Chausie Cat Breed
History & General Description
The breed name, Chausie cat (pronounced chow-see), is actually derived from the Latin name for the Jungle Cat, felis chaus. The Jungle Cat is a distinct species of cat that dwells from the Nile Valley to the Caspian Sea. The Jungle Cat also is normally found in South Asia as far Vietnam.
The Chausie cat is a long legged, tall, statuesque cat that it is built for running and jumping. Like the Jungle Cat, the Chausie cat has a body type like that of an Olympic athlete. With an ectomorphic body type, Chausie cats are built with a limberness that lends a sense of grace and balance. The Chausie cat has a deep chest which enables them to breathe deeply so they seem to have a limitless source of energy. Like the Jungle Cat, Chausie cats have large, upright, preferably tufted ears. The Chausie cat also has a long sloping forhead and muzzle with a slightly shortened tail. Their eyes are flattened on the top with a slightly rounded bottom. Their cheekbones are exotically slanted and their temperament is predominantly domestic. Being good natured, loyal, highly intelligent, and highly trainable the Chausie cat is a curious playful cat that requires stimulation and companionship.
The Jungle Cat has an extensive history dating back to the time of the ancient Egyptians. These cats were domesticated by the Egyptians because of their easy going temperaments and adept hunting skills. Mummified Jungle Cats have been discovered in Egyptian tombs attesting to the high regard in which they were held. These magnificent cats were often mummified with their owners in formal funeral rights to accompany them in the afterlife. Some say the statues of the Goddess Bastet were modeled after the Jungle Cat and the resemblance is certainly seen in her long slender body, svelte appearance, and large ears.
Occasionally the Jungle Cat mated with domestic cats, and there have been numerous reports of hybrids from across North America to Southeast Asia, including India dating back centuries. However, the first recorded breeding of a Jungle Cat and a domestic cat was recorded in 1990. After breeders began working together, the Chausie cat was awarded foundation registration status in 1995 with The International Cat Association (TICA). Due to the effort of breeders and their work, the Chausie cat was given Championship status starting May 1, 2013.
A few people experimented with breeding F. chaus to F. catus in the late 1960s and 1970s. Their intention was to provide a sensible alternative to keeping nondomestic cats as pets. However, the Chausie cat breed did not truly begin until the 1990s, when a dedicated group of breeders named the breed “Chausie” (after F. chaus) and developed a planned breeding program and goals. These breeders asked for and received registration status from TICA in 1995. The breed worked its way through the New Breed Class from May 2001 through April 2013, and became TICA’s newest Championship breed on May 1, 2013. Chausie cats are now being bred in both North America and Europe. The breed has begun the new breed recognition process in the World Cat Federation (WCF).
Being highly athletic and active, the Chausie cat is almost constantly in motion while interacting with their humans. These domestic cats are good natured and affectionate that love to play. They often develop deep bonds with their owners. Sociable in nature, Chausie cats love to play fetch and will often walk on a leash. This playful demeanor often lasts well into adulthood making these domestic cats intriguing companions. Due to their intelligence, Chausie cats need stimulation and interaction with their owners, otherwise they may not do well if left alone for long periods of time.
F. chaus by nature is a gregarious, fun-loving nondomestic species. They are the otters of the cat world. Because breeders outcrossed the foundation jungle cats to mostly very intelligent, outgoing breeds such as the Abyssinian and Oriental Shorthair, the result was predictable. Chausie cats are highly intelligent, active, athletic cats. They are often very “busy” as kittens. As adults, they are quieter, but they still retain a playfulness and intellectual curiosity lifelong. One thing to keep in mind: Chausie cats do not like to be alone. They need to have other cats as companions or have human company most of the time. Chausie cats get along well with dogs, too, and will do fine if raised with a canine buddy. Additionally, Chausie cats form deep bonds with people. They are extremely loyal, and may have difficulty adjusting if rehomed as adults. They need intelligent people who like living with complicated, intelligent cats.
As with all nondomestic hybrid source breeds, some Chausie cats may inherit intestinal tracts similar to that of the nondomestic ancestors. The intestinal tract may be a little shorter than that of the traditional domestic cat. A shorter intestinal tract is thought to be less capable of processing ingredients derived from plants. That would include any kind of cereal, as well as vegetables, herbs, and spices. Those ingredients may serve as triggers for chronic intestinal inflammation and eventually lead to chronic inflammatory bowel disease that is perpetuated by multiple allergies to proteins in commercial cat food. Regardless of the cause, Chausie cats do seem somewhat prone to developing food allergies. To prevent this, breeders advise Chausie cat owners to feed only very high quality commercial cat foods, containing as little of plant-derived ingredients as possible. Some breeders advise feeding homemade raw or cooked meat diets with appropriate supplementation. However, if homemade diets are fed, it should be with the guidance of someone experienced in preparing them. Meat by itself does not contain all the nutrients that Chausie cats require, and modern meat processing conditions mean a high risk of contamination by potentially dangerous infectious agents.
Currently, most authentic Chausie cats produced are late generation cats with fully domestic temperaments. Their TICA registration certificates will usually indicate that they are “C” generation or “SBT,” which nearly always means they are four generations or more beyond the jungle cat (F. chaus). In cases where they are “A” or “B” generation, it is usually because they have been recently outcrossed to another domestic breed to improve specific cosmetic traits, but the cats are nonetheless more than four generations beyond the handful of nondomestic ancestors.
Although the official, permissible outcrosses for the Chausie cat breed are the Abyssinian and the domestic shorthair (no recognizable breed), in practice any kind of purely domestic outcross can be used. TICA rules only dictate that cats must be a certain number of generations removed from the jungle cat ancestors and have three generations of registered Chausie cat ancestors to be eligible for competition at shows. Consequently, a variety of breeds, albeit usually lively outgoing breeds (see below), were used to develop the Chausie cat breed and continue to be used occasionally as outcrosses. This has given the breed a diverse and healthy genetic foundation.
Chausie cats are bred to be medium to large in size, as compared to traditional domestic breeds. Most Chausie cats are a little smaller than a male Maine Coon, for example, but larger than a Siamese. Adult Chausie cat males typically weigh 9 to 15 pounds. Adult females are usually 7 to 10 pounds. However, because Chausie cats are built for running and jumping, they tend to be built like basketball players. They are long-bodied and leggy. They often appear quite large, but they weigh less than one would expect.
The TICA Chausie cat breed standard allows three colors: solid black, black grizzled tabby, and black (a.k.a. brown) ticked tabby. Because the Chausie cat breed is relatively new, Chausie cats are still frequently born that have a variety of other colors and patterns, and they make wonderful pets. However, only the three permissible colors are considered ideal. Only cats in the three permissible colors can be entered in new breed classes at cat shows, and only the three colors will be eligible eventually for championship classes.
Solid black Chausie cats may have faint tabby markings (called ghost markings) as kittens, but usually acquire a dense, even black pigmentation with maturity. Sometimes black grizzled tabby Chausie cats will appear indistinguishable from solid black Chausie cats when the amount of grizzling is minimal. Exposure to strong sunlight, as with most black cats, can cause black Chausie cats to lighten slightly and appear brownish.
Black grizzled tabbies are unique to the Chausie cat breed among domestic cats. The grizzled pattern comes from the jungle cat; it is never found in domestic cats unless they have F. chaus ancestors. The kittens are often born completely black, although occasionally they may have a bit of light colored fur on the chin or neck at birth. As the kittens get older, they begin to look more and more like tabbies. However, they are tabbies with black on black markings. That is, the background color is a sort of dark brownish black, and the markings, such as the mid-line stripe on the spine, are pure black. In addition, alternating bands of off-white appear on individual hairs in the background color. The bands are along the middle of each hair. The root of each hair is mousie gray, while the tip of each hair is black. The off-white banding or “ticking” usually appears first on the neck, chin, and belly, as well as the insides of the ears. Later, the grizzling will often extend up the sides from belly to almost the spine. In the most heavily grizzled cats, the grizzling extends over the back of the neck, on the face, and even on the legs and tail. Usually the grizzling is complete by age 3 years. The effect in the best cats is spectacular. Grizzling does have a wide range of expression, however, and some cats never have more than a few banded hairs in the ears or in one spot on the belly, occasionally not even that.
Black ticked tabby Chausie cats have black ticking, black stripes on the inside of the upper legs and to a lesser extent on the outside, black rings on the tail, a black tail tip, and black tabby markings around the eyes. They are also known as brown ticked tabbies because, although the markings are black, the background color is brownish. The background color can vary in hue across a large range. While Chausie cat breeders try to avoid producing the very reddish brown background color seen in the Abyssinian breed, they do produce everything else in the range. Background color may be reddish gold, it may be a light golden brown, warm beige, cold beige, and even a very cool light gray with just a hint of brown in it. The latter is a very wild looking background color. Random polygenes influence the background color. Every time a black ticked tabby kitten is born, breeders start guessing what the background color will be. But no one really knows until the cat matures.
Bred to retain their appearance to the Jungle Cat, this domestic feline is a short haired medium to large sized cat that is tall and long bodied. The Chausie cat has a rectangular torso, deep chest, and flat sides. The Chausie cat has long, angular, and high set cheekbones which are balanced out by the long muzzle. Their ears are tall, large, and set at a slightly outward angle on top of the head about two finger widths apart from the inside basis. Sometimes the top of the ears have tufts, which enhances the Chausie cat’s slightly cougarish appearance.
There are three color-patterns that the Chausie cat displays. They are: brown-ticked tabby, solid black, and grizzled tabby. The brown-ticked tabby has barring on the inside of the front legs and down to the hock on the hind legs. Unique to this domestic cat, the grizzled tabby pattern is acquired from breed’s ancestor, the Jungle Cat. The hair shaft is banded with a lighter coloration at the skin, akin to mouse coat, a black base coat, and alternating light bands with a black tip.