Havana Brown Cat: Lovely Coat and Loving Temperament

Close-up image of a Havana Brown Cat
Jeremy Vaughn
Written by Jeremy Vaughn

Chocolate brown. It sounds like such a common, widespread color, doesn’t it? We see it every day, and it’s not a color many would consider their favorite because it’s often associated with dirt or mud. Still, when you see the color on a cat, you will be impressed. For some reason, the color brown is uncommon among cats—especially a solid brown that spans the entire length of the cat, from head to tail. That’s the reason why the Havana Brown cat is considered such a striking, rare breed.

It’s no secret that the cat is beautiful enough to capture anyone’s attention at first glance, but that is not the only thing to consider if you will be going for a Havana Brown cat. These cats are also famous for their loving temperament. They are highly affectionate and will follow you around no matter where you go, but unlike other cats, they won’t bawl or cry to get your attention. They will quietly stay by your side—often perching on your shoulders and grooming your hair to show you they care.

Portrait of brown cat with green eyes in studio

If you have penned down this cat as an option, and you need a push on whether to go for it or not, here is a piece that will make that easy for you. We have compressed all the valuable information you will need to make a decision on this cat in this single piece. Everything you need to know—ranging from the Havana Brown cat personality to their care features—will be at your beck and call. Without much ado, let’s get into the business of the day.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Above Average

  • Grooming: Low Maintenance

  • Health: Very Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Very Good

  • Exercise Needs: Above Average

Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Crossbreed
WeightMales: 8 – 10 pounds

Females: 6 – 8 pounds
Lifespan8 – 15 years

The Havana Brown cats—also called the Havana cats by some—have remained the darlings of cat fanciers for a good while now. The cat is native to the United Kingdom where they were first bred by a group of enthusiastic cat fanciers in the year 1950s. Today, the Havana Brown cat belongs to a breed with a set of very distinct features. Most people won’t need any kind of genetic testing to identify them due to their distinctive milk chocolate-colored coat.

Contrary to what their name might lead people to believe, the Havana Brown is considered to be of the oriental or foreign type. They were only called Havana cats because the first group of breeders that started the development of these beautiful brown cats called themselves ‘The Havana Group.’

To achieve the desired chestnut chocolate color, the breeders mated a Siamese cat with domestic black cats. At the end of the breeding process, they managed to produce an offspring which we have come to know, after some subtle modifications, as the Havana Brown cat.

Portrait of brown cat with green eyes in studio

Some of the offspring were then exported to the United States to be further bred. The difference in the way breeders in the UK and United States approached the breeding development has given rise to some slight variations in what the cats look like in each region, but that does not stop them from keeping the same genetic material still.

That is why, even though they are very similar in looks, there is a slight difference between the English Havanas and the Oriental Havanas. To make things easier though, the GCCF moved on to create a new breed classification called the Suffolk. By so doing, they were able to differentiate pure Havana Brown cats from their offspring who may not have followed the original breeding guidelines. Today, even though the Suffolk might look like the Havanas, they are not considered to be the same.

Looking at the Havana cats, one cannot help but notice that they are a very well-balanced breed—most notably like their Siamese parent. Even though they tend to maintain their medium build at full maturity, the cats can be quite muscular and very strong too. However, their size might stray away from medium to fairly large if you have them spayed or neutered.

Two Havana-Brown-Cats sitting

The hair on Havana cats varies slightly, featuring mostly short to medium lengths. If any cat would be considered to be a Havana at all, he or she must have a brown coat (or at extremes, reddish brown) with no markings whatsoever. While still kittens, Havana Brown cats could have some markings on their coat. This is expected to fade away as the cat matures—usually between the first year and a year and a half of their life. Otherwise, the cat is considered to be of another breed.

Aside from the coat color, the whiskers of the cat should come in only brown. Talking of strict color configurations, Havana Brown cats only come in the green-eyed variety. Many of the Havana cats are lap cats, and they are curious little creatures. Unlike other cats that would go into hiding when the doorbell rings, don’t be surprised if yours goes ahead to meet a visitor and demands an introduction instead. Highly intelligent, they are also very sociable and practically harmless under good supervision.

Many breeds of cats like to perch at high places, but the Havana takes it a notch further by preferring to sit on your shoulder. That usually gives them a front-row seat to your hair, which oddly enough, they love to groom. It is very easy for cat owners to get used to this kind of grooming from the cat and they will stop noticing it altogether after a while.

Havana-Brown cat lying on a chair

That being said, it goes without saying that the Havana cats will form a very deep attachment to family members, and might even grow depressed when left alone. For parents that won’t be around for a while, toys could do the trick. If you are bound to always be away for long stretches of time, you should consider getting your Havana another furry companion to play with.

In case you’re a dog lover too, that makes two of you in the house. Havana cats have been documented to get along very well with the family dog. As great as the cat is, the only hurdle they might face with cat lovers is the restriction in terms of colors. Should a potential owner have another color aside from brown/chocolate in mind, there is no way they would be going home with a Havana cat at the end of the day.

Main Highlights

  • Havana cats are very specific in the kinds of colors their features can exist in, making them one of the most physically identifiable breeds of cats. A brown/chocolate colored coat with like-minded whiskers and a pair of rich green eyes are usually a good place to start when trying to physically determine if a cat fits into this breed or not.

  • Havana cats have been around for quite a while. Native to the United Kingdom, they have been bred in the United States too, and have also been used to develop the Suffolk cat breed.

  • The Havana cat breed might not be the first breed to have these distinct features. Sometime between the 14th and 18th century, there were some cats (now extinct—previously called the Swiss Mountain cats) that also had a chestnut-colored coat and green-blue eyes.

  • According to a number of sources, there was difficulty in picking one name for this breed and sticking with it. Some other names they have gone by include Chestnut Brown, Chestnut Foreign Shorthair, and Chestnut Brown Oriental.

  • Unlike most breeds that come from the Siamese cats, Havana cats make sure there is no mix-up in identification. Havana Brown cats have darker fur and green eyes (instead of blue), are a little more muscular, and also have distinct facial features (forward-slanting ears, rounder muzzle, brown whiskers, etc.).

  • Havana cats are a very rare breed, ranking 36th out of the 43 listed most popular cats as rated by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 2014. Still, it is surprising that these beautiful cats are not wildly expensive.

  • There are two different versions of the cat. The original is bred in the UK with Siamese parents, while the variation is raised in North America. That has, undoubtedly, led to confusion in how different cat fanciers register the cat.

  • Havana cats are also a part of a group of cats referred to as the ‘puppies of the cat world.’ That is because they like to follow their owners around.

  • Even though they are a rare breed of cat, the Havana Brown is recognized by all of the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA), and The International Cat Association (TICA).

  • Havana cats prefer to investigate things with their paws rather than employ their sense of smell. When you see them extending a paw as if for a handshake, they might just be trying to satisfy their sense of curiosity.

Breed History

A group of breeders who were formerly known as ‘the Havana Group’ united under one common goal of coming up with a cat that was not only foreign, but equally self-brown. This group consisted of five extraordinary women.

Coming to be known later as ‘the Chestnut Brown Group,’ they started by crossing a specific breed of Siamese cats to black, domestic cats. The kind of Siamese cats they chose was, aside from all other considerations, carrying a chocolate color gene. The black cats that would be used were also studied carefully first to ensure that they carried the same color genes. The breeding then gave rise to the predominant color associated with Havana Brown cats.

Retaining most of the configuration of their Siamese parents, the offspring were first known under the name Chestnut Brown Oriental. To spread the reach of the breed, two kittens were exported to breeders of Siamese cats in the USA. These breeders then took a different direction to their program—crossbreeding the kittens themselves with Siamese cats that were carrying the chocolate color gene.

Havana-Brown cat in a box

This new mode of breeding made sure the genetic defects in the imported kittens were corrected. On top of that, USA breeders were able to achieve a level of consistency in breeding brown kittens—allowing for no extremes in the same vein. It was in the USA that these breeds then came to be known as the Havana Brown, among many other names.

Recognized and registered in the book of the CFA in the year 1964, one mistake not to be made when identifying the Havana is to confuse them with the Suffolk. They have similar features to the Havana Brown—which is understandable since the latter was used in breeding the former. However, the Suffolk is an entirely different breed as recognized by the GCCF.


Havana Brown cats are medium in size. They keep this kind of body configuration throughout their adult lifetime. If they have been neutered, though, no matter the sex, care should be taken to ensure they don’t get overweight. Speaking of weight, this breed will generally clock in anywhere between 6 and 10 pounds on the scales. Females are usually and noticeably smaller than the males. At the same age and rate of development, a male and female Havana cat will have about 2 pounds of difference in weight, in favor of the male cat.

Personality and Character

Although a very rare breed still, the warm and affectionate nature of the Havana Brown cats has helped them reach a good level of popularity. Havana Brown cats are naturally curious like most cats, but they go about their investigations in a different way. Instead of following their sense of smell, they are known to stretch out their paws to investigate things.

They have very good social skills—easily making acquaintances with nearly everyone that visit your house. Since they are not jumpy cats, your visitors will find the Havana cat to be a very cute ball of fur when they come up to them to find out what their name is. It is advisable to keep the cat under supervision if an allergic visitor is in the house though.

Adorable Havana Brown Cat lying down in the sun

Havana cats form strong bonds with family members and caregivers—requiring a good deal of attention to go with their care too. They are the kind of cat that will follow you around the house, jump into your lap, snuggle up next to you, and they love to perch on your shoulders as you go about your business. They take their expression of love a notch further by playing with your hair and grooming it for you.

This breed believes their actions speak louder than words. Should you be concerned about getting a cat that will keep you up at night with constant meowing and crying, the Havana Brown will give you peace of mind. Even when they do ‘speak,’ you will find their soft voice soothing. But don’t forget to respond to their needs at that time too because they don’t usually call out to you without a good reason.

Health and Potential Problems

The Havana cat is just as healthy as the next breed. Unlike most cats which are bred from Siamese cats, Havana Brown cats tend to develop breed-specific genetic problems less often. That being said, following a fixed schedule in visiting the vet would be wise.

havana_brown_cat lying on the floor

Although they are generally considered to be a healthy breed, their young should be watched for symptoms of upper respiratory infections. As they get older, it is time to be on the lookout for anything that looks close to a urinary tract infection—which is usually as a result of the development of calcium oxylate stones.

As soon as you take the cat out of the breeder’s hands and bring them home, you should start watching the cat’s weight. Make sure they remain medium-sized and muscular throughout, not chubby.

Care Features

Havana cats don’t often need a bath. What you should do, however, is make sure you check the eyes and eye corners for discharges regularly and wipe them with a soft, damp cloth. The ears should also be checked for dirt. You can clean their ears with cotton balls.

havana_brown_kitten sitting at the window

The short to medium-length coat is very easy to maintain—most times just requiring a weekly combing session to keep it in great shape. Their nails can be trimmed once a month if you’re concerned about scratching, but that is not a fear you should associate with the Havana cat breed. Litter boxes should be kept clean, and the feeding areas should be cleaned regularly as well.

Feeding Schedule

A Havana cat will feed like most cats. You don’t need to go above and beyond to get them something to eat. In their developmental stage (which can span the first four years of their lives), Havana cats will need a good supply of food for proper growth.

Close-up of a havana brown cat looking at the camera

To make sure you are neither overfeeding nor underfeeding your cat, see a vet or a pet nutritionist. If you have had a cat before, you can use the same kind of feeding schedule without problems. Due to specific cat preferences, you will want to watch if your Havana Brown cat prefers some types of food over others. In the same vein, you should check for allergic reactions to certain foods/ingredients.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The longest coat on a Havana Brown cat will be of medium length. Even so, they don’t run the risk of getting their hair tangled like other cats. Even with the possibility of medium-length coats, they are generally referred to as shorthairs.

Not to forget the fact that the color of the coat must be brown. No other color will be accepted. Strikingly, the Havana Brown cat is the only known breed to have brown whiskers too.

Close-up of a havana brown cat looking at the camera

While growing up, kittens may have markings of other colors on their coat. Those markings will start to disappear as the cat grows. They will completely fade away in the first eighteen months of the cat’s life. Their eyes are usually a brilliant green.

Their paw pads usually have a hint of brown to them, but they are not as pronounced as in the main body. This hint of brown is complemented with either rose or pink colors (depending on the chocolate-brown color intensity).

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Children will have an easy time getting along with the Havana Brown cat due to their warm and affectionate temperament. Young kids should, however, be allowed to interact with the cat only under supervision—until they have shown that they can treat the cat with respect on their own. Being inquisitive by nature, and highly social too, Havana Brown cats will most likely seek out your dog or other pets for friendship first. Make sure the other pets in the house will not harm or scare off the cat, though. To do this, you need to nail the first introduction down correctly.

Wrap Up

The Havana Brown cat is a lap cat, is very affectionate, blends well with people, won’t give you much to worry about, and is very fun to be with. That is, not to mention the fact that they won’t go about the house ‘talking’ about everything that happened to them during the day. If there ever was a cat that would show love and attention without bugging their owner all the time with constant whining, it is the Havana Brown breed.

havana brown cat lying down on a wood

Do you find the Havana Brown cats’ exotic appearance and loving temperament attractive? On the other hand, if you prefer talk-active cats, perhaps we can interest you in reading up on another variant of the Siamese breed that’s well-known for their silky colorpoint coat. We would love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the section below.

About the author
Jeremy Vaughn
Jeremy Vaughn

Jeremy Vaughn is a member of Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, who lives in Winnipeg. Creating new looks for cats and other pets is his passion. Jeremy shares his house with the wife and wonderful Siamese cat.