Breed Profiles
Share this image

Get to Know the Havana Brown: A Rare, Charming Cat

This outgoing, friendly, intelligent breed would love to spend 24 hours a day with you.

JaneA Kelley  |  Jul 21st 2015


If you’re looking for a cat who has the interactive personality of a Siamese or Oriental, with a quieter voice and less tendency to swing off the chandeliers, the Havana Brown may be just the breed for you.

Havana Brown cat sitting on a blue pillow

European-type Havana Brown on a blue pillow. Photo CC-BY Lil Shepherd

Origins

As early as the 1800s, British records note the existence of solid brown cats. But it wasn’t until the 1950s, when a number of English breeder decided to collaborate in order to create a new breed that would consistently produce brown cats. They cross-bred chocolate- and seal-point Siamese cats, black domestic shorthairs, and Russian Blues in order to produce a cat whose fur was a solid chocolate color rather than the sable brown of the Burmese. Early in this breeding program, two solid brown cats were imported to the U.S. by Siamese breeders, who continued to breed for the chocolate brown color.

In 1964, the Havana Brown was granted championship status in the Cat Fanciers’ Association. It also enjoys championship status in the International Cat Association.

Appearance

Although the Havana Brown’s ancestry contains many Siamese cats, the Havana Brown should be a moderately built cat: The head is longer than it is wide, but the body shape is much less extreme than Oriental breeds. Havana Browns have glossy chocolate-brown fur, pink or rose colored paw pads, and green eyes, with wide-set and forward-tilted ears, which give it an alert expression. Kittens almost always show tabby patterns, but these should disappear by one year of age. Havana Browns typically weigh between eight and 10 pounds, with males being heavier.

British and European breeders have created a Havana Brown who has a much more Oriental appearance; the fur is the same chocolate brown color, but the cat has a tubular body and a wedge-shaped head.

Havana Brown cat at the judging stand at a cat show.

A Havana Brown at the cat show judging stand. Photo CC-BY Heikki Siltala/catza.net

Health and longevity

Early in the Havana Brown breeding program, the breed was plagued with health problems due to a lack of genetic diversity. However, subsequent efforts at outcrossing have broadened and deepened the gene pool, and Havana Browns generally enjoy good health and a normal life expectancy.

Some research shows that Havana Browns may be more prone to heart disease, hemophilia, kidney disease, and calcium oxalate bladder stones than other breeds.

What it’s like to live with a Havana Brown

Your Havana Brown is a kitty who is known for her gentle nature: She often reaches out with her paws to explore things in her environment or give love taps to the people in her life. She definitely needs a lot of human contact and interaction to feel happy, so don’t plan on leaving her alone for long periods of time. She’ll get along with people of all ages, from children to seniors, and even with dogs, and she loves people enough that you may find your Havana to be an excellent traveling companion.

Although your Havana Brown may be a talker, her voice is softer and more melodic than her Oriental and Siamese cousins. She will, however, make sure she has the last word in any conversation you have with her.

This highly intelligent cat will easily learn tricks. Be sure to stimulate her mind with puzzle toys or maybe even some clicker training.

Havana Brown trivia bits

  • The Havana Brown is extremely rare. It is estimated that there are fewer than 1,000 of them in the world.
  • There are two stories about how the Havana Brown got his name. One is that the cat was named after a rabbit breed of the same color, and the other is that the name is based on the fact that the kitty is the same brown color as a Havana cigar.
  • The International Cat Association calls the breed the Havana because it also accepts a dilute lilac (pinkish gray) version of the Havana Brown.

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

Read other breed profiles on Catster: 

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.