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Norwich Bulletin - 6/25/2006

The Havana

Not a breed bathed in mainstream popularity, but highly esteemed by its fans, the Havana sports a smooth and lustrous coat of burnished mahogany brown that shines in the light. This medium sized cat is very regal and graceful and has a special type of look to it that makes us think of a poised, model.

The cat has a firm and muscled body that is neither oriental, nor cobby, but somewhere in the middle. Males weigh abut 8 to 9 pounds when full grown, with females 6 to 7 pounds and the Havana stands high on straight, slim legs. But the most distinctive feature of this breed, is its long head that narrows into a rounded muzzle with a pronounced break behind the whisker pads. It reminds one of the end of a light bulb!

And, the Havana is the only breed that must have a particular whisker color. The catís whiskers must be brown to complement the brown Havana, or lilac to complement the lilac Havana (which are the only allowed colors in this breed). Then you can add to that head, large ears and oval eyes, set wide apart and brilliantly green, and you have quite an unusual little feline.

This breed originally came to us from Siam and the solid brown Havanas were some of the first cats to come to England from another country. In the 1800ís they were described as Siamese with chestnut coats and green eyes. They were exhibited in Europe in the late century and early 1900ís, and in England a Havana took first prize at a cat show.

People lost interest in them for awhile and they did not have their big comeback until the 50ís. In 1958, the Havana Brown was accepted by Britainís major cat registry, under the name of Chestnut Foreign Shorthair. The name was changed in 1970 and it is a toss up that the cat was named for either the Havana rabbit or the Cuban cigar!

CFA still refers to the breed as Havana Browns because they do not accept the rarer lilac color, but The International Cat Association changed the name to Havana, to reflect the accepted lilac Havana.

Havanas are intelligent and quiet cats, with soft, gentle voices, pleasing to the ear. They crave attention from their human friends and want to be part of everything you do. This is an extremely social cat that blossoms and grows when included in your familyís everyday life, but if you work all day and are out at night, they can become lonely and even depressed.

Although the Havana is very adaptable to changes in living arrangements or other situations, they really are dependent on their special human for companionship. They love interactional play and they love their toys, too Ė but even when playing with their toys, they would rather be around you, than alone. So, if you are looking for true independence in a cat, you should probably not consider a Havana.

They are great companions for other cats, kids, dogs and you. They have a very nicely balanced personality Ė active, but not off the wall; docile, but not a couch potato.

We have a friend who is wheelchair bound who has a Havana and this cat is his constant, loyal companion. Her favorite position is in her bed, on her back, being held on her personís lap. She purrs at the first touch and is just an incredibly sweet cat. So many people think that a Havana is a plain, brown cat Ė there is nothing plain about this exquisite little cat! In fact, they are really unique and special. I have not seen very many Havanas in my years in the cat fancy, but the ones I have met, have always left me smiling.

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