The Chartreuse Cat is a natural French breed of great antiquity. It is a massive cat, always gray-blue in color with a wooly double coat and gold to copper eyes. The rounded head with its softly contoured forehead tapers to a narrowed muzzle, which gives the Chartreuse an image of smiling. Chartreuse are completely mute: they purr, but cannot meow. Authors through the centuries have praised the Chartreuse as a gentle and quiet cat, an excellent hunter, devoted to its master, easy to keep, and a good traveler. These characteristics were prized in a working breed, and are still true of the Chartreuse today.
Stories of the "blue cats of France" began during the sixteenth century. It is thought that they descended from the "Cat of Syria," described as stocky with a wooly ash-gray coat and copper eyes. It was first brought to Europe during the Crusades. There exists a lovely old legend that the Chartreuse lived with, and was named for, the Carthusian monks of France, and perhaps even shared a tipple or two of their famous Chartreuse liqueur! Recent research, however, indicates that because of the woolly character of their fur, they were given the same name as a well-known Spanish wool of the early 18th century.
Natural colonies of these cats were known to exist in Paris and in isolated regions of France until the early twentieth century. They were never very numerous. Although known as the cat of France, they were also thought of as a cat of the common people. They did not lead easy lives, as they were valued primarily for their pelts and meat, or as ratters.
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