The Breed History
In Britain around the year 1951, a cross between a seal point Siamese and a black part-Siamese shorthair cat produced a solid brown offspring named Elmtower Bronze Idol, the first cat in the GCCF registry for the breed. Brown colored cats had already arrived from Europe much earlier (reported to be in the 1890s in a London cat show; perhaps the oldest being Granny Grumps). These chocolate solid foreign-type cats were called Chestnut Brown Foreign for a while. At some point, Russian Blues were reported to be introduced into the breed during outcrossing. The name Havana may originate from the rabbit breed that has the same coloring, or perhaps they are so-named because they are brown like Havana cigars. The word brown was added to the Havana name when the breed was imported to the USA in 1956. American Havana Browns generally derive from one champion sire, Quinn's Brown Satin of Sidlo. Roofspringer Mahogany Quinn was the foundation female in America, and Sildo's mother. These cats were recognized first as the Chestnut Foreign Shorthair by GCCF in 1958 and the name was changed to Havana in 1970. In some registries, Havana is the preferred breed name since lilac color is now also accepted. In the CFA the Havana Brown (as it is now called in America) was accepted for championship status in 1964. There is only very limited outcrossing (pre-approval required) allowed in CFA and none allowed in TICA. For a while (1974) CFA cut off outcrossing, but breeders petitioned the organization to help them diversify the gene pool in the late 1990s. The British version, the Havana or Chestnut Brown Foreign cat is more like a Chestnut Oriental Shorthair cat of CFA in breed standard for conformation; the American cat is more moderate in build. This is a very rare breed; in 1998, 1000 cats in total were registered, with 130 in the breeding pool at only 12 active CFA catteries, and in 1997 only 36 cats were registered in the CFA. As a note aside, Havana and Serval (African Wildcat) hybridization has lead to a newer breed, Savannah.
Weight: Females 6-8 lb (2.5-3.5 kg), males 8-10 lb (3.5-4.5 kg)
Coat: A rich shiny chocolate brown-mahogany color with no markings; brown pigmentation also include the whiskers, nose leather and pads. The coat is a medium short close lying coat. They may have ghost tabby markings as kittens; with reddish highlights. Note that TICA recognizes lilac colored cats also, but CFA does not.
Eyes: Oval eyes are medium in size, and are any shade of green with a darker richer color preferred.
Points of Conformation: The head is long and there is a distinct stop and distinct pinch behind the whisker pad, with a so-called "corn-cob" or "hour glass" muzzle-this is a breed distinguishing feature. Ears are large with rounded tips, tipping forward, and also lightly haired and furnished. They possess a lithe medium length body, medium size and length of neck, long legs, and a medium thickness, tapering long tail. A foreign type, the Havana Brown is not as tubular as Siamese or Oriental breed cats. Paws are small, compact and oval shaped.
Grooming: Little grooming needed. Quick weekly brush with rubber brush, chamois or soft cloth is fine.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Very intelligent, affectionate, need close human contact, playful, these high activity cats love to jump up high, and are quiet voiced and very adaptable. Possessing a dog-like personality, Havana Browns may be trained to fetch and be leash trained. The Havana may bond closely with a favorite person. They prefer a tranquil home, and sometimes can be a bit standoffish towards people they do not know.
> Normal Breed Variations
Caloric intake may need to be limited to prevent obesity. Very low genetic diversity was found in a study carried out at the University of California, Davis. Cats from 13 different catteries and different breeds were assessed at multiple microsatellite DNA markers. Final assessment was that this breed had one third of the genetic diversity of random bred cats in this sample of 56 cats. Havana and Korat were assigned moderate genetic diversity (0,53) in this study.
Kitten Internet Information Project:
Average female birth weight 86 g, average male birth weight 95 g.
Nothing reported in the literature
Hemophilia: Has been reported in this breed with low prevalence; an X-linked recessive trait so males express the trait; only rarely seen in females when homozygous for this recessive gene.
Calcium Oxalate Urolithiasis: According to a case-control study5 it was reported that Havana Brown cats are at increased risk of forming calcium oxalate uroliths.
Rare and Isolated Reports
Floppy Pinnae: Two clinically normal cats were presented for sudden flop over of the ears in late maturity, bilateral; the distal one third of the pinna was bent over, ear tips cool and devoid of cartilage. There was a possibility that this condition may have been secondary to prolonged use of glucocorticoid therapy for pruritic ears resulting in iatrogenic hyperadrenocorticism.7 The etiology was not conclusive. Compare with floppy pinnae in Siamese chapter.
If suspect hemophilia, run coagulation profile and specific factor assays (Hemophilia A: Factor VIII, Hemophilia B: Factor IX).
- Breed name synonyms: Havana, Chestnut Brown Foreign Cat, Swiss Mountain Cat (historical)
- Registries: TICA (as Havana--both lilac and brown colors accepted), CFA, ACFA, GCCF (in Oriental, as Havana)
- Breed resources: Havana Brown Breed Council (CFA): www.havanabrownbc.org
- Havana Brown Fanciers (CFA NW USA): http://www.havanabrownfanciers.net/
- Havana and Oriental Lilac Cat Club (GCCF): http://www.havanaandorientallilaccc.co.uk
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