The true origin of the Chantilly/Tiffany has been a subject of mystery and controversy, after years of extensive research, the information we have discovered concernin their ancestry is that they came to the America’s from the Netherlands, the breeders from the Netherlands bred a long haired cat (ancient persian) with Angora type cats from the Anatolian region, they were then brought to Europe, and the Thai cat was introduced into their lineage before they made their journey accross the Ocean to the Americas. (More information will be Under – The Journey Through my Research-Coming this Summer)
The Official Beginning (1960s – 1970s)
The Chantilly/Tiffany breed had its official beginning as a “Foreign Longhair”. In 1967 with Jennie Robinson (Neotype Cattery) of New York. She purchased a pair of semi-foreign longhaired chocolate cats with golden eyes in White Plains, New York. They may have had the same parents but were not litter-mates. “Thomas” was about a year of age upon purchase, and “Shirley,” was around 6 months.
Shirley’s first litter of six kittens were born in 1969, they all looked like they had been cut from cookie cutter. All were a chocolate color and shared a similar appearance. Robinson initiated a breeding program to emphasize these traits. In the early 1970s, the ACA registered Thomas and Shirley, along with many of their descendants as “Foreign-Longhairs.”
The Passing of the Torch (1970s –1980s)
Robinson ended her breeding program in the 1970s. Sigyn Lund (Sig Tim Hil Cattery) a Florida Burmese breeder, purchased some of Ms. Robinson’s kittens and took on the “Foreign Longhair” breeding program. The New York origin was not well known to the public at the time. Because of Lund’s reputation as a Burmese breeder, it has been speculated that the Chantilly was a long-haired Burmese. A change in the breed’s name was requested by judges because they felt the breed’s current name “Foreign Longhair” was too general, the name “Mahogany” was suggested. Ms. Lund changed the breed-name from “Foreign-Longhair” to “Tiffany” (a name often representing elegance and class). Lund promoted the breed under “Tiffany”. The ACA dropped the “Tiffany” from recognition, their reason being its rarity. As a result, all breed representatives registered under the Lund (Sig Tim Hil Cattery) name became unregistered and lost their pedigree status. After this event, the breed continued to be advertised as “Burmese.” At one point, in an informal phone interview, Sig Tim Hil cattery supplied false information to researcher Joan Bernstein regarding these chocolate cats. This interview resulted in a publication of information, again suggesting the possibility they were the product of UK crosses between Burmese and Himalayans (a Persian cross). This false information was posted in “Harper’s Illustrated Handbook of Cats”, and “Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Cats”. In “The Ultimate Cat Book” by David Taylor in 1989, the Tiffany’s History was also falsely described as “produced from crossing Burmese cats with Persians”. The false advertisement and the phone interview could explain the inaccurate, misleading tie to Burmese in these books. All this confusion led the Chantilly breed to near extinction.
Chantillys and Canadian/ American teamwork (1980s-1990s)
Around the same time Robinson and Lund were developing the “Tiffany” in the United States, a Canadian acreage owner was surprised by a cat who appeared at his home in 1973. She was a long-haired, semi-foreign chocolate, gold-eyed feline of unknown ancestry who gave birth to a litter of kittens. Once again, these kittens were carbon copies of their mother. An experience shared by Robinson with the cats in her breeding program. Offspring of these were rescued by Canadian breeders to re-establish the “Tiffany” breed in North America with a cooperative effort with Robinson and Lund.
One major advocate of the Chantilly was Tracy Oraas who began her involvement with the breed in 1988, when she responded to a classified ad advertising “Chocolate kittens”. Tracy Oraas was then in contact with Siamese Oriental breeder Jan DeRegt. Oraas and DeRegt undertook efforts to reestablish the breed after consulting a TICA judge. This judge expressed that “nothing on the show bench compared with them.” It took some major detective work, including calls to every veterinarian in Florida, but they managed to contact the Tiffany’s original breeders, Jennie Robinson and Sigyn Lund. Oraas and DeRegt also concluded that the Burmese was never used in any Tiffany breeding program. Their research did reveal that English breeders had crossed Foreign Longhairs in an attempt to recreate an Angora-type cat. They suspected that the Tiffany may have been a product of these efforts. Since none of the original Chantilly’s could be found, they re-established the breed using registered European Angoras, Havana Browns, Abyssinians, and Nebelungs.
In 1992, Oraas was asked to rename the breed because of possible confusion with the British Tiffanie. Wishing to preserve the elegance the “Tiffany” name represented, they chose “Chantilly”.
The Disappearance, and the Last Chantilly Catteries (1990s – 2000s)
Tracy Oraas continued to breed the “Chantilly/Tiffany” up to the early 2000s, then the breed seemed to have faded from the breeding scene.
Before her disappearance from the breeding scene, Tracy Oraas sent a pair of Chantilly cats to a breeder in Germany. Their whereabouts became unknown afterward.
By 2001, there were a few Catteries working with the Chantilly breed with locations in; Germany, Canada, Washington State, West Virginia, and Illinois.
The one in Illinois was known as Amorino Cattery. Anne Davenport-Parini started Amorino Cattery in 2001 when she brought Nugget (also known as LTD or Little Tabby Dude) of Emberhearth Cattery home to Illinois. By 2003, Amorino was the only “Chantilly” Cattery in the US still operating. She was the last known Chantilly breeder in the USA. LTD produced many beautiful kittens before his retirement.
Read the the touching story of the Chantilly: Emberhearth Hershey Nugget LTD of Amorino Here
Unfortunate Events: The last known Chantillys, the devastating fire, and near extinction (2000s- 2010s)
In 2012 Armorino Cattery in Illinois, had a devastating fire, all their archives were destroyed, and several cats lost their lives. Nugget received lung damage in the fire and was eventually euthanized June of 2013.
Armorino sent one of her cats (Frosty-Nugget’s son) to Cacao Criadero Cattery in Norway. The attemped breeding of Frosty to the Cattery’s Nebelung female was not very successful, only producing one kitten, Acey. Frosty died of cancer of the intestine in 2015. He was only 9 years old. Acey never had any kittens and was fixed.
When reading this, I knew something went terribly wrong. A once healthy breed had become riddled with health issues. Something had gone terribly wrong with this breeding program. One such problem could involve blood type issues, and is explained in detail on a website called DVM360.com. For example blood type B cats can not intermix with blood type A cats. Cats produce a natural antibody called alloantibodies. The Somali (Chantilly parent breed) is often known to possess blood type B, yet the vast majority of cats in the United States are type A. There is another rare blood type not fully understood by science called type AB (now found pressent in the ragdoll breed). vin.com explains what can happen if blood types are not kept in check in breeding programs.
“Neonatal isoerythrolysis is an immunologic, genetic problem seen in cats… It may be responsible for a large proportion of fading kittens and neonatal deaths in some pedigreed catteries, where the blood type of breeding cats is unknown. NI occurs in blood type A kittens born to a type B queen mated to a type A male. If the tomcat is homozygous (A/A), then all the kittens in the litter will be blood type A and at risk for NI. If the male cat is heterozygous (A/B), then 50% of the offspring would be expected to be heterozygotes with blood type A (genotype A/B) and at risk for NI. This problem can also occur in type AB kittens born to type B queens. When kittens nurse from the queen after birth, they receive colostrum that contains antibodies to protect them against common viral infectious diseases, but also antibodies against blood types. The kitten’s digestive tract is able to absorb these antibodies, which pass into their bloodstream, for about the first 12-24 hours of life. After that time, “gut closure” occurs in the neonate that prevents absorption of any antibodies. When type A or AB kittens nurse on a type B queen during the first day of life, they receive anti-A antibodies in the colostrum, which in turn get into the blood stream and bind to their red blood cells and destroy them (this is known as isoerythrolysis).” (vin.com)
A Series of Mysterious Events
Emberhearth may have closed their Chantilly Program in 2004, around the same time this cat appeared in their breeding program. Do you see the major difference in appearance of this Chocolate pointed boy to her other Ragdolls?
Below is the chocolate pointed boy who appeared in the breeding program in 2004
Below were two other ragdoll boys in the Emberhearth breeding program
In 2008 Emberhearth Cattery became Acaramia Cattery. Strangely suspicious, they specialized in rare chocolate ragdolls, the chocolate ragdoll cats often resembled the Chantilly in appearance. They continued breeding the presumed “Ragdolls” (part Chantillys?) until 2011. Their chocolate and cinnamon breeding lines were then past down to a Cattery named Briadolls in New Jersey.
The cat on the left is a Ragdoll from a cattery called Briadolls, the cat on the right is one of Tracy Oraas’s Chantilly/Tiffanys. Briaodolls Cattery carried on Emberhearth’s (suspicious) chocolate/cinnamon breeding lines (part Chantillys?). The Chantilly extinction claim is untruthful. The Chantilly is alive and well, and there is high probability they are being used for Ragdoll outcross breeding stock.
In fact if you test the DNA of a cat who was in a Chantilly breeding program or a cat who looks very similar to a Chantilly. Ragdoll now shows up in their DNA, amd did nt apperar in the testing before.
Bitter Rivalry (2010-2015)
Meanwhile in Canada, one lone cattery, now Called Hypoallergenic Cat Cattery, decided to forge a different path. They outcrossed their Chantilly with classic Balinese. Giving their line a different color for a period of time but keeping the overall classic Chantilly look. These cats also are maintaining good health like the original Chantilly.
The different outcross caused a bitter rivalry and disagreement between this maverick cattery and the last American and Norwegian Chantilly Breeders. Balinese (keep in mind this is traditional not modern Balinese) was not an original accepted outcross, so multiple attacks were launched at the Canadian cattery. The rival catteries called the cats “fake Chantilly”, due to the different outcross and slightly different coloring. Personal attacks and claims were also launched against the Hypoallergenic Cat Cattery, calling the cattery a kitten mill. Through careful investigation and countless positive testimonials from adoptees of their kittens, these claims of a kitten mill and poor treatment of their animals turned out to be false. While taking this different path, Hypoallergenic Cat Cattery’s Chantilly line has kept its classic and original appearance. Kittens also remain very healthy and not ridden with health problems and birth defects. Obviously Hypoallergenic Cat Cattery was onto something that previous breeding programs had missed.
The Beginning of a Journey (2016-Present Day)
In 2016, Chantilly/Tiffany Cat project was born. The mission, to find the true origin of the Chantilly and reevaluate the outcross program. So the Chantilly would be a healthy breed once again, and keeping the breed’s original appearance.
When this project began so little was known about their origins or the breed itself. So much of the information seen here was found through countless messenger interviews, old magazines, books, and special search engine tools.
Through the years, the research would take the project through a virtual journey from Canada, to the Netherlands. From former Persia, to Ankara, from Thailand to Switzerland.
The project’s founder would converse with so many fascinating people from across the world and learn so much from them.
(Want to read more about the true origins of the Chantilly – Read The Journey Through My Research-Coming soon)
- all images are intended for research purposes and are not a property of Chantilly/Tiffany cat project
- History written By. C.W. aka Crystal Rose Cross