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Choosing a Chantilly/Tiffany

By: J. Anne Helgren

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The chantilly/tiffany, a dipped-in-chocolate brown feline breed with a confusing name, is prized for a beautiful semi-long coat, long, semi-foreign body style, and gently pleasing personality. While currently rare, the breed has a small but devoted group of cat fanciers with a taste for chocolate. In fact, this breed is billed as the chocoholics delight.

Despite rumors to the contrary, the chantilly/tiffany is not, never was, and never will be a longhaired Burmese. The body, head and coat types of the two breeds are entirely different, and Burmese have never been used in the chantilly/tiffany breeding program.

History and Origin

For a new breed, the chantilly/tiffany has been around for a long time. The breed was discovered in 1967 when the breed's original proponent, Jennie Robinson, bought two longhaired chocolate-colored cats from a pet shop in White Plains, New York. The two – an 18-month-old male, Thomas, and a 6-month-old female, Shirley – produced their first litter in May 1969. During the next 7 years, Thomas and Shirley produced some 60 longhaired solid chocolate brown kittens. The American Cat Association (ACA) registered the cats as "sable foreign longhairs" and in the early 1970s Thomas and several kittens were exhibited in shows on the east coast.

Eventually, Robinson stopped breeding, but in the 1970s breeder Sigyn Lund bought Robinson's cats and continued working with the breed. Because show judges thought the name "foreign longhair" was too general, Lund named the breed "tiffany" after the Tiffany Theater, whose name she associated with class and elegance. Since Lund was a Burmese breeder, fanciers assumed the breed was a longhaired Burmese bred from her stock, although this was not so. The misinformation spread, however, and articles and books repeated the error, creating confusion. In 1979, TICA accepted the tiffany, but in the Burmese breed section. ACA dropped the breed from recognition because it was so rare. When Lund stopped breeding in the mid-1980s, the breed came close to extinction.

The breed probably would have vanished if not for fancier Tracy Oraas of Onoway, Canada, who fell in love with the tiffany in 1988. After a lot of detective work, Oraas concluded that Burmese were never used in the breeding program. She and breeder Jan DeRegt created a new breeding program using European Angoras, Havanas, Somalis and nebelungs.

In 1992, Oraas was asked to rename the breed because of possible confusion with the British tiffanie. They chose "chantilly" because they wished to preserve the elegance the tiffany name represented. The breed is now known as the tiffany, the chantilly and the chantilly/tiffany, depending upon the cat association. Still rare, the breed is slowly gaining in both numbers and acceptance.

Appearance

The ideal chantilly/tiffany is a striking feline with a slender, long, semi-foreign body elegantly clothed in glossy, silky semi-long fur. The fur lacks the downy undercoat that would mat easily. The tail bears a glorious plume, and ear furnishings extend from inside the ear like long streamers. A handsome neck ruff frames and softens the gentle contours of the face.

The head is a broad modified wedge shape with gentle contours, further softened by the long fur. The muzzle is strong, broad and softly squared. The vivid yellow, amber or gold eyes are modified ovals set far apart and at a slight angle. The ears are medium in size, rounded, and set well apart.

Originally only accepted in solid chocolate brown, today the chantilly/tiffany comes in a range of colors and patterns. Accepted colors are chocolate, blue, cinnamon, fawn and lilac. Accepted patterns are solid, mackerel tabby, spotted tabby and ticked tabby.

Personality

With a low-key, warm personality as pleasant as a cup of cocoa on a cold night, chantilly/tiffanies are gaining fanciers. They are gentle, quiet cats that nevertheless enjoy a good game of fetch, or any game in which you participate. They have temperate personalities – not too docile, too active, or too vocal – in fact, say fanciers, just right. They enjoy making conversation with their favorite humans but their voices are quiet. Their soft, sweet chirps sound a bit like pigeons cooing.

Chantilly/tiffanies usually bond with one or two family members and become devoted and loving but not overly demanding companions. They'll follow you from room to room but won't pester you for attention the way more active breeds will. Don't get the idea that they don't need companionship, though. Very people-oriented, chantilly/tiffanies need human interaction and don't do well if ignored or left alone for long periods. Although loyal to their favorite humans, they are usually reserved around strangers.

Grooming

The breed's semi-long fur lacks the dense, easily matted downy undercoat, so chantilly/tiffanies don't need as much grooming as some longhaired breeds. A good combing twice a week, with special attention paid to the longer fur on the ruff and hindquarters, is enough. The ears need regular cleaning with a cotton ball and warm water, however, since they're inclined to accumulate wax.

Association Acceptance

  • American Association of Cat Enthusiasts (AACE) in the New Breed and Color class under the name "chantilly"

  • American Cat Fancier's Association (ACFA) in the New Breed and Color class under the name "chantilly"

  • The International Cat Association (TICA) for registration under the name "tiffany"

  • Traditional Cat Association, Inc. (TCA) for championship under the name "chantilly/tiffany"

  • United Feline Organization (UFO) for championship under the name "chantilly/tiffany"

    Special Notes

    The chantilly/tiffany should not be confused with the tiffanie, a breed recognized by Britain's Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). A striking cat with a silky semi-long coat and a Burmese body and head type, the tiffanie and his shorthaired counterpart the Burmilla was created in 1981 in London by a mating between a lilac Burmese female and a silver chinchilla Persian male. The tiffanie is not related to North America's chantilly/tiffany.

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