HAVANA BROWN CAT BREED
The Havana Brown, a cat the color of chocolate kisses, is another breed that comes from the mysterious land of Siam. Solid brown cats were described and depicted in the Cat-Book Poems, a manuscript written in the city of Ayudha, Siam, sometime between 1350 when the city was founded and 1767 when the city was burned by invaders. These brown cats appear in the manuscript alongside royal Siamese, black and white bicolors, and silver-blue Korats. The people of Siam considered the burnished brown cats very beautiful and believed they protected their human companions from evil.
Solid brown (self-brown) cats were among the first felines to come to England from Siam (now Thailand) in the late 1800s. Early records describe these cats as Siamese, with coats of burnished chestnut, and greeny-blue eyes. It is believed that these imports were not all of the same genetic types, but rather represent what today would be called Burmese, chocolate point Siamese, Tonkinese (Burmese/Siamese hybrids), and Havana Browns. It’s hard to tell one from another from mere descriptions.
Solid brown cats were exhibited in Europe during the late 1800s and the early 1900s. A self-brown took first prize at a show in England in 1888, indicating that, at that time, fanciers valued and treasured brown cats. At a 1928 cat show, the British Siamese Cat Club gave a special award to the cat with “the best chocolate body”. Writers of the day described these cats as chocolate-colored Siamese, that is, the same color all over.
Soon after, however, self-browns fell from grace. In 1930 the Siamese Cat Club announced, the club much regrets it is unable to encourage the breeding of any but blue-eyed Siamese. Solid brown cats lacking blue eyes were accordingly banned from competition and disappeared from the cat fancy.
Self-browns made their comeback in the early 1950s when a handful of English breeders decided brown was still beautiful. Working first separately and then together, these breeders studied chocolate gene inheritance and then started a breeding program, apparently using Siamese, domestic shorthairs, and Russian Blues. The breeders were striving to produce a solid-colored cat in the chocolate point coloring of the Siamese, rather than the sable coloring of the Burmese. At that time in England, the only recognized foreign breeds other than the Siamese were the Abyssinian and the Russian Blue.
In 1952 the first solid chocolate kitten to be registered in England was born. This kitten, Elmtower Bronze Idol, became the foundation cat for the new breed. Bronze Idol was produced by mating a seal point Siamese that carried the chocolate gene with a solid black cat also carrying chocolate. The black cat was the offspring of a black cat bred to a seal point Siamese. Since chocolate coloration is governed by a recessive gene, Bronze Idol had to receive the gene from both parents to express the trait.
In 1958 the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy accepted the breed for Championship competition under the name Chestnut Brown Foreign. Later, the breed was re-named Havana.
Two stories exist regarding the naming of the breed. One claims that the Havana was named after a rabbit breed of the same color. The other maintains the Havana was named after the Havana tobacco because it has the color and matt appearance of a Havana cigar.
The first Havana cats reached America in the mid-1950s. The breed was given recognition in 1959 under the name Havana Brown, and in 1964 the CFA granted the Havana Brown full Championship status.
More distinctive than the muzzle, ears, or mink like coat is the Havana Brown’s personality. Although still quite rare and for years one of the cat fancy’s best kept secrets, Havana cats have built a solid following of enthusiastic fanciers. Havana Browns are affectionate, gentle, highly intelligent, and, unlike their Siamese compatriots, quiet. They are remarkably adaptable and agreeable cats, and adjust to any situation with poise and confidence.
Havana cats must have human interaction if they are to live happy, healthy lives. They crave attention from their human companions and are not content unless they can be by your side, helping you with your household tasks. Havana cats love to reach out and touch their favorite humans; they often nudge their human friends with an outstretched paw as if asking for attention.
“Fetch” is a favorite Havana Brown game, and they can often be found carrying toys and stray objects around in their mouths. If you’ve misplaced a sock or some other small, easily carried object, check your Havana’s cat bed. You might find that it has magically found its way there.
Rather than attempt a Siamese body style as British breeders have done, American breeders have favored a more moderate body and head type for their Havana Browns. The British Havana Brown is considerably more Siamese cat in conformation than North American Havana cats. The American Havana Brown’s distinctive muzzle, rich color, expressive eyes, and large ears make it distinctive and exceptionally striking among the American cat breeds.
The Havana’s coat is also distinctive. Color is very important to this breed: the coat should be a rich, even shade of warm brown, tending toward red-brown or mahogany rather than black-brown. Allowance is made for ghost tabby markings in kittens and youngsters.
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆ Activity
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Playfulness
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Need for Attention
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Affection
- ☆☆ Need to Vocalize
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆ Docility
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Intelligence
- ☆☆☆ Independence
- ☆☆☆☆☆ Healthiness and Hardiness
- ☆☆ Grooming needs
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆ Good with children
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆ Good with other pets
General: The overall impression of the ideal Havana Brown is a cat of medium size with a rich, solid color and good muscle tone.
Body: Torso medium in length, firm and muscular; general conformation is mid-range between the short-coupled, thickset, and svelte breeds; stands relatively high on its legs.
Head: Longer than wide; narrowing to rounded muzzle with pronounced break on both sides behind whisker pads; end of muzzle appears almost square; distinct stop at eyes; well-developed chin.
Ears: Large, round-tipped, cupped at base; wide-set but not flaring; tilted forward giving cat alert expression.
Eyes: Oval, medium-sized, set wide apart. Color any vivid and level shade of green, the deeper the better.
Tail: Medium length; slender; tapering at end.
Coat: Short to medium; smooth and lustrous.
Color: Rich and even shade of warm brown throughout. Color tends toward red-brown (mahogany) rather than black-brown.
Disqualify: Kinked tail; locket or button; any eye color other than green; incorrect color of whiskers, nose leather, or paw pads.