The Striking Kitty Reminiscent of Your Favorite Chocolate Bar — With Personality to Match

havana brown cat

Story at-a-glance -

  • A beautiful “hybrid” described as extremely rare, the Havana brown is a cross between chocolate- and seal-point Siamese cats with black domestic shorthairs and Russian blues, making a beautiful tobacco-hued cat with emerald eyes
  • When a Havana brown cat has a coat color that’s more of a lilac or pinky-gray shade, they’re referred to simply as a “Havana,” but whichever color they are, they have whiskers to match
  • The Havana brown’s greatest pleasure in life probably involves being in close proximity to their favorite humans; interaction is a big deal and they’re intelligent enough to appreciate interactive games and puzzle toys
  • Relatively healthy and very low on the scale of the physical problems other cats might develop, probably the main one to be aware of in a Havana brown is calcium oxalate stones in their urinary tracts
  • There are many beautiful cats available through breed-specific rescues and local humane societies waiting for their forever home

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

It’s not often you hear of a cat breed with a name that evokes the mystery and elegance of a Cuban private investigator. These gorgeous felines have plenty of both, however, as they’re highly sociable, soft-spoken and smart. It should come as no surprise that their sleek, tobacco-brown coats are reminiscent of a glossy Cuban cigar.

How the Havana Brown got its name is an interesting narrative that begins with all the cat breeds created by crossing the Siamese with other breeds to produce specific physical characteristics, such as colorations, patterns or the length of their fur.

The practice essentially is the creation of what is referred to as a man-made breed, which is what the Havana brown is. Why are they so rare that only about 1,000 of them exist throughout the world? As VetStreet explains, the “solid” or “self-brown” cats living in late-19th century England and Europe were called Swiss Mountain Cats.

“The breeding of these cats was discouraged in the 1920s, but a group of British breeders in the 1950s crossed chocolate- and seal-point Siamese with black domestic shorthairs and Russian Blues to create striking chocolate brown cats with emerald eyes. They became known as Havana Browns, probably for their tobacco-like coloring rather than any association with Cuba.”1

There’s a cat called “Havana brown” in Britain, but it’s simply a brown Oriental shorthair. In the U.S., the breed known as Havana brown is completely different, having a different type of body and head shape. It must be said: All the references involving Cuba, Siam, Russia, the Swiss, the U.K. and the U.S. make the Havana brown breed even more of an enigma.

After imported to North America in the mid-1950s, the Cat Fanciers’ Association accepted Havana brown into its ranks in 1959. The breed was then acknowledged again when one achieved championship status in 1964.

To strengthen and widen the gene pool, VetStreet notes the cats can be “outcrossed” to unregistered versions of black or blue domestic shorthairs, chocolate-point or seal-point Siamese, or in some cases having to do with fur color, Oriental shorthairs. Interestingly, The International Cat Association is at least one organization with a registry that also recognizes these cats when they come in shades of lilac and pinky-gray, referring to them simply as a “Havana.” Whichever color they are, they have whiskers to match.

Beauty, Brains and Other Traits and Tendencies

Weighing in at a relatively petite 6 to 10 pounds when they’re fully developed, Havana brown cats have large ears that are rounded on the top, and they tilt forward, making them look as if they’re alert to whatever they might happen to hear. The Havana brown’s coat is considered medium-length, which is probably why very little care is required; in fact, they’re referred to as “self-grooming.” An occasional bath and/or brushing are all that’s needed.

Health-wise, while all cats can potentially have genetic problems, these cats are generally very healthy, but if there’s something they might be prone to, calcium oxalate stones in their urinary tracts is one. Pet MD contends that diet may be at fault more than any other factor, however. At one time the biggest threat was struvite stones, or magnesium ammonium phosphate, but then the oxalate type became more prevalent:

“Unfortunately, this change isn’t simply due to a decrease in the number of struvite stones. The very diets we use to dissolve struvite have put cats at increased risk for calcium oxalate stones.

Prescription diets designed to dissolve and/or prevent the formation of struvite stones, and over the counter foods advertised to ‘promote urinary health,’ are formulated to make cats produce more acidic urine than they would otherwise. If urinary acidification is taken too far, however, calcium oxalate stones can be the result.”2

Signs of a possible problem may involve:

  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Straining to produce urine
  • Frequent urination but only a small amount each time
  • Blood in their urine
  • Licking around the urinary opening

If in doubt, be aware of your kitty’s behavior and habits, which may warrant prompt action on your part. If you suspect from your cat’s behavior that something might be or become a problem, further investigation may be warranted, and possibly a trip to your veterinarian. The best way to prevent all types of urinary crystals and stones is to feed a biologically correct, moisture-dense, fresh food diet. Or at a minimum, a human-grade canned food diet (so that eliminates all foods from the vet and big box stores).

Species-appropriate feeding is the best way to minimize urinary and GI issues that plague cats eating poor-quality diets creating those problems. Cats evolved to eat a protein-rich, starch-free, moisture-dense diet that has not been extruded (kibble). All types of urinary crystals and stones are exacerbated by inappropriate amounts of minerals added to dry cat foods that don’t contain enough moisture.

Learn more about the ways to help your cat live a healthier life and look over a few balanced, homemade cat recipes here. Remember, you’ll have to trick your cat into eating healthier food by adding a teaspoon of new food into her current diet and slowly increasing healthy food over time.

Adaptable and Affectionate: ‘The Best To Be Had’ and at Your Local Rescue

If you look at photos of the Havana brown breed, you’ll find some vast dissimilarities in their facial structures, giving them an aristocratic look. From the front, some seem to be almost triangular, accentuated greatly by ears that extend like trajectories straight past their pointed shins and narrow cheekbones. In profile, their muzzles are rounded, creating a lovable, “sweet” appearance.

Owners describe these cats as “quite gifted,” who will be such a close companion that you’ll never get cold at night as they serve as warming “blankets,” and their favorite humans as their own personal pillows. Of course, there are many beautiful cats with cuddly personalities waiting at your local animal shelter. If you have your heart set on this stunning breed visit Havana Brown Rescue Me! to find your next rescued Havana Brown soulmate.

What Your Havana Brown Wants More Than Anything

If one thing could be said about the Havana brown’s greatest pleasure in life, it’s being in close proximity to their favorite humans. In fact, they want to be doing what their humans are doing, whether it’s domestic chores like making beds and sweeping, settling down at (or on) the computer, or relaxing with a good book. They just want to be near, or again — on —the people on whom they’ve focused their affection.

Interaction is a big deal to these cats, and they’re intelligent enough to appreciate time spent playing with interactive games and puzzle toys. You might find that, compared to other cats, they may delight in occasional bouts of running, jumping and sprinting around the house.

Other times they play quietly, nap in sunny spots and simply observe what’s going on. Some find their Havana brown cat to have “sticky paws,” as treasures they take a liking to — a stray earring or pen, for example — may come up missing and be found later stashed in odd places.

People who live with at least one Havana brown will often tell you how often their kitties use their paws to handle items and to investigate things, almost like we use our hands. They may reach out and touch you to get your attention. Cats Center Stage notes:

“They habitually greet other feline companions with a friendly head butt. A favorite amusement is hiding around corners or behind furniture waiting for an opportunity to slap a passerby on the derriere before dashing off. Havana Browns like nothing better than sleeping in tangled piles. Sleeping partners may be other felines or their favorite human companions.”3

If you have a solitary Havana brown and you leave him or her to go to work or other places for lengths of time and often, it’s recommended that you adopt a second kitty to be a companion. As much as we think of cats as solitary creatures, they need companionship, playful interaction, environmental enrichment and social interaction, just like other species.

Post your comment