The exact nature of the breed’s early development is uncertain, with two popular theories in circulation. The first is that in the 1960s, cat enthusiast Jennie Robinson came upon two chocolate-brown cats that were being offered in an estate sale – cats that were supposedly extinct – and the other is that she came by them in a pet-shop – either way, the breed was thought so appealing that in 1969 Robinson began a selective breeding program and went on to breed 60 kittens in a 7 year period. Initially the two cats purchased by Robinson, named Thomas and Shirley, were mistaken for Burmese due to their long coats. The breed is recognised by most major cat registries, although it is registered under different names, including the original ‘Foreign Longhair’ and the ‘Asian Semi-Longhair.’
The breed is described as medium sized, with a silky undercoat, a wedge-shaped head, a plumed tail, wide-spaced ears and ovular eyes. The eyes deepen in colour as the cat matures and are usually observed in colours of amber and yellow. Due to breed out-crossing, many more colours are now recognised in the Chantilly, beside the original chocolate brown. These include variations of lilac, blue, black, fawn and cinnamon. Chocolate brown is still thought to be the most popular variety, usually with spotting, ticking, mackerel or tabby patterning. The coat is semi-long and sheds minimally, making it a great breed choice for the house-proud.
The Chantilly/Tiffany is both docile and energetic, enjoying relaxation as much as exercise and play. Bonding well with its human family, and highly compatible with children and other house pets, the Chantilly is a great breed choice for families or a dedicated sole owner. Due to its natural love of people, the Chantilly does not enjoy being left alone for long periods of time, preferring to interact with its people throughout the day, and therefore should not be purchased by a family that is absent from the house for hours at a time. Not unduly shy, fearful or aggressive, the Chantilly is a lovable and affection cat that will shower you with attention if the favour is returned. In general, a healthy Chantilly/Tiffany will weigh between 6-12 pounds, with an average life expectancy of 15 years.
Typically very healthy and resilient, very few breed-specific or genetic conditions are recognised in the Chantilly. Breeders have suggested these cats have a delicate digestion and do not respond well to corn products. Other potential problems include ear infections, as hair or ‘furnishings’ can grow inside the ear canal and cause an uncomfortable blockage or infection. For this reason it is important to check the ears regularly.