The Havana cat breed arose in 1952 as a result of a mating between a Seal Point Siamese and a crossbred Seal Point Siamese x Black Persian female. The breeder, Mrs Munro-Smith, who was living in Reading, England, was looking for Colourpoint Persians from this pairing, but was entranced by the appearance of a Self Brown kitten in the litter. She started to develop a stud of these cats and sent a pair to the USA in 1956, which founded a bloodline there.
- BREED DEVELOPED: 1950s
- COUNTRY: UK
- TYPE: Shorthair
- BODY SHAPE: Long and lithe
- WEIGHS UP TO: 5.5kg /12lb
- PLUS POINTS: Rich attractive coloration and lively nature
- WATCH POINTS: Will mature early, with queens calling loudly when on heat
Naming the new breed proved to be somewhat difficult. A number of names, including both Reading Brown and Berkshire Brown were rejected, before the present name was selected. The original inspiration for this may have originated from the similarly coloured Havana rabbit breed.
As the forerunner of what has now become the large Oriental group, there was no precedent in place, nor could breeders foresee how significant the development of the Havana was to be, in terms of the contemporary Cat Fancy. Even so, traditions die hard, and having been exhibited as a Chestnut Brown Foreign Shorthair for a period, breeders then decided to revert back to the breed’s original name in the early 1970s.
The Havana has played a major role in the development of other Oriental breeds, beginning with the Lilac. Crossings with Tabby Point Siamese have also been significant, paving the way for the Oriental Tabby division.
The appearance of the Havana matches that of the Siamese apart from the coloration of its fur and eyes, due to repeated crossings.
Among the breed names rejected for the Havana in the early days was Oriental Chocolate Cat. If the breed arose today, it would probably be called Oriental Chocolate in line with the names given to other Self Oriental breeds.
- The Havana was not the first all-brown Siamese to be bred in the UK. Records show there was a similar individual exhibited in 1894 as a Swiss Mountain Cat, and another in 1930, which was simply described as a Brown Cat.
- A fine glossy coat emphasises the Havana’s lithe appearance. In the USA, where backcrossing to Siamese is not allowed, such cats are known as Havana Browns, to distinguish them from their UK counterparts.