Sunday 14 September 2008

Benedictine Cat

no picture poster
This is the name of a monk who turned cat burglar - just joking. The Benedictine cat is a long haired Chartreux. The Chartreux is a natural and well established cat breed of some antiquity I think it fair to say. Read about and see the best pictures (no kidding) of the Chartreux by clicking on this link: Chartreux cat. Or see a video if you're feeling lazy: Chartreux video.

So if one talks about the Benedictine cat we can in fact talk about the Chartreux cat as the only difference is that the Benedictine has a recessive gene, acquired from the Persian cat (with which the breed was mated) that produces a long haired cat, on occasions...

Update May 2012: A book dated 1901 by a show cat judge (John Jennings), DOMESTIC AND FANCY CATS A PRACTICAL TREATISE ON THEIR VARIETIES, BREEDING, MANAGEMENT AND DISEASE (1901), refers to the "The French". This cat is written about as if it is the Chartreux except that it is a long haired cat. "In France a breed of long-haired cats have been perpetuated from some centuries and the name 'French' has been given to a variety indigenous to the country". The author goes on to describe a cat bred by the Chartreuse monks, which has a "wonderfully silky" coat that is "exceedingly long". He writes that the coat hints at a Persian/Angora combination.  The color is "chiefly blue". He says the monks sold the cats for a good profit but the cats were sterile ("failed in reproduction"). He speculates that the cats were altered (neutered or spayed). That begs the question whether the Chartreux was a long haired cat originally.

Chartreux cat
Chartreux Cat - this is a shorthaired but dense haired cat - photo by EugeniusD80

The Chartreux is a splendid looking cat with an appearance similar to the other grey cat breeds, the Korat, Russian Blue and Nebelung. Although the Nebelung has long hair so I would expect the Benedictine would look more like a Nebelung if that makes sense. Why I am describing the cat in words? Simple. There are no pictures.

It seems that when the Persian long haired gene was introduced to improve eye color (gold/copper colored now) in the Chartreux, some breeders thought that they might as well set up a new breed out of what was probably an unforeseen accident. The new breed was experimental. Perhaps it still is?

As this experimental breed originates in the UK, perhaps the type of Persians used were doll face Persians and in any event the Chartreux is very much a "regular" looking cat breed so the Persians would have to be Traditional Persians.

As there are no pictures of a Benedictine cat we can imagine this cat by showing pictures of both a Chartreux cat (above) and a Doll Face Persian (below).

silver traditional Persian cat
Silver Traditional Persian cat - photo by slight clutter

Finally, why the Benedictine cat? Well, the Chartreux has a connection with monks and the Benedictine monks are fairly well known so the connection between the cat and monks is retained in the Benedictine. The original connection came from the myth (not sure) that Carthusian Monks brought the Chartreux cat (not a Chartreux cat at that time, of course, just a nice stocky grey cat) with them when they settled in France in the Chartreuse region. The cat was named after the region were the monks settled.

Benedictine Cat to Chartreux cat

Photos published under a creative commons license - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License.


  1. I think we have a Benedictine! We live in France and he was found behind a shop here at only 4 weeks old. People have been saying he is a Chartreux, but his tail is very fluffy and his fur longer than that of a regular Chartreux. He is beyond gorgeous. I can send a photo but don't know how.

    1. I think we may have a Benedictine, too! I thought she was a Chartreux, at first, but her hair isn't as short as all the pictures I've seen of other Chartreux's online. Funny thing is, we have a long-haired Tuxedo black/white cat named Steve, and his hair is MUCH longer than my little grey. It's's like her hair isn't long OR short, more like "medium length", almost "shaggy"? Does that make sense? I'll send pics to the email I see below, and try to get some good ones of her coat. In all other behaviors, she's a Chartreux, though. We found her 2 years ago as a half-starved, skeletal stray, so its thrilling how well she's filled out! Thanks for the blog!!!

    2. Thanks for sharing. Your cat sounds very interesting and attractive. If you email the pics I'll add one or two to the page. She appears to have medium-long hair.

  2. Hi Sophia, Thanks for the comment. I am the person who runs this website. Please email me a picture to:


    Thanks - Michael
    Substitute "at" with "@" in the email address above.


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