The American-bred Chantilly/Tiffany is a medium-sized cat with semi-foreign conformation - neither cobby, nor skinny, but medium in all respects. Females are 6-8 pounds, while males are 8-10 pounds. It combines a rich, lustrous colour with a full, silky, semi-long coat, a plumed tail, a neck ruff and ear streamers. Only the eumelanin-based colours are allowed; chocolate is the best known, but blue, cinnamon, lilac, and fawn also occur. These colours may be solid, spotted or mackerel tabby patterned. Regardless of colour/pattern, white spotting is not permitted.
Facially, it has a medium-sized head with a gently sloped nose, a short, broad muzzle that is softly squared with gentle contours and a break (change of angle on the nose). It has broad, high cheekbones. It should have expressive golden or amber eyes, which are a modified oval shape. The medium-sized ears are broad at the base with rounded tips tilting forward and outward. It is not extreme in any feature.
UNRAVELLING THE TIFFANY, TIFFANIE AND TIFFANY/CHANTILLY
Let’s get one thing straight – the Tiffany/Chantilly is not a Longhaired Burmese. It isn’t related to the Burmese and it has never been bred to the Burmese. The misconception arose because the early cats were solid chocolate and one of the breeders also bred Burmese cats so the cat-loving public assumed these longhaired cats were longhaired versions of her Burmese. And for a while they were even advertised under that name because they were so rare that no-one knew what a Tiffany (now called a Chantilly/Tiffany) was. They are so rare that existing Tiffany/Chantilly lines are still outcrossed to Nebelungs, Havana Browns and Somalis . . . but definitely not to Balinese, Oriental Longhairs or Asian Longhairs.
The American Tiffany (Tiffany/Chantilly) is also not related to the British Tiffanie or Australian Tiffanie. It was developed (twice!) in North America between 1967 and 1987 from non-pedigree cats and while it resembles a semi-longhaired Burmese in both type and name, it is not related to that breed. Burmese kittens are born with lighter coats and dark paw pads, but Tiffany/Chantilly kittens are born dark with pink paw pads. All Tiffany/Chantilly cats in the USA must not have any Burmese blood.
In Britain, the Asian Longhair (Tiffanie, Longhair Burmese) was recognised in 1986 and was a side-effect of the Burmilla (Burmese x Chinchilla Persian) breeding programme which brought together the longhair gene and Burmese colours. It was initially called the Tiffany, but became the Tiffanie to avoid a name clash with the American breed and is now known as the Asian Longhair. In Australia, the Australian Tiffanie came from the Australian Burmilla breeding programme and is a cobbier cat with a greater amount of Chinchilla Persian blood than the European Tiffanie/Asian Longhair.
Wave 1: The New York Cats
In 1967, Jennie Robinson of New York bought two golden-eyed semi-foreign longhaired chocolate cats from an estate sale (it’s amazing these days to think of cats disposed of in this way). "Thomas" was around a year old, while "Shirley" was around 6 months old. While they probably came from the same parents, they were not litter-mates and they weren’t neutered. Their ancestry wasn’t known, but based on their looks early breeders thought they might be longhaired Burmese. In May 1969, the pair produced 6 semi-longhaired chocolate-coloured kittens. The kittens were solid coloured without darker points and they had pinkish paw pads. Burmese kittens would have had discernibly darker points and coloured paw pads.
Robinson began a breeding program for these cats, and in the early 1970s the American Cat Association registered Thomas, Shirley, and their offspring as "Foreign-Longhairs." She sold some of the offspring to Florida-based Burmese breeder Sigyn Lund to continue the breeding programme. Since the cats’ origins hadn’t been publicised, people assumed they came from Lund’s Burmese cats and Lund named the breed-name "Tiffany" to reflect their elegance and class. Judges felt that “Foreign-Longhair" was too general (and too suggestive of Siamese conformation) and suggested the name "Mahogany." Because the breed was so rare, the ACA had already dropped it from recognition. None were ever registered as Tiffany and the previous “Foreign Longhair” registrations were automatically unregistered. Effectively lacking a breed name, the cats were advertised as “Longhaired Burmese.”
Lund provided verbal information to a researcher for "Harper's Illustrated Handbook of Cats" and the resulting article suggested the cats were Burmese longhairs derived from crosses between Burmese and Himalayans in Britain. In fact there no such crosses had been bred in Britain! The crosses that had been done were attempts to recreate the old-style Angora cat using Foreign Longhairs, Havana and Abyssinian cats. It has been suggested that the American Tiffany/Chantilly derived from that breeding programme, but to my mind, the dates don’t match up.
Perhaps Thomas and Shirley actually came from the earlier British Havana breeding programme. The Havana was developed as the Chestnut Brown Foreign in Britain in 1953, recognised in 1958 and named “Havana” in 1970. The first Havanas were bred by accident in Reading, Berkshire. From there it was developed from Chocolate-pointed Siamese, Russian Blues and black ‘alley’ cats (that may have carried longhair). In 1956 the first pair of Havana cats were exported to the USA to establish the breed there (the American Havana was then bred for a different look).
The aforementioned British Angora began in the late 1960's and early 1970's, Kernow Gerza and Kernow Koptos, brother and sister offspring of Tranby Red Tutankhame (Sorrel Abyssinian male) and Annelida Fair Maid (Seal Point Siamese female). Kernow Gerza was a brown agouti (chocolate ticked) male, and Kernow Koptos was a black agouti female. They were intermediate in type between Siamese and Abyssinian. They also carried the longhair gene which they passed on to several of their offspring, resulting in a "longhaired Havana" Southview Trappist” (sometimes mis-spelled “Trapper” and known as "Cuckoo" because he didn’t resemble his parents) in 1973. This eventually led to the British Angora cat. It seems unlikely that Thomas and Shirley (born 1965/6/7) came from those cats. (For those interested, Kernow Gerza, Kernow Koptos and Trappist appear on this chart Gerza, Koptos & Trappist originally drawn to trace recessive white in Siamese.)
Another thought is that they were early chocolate Persians because the timeline and type was correct.
Wave 2: The Canadian Cats
Meanwhile in Canada, a farm owner also had a Tiffany-type cat. In 1973, a pregnant long-haired semi-foreign chocolate, gold-eyed cat of unknown ancestry appeared at his home and produced kittens that were perfect replicas of their mother. These cats were acquired by Canadian breeders interested in helping Robinson and Lund re-establish/reinvigorate the lost American Tiffany. The Tiffany re-emerged in the late 1980s in a wider range of colours.
In 1992, Canadian breeders had to rename their cats because of an earlier British breed called the Tiffanie (Burmilla Longhair). The name “Foreign Longhair” now belonged to semi-longhaired Oriental cats so the revived breed became "Chantilly/Tiffany," retaining its original name (which pre-dated the Burmilla Longhair) as part of its name. These days, it is known in its home country as “Tiffany” or “Chantilly” or “Tiffany/Chantilly” and the British cats are more often known as “Asian Longhairs.” “Chantilly” retains the connotation of elegance and refinement.
Wave 3: The Amorino Cats
The last known Chantilly breeder in the USA was Amorino Cattery (founded 2001) in Illinois, but a devastating fire destroyed the archives and cattery. Hershey Nugget, a chocolate tabby Chantilly was the sire of all of their first generation kittens. Following Nugget was Lilas Nuage (French for lilac cloud), a beautiful lavender female and then a solid blue female Chantilly, Cadeautje ( Dutch for “little blue present”) known as “Katie”.
Nuage did not conceive easily and died during birthing her last litter; both kittens also died. Katie was born with a heart murmur and died of a heart attack after producing several litters. In 2012, the cattery was destroyed by fire and although Nugget was one of the cats rescued, he had such severe lung damage that he had to be put to sleep. In 2014, Nugget' and Nuage’s son Amorino El Tigre Del Cioccolato (“Chocolate Tiger”) aka “Boo” died due to insulin dependent diabetes.
Amorino Cattery describe the Chantilly as a mix of 4 foundation breeds: Havana Brown (for the deep chocolate colour), Somali (for the plumed tail, ruff and britches), Abyssinian (the parent of the Somali breed) and Nebelung (for the length and texture of the coat and the set and shape of the ears). In 2014, the Chantilly was so rare that there was an appeal for help to breeders of these 4 foundation breeds.
The other Chantilly catteries are Cacao Criadero Cattery (Norma Hubenbecker, Skien, Norway – the cattery name means “chocolate nursery”) and LePors Cattery (Anne-Marie Brown, Nova Scotia), but these also had few cats and without suitable outcrosses, their Chantilly breeding programmes faced closure.
FAKE CHANITLLY CATS
The Chantilly is a semi-foreign, semi-longhair with golden eyes, bred in solid, mac tabby and spotted chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lilac and fawn – no darker points, no mask, no white and no red-based colours. It has a pedigree and can be registered in a number of cat associations (note that it isn’t universally recognised). The only permitted Chantilly outcrosses are Nebelung, Havana Brown and Somali. This has not stopped unscrupulous breeders from using the name for completely unrelated, unregistered cats.
A Canadian breeder operating under the name “King of Siam,” and from three locations (Calgary (Alberta), Toronto (Ontario) and one in British Columbia) misused the Chantilly name to sell blue-eyed masked cats bred from Balinese cats. Chantillies are never masked and never blue eyed. In 2013 Annie Davenport-Parini (Amorino Cattery) investigated American and Canadian registries to stop the fake Chantilly programme/use of the Chantilly name and issued a buyer beware alert on social media. The breeder (possibly a bulk-breeder) didn’t belong to any association. King of Siam’s cats don’t/didn’t meet the Chantilly standard, are not registrable under the Chantilly name, and won’t form part of any recognised Chantilly breeding programme.