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Who’s That Cat? 9 Reasons to Love the Charming Chartreux

Named after distilling monks, this "potato on toothpicks" is a fierce hunter with gorgeous eyes.

Erika Sorocco  |  Feb 8th 2017


Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our January/February 2017 issue. Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.

Though typically quiet as a mouse, the Chartreux wins over hearts and homes with her Mona Lisa smile and peculiar backstory that is truly the thing of legend (or fairy tale).

1. Legendary beginnings

As lore states, the Chartreux lived with, and were named for, the Carthusian monks of France, who were known for their handcrafted fine Chartreuse liqueurs. However, while the Chartreux dates back in history as far as the 16th century, recent research has noted that she may not hail from France but may have Spanish origins, being named after a well-known Spanish wool of the early 18th century. Regardless of her true beginnings, the blue beauty adopted France as her home, and the French welcomed the breed with open arms.

2. Solid and sturdy

The Chartreux is often referred to as a “potato on toothpicks,” given her deep chest, solid body, and broad shoulders that rest upon short, slender legs.

Chartreux-04

Photos by Etsu Yamazaki

3. Looks can be deceiving

The Chartreux may be heartily built, but she’s an acrobat through and through. Throw a ball, she’ll chase it; dangle a ribbon or fishing pole-type toy, and she’ll do flips for you!

4. Got mice?

The Chartreux is known for her hunting abilities. It’s believed that the monks
kept the Chartreux around because she was so skilled at keeping the monastery free of vermin.

5. The eyes have it

“The eyes are the windows to the soul,” and those of the Chartreux are one of her most notable features. Rounded and ranging from gold to copper in hue, her pretty peepers serve as a stark contrast to her rich blue coat.

Chartreux-05

6. About that coat

Is it really blue, or is it gray? It’s really blue — and it’s beautiful. Similar to the coat seen on the Russian Blue, Chartreux fur is blue-toned and medium in length, but what makes it so intriguing is the texture. The Chartreux has a double coat, wherein the undercoat is thick and feels similar to the wool of sheep. The outer coat also acts as a raincoat of sorts, protecting the chic Chartreux from the elements.

7. Talk to me

The Chartreux rarely emits more than a chirp or miniscule meow, with some
remaining completely mute aside from contented purrs. Use your eyes more than your ears when conversing with her — she’ll shoot you razor-sharp glances to let you know what she’s thinking.

8. A feline Houdini

If escaping was an Olympic sport, the Chartreux would take home the gold for escape artist abilities. Shuttered windows, cabinet doors — she makes mincemeat of them all.

Chartreux-kitten

9. Friend of the family

The Chartreux’s amenable nature and personality make it easy for her to accept and adore children, cat-friendly dogs, and visitors. That said, to a certain extent, she’s a one-person cat. While the Chartreux will love all of her humans, she will single out one individual as her one and only — shadowing them from room to room!

Parlez-vous Francais?

How do you pronounce her name? As the official cat of France, the Chartreux has a purrfectly posh Parisian pronunciation (try saying that five times fast!). Leave off
the x, and say shar-troo. Easy as pie — or shall we say macarons?

About the author: Writer and blogger Erika Sorocco fuses her love for felines and fashion in the blog Cat Eyes & Skinny Jeans. She shares with her cats Minky and Gypsy. Follow Erika on Twitter at @cateyesskinnies.