As a huge cat fan, I like to read about interesting and rare cat breeds, even though all of my cats are moggies. The origin stories for most cat breeds are quite fascinating, and to be honest, I would certainly watch a movie that would revolve around any cat breed development.
However, there is another side to the story. While the creation of new cat breeds sure seems exciting, it becomes morally questionable when some of those new breeds are extremely prone to various health diseases. This often happens with breeds that have small gene pools, and such is the case with Havana Brown cats.
Of course, not every Havana Brown will be prone to getting sick, and they are certainly beautiful animals and good pets. Still, I wanted to write this article to show you both the good and the bad aspects of owning Havana Brown cats, so keep reading to learn more!
Havana Brown Cat Characteristics
|Fur color||Warm brown|
|Fur pattern||Solid, can be tabby when the cat is still young|
|Fur length||Short to medium|
|Eye color & shape||Oval-shaped, widely-spaced green eyes|
|Weight||Males 8-10 lbs|
Females 6-8 lbs
|Expected lifespan||15-20 years|
|Temperament||Gentle, affectionate, highly intelligent, quiet, adaptable, and friendly.|
|Kids and other pets||Friendly towards children and other pets, but needs to be socialized from an early age|
|Sociable and cuddly||Cat breed that likes to cuddle, especially with its owner.|
Requirements & Traits
|Feeding||Adult Havanas should eat 2 times a day, while kittens and juveniles need to eat 3-4 times a day. They should eat meat-based foods rich in protein.|
|Grooming||Low maintenance cat, requires occasional fur brushing, nail trimming, ear and eye cleaning, and good dental hygiene.|
History and Origins
Even though the modern Havana Brown cat breed was created in the 1950s, these solid brown cats date way back, at least several centuries ago. The first mention of solid brown cats was in The Cat-Book Poems, a manuscript written in the city of Ayutthaya, Siam, sometime between 1350 and 1767.
The manuscript contained verses and pictures depicting these solid brown cats, along with Siamese and Korat cats. Solid brown cats were considered royal at that time, and people believed that such cats brought protection against evil.
Arrival To Europe
These cats were also one of the first cats that were exported from Siam into England in the late 1800s. There, they became quite popular, and they even participated in the cat shows, winning several prizes. They were highly valued because of their “chocolate bodies.”
However, it remains unclear whether all of these brown cats imported into England were of the same genetic type or they were brown versions of several different cat breeds.
Fall From Grace
The popularity of solid brown cats didn’t last long, though. Solid brown cats with green eyes were considered Siamese. However, in 1930, the Siamese Cat Club announced its discouragement of breeding any Siamese cats that weren’t blue-eyed.
As a result, solid brown cats were no longer participating in cat shows, and cat breeders slowly lost interest in them. World War II arrived, and it was a hard time for remaining solid brown cats and basically every other cat breed. Even the most popular and numerous cat breeds faced near extinction in that period.
Post-War Era and Revival
Fortunately, the war ended, and people were slowly going back to their usual activities, including breeding and owning cats. In the early 1950s, a small group of English breeders decided to start breeding solid brown cats again and to restore their popularity.
The group studied chocolate gene inheritance and started the breeding program. They used Siamese, Russian Blue, and black domestic shorthair cats. In 1952, the first chocolate kitten from this breeding program was born, and its name was Elmtower Bronze Idol.
This kitten was the foundation for the new cat breed. In 1958, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy accepted these cats as a new cat breed named Chestnut Brown Foreign. This allowed them to compete at cat championships.
In 1959, the cat breed was registered and officially recognized by Cat Fanciers Association as Havana Brown. In 1974, the gene pool for Havana Brown was closed, which means outcrossing with other breeds, such as Siamese, was no longer permitted.
Another Threat To Breed’s Survival
However, many breeders feared this decision was rushed because the breed was still in the early stages of development and was still extremely rare. This fear proved to be well-grounded because, by the early 1990s, the number of Havana Brown cats was dwindling.
This, in turn, forced breeders to breed Havana Browns that are closely related. The number of these cats was so low that it was impossible to find two cats that weren’t related. Such a small gene pool threatened to endanger the breed, as the cats with so much inbreeding were susceptible to various health conditions and even infertility.
Introducing “Fresh Blood”
Finally, Havana Brown breeders contacted Dr. Leslie Lyons to help them develop an outcrossing program that will widen the gene pool of this breed. The Winn Feline Foundation (a non-profit organization funding studies on improving the health of various cat breeds) funded the project so that Dr. Leslie could further study the genetic makeup of Havana Browns.
As expected, the study showed that Havana Brown breed desperately needed outcrossing to stay healthy and genetically diverse. The breeders signed a petition for CFA to allow the outcrossing. In 1997, CFA allowed outcrossing Havana Brown cats, but only with cats of certain characteristics.
Havana Brown outcrossing was allowed with chocolate point and seal Siamese cats, solid ebony/chestnut Exotic Shorthairs, and with unregistered solid black and solid blue domestic shorthairs.
Today, Havana Brown cats are still considered rare, but their genetic diversity was significantly increased, which gives them a better chance of being healthy.
Havana Brown Cat Personality
When it comes to their personalities, Havana Brown cats are truly wonderful pets. They are highly intelligent and curious, and they often use their cute little paws to explore their surroundings. They are also highly communicative, although they aren’t vocal cats.
Another great thing about Havana Brown cats is that they are playful but rarely destructive and mischievous. Oftentimes, Havana Browns will be happy just to sit or lie down near their owners.
Another interesting personality trait of Havana brown cats is that they will often try to groom their owners. They will jump on their owner’s shoulder and try to groom their hair, which, you have to agree with me, is completely adorable!
When it comes to other cats, animals, and children, Havana Browns are usually friendly. However, they need to be socialized from an early age. Also, if you are trying to get your Havana Brown to play with children, the children need to be taught how to handle a cat properly.
Havana Brown Cat Appearance
Havana Brown cats are extremely beautiful, and not many cat breeds have such a unique appearance. It makes no wonder that the original solid brown cats were so popular in Siam, where they were considered royal animals!
Just like their name suggests Havana Brown cats have solid brown furs. What makes them even more beautiful is the warmth of their fur’s color. Their furs aren’t blackish-brown and dull; they are more reddish-brown, like chestnut or chocolate.
Even though adult Havana Brown cats have solid furs, many kittens show signs of a tabby pattern on their furs. As they grow up, the tabby pattern fades away, and the adult cats are fully brown, with no visible markings.
The fur is smooth, soft, and lustrous. The fur length can vary between short and medium.
Another important and striking physical attribute of Havana brown cats is their green eyes. If you read the previous sections of this article carefully, you probably remember that it was those green eyes that disqualified Havana Browns from being considered Siamese, which in turn almost made them go extinct.
However, nowadays, those green eyes are considered beautiful and a desirable feature, and the deeper shade of green, the more beautiful eyes are considered to be. Havana Brown’s eyes are widely spaced, oval-shaped, alert, and expressive.
Havana Browns are medium-sized cats, with males being larger than females. A male Havana Brown cat typically weighs 8-10 pounds and has a body length of 12-15 inches. On the other hand, female Havana Browns weigh 6-8 pounds, and their bodies are 10-12 inches long.
Other Body Characteristics
Havana Brown cats are muscular cats with strong and firm chests. Legs are long in proportion to the rest of the body. Female Havana Browns have slender and long legs, while males have more stocky and muscular legs.
In both sexes, the hind legs are slightly longer than the front legs. Paws are compact and oval. The tail is medium in length, tapering, slender, and not too broad at the base.
Havana Browns have long-ish and narrow heads, with rounded muzzles and pronounced breaks behind whisker pads. The chin is well-developed, and the neck is medium-length. The ears are large, rounded, and cupped at their base. They are widely spaced apart and slightly tilted forward, giving the cat even more of an alert appearance.
Daily Life With Havana Brown Cat
Havana Brown cats are low-maintenance animals, which is another reason why they are such great pets. Of course, just like with any other cat breed, there are certain basic requirements that you need to follow to make your cat happy and healthy.
Havana Browns love to eat, so don’t expect them to show self-control if you give them too much food. You need to strictly monitor your Havana Brown’s diet unless you want it to become obese. Adult cats need to eat 2 times a day. Kittens and juvenile Browns need to eat 3-4 times a day. When it comes to portion size, consult your vet.
And, when it comes to the choice of food, feed your Havana Brown with high-quality commercial cat food. Both wet and dry cat food are necessary for a proper diet, so make sure to feed your Havana Brown with both.
Occasional snacks are allowed, but make sure not to give them too often. Of course, Havana Brown cats are obligatory carnivores, so don’t feed them with fruits, vegetables, bread, or candy. Avoid feeding your Havana Brown with dairy products.
Many people think that the prettier the cat’s fur is, the more maintenance it requires. However, that is a misconception, and Havana Brown cats are proof of that. Even though they have beautiful and unique furs, Havana Brown cats typically don’t require much grooming and maintenance.
Weekly brushing will be more than enough to keep your Havana Brown’s fur shiny, healthy, and free of knots. Additionally, you can gently clean the ears and eyes with a wet cotton pad every two weeks or once a month.
Trim your Havana Brown’s nails once every two weeks. If possible, try to train your cat to put up with teeth brushing, and always use toothpaste that’s specifically made for pets. If teeth brushing is a mission impossible with your cat, offer it some teeth-cleaning snacks.
Havana Brown cats are active and playful felines but in moderation. They will enjoy playing with their toys or running around, but they will also be content with just chilling around their owners. This makes them great pets for first-time cat owners and people who simply can’t deal with a hyperactive pet.
Get your Havana Brown a few toys, a scratching tree, and a climbing tree. Since these cats are highly intelligent, buying them some interactive toys is a great way to keep them entertained and mentally stimulated.
Of course, just like with any other cat, you will have to take some time out of your day and dedicate your full attention to your Havana Brown. You can cuddle with them, scratch them, play with their toys, chase them around, or play hide and seek.
Havana Brown cats can also be leash or harness trained, so you can take them out for a walk. Don’t leave them outside unsupervised because they are indoor cats, and many dangers are lurking out there.
If you have to leave your home quite often, make sure that your Havana Brown has company most of the time. If possible, get one more cat or another cat-friendly pet. This way, your Havana Brown won’t feel alone when you are gone away.
Most Common Havana Brown Cat Health Issues
Given their turbulent history, Havana brown cats are relatively healthy. The outcrossing efforts in the late 1990s are responsible for keeping this Havana Brown breed healthy and viable enough, but this breed still has a narrow gene pool compared to other, more common cat breeds.
With that in mind, if you buy your Havana Brown cat from a reputable breeder that only breeds unrelated or distantly related cats, your cat will be generally healthy. Still, just like any other cat, it can suffer from some health conditions.
Havana Brown cats are prone to becoming obese because they like to eat, while on the other hand, they aren’t as active as other cat breeds. Obesity is defined as having an excess proportion of total body fat. Today, obesity has reached epidemic proportions among pets – particularly domestic cats.
It is the number one nutritional disease affecting our feline friends today. Obesity in cats can trigger so many other conditions and diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and joint issues. To prevent this from happening, make sure to feed your cat properly and offer it enough activity.
If, however, you still notice that your cat has gained a lot of weight, take it to the vet. The vet will be able to determine whether your cat is obese or just stocky. If your cat is really obese, the vet will come up with a proper course of action that will help your cat lose excess weight in the healthiest way possible.
The most common problems that Havana Brown cats face with their teeth are gum inflammation, tartar buildup, and tooth loss. These problems occur mainly due to poor dental hygiene. This is why it is so important to take good care of your cat’s teeth.
When your cat experiences dental issues, it will lose appetite, have problem chewing, and will become lethargic. Also, bad breath and red gums are certain signs that something is wrong with your cat’s teeth. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.
Havana Brown cats sometimes suffer from hemophilia. This condition occurs when platelets, which are blood cells that aid in clotting, do not function properly and can’t stop bleeding. This condition can be hereditary or acquired, depending on what causes it.
The causes of feline hemophilia can vary based on whether it’s an inherited problem or acquired through another cause. In cases where the condition is genetic, a defect known as the gene for Factor VIII may result in the improper functioning of this important protein in the body.
On the other hand, some cases of acquired hemophilia can be caused by exposure to toxins or certain medications such as arthritis drugs and anti-viral drugs. These toxic agents damage their blood cells, which eventually stop working correctly for clotting purposes.
Once outside factors have damaged these cells, they are no longer able to function properly. If you believe your cat has been exposed to anything that could cause these types of problems, consult with your vet immediately.
There are several symptoms that can be related to hemophilia: lethargy, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Other signs may include excessive bleeding from scratches, persistent nose bleeds, or even sudden bruising. If you notice any of these signs, don’t hesitate to take your cat to the vet.
Arterial Thromboembolism and Systemic Hypertension
Cats such as Havana Brown that live in an indoor environment tend to be more susceptible to the disease than cats who live outside. They have a less physically demanding lifestyle and therefore have a higher percentage of time spent sitting or lying down.
While thromboembolisms are generally not life-threatening, they can lead to death if they occur in the lungs or brain. The good news is that there are many ways you, as a cat owner, can help lower your cat’s risk of developing this condition.
Feed your Havana Brown a diet low in saturated fats, make sure that they don’t gain or lose weight too quickly, and provide them with regular exercise. If your cat does develop hypertension, it is important to monitor its blood pressure regularly and work closely with the vet in order to determine the best course of treatment.
Some common treatments for feline high blood pressure include medication, lifestyle changes, dietary modifications, acupuncture, and stress reduction techniques. It is also important to make sure that your cat stays hydrated by providing plenty of fresh water throughout the day.
Another common condition among many cat breeds, including the Havana Brown, is renal failure. This is a serious condition that has the potential to be life-threatening. It typically occurs when there is damage to the kidney tissue that causes the organ to fail.
This type of disease will result in a decrease in urine production, fluid retention, and an increase in thirst. These changes will lead to electrolyte imbalances within the body as well as other symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, and anorexia.
Treatment for this condition will depend on its severity and may include dietary changes, medications, or chemotherapy. In severe cases, dialysis or transplantation may be needed. If your cat develops signs of feline renal failure, it is important to consult with your vet right away.
The vet will perform diagnostic testing to determine the exact cause of the problem. This will allow them to develop an appropriate treatment plan for your cat and help ensure its recovery.
Havana Brown Cat Name Suggestions
If you plan to get a Havana Brown cat, you are probably wondering how to name it. After all, such a rare and unique cat deserves a cool name. Here are my top picks:
I don’t know why, but food-related names really go well with Havana Brown cats!
Buying or Adopting Havana Brown Cat
Havana Brown cats are rare, so it isn’t very probable that you will find it in a shelter, especially a purebred one. However, if you do find one, it will cost you $75-%150 to adopt it.
On the other hand, if you want to buy this cat directly from a breeder, it will cost you $500-$1500, and even more, depending on the cat’s features and pedigree.
Of course, if you decide to buy your Havana Brown from a breeder, make sure that the breeder is reputable. A reputable breeder will make sure that they breed cats that aren’t closely related. This will ensure that the kittens are healthy.
Havana Brown Cat Alternatives
Havana Brown is extremely rare in the US, and in general, solid brown cats are hard to find. However, since Havana Brown is a product of the careful breeding of several other breeds, you can get one of those breeds instead. Sure, they won’t look like a Havana Brown cat, but there will be some similarities.
With that in mind, consider getting a Siamese cat. For a long time, Havana Brown cats were considered to be a subtype of the Siamese breed. You can also try and find an ebony/chestnut Exotic Shorthair cat, as these cats also had an important role in creating the Havana Brown breed.
Finally, some other breeds that look kind of similar to Havana Browns are Birman, Balinese, and Russian Blue cats. Even though these breeds don’t possess solid brown furs, they can still be great alternatives to the Havana Brown!
Frequently Asked Questions
Havana Brown cats are medium-sized cats, and males are larger than females. Male Havana Browns weigh 8-10 pounds, while female Havana Browns weigh 6-8 pounds.
No, Havana Brown cats are actually quiet cats, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t communicative. Havana Brown cats have expressive faces, and they often use their paws to communicate with their owners.
They shed, but really rare and in small amounts. This is why their fur is low-maintenance, and weekly brushing is enough to keep it in good condition.
No, although they don’t shed a lot, Havana Brown cats aren’t hypoallergenic.
Modern Havana Brown cats originated from Siamese cats, but they are a separate breed.
Havana Brown Cat Fun Facts
- Do you know the origin of the name Havana Brown? This cat breed was named after Cuban cigars that are also brown, and when you look at these cats, they kind of look like cigars. Another explanation behind this unusual name is that these cats were named after Havana rabbits. These rabbits are also mahogany-brown, similar to Havana Brown cats.
- Apart from having brown furs, Havana Brown cats also have brown whiskers. They are actually the only cat breed with brown whiskers.
- According to one estimate, there are only 1,000 of these cats in the whole world. In comparison, there are approximately 20,000 Persian cats, although this is only the number of registered Persians. With the unregistered ones, the total number is much, much higher.
Havana Brown cats are beautiful, intelligent, affectionate, and well-behaved cats. They are perfect pets, and since they are quite rare, Havana Browns are a great choice if you want a rare pet.
However, since their gene pool is still relatively narrow, these cats are constantly on the verge of extinction or developing some serious health conditions. That’s why, before you buy one, need to make sure that you are buying a healthy cat that hasn’t been a product of excess inbreeding.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get a Havana Brown cat, you just need to be careful when selecting a breeder you will buy it from.
Featured Image Credit: Dave Scelfo, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons