Chartreux: Quiet Cats that Make Great Travel Companions

Chartreux Cat playing with package Ribbon
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

Which one do you prefer—those who talk a lot but don’t really accomplish anything or those who are quiet and don’t stand out, yet are secretly really capable? If you miss the good old days when cats were not so lazy and attention-seeking—a time when they handled their job of keeping pests away beautifully—you would be glad to know that the Chartreux agrees with you.

From their widely-recognized predatory prowess to their not so common blue-grey coat, the Chartreux cat’s defining characteristics have doubtlessly earned them a place in history. This cat has existed for a good few centuries and has traveled land and sea as well. This makes them a good and hardy companion that can quickly adapt to any lifestyle that their owner chooses—whether it is indoors, outdoors, or perhaps even nomadic.

close-up image of a chartreux-cat

We have gone to great lengths to collect all that you need to know about Chartreux cat characteristics. In addition to their origin, we have gathered facts concerning Chartreux cat personality, health, nutritional aspects, and put them in one package. Here is what makes the Chartreux cat unique and more.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High

  • Grooming: Above Average Needs

  • Health: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good

  • Exercise Needs: Above Average Needs

Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Natural Breed
WeightMales: 10 – 15 pounds

Female: 6 - 11 pounds
Lifespan12 - 15 years

Chartreux cats possess a large body with wide shoulders and a broad chest. Their limbs are finely boned and of average length. These, coupled with strong hind legs, help them to climb trees with ease and run after prey through any terrain while they snatch their prey with skill. These cats are capable of moving stealthily towards their prey thanks to their felt-like footpads. Their quick reflexes and muscled body make them an efficient mouser.

The pair of medium-sized upright ears atop their rounded head is characteristic of their predatory adaptation. Their forehead narrows towards the muzzle—giving them a somewhat smiley face. Their grey nose is straight while their open and expressive eyes are round and curved towards the outer corners. Their eye color can range from gold to copper with the latter being more popular among cat fanciers.

Chartreux cat lying down

Their entire body is averagely long with a medium-length tail that narrows towards the end. Male Chartreux cats are generally larger than the females. Their fur is a bit longer than most shorthairs. It’s thick and blue in color. It breaks at the necks and flanks. It is silkier and thinner in kittens and females. Their dense undercoat is waterproof and greatly helps in retaining body heat and protecting the cat from harsh weather. Their fur becomes much longer and thickens during winter.

This cat looks a lot like the British Shorthair, and the two can be easily confused. While they are both blue in color and robust, the Chartreux is lighter and leaner and is considered more refined than the British Shorthair.

Main Highlights

  • The Chartreux is presumed to have been bred by Carthusian monks near Paris in France.

  • They are kept mostly by those who fancy their fur and those who need them for vermin control. These cats are widely known for their hunting prowess.

  • They are more recognized in America than in Europe.

  • The Chartreux looks similar to the British Shorthair, but their complexion is lighter with a slimmer body and a more refined character.

  • Their coat requires frequent brushing due to the presence of a thick undercoat.

  • These cats are healthy and are not known to be particularly vulnerable to any illnesses.

  • These cats are known to have generally low vocalization.

  • They can deal with being left alone for some time since they don’t seek too much attention from their owners but they also make great travel companions.

  • They can live for a period of 12 to 15 years.

  • Regular exercise of about 10 to 15 minutes works great for this breed.

  • They get along with people of all ages though they are better with children above six years of age.

Breed History

The Chartreux cats’ history dates back to the 18th century in France where they were used to control rats in shops, homes, and stables. Although there is no evidence to link them, their history is associated with Carthusian monks near Paris in France.

It is presumed that they have feral mountain cats ancestry and were brought back to France by crusaders from Ancient Persia who joined the Carthusian monastic order. The cats became a part of the life in the monastery. These cats were treasured by furriers for their skin and by all for their vermin control abilities. It wasn’t until recently that people started to view them as a fancy, domestic cat.

It is not certain how they really came to be called the Chartreux. It could be inspired by the famous Chartreuse liquor that was a common commodity among the monks. It could also be inspired by the early 18th-century Spanish wool, “Pile de Chartreux.”

Chartreux-kitten lying in bed

It was common to see free-living groups of these cats in many areas in France. During the First World War, the breed greatly diminished in number. Towards World War II, it was almost extinct.

It took the intervention of French cat lovers to save them. They collected as many of them as they could and, using a set standard, they bred them to produce quality kittens. The French cat lovers’ initiative was just in time, as by the end of World War II, none of the free-roaming ones could be spotted loitering around the streets anymore.

The cats were first introduced to the United States in 1970 by Hellen and John Gamon from La Jolla California. In 1987, the breed was recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association and advanced to champion status.

Chartreux-kitten lying in bed

While major American cat associations recognize them presently, they are little-known in Europe and more so in their homeland France. However, many American-bred cats are being taken back to France—consequently decreasing their availability in America.


These cats haven’t changed much over the years. The Chartreux cats are quite formidable in size. Males weigh between 10 and 15 pounds while females weigh between 6 and 11 pounds. It takes time for them to grow into maturity. Males may take up to 4 or 5 years to reach their full size.

Personality and Character

Perhaps due to their wildcat and stray cat history, these felines are quite aloof. They do not demand too much attention and hence appreciate any that is given. They are a perfect choice for a family with members that often spend time away from home since they don’t mind staying alone—for a reasonable period of time.

They are rather quiet and would rather spend their time watching television, sleeping, or just watching whatever you’re doing. Chartreux cats are predatory by nature. This makes them a great sport for games that mimic hunting. If you allow them to roam outdoors, they may bring home mice or birds and present them to you.

close-up image of a grey Chartreux cat lying on the sofa

They need some time to warm up to strangers or getting involved in activities around them. Once they feel comfortable in their environment, they easily fit in.If you are the type that loves traveling, the Chartreux will make a great travel companion especially if you keep their routine normal. Brief playtimes with naps and meal breaks would be a great way to get your cat used to traveling with you.

They can be described as neither too social nor too shy. Their silent nature requires you to observe them for any communication cues. They are intelligent and playful even in their adult years. They will also respond when you call their name.

Health and Potential Problems

The Chartreux is a generally healthy cat. However, they are genetically predisposed to suffering from patellar luxation. This is a dislocation of the kneecap. It does not generally cause any problems in its mild form. An acute case of patellar luxation can cause lameness, but it can be corrected with surgery.

chartreux_cat sitting on a wooden floor and looking up

Other possible health problems include a higher risk of developing hip dysplasia, polycystic kidney disease, and urinary tract infections as compared to other breeds. A regular visit to the vet would help with early detection and keeping your cat healthy. By the age of 12 weeks, the breeders should have ensured that the kittens have had their basic inoculation and any other necessary services like neutering and spaying.

Care Features

These cats are generally happier as outdoor cats, but keeping a Chartreux as an indoors-only cat can also be beneficial. An indoors lifestyle will keep them away from the usual dangers that are faced by outdoor cats such as exposure to diseases from other cats, accidents, attack by other animals, and getting lost.

Being predators, these cats require toys and play areas that enable them to sharpen their hunting skills. This could include toy mice, scratching pads, and climbing places such cat trees, cat towers, and cat shelves.

chartreux_cat sitting under a chair

These kitties are also very intelligent and would, therefore, benefit from some mental stimulation puzzles. They can also be trained to walk on a leash. Also, be sure to spend some time playing with and petting your cat to strengthen the bond between the two of you. A massage would go a long way to help with this.

Provide all the amenities required by your cat to ensure that they live a fulfilled life. Such include a clean and accessible litter box or toilet, food, water, and a generally cat-friendly environment among other things. Above all, treating your cat with respect, affection, and patience set you up for acquiring a lifetime feline friend. If there are children in the family, they should also be taught to treat the Chartreux with respect.

Feeding Schedule

Chartreux cats are great feeders. While the cats eat all, spicy foods and sudden diet changes can upset your kitty’s tummy. Switching to adult food at the age of 4 to 5 months works just fine.

These cats can easily get obese—especially if they are kept indoors. Therefore, keeping an eye on your cat’s food intake is paramount. Giving your cat raw (high-quality) meat like chicken and fish would be okay but avoiding a lactic diet would be a good idea.

Chartreux cat lying on the sofa

If you are not feeding your cat wet food or homemade meals, you should check your cat’s dry food ingredients to ensure that it contains at least 40% protein. Checking with your vet or breeder will help you identify the right portions depending on your cat’s age and weight.

Once you have identified this, ensuring that food and water are available and accessible at all times would be great. To ensure portion control, a good idea would be to put out half of the daily portion in the morning and the other in the evening. Keep snacks to a minimum to avoid interfering with your cat’s nutrition intake.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The cat’s coat is short, thick, and waterproof. They come in different shades of blue-grey with a light touch of silver and a woolly texture. Males possess heavy coats while females and kittens have fairly thinner and silkier coats.

You will need to invest quite a bit of your time caring for their coat since they have a dense undercoat—which could lead to heavy shedding and frequent matting if not properly managed. Brushing the coat around three times a week will keep it in great shape. During the spring and the summer, more brushing would be required to avoid hairball problems. Since the cats a woolly, combing would also work just fine.

three Chartreux Cat kitten in a basket

Clipping your cat’s claws is also necessary to keep them from hurting themselves and others. Ensure you do it when your cat is calm and comfortable to avoid being scratched.

Regularly check your cat’s ears for dirt and clean them using a cotton ball dipped in a 50-50 mixture of water and vinegar. Clean ears are pink and odorless while dirty ones are visibly dark and could have an unpleasant odor. Using feline toothpaste and a soft bristled toothbrush, brush your cat’s teeth to keep off gingivitis. Don’t use human toothpaste; it contains fluoride which is poisonous to cats.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Chartreux cats are kid friendly. They are less likely to attack children even when they are manhandled. The cat would most probably just walk away. Although, children should still be trained to treat the cat with care and respect so they can receive the same from them.

Chartreux cat lying on the living room floor

They can also be great playmates especially for children who are six years and above. They mix well with other cats, but due to their shy nature, this cat may not be able to handle the rambunctious energy of dogs.

Wrap Up

The Chartreux has been around for a few centuries. Though their origins are uncertain, there is enough evidence to show that this breed has gone from near extinction to a comeback thanks to the tireless effort of cat lovers in France.

Their blue-grey coat and excellent mousing skills are their most distinguishing characteristics. While these cats are associated with France, they get more recognition from cat lovers in America.

Close-up of an adult Chartreux male cat

Health concerns with this breed are minimal, but they do need to be groomed rather often due to their dense undercoat. They handle solitary time well but can also be a great travel companion. This makes the Chartreux a highly adaptable, less needy, and faithful friend.

Attracted to the quiet, independent, and highly capable nature of the Chartreux cats? If you’re concerned about their high-maintenance grooming, we would like to suggest another cat breed for you that’s no less ancient in heritage and just as impressive ability-wise, but easier to care for. Whether it is a concern, a comment, or even a compliment, feel free to share your feedback with us below.

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.