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Important! 

If you are shopping for a kitten, make sure you read "Acquiring a Havana Brown Kitten"
as it has important tips you should know before you commit to acquiring any kitten.


Sections:

     •  History

     • 
Personality

     • 
Acquiring a Havana Brown Kitten



Preface

Another breeder best described the personality of a Havana Brown as that of an Abyssinian that's gone to finishing school. They are not a hyperactive breed that does "back flips" or jumps around like a "jumping bean".  If someone describes the aforementioned as normal behavior for a Havana Brown; they are misrepresenting the breed.  This breed is moderately active and is described as such in an excerpt from the CFA Havana Brown Breed Profile below.

"The Havana Brown has a charming, playful manner and a soft, intimate voice. They often extend a paw as a means of contact or attempt to gain the attention of passersby as well as using their paws to investigate curiosities by touching and feeling. A people-oriented breed, they quietly demand human companionship and adapt to most situations. This is the perfect cat for the person who wants a sociable, affectionate and intelligent feline friend. A cat who is as sweet in appearance and color as…chocolate."

There are forty-one different cat breeds represented in The Cat Fanciers' Association.  Most people can only name a few and the Havana Brown is virtually unheard of.  When I am exhibiting at cat shows it's not unusual for a spectator to notice my "Havana Brown" sign and assume it's my cats name. They often remark, "Oh, Havana Brown...but what breed is it?"   Of course I tell them it is the breed. Another question I'm often asked is, "Are they from Cuba?"   The Havana Brown is totally an American breed but the breed was born in England.

I hope you are here because you're interested in learning more about this beautiful breed or perhaps you are interested in adopting a Havana Brown kitten.  Whatever your reason, I have provided information which briefly covers the "history" as well as the "personality" of the Havana Brown.  I have paid particular attention to the last section "Acquiring a Havana Brown Kitten" and have provided information which thoroughly explains the difference between a reputable breeder and a backyard breeder as well as what you should know before you begin the search for your Havana Brown kitten.  After you finish reading the information provided, you will understand what it means to be a reputable breeder, why they exhibit and title their cats, and why you should acquire your kitten from them.  You will also learn which questions to ask (and why) so you can avoid backyard breeders and acquire a healthy and well socialized kitten from a reputable breeder.



History

Although brown cats were known and occasionally exhibited in cat shows in the United Kingdom as far back as 1894, they lost favor with English breeders during the 1920's and breeding ended shortly thereafter. Then in the early 1950's, five Siamese breeders in England began working with cat color genetics and as part of their experiments, undertook the development of a brown cat with an elegant foreign type Siamese body.  Early in their success the name "Havana" was first used.   When they applied for official recognition in 1958, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) voted to register their newly created breed as Chestnut Brown Foreign No. 29 rather than Havana.  Although disappointed, the breeders continued (for 13 years) petitioning for a name change. Their efforts were finally rewarded when in 1971 approval was finally granted by the GCCF to officially change the name to "Havana".

In 1956, two years prior to the breed being officially recognized in England, the first pair of Havanas were exported to the United States.  They went to Mrs. Peters of Norwood Cattery and Mrs. Elsie Quinn of Quinn Cattery (both in California) and they were registered as Havana Brown in The Cat Fanciers Association. Over the next few years, only a small number of Havanas were exported from England and during that time Havana Browns were exhibited in non-championship status here in the United States.   A few American breeders took notice and fell in love with this beautiful new breed and slowly more Havana Browns began to appear.  Championship status was finally approved by CFA on July 1, 1964; eight years after the first Havana touched American soil.  Every Havana Brown breeder today can trace the ancestry (via pedigrees) of each and every cat they own, back to the original Havana Browns that arrived from England in 1956.

When the five founding breeders began their selective breeding experiments back in the early 1950's, the majority wanted to create a solid brown cat that basically looked like a Siamese.  The earliest Havanas produced from their recorded breedings looked quite different than what they were aiming for, so selective breeding continued.  By the time the breed was recognized in 1958, Havanas in England had begun to evolve from the earlier versions of Havanas that were exported to America.  When you look at the two kitten photos below, you can see that American breeders kept the same look of the earliest kittens produced in England.

                      Two early kittens produced in England (1954)                                     Two Havana Brown kittens in America (2005)        

                                                      

When you compare the additional photos below you can clearly see how the Havanas in England have evolved and how much they've changed from their original look, whereas the Havana Browns in America remain virtually unchanged from the earliest Havanas produced in England.
 


                              
                                                       
                     Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (United Kingdom)                                                Cat Fanciers Association (United States)
                                     Havana - Breed No 29                                                                                         Havana Brown


                                                                                   
                           Profile of Havana - Breed No 29 (United Kingdom)                                             Profile of Havana Brown (United States)         

The difference between these two breeds is obvious when compared side by side and in profile.  The head of the English Havana has a long straight line from the top of the head to the tip of the nose whereas the head of our American Havana Brown has a distinctive "stop" at the level of the eyes.  Their Havana has ears that are strikingly large, pointed, and set wide at the base as opposed to the ears of our Havana Brown which are large, round-tipped, cupped at the base, and tilted forward. Their Havana also has a long neck and a tubular body like a Siamese or Oriental Shorthair whereas our Havana Brown has a medium neck and a medium muscular body type. Again, the distinction between these two breeds is clearly seen when looking at the pictures shown above.

There are two ideas as to how our breed got it's name.  Some articles support the idea that it was taken from a brown rabbit in England known as a Havana.  Others support the idea it was named for the color of a fine Cuban (Havana) cigar.  Most breeders, myself included, prefer the latter theory.

You don't often see a Havana Brown at cat shows because the breed is quite rare.  There are only about 1000 Havana Browns (including pets) presently in North America and a handful of reputable breeders.  If you plan to attend a cat show hoping to see one, you may be disappointed because there are so few.  There are usually less than 25 Havana Browns being exhibited Nationally in any given year so you may want to check with breeders to see if they will be exhibiting in your area.  I saw my first Havana Brown while attending a cat show as a spectator.  There was "one" being exhibited and when I saw this beautiful, graceful and simply exquisite cat, I knew I was hooked and had to own one.  What I didn't know at the time, was that this wonderful breed would instead own me!



Personality

Their personalities are the best to be had.  Mine often help me while I'm at my computer (they are quite gifted) and you won't have to worry about getting cold while lying on the couch, as they are excellent substitutes for a blanket.  They consider 'me' their favorite pillow.  They are moderately active which is a definite plus and means you won't have to child-proof your home or put away all your breakables.  Their voice is softer than a Siamese yet has a deeper resonance than most breeds which is very pleasing to the ear and they usually aren't talkative unless it's dinner time.  This gentle breed has a charming personality and they quietly demand attention and affection from their people.  One of my Havanas even likes to play fetch and their inquisitive nature makes them so pleasurable to watch.  Their favorite place is in your lap or close by as this breed does not like to be left alone.  The best way to describe their personality would be as "dog like" because they are very interactive with people and truly depend on their companionship.  If you are a busy professional who spends lots of time away from home for days at a time, perhaps you should consider a different breed.  I cannot overemphasize how dependant they are on their people for companionship and they will not thrive if left alone for extended periods of time.  I am totally enamored with this breed and although they may not look as "flashy" as some breeds, they have a simple elegance that cannot be denied. Sort of like a woman's simple, but stunning, black dress.  This is a perfect breed for someone who is looking for an interactive, intelligent, and extraordinarily beautiful cat to love and admire.

I always recommend you have a second kitty (which doesn't have to be a Havana Brown) in order for your kitty to be truly happy.  After all, it's always better for any cat to have a buddy and this helps to ensure they are never lonely and they get the proper exercise and play.   Any beloved pet deserves a companion to interact with while you are at work, on excursions, or on vacation.  An empty house can be a lonely place for any cat.

(Internet article about one cat vs. two)
(
Top Reasons why Two are better than One)
(
Forum opinions about one cat vs. two)


 

Acquiring a Havana Brown Kitten

Acquiring a Havana Brown is not always easy.  When I was looking for my first, I found it very difficult to find breeders and waiting lists were not uncommon because there were so few kittens available due to the limited number of reputable breeders.  Fortunately, the internet makes it easier to locate breeders... but buyers beware! Not everyone found on the internet will be reputable.  Finding a reputable breeder can be a challenge and most people are left to navigate their way without any guidance or helpful tips.  Several people I have spoken with over the years have asked, "How does one know the difference between a reputable breeder and one that is not?"  I also received a recent kitten inquiry where the person wrote, "My impression from your website is that your breeding program is targeted towards developing show quality cats, however I am writing to inquire about the possibility of adopting a kitten that will probably never see a show ring."   These types of questions and inquiries motivated me to provide the following information.

The goal of a reputable breeder is to create show quality kittens but that does not mean every kitten is a show cat. In other words; every reputable breeder should be trying to achieve show quality kittens in every litter they produce because this is the essence of what defines a reputable breeder.  They may keep the best kitten as a show candidate or place one with another reputable breeder but the majority are placed in pet homes and will never see a show ring.


It's regrettable the term "breeder" should need to be defined but in order to protect people who are looking for a well socialized kitten that has the personality traits and temperament that define the breed, I felt it had to be done.  We all know that having a litter of kittens could be accomplished by anyone... but does that mean they are a breeder?  Of course not, but there are those out there posing as breeders for every single breed available.  The worst and most despicable offenders are the people selling
*moggies they are passing off as pedigreed kittens of various breeds.  These kittens cannot be registered by any legitimate registry because their ancestry and pedigree are unknown.  In the case of Havana Browns, someone could be selling any "brown" colored kitten of unknown ancestry and take advantage of unsuspecting people by passing them off as Havana Browns.  Kittens that are brown in color pop up from time to time but the color "brown" does NOT mean the kitten is a Havana Brown.  Brown colored kittens that are being passed off as Havana Browns will not have the true look or personality of a purebred because they are not Havana Browns.  The people selling them don't know the first thing about the breed and their ONLY interest is in making money.  These backyard breeders often sell their kittens by the use of online classified advertising (no reputable breeder would ever use this type of advertising) and if you buy a kitten from them, you'll probably pay more than the cost of a purebred kitten and end up with something virtually no different than any mixed-breed kitten you could adopt at a shelter.   These charlatans will be here today and gone tomorrow, so please check with reputable breeders before you take them at their word.

             * Moggy or moggie (plural: moggies)  In England, is an affectionate term for a domestic cat, but is also used as an alternate
                name for a mongrel or mixed-breed cat whose ancestry and pedigree are unknown.  Because of this mixed ancestry and
                free-breeding, a moggy can be genetically unsound and sickly.


I recently came across something on the internet that was most disturbing.  Some unscrupulous entrepreneur found a way to make easy money by using the internet to start an online business they are calling a feline registry.  They named it "Rare and Exotic Feline Registry" and anyone with a credit card (via this website) can register any mixed breed of cat and call them anything they wish (even an established breed) without certified pedigrees from any nationally recognized registry.  It's inconceivable but apparently anyone who pays the fee could obtain a registration certificate from this bogus registry for any moggy they create and then claim that kitten is a registered breed.  What is worse, is that the average person would not know that this registration certificate is meaningless and isn't worth the paper it's printed on!  The only way to contact this phony online registry (although they never responded to my email inquiry) is via a Yahoo email address.  They don't provide a contact phone number nor do they have a physical address listed.  The one thing it DOES do very well... is provide an easy way for "backyard breeders" to pay for bogus registrations via PayPal.  What is most alarming is that this "internet entrepreneur" has TOTAL ANONYMITY to carry on this deceitful business which assists backyard breeders to continue indiscriminant breeding and basically rip-off people looking for purebred pedigreed kittens.  If you come across someone whose kittens are registered by the aforementioned bogus registry or any other bogus online registry, I can assure you their kittens are not real Havana Browns.  There are only two registries (listed below) that reputable Havana Brown breeders use to register their kittens.  If you come across someone claiming to have Havana Brown kittens for sale that are registered in any registry except the two listed below, you should consider looking elsewhere.

The Cat Fancy is made up primarily by two large world registries for pedigreed cats.  (The UK uses the GCCF)

  -The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) founded in 1906 - Largest registry of pedigreed cats in the world.
 
-The International Cat Association (TICA) founded in 1979 - 2nd largest registry of pedigreed cats in the world.

The most important thing about nationally recognized registries is they ALL have the following in common whereas bogus registries do not.

   1.  They are a structured recognized organization in the Cat Fancy for registering pedigreed cats.
   2.  They govern and license clubs that produce cat shows AND they officiate and license their own judges.
   3.  They have a Board of Directors, elected board members, and a Constitution & By-Laws which governs them.
   4.  They regulate and have the power to revoke any privileges they provide if rules are not adhered to.
   5.  They have a Headquarters to house and maintain records and have employees to manage this data.
   6.  They raise money to fund feline education and health research through fund raising and donations.
   7.  They have strict registering criteria which must be met before any cats are registered.
   8.  They have established Breed Standards for every breed they recognize.



The other type of "backyard breeder" you need to be aware of are those who have managed to acquire two or more pedigreed Havana Browns but really know very little about the breed.  They may attend an occasional cat show but their only purpose for attending is to obtain the lowest possible title (Champion) and use that title to mislead pet buyers about their cats.  This type of backyard breeder is also only interested in trying to make money.  They often over-breed their females in an effort to mass produce kittens and have little concern about their quality of life.  Those females often spend their entire lives in the confines of a cage with the babies and their only interaction with people is when they are fed and their litter boxes are cleaned.  The kittens are not handled or socialized and therefore never develop a bond with people. Simply put; this type of backyard breeder is merely running a "kitten mill" and one should seriously question the health and temperament of the kittens they sell.

Now that you know about the two types of backyard breeders out there, I will focus on the type of titles you should look for in a Cattery who registers and exhibits in The Cat Fanciers Association and why those titles are important. Earning the appropriate titles on the majority of breeding cats in a Cattery is the first priority for any reputable breeder and is an absolute "must" before any breeding occurs.  All the books available about breeding pedigreed cats make this crystal clear.  If you come across someone who has virtually no titles higher than "Champion" on their cats, then their lines are not "proven" and they should not be breeding.  You may ask, "Why should I care about titles when I'm only interested in a pet?" Titles are important because it is the only way you'll know that health, temperament, and quality are bred into the lines of the kittens who may be sold as pets.  If you come in contact with a breeder that tells you they have many "Champions" in their CFA Cattery, this may sound impressive to the average person but the title of Champion in CFA means a great deal less than it sounds.  Backyard breeders are well aware the public isn't knowledgeable about titles and they use this to their advantage.  CFA cat shows have anywhere from six to eight rings for judging at each show.  The title of Champion only signifies the cat has been judged in six different rings (six different judges) and been awarded six "winners ribbons" (one by each of those judges) which makes it eligible for the title of Champion.  Put another way; being judged by those six judges is just a way to "screen" a cat to determine if it has any physical abnormalities that would disqualify it from competition based upon the breed standard.  Each "winners ribbon" basically means "no faults found" and a cat needs six of them to apply for the title of Champion.  This is why the title of Champion in CFA actually means much less than it sounds and is often obtained by attending only one cat show.   The real competition begins after this "screening process" because now it must defeat 200 other Champions in open competition to earn the title of Grand Champion at CFA cat shows.  At a minimum, you should look for a Cattery where several of their breeding cats have attained the title of Grand Champion because this is what signifies excellence in CFA and indicates the cat has all the qualities that are desirable about the breed.   Most importantly, those same desirable qualities will be passed on to the kittens which will be placed in future pet homes. Now we hope you understand why the "appropriate" titles are so important.


••The International Cat Association (TICA) has different titles and criteria for earning their titles but you'd want to see several of their breeding cats with the title of "Supreme Grand Champion" at a minimum in a Cattery who exhibits and registers in TICA.
*Supreme Grand Champion in TICA is equivocal to Grand Champion in CFA.
 


If you are interested in adopting a Havana Brown kitten, without question it should be from a reputable breeder whose Cattery has earned the "CFA Cattery of Excellence" stamp of approval.  These breeders exhibit the majority of their cats, are currently exhibiting their cats, have attained the appropriate titles and have their Catteries annually inspected by a licensed veterinarian and meet the highest standards set by CFA for breeders.  This is very important for several reasons.

  • If a Cattery is producing Havana Browns that can attain the appropriate titles, you know their cats not only meet the breed standard but in most cases are excellent examples of the breed. 
    *Desirable titles in CFA: Grand Champion (GC), Breed Winner (BW), Regional Winner (RW), Nat'l Winner (NW) & Distinguished Merit (DM)
     

  • You know the temperament is acceptable because only cats with acceptable temperaments will allow a judge to handle them and not display *vicious behavior.
     *Any cat who displays vicious behavior should never be used in a breeding program because bad temperament  can be passed on to their offspring.
     

  • You should only deal with a breeder that has experience exhibiting the breed and attaining the appropriate titles because you'll know you are dealing with someone that's knowledgeable about the breed and understands the importance of socializing their kittens from birth, thus enabling them to develop into loving adults with the proper Havana Brown personality.
     

  • These Catteries are annually inspected by a licensed veterinarian and must meet the highest standards set by CFA for their animal husbandry techniques.


In your search for the ideal kitten, the very best advice I can offer you is to acquire your kitten from a breeder whose Cattery is a CFA Cattery of Excellence or from a breeder that is recommended by one.  In order for a Cattery to become a "CFA Cattery of Excellence", it must pass a rigorous annual inspection by a licensed DVM.  This inspection covers the cleanliness of the Cattery, if there is adequate space and ample light for each cat, if the animals receive adequate human interaction, the type of food used, the general condition of their cats as well as their health, and other general animal husbandry techniques used by the breeder. In addition, they monitor the number of cats to ensure it's not excessive for the given space in the Cattery.  It is the highest rating that CFA can award to a Cattery.
**In some cases, even when earning top titles, a Cattery may opt to avoid inspections.  In this situation, we would certainly wonder why any reputable Cattery would opt to avoid annual inspections... particularly when the cost is minimal?  Does that Cattery have less than desirable conditions... too many cats... are the majority caged?  Any of the aforementioned can have a huge detrimental impact on a cat's/kitten's health and/or personality and often times can actually change the typical personality of a Havana Brown into something atypical and undesirable.


(Several Catteries that we highly recommend)

If you are considering acquiring your kitten from someone other than the breeders I recommend, I suggest you visit the Cattery before committing to acquire a kitten.  Any reputable breeder would welcome a visit from a serious buyer and this would allow you the opportunity to observe the following:

   1- The health and condition of their cats/kittens
   2- The cleanliness of the Cattery
   3- Their cats' temperaments
   4- Whether or not they cage the majority of their cats
   5- The parents of the kitten
   6- If there were too many cats living in one group or too many cats period!
   7- If their cats show signs of hyperactivity (which can indicate they are primarily caged or not given adequate human attention)


I know many reputable breeders of various breeds and they ALL encourage Cattery visits from serious buyers.  After all; what's to hide?  If a breeder offers every kind of excuse under the sun to avoid a visit from you and insists you meet elsewhere for the "kitten delivery", it should raise a "red flag" and you should cross them off your list!

When I bought my first Havana Brown kitten, even though at the time I was not yet exhibiting or breeding, I traveled the distance so I could meet the breeder, see the environment in which their kittens were raised, and was able to see for myself the temperaments of the adult cats in their home.  After all, when buying a purebred pedigreed kitten (as with any pet you acquire) it's a huge commitment for you and your family.  Wouldn't you want to see for yourself if that particular Cattery was "up to snuff" and their cats were social and affectionate (not hyperactive) before you made the financial and emotional investment?

I would also advise you to steer clear of any breeder that works with several unrelated breeds unless they are a CFA Cattery of Excellence or you can get good recommendations from other reputable breeders
.

Another thing to be wary of is if you find a breeder that seems to care more about "making the quick sale" as opposed to "doing adequate screening of potential adoptive parents" for their kittens.  If a breeder asks very little about you, gives the impression they will sell to anyone, and routinely places their kittens under 16 weeks of age... then we would be very skeptical about this breeder and whether they'd stand behind that kitten if something went wrong down the road.

You should also request a copy of the breeder's "Kitten Contract" so you have the opportunity to read it thoroughly and I cannot overstate the importance of making sure they do not place their kittens prior to 16 weeks of age except in extenuating circumstances.  It is true that kittens are old enough at 12 weeks to have had the proper inoculations... but reputable Havana Brown breeders need the additional time to evaluate their kittens as potential "show candidates" and it also allows for additional socialization.

When a kitten is ready for their new home, they should go with the following:


    *
The series of FVRCP vaccinations (Rhinotracheitis-Calicivirus-Panleukopenia) aka: Distemper vaccinations.

    *
Rabies vaccination with the Rabies Certificate and Tag (required by the USDA for shipping in most states)

    *
Documentation of a Feline Leukemia (FeLV) negative test on the litter.

    *
Kitten Registration Form from CFA or TICA which will verify the litter was registered and it's a purebred kitten.

    *
Health Certificate** from a DVM.     **Only applicable if the kitten is being shipped.



In conclusion, please bear in mind that your new addition will be with your family for many years.  All kittens typically exhibit playful behavior... however once they are adults, they may not grow into the "lap kitty" you desired if (as kittens) they were not properly socialized and taught to bond with people at a very young age.  Everyone expects their new kitten will grow into a loving adult with the appropriate "Havana Brown" personality and if you acquire your kitten from a reputable breeder, your expectations will be realized and your kitten will be a healthy, affectionate, and beautiful Havana Brown.
 

A reputable breeder's passion is their love and commitment to the breed... 


I hope this information helps you avoid a "less than ideal" kitten adoption.  Please feel free to email me should you have any additional questions or need help finding a reputable breeder... as I only recommend breeders that I would acquire a kitten from or have acquired a kitten from.


My email address is listed under "Contact".



Mokolea Cattery is a CFA Cattery of Excellence



Mokolea Cattery is a member of the CFA Havana Brown Breed Council.
 

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