What to Know About the Havana Brown Cat

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on July 22, 2022
7 min read

The Havana brown cat, or Havana for short, is a rare breed. You'll have to search far and wide for your own Havana cat, but the search will be worth it.

Havana brown cat size and shape. Havana cats tend to be medium-sized with a slender build. As descendants of Siamese cats, Havana cats have similar physical traits.

Adult male Havanas weigh 8 to 10 pounds, while females weigh 6 to 8 pounds. Their natural weight range depends on their age and genetics. 

Coat characteristics. The Havana cat's coat is remarkable. It's short, silky, and a unique, chocolatey-brown color.

The color of the Havana brown cat can be a few shades of brown. Some are almost black, while others are a reddish mahogany color.

Distinct physical features. Besides its coat, the eye color of a Havana cat is distinct. The eyes are typically a vibrant shade of green, standing out in bright contrast against their brown fur.

Havana brown cat lifespan. The Havana cat, like many other breeds, tends to live 8 to 15 years. Environment, genetics, and health play significant roles in your cat's longevity.

Havana brown cat personality. Havanas have a lot of personality. They love people and give as much affection as they get. 

On their own, Havanas are curious and explore the world with their paws. This curiosity and intelligence often get them into trouble when they find something interesting. 

Coat care. The Havana cat's coat is low-maintenance. You only need to brush it once a week with a soft rubber brush to get rid of loose hair.

Dental hygiene. Many cats deal with dental problems. Over half of adult cats have dental diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis.

Dental diseases come from a lack of dental hygiene. The best way to clean your Havana's mouth and prevent dental diseases is by brushing their teeth.

Most cats won't like it if you brush their teeth. They'll need training from a young age to be comfortable with the process.

If you can't brush your Havana's teeth, there are some alternatives:

  • Professional cleanings at your vet
  • Dental treats, chews, and food
  • Oral rinses for cats

Claw care. Cat claws can be painful, so you should trim them every two to three weeks to keep you and your Havana comfortable. Your vet or groomer can trim their claws, or you can do it yourself with the right clippers.

Feeding and nutrition. All cats need access to clean, fresh water throughout the day. Your Havana needs to stay hydrated for all the playing on their to-do list!

Your local pet stores have many high-quality cat foods that can give your Havana the nutrients it needs. Your cat's size, exercise level, and age determine how much food to give them.

The food packaging will tell you how much to give your cat daily. Split the recommended amount into two meals, given to your cat about 8 to 12 hours apart.

Free-feeding works with some cats. But having constant access to food will probably make your Havana overeat.

If you decide to free-feed, do it with dry food. Wet food can attract bacteria and pests if left out for a long time.

Your cat's preferences and needs should decide if you give them wet or dry food. 

Wet food has a lot of moisture and many varieties of flavor and texture. Wet food can be a good choice for Havanas with a picky appetite or difficulty staying hydrated.

On the other hand, dry food tends to be more affordable and stays fresh longer than wet food. 

As they age, your cat's nutritional needs will change. Work with your vet to figure out the best diet for your Havana throughout their life.

Exercise and activity needs. Havana cats are intelligent and need more engaging activities than some other breeds. They're also more social, so they prefer activities that involve you.

Consider teaching your Havana tricks, giving them interactive puzzle toys, or playing simple games that tap into their hunting instincts.

Indoor vs. outdoor lifestyles. Many cats love looking out of windows at birds and squirrels. Always use a harness or leash if you decide to take your Havana outside. 

When cats are left outside unsupervised, many problems can happen.

They often hunt small animals like rodents or birds. This type of hunting can damage the local ecosystems and cause widespread problems.

The outdoors can also expose your Havana to parasites, diseases, or larger predators. Don't let your Havana out of your sight when you're outside.

Vet visits. Your Havana should visit the vet regularly. Of course, if your cat starts showing strange symptoms, take them to the vet. 

Your kitten needs multiple vet visits during their first few months to watch their development, for vaccinations, and to be spayed or neutered. Your vet will tell you the schedule of the vet visits.

Adult Havana cats should see the vet once yearly. They'll get vaccines, blood work, and other routine checkups during these visits.

Senior Havanas typically need two visits yearly, around every 6 months or as your vet recommends. Some of the things your vet will check are:

  • Signs of age, like eyesight or hearing
  • Routine exams, like blood work
  • Signs of developing diseases

Flea, tick, and worm care. It doesn't matter whether your Havana spends all their time indoors. All cats need protection from fleas, ticks, and heartworms. 

Fleas can ride into your home on people or other pets. Once inside, they're only a jump away from your Havana.

There are many preventative options, like medications or collars, available. Talk to your vet about which one is best for your cat and lifestyle.

Ticks don't travel as fleas do. Instead, they wait in the grass for animals to come to them and latch on as your pet walks by. 

If your Havana goes outside and spends time in the grass, consider using a tick preventative

Heartworms can cause a deadly disease. They're transmitted when a mosquito infected with heartworms bites your cat.

Heartworm disease in cats isn't well-understood, so diagnosing it is difficult, and there are no effective treatments for cats. Some treatment options have severe side effects, while others may take years of symptomatic treatment.  

With the potentially deadly outcomes of heartworm disease, the best thing for your Havana is to prevent heartworms in the first place. Talk to your vet about which type of heartworm prevention is suitable for your cat.

Havana cats are overall healthy, with no known conditions unique to the breed. Havana cats are still susceptible to the common conditions that affect all cats.

Obesity. Overeating in cats is common. An obese cat weighs at least 20% more than the recommended weight.

Excess weight comes from eating too many calories. Always check your cat food's nutritional information and the recommended feeding amount to prevent overeating.

Obesity is often the cause of many other health conditions. An obese Havana cat can develop severe health problems, including: 

  • Diabetes
  • Lower urinary tract disease
  • Arthritis (from stress on joints)
  • Inefficient immune system
  • Breathing problems
  • Dermatological problems

An effective and steady weight loss program is necessary to treat obesity. This program involves an appropriate diet, regular exercise, and more frequent vet visits.

Dental diseases. Over half of adult cats have dental problems, so your Havana isn't immune. Brushing and other dental hygiene prevent many dental diseases.

Gingivitis is typically the first dental disease to appear. It can lead to periodontitis and serious diseases like tooth resorption if left untreated.

Cats don't tend to show many symptoms when they're sick or in pain. One of the most common symptoms of dental disease is being reluctant to eat or stop eating.

Professional cleanings from your vet can treat minor diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis. Severe diseases often need intense treatments like tooth extractions.

Upper respiratory infections (URI). URIs are incredibly common in cats and range in severity. Feline herpes virus (FHV) and feline calicivirus (FCV) are the cause of over 90% of URIs in cats.

Common symptoms of a URI include:

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Loss of appetite

The best way to prevent a URI is to vaccinate your cat against FHV and FCV. Your cat won't be immune to them, but it can prevent severe forms of the diseases.

URI treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting your Havana's health. Steam, appetite stimulants, pain relievers, and frequently cleaning your cat's eyes and nose may be necessary treatment options.

Are they good with animals and children? Havana cats are social, so having other cats and dogs around the house can help socialize them. They also do well with children, but always supervise your children around a new cat.

Are they allergenic? Havana cats are minimal shedders but aren't hypoallergenic. Their dander, hair, and saliva can irritate someone with an allergy.

The Havana brown cat has a mysterious origin in Southeast Asia. But the modern Havana started in the 1890s in Britain when breeders exhibited all-brown Siamese cats.

These cats deviated in the 1950s when British breeders combined them with other Siamese cats and created the Oriental shorthair breed. Breeders in the United States honed the breed to create the Havana cat you know today, and it became official in 1964.