domestic cat, but those efforts didn’t get very far until a few breeders got together to develop a planned breeding program. Their work paid off in 1995, when the Chausie was given foundation registration status in the International Cat Association (TICA). TICA awarded the breed championship status in 2013. The Cat Fanciers’ Association does not recognize the Chausie.

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The Jungle Cat, Felis chaus, was bred with domestic cats to create the Chausie. Photo by Shutterstock

Appearance

The Chausie is a large cat, with males weighing between 15 and 25 pounds and females weighing between 10 and 20 pounds. The breed’s body is long and lean with a deep chest, and its back legs are longer than its front ones. Its wild ancestors are reflected in its facial features: long, angular cheekbones, a long muzzle, and tall, tufted ears set on top of the head with a slightly outward angle.

The Chausie’s short-to-medium-length fur comes in three color patterns: black-ticked or brown-ticked tabby (sand-colored with black dots), black grizzled tabby (black with sand-colored dots), and solid black.

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This is not the most flattering photo in the world, but it’s the only one I could find of a black grizzled Chausie. The other colors the breed comes in are brown-ticked (also known as black-ticked) tabby and solid black. Photo PD by PiBeseth

Health and longevity

The Chausie is still such a young breed that there isn’t much reliable data on average lifespans, but what anecdotes there are suggest that because of its jungle cat ancestors and the number of domestic “mutt” cats in its breeding history, it’s less likely to be prone to breed-specific health issues.

The one well-known health issue in Chausies relates to food and digestion. The Chausie’s intestinal tract is shorter than a lot of domestic cats’, and therefore it is even more of an obligate carnivore than most cats. You cannot feed a Chausie any food containing grains or substitute carbohydrates, otherwise his intestines will get irritated and he may develop irritable bowel disorder. Chausies do best on low-carb, grain-free canned food or a raw diet. If you feed your Chausie a homemade raw diet, be sure to use well-proven recipes and work closely with your vet to ensure you’re meeting all his nutritional requirements.

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Chausie kittens (inset) don’t grow into their full adult coloring for several months. Main photo CC BY-SA Wilczakrew; inset photo PD by GorillazFanAdam

What it’s like to live with a Chausie

The Chausie is not a cat for novice owners. If you have children and you don’t have the time to give your Chausie lots of exercise, this is not the breed for you. On the other hand, if you are able to commit to giving this incredibly intelligent, good-natured and active cat all the mental and physical stimulation he needs, you’ll have a friend for life.

Although your Chausie will mellow out as he grows up, he’ll still keep his kittenish playfulness and curiosity long after he reaches adulthood. Chausies form deep bonds with people, so please do everything you can in order to avoid giving up your Chausie; because he’s so loyal to you, he’ll have a hard time if you need to rehome him once he’s lived with you for a while.

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This brown-ticked tabby Chausie looks like he’s just about to get up to some shenanigans. Photo PD by Lance Klausner

Chausie trivia bits

  • Statues of the Egyptian goddess Bast, with her long, slender body and large ears, are said to be modeled after the Jungle Cat.
  • The breed was given the name Chausie to honor the Latin name of the Jungle Cat, Felis chaus.
  • Although the Chausie tends to have a shorter tail than most cats thanks to its wild ancestors, if its tail is too short — less than three-quarters the normal length — it can be disqualified from showing.

Do you have a Chausie in your home? What’s it like to live with him or her? Please share your thoughts and photos of your Chausie in the comments.

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Chausies are natural athletes and need lots of exercise to be happy. Photo CC BY-SA Wilczakrew

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About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal rescue volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.