Sometimes referred to simply as the Havana. Despite its title, this breed did not originate in Cuba. It is in reality an all-brown cat created in England in 1952.
Domestic breed: Sometimes referred to simply as the Havana. Despite its title, this breed did not originate in Cuba. It is in reality an all-brown cat created in England in 1952. There are two theories as to how it acquired its name. One suggests that it was inspired by the colour of Havana Cigars, and the other that it was borrowed from the Rabbit Fancy, where there is a Havana breed with the same coat colour. However, even if the second theory is correct, it does not invalidate the first, because the Havana Rabbit itself was named after the 'Havana Brown' colour of Cuban cigars.
After a few years it was decided (in the late 1950s) to re-name the breed. This was done, against the breeders' wishes, because it was feared that the name 'Havana' might give the false impression that this home-grown British breed had originated in the West Indies. Its new name was to be more mundane: the Chestnut Brown. It was exhibited in England under the full title of Chestnut Brown Foreign Shorthair until about 1970, but then, owing to popular demand, the original name re-surfaced and has been used ever since.
There were a number of precursors for the breed which failed to survive: the Swiss Mountain Cat (an all-brown Siamese first shown in 1894 but soon forgotten) and the Brown Cat (shown in 1930).
Two discarded names for the breed were the Berkshire Brown and the Reading Brown. They were suggested because of the geographical location of the 1952 foundation stock, but were soon rejected in favour of Havana. Another rejected name used in the early days of the breed was Oriental Chocolate Cat.
Appearance: In Britain, because of repeated back-crossings to Siamese, this cat is now essentially an all-brown Siamese. In the United States, Canada and Japan, however, crossings with Siamese were outlawed and there, as a result, the breed has a slightly different, less Oriental build, closer to its original 1950s shape, with a rounder face and a shorter nose.
History: The Havana was the unexpected result of a mating between a Seal Point Siamese male called Tombee and a black short-haired female (which was half Seal Point Siamese and half Black Persian) called Susannah. One of the kittens resulting from this cross was a Self-Brown male which was named 'Elmtower Bronze Idol'. This was the first Havana Cat, born on October 24th 1952. He was soon joined by a female, 'Elmtower Brown Study', resulting from a further mating between the Siamese Stud and the black cat.
This foundation stock was created by Mrs Munro-Smith of Reading in Berkshire, although she had, in fact, been trying to obtain something quite different - namely, a Colourpoint Persian. The Havana Brown was merely a lucky accident, but she was quick to realize its value.
The Havana was first exhibited in Britain in 1953 and was given championship status in 1958.
In 1956 a pair of kittens, a male called Laurentide Brown Pilgrim and a female called Roofspringer Mahogany, were exported to a Californian breeder in the United States and became the foundation stock for the breed in North America. The Havana was given official recognition there as early as 1959.
Personality: Terms used to describe this breed include: Intelligent, active, affectionate, lively, considerate, playful, mischievous, lordly, home-loving and outgoing. Because of the stronger Siamese element in the British Havana, it is more vocal than its American counterpart.
Colour Form: A rich, warm, chestnut brown. No variant colours are allowed.
Havana and Oriental Lilac Cat Club. Address: Talisker Cottage, Tadwick, Near Bath, BA1 8AH, England.
Havana Brown Fanciers. Address: 2250 24th Street, Apt., 129, San Francisco, California, 94107, USA.
Havana (Brown) Preservation Society. Address: 40 Clinton Street, Brooklyn Heights, New York 11201, USA.
Havana, Foreign and Oriental Cat Association. Address: 26 Lethe Grove, Colchester, Essex, CO2 8RG, England.
International Havana Brown Society. Publishes a magazine: Havana Happenings. Address: 185 Bridgeside Circle, Danville, CA 94506-4452, USA.
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