Chartreux / Cat Breed

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The Chartreux is mentioned for the first time in 1558 by Joachim du Bellay in a poem entitled Vers Français sur la mort d’un petit chat (French verse on a small kitten’s death). There is another representation of a Chartreux in 1747 in the Jean-Baptiste Perronneau’s painting Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange into which the cat is painted as a pet which is quite rare at this time. There is a legend that the Chartreux are descended from cats brought to France by Carthusian monks to live in the order’s head monastery, the Grande Chartreuse, located in the Chartreuse Mountains north of the city of Grenoble. But in 1972, the Prior of the Grande Chartreuse denied that the monastery’s archives held any records of the monks’ use of any breed of cat resembling the Chartreux. Legend also has it that the Chartreux’s ancestors were feral mountain cats from what is now Syria, brought back to France by returning Crusaders in the 13th century, many of whom entered the Carthusian monastic order.

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