What to Know About Chartreux Cats

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on July 18, 2022
6 min read

Chartreux cats are the felines of legend. Whether in the laps of royalty or walking alongside French monks, these cats have been famous for centuries.

But what makes them so great?

Size and shape. The Chartreux is a medium-sized breed with solid bodies and thin legs. This unique build has earned the breed the endearing description, "a potato on toothpicks".

Chartreux cats tend to weigh between 7 and 17 pounds. Sex, age, and genetics determine whether they naturally weigh more or less

Chartreux cat lifespan. Like many cats, a Chartreux can live to be around 15 years old on average.

Fur features. Chartreux cats have a stunning coat with many unique characteristics. 

The Chartreux coat color only comes in blue-gray. The shading may vary slightly or appear silvery at certain angles. 

The coat also has a distinctive texture. The fur is medium length, and the breed has a dense undercoat. These two features combine to give the Chartreux's coat a soft but wooly texture.

Distinct physical features. The breed’s potato shape and elegant gray coat are iconic. But they’re also famous for their smile and eyes.

Chartreux cats have round heads with a narrow snout. Their mouths curve and make them look like they're smiling at you!

Their eyes are round and brightly colored, ranging between gold and copper. The striking color stands out against the gray fur and round face.

Chartreux cat personality. Chartreux cats are calm but still love to play. Whether you want a gentle companion or a playmate, a Chartreux is probably a good fit. 

A few of the Chartreux cat's traits are:

  • Attentive
  • Loyal
  • Loving
  • Affectionate
  • Quiet
  • Easy-going
  • Intelligent

Coat care. The Chartreux's double coat needs regular maintenance because they shed a few times a year. Comb through your cat's coat with a wide-tooth comb to remove dead hair and prevent knotting. Don't comb them too much or use a fine-tooth comb because you may strip away the wooly undercoat. 

Dental hygiene. Dental issues are a common problem for many cats. Poor dental hygiene can lead to dental disease and severe infections.

The best way to clean your cat's teeth is by brushing them with a cat-friendly toothpaste and toothbrush. Most cats won't enjoy brushing their teeth, so train them to be comfortable with dental care at a young age.

Other ways to clean your cat's teeth include:

  • Have your vet professionally clean their teeth 
  • Use dental chews
  • Feed them food made for dental hygiene
  • Use cat-friendly oral rinses

Nail care. You need to trim your Chartreux's nails every two to three weeks. You, your vet, or a groomer can trim their nails. 

Feeding and nutrition. Most high-quality cat foods that you can buy in the store have enough nutrients for your cat. Always feed your Chartreux a portion of food that's right for their age, size, and activity level. 

The cat food's packaging will tell you how much to feed your adult cat daily. Divide the amount into two meals throughout the day, about 8 to 12 hours apart.

Some cats prefer continuous access to food, a diet called free feeding. But free feeding can lead to overeating in some cats. 

You shouldn't free-feed with wet food. Wet food can attract bacteria and pests if left out for too long.

Wet food has a lot of moisture and helps hydrate your Chartreux. It also comes in many flavors that can satisfy a picky cat.

Wet food can be more expensive, though. Dry food is generally more affordable and stays fresh longer. 

A dry food diet can make it hard for your Chartreux to stay hydrated and digest their meals. If you're concerned about your cat's hydration, talk to your vet about a hybrid diet or ways to encourage them to drink more water.

As your Chartreux gets older, their dietary needs will change. Work with your vet to make sure their diet has the nutrients they need.

Every good kitty deserves treats, but treats are like junk food. Treats should be no more than 15% of your cat's daily calories.

Exercise and activity needs. Since Chartreux cats are easy-going and calm, they don't need constant entertainment. They're good for people who aren't home all the time or people who can't play with their pets frequently.

Like all cats, they still love to play and climb. Chartreux are intelligent and do well with puzzle toys, learning tricks, and other forms of mental stimulation.

Indoor vs. outdoor cats. Even though your Chartreux may look outside longingly, you shouldn't let them outside without a harness or leash.

Cats will hunt smaller animals like rodents and birds. This hunting can hurt local ecosystems and expose your cat to diseases or parasites.

Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Your Chartreux needs protection from fleas, ticks, and heartworms all year. Even if they spend all their time indoors, they still need protection.

Fleas will most often reach your cat by hitching a ride on other pets or people in your home. There are many flea preventatives available. You and your vet can determine which is best for your cat.

Ticks are mostly a problem for cats who go outside. If your Chartreux spends time outdoors, consider using a tick preventative.

Infected mosquitoes transfer heartworms when they bite your cat. Heartworms don't infect cats as often as dogs, but they aren't immune.

Heartworms can lead to heartworm disease. There are no approved drug treatments for heartworm disease in cats yet.

Sadly, heartworm disease can be deadly. Consult your vet about heartworm infections in your area, available preventive options, and heartworm exams at your cat's routine vet visits.

Vet visits. Chartreux kittens need several vet visits during their first few months to monitor their growth, give the core set of vaccines, and have them spayed or neutered. 

Adult cats need an annual vet visit. These visits focus on updating vaccines, disease prevention, and weight management. 

Senior Chartreux cats need at least two vet visits each year. These visits will focus on symptoms of aging, disease prevention related to old age, and lab work.

Chartreux cats are a healthy breed. The main genetic disease spotted in Chartreux is patellar luxation. 

Patellar luxation. Patellar luxation is a disease where your cat's kneecap dislocates from the groove it typically sits in. The kneecap may dislocate occasionally, or it can be permanently dislocated.

A Chartreux with a luxating patella may limp or "bunny hop" whenever they move around. They also may be hesitant to jump and climb like they usually do.

Mild cases of patellar luxation often don't need correction. If it's a severe case or there's a potential for the luxating patella to lead to arthritis, surgical correction may be considered.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is the most common heart disease in cats. The disease causes the heart's walls to thicken, so it pumps blood less effectively. 

HCM is a genetic condition in most cases, so there isn't a preventable cause. Cats who have it don't tend to show symptoms until the disease is severe. 

Visible and severe signs of HCM include lethargy and difficulty breathing.

HCM has no cure, so treatments aim to relieve symptoms. 

Feline dental disease. Over half of cats aged 4 years and older have a type of dental disease. Most dental diseases are preventable and treatable, though.

Most dental diseases start with gingivitis and lead to periodontitis. The most common symptom of a worsening dental disease is that your Chartreux stops eating. 

Using the methods mentioned previously, you can help prevent dental disease with good dental hygiene. Professional cleanings by your vet can treat mild dental problems like gingivitis and periodontitis. 

Cleanings and at-home dental hygiene can't treat severe issues. Severe diseases like tooth resorption often need tooth extractions.

Are they good with other pets? Chartreux cats aren't aggressive and can do well around other animals. They'd probably prefer other calm pets to be around, though.  

Are they good with kids? Their calm and gentle nature makes them an excellent breed for families with children.

Are they allergenic? Chartreux cats shed multiple times a year, so they'll likely cause problems for people with a cat allergy.

The Chartreux breed is an ancient breed with many legends surrounding its origin. The earliest mention of a breed resembling a Chartreux was in the mid-1500s in France.

One story claims that French monks brought the Chartreux back to their monasteries from South Africa in the 18th century. The cats' lives alongside the monks seem to explain why Chartreux cats are so calm and quiet today.

French cat fanciers took an interest in the breed after World War I. They created the Chartreux breed standard in the early 20th century and began showing the breed around Europe.

The Chartreux is still an incredibly loved breed in France. Though rare outside of France, their popularity continues to grow worldwide.