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THE CHINCHILLA - Aristocrat of the Feline Fancy - by Evelyn Langston

Taken from the article in ‘Fur & Feather, Rabbits and Rabbit Keeping’ April 15th:

A good Chinchilla is the most beautiful – certainly the most aristocratic – of all longhaired cats. But, in no other variety is there such a difference between a first-class and a second-class specimen. A very good Chinchilla is not easy to breed, and this is the fascination of the variety.

The type of a good Chinchilla should be as good as that of a Blue Persian, minus the exaggeration which some Blues possess. The body should be cobby and legs short and thick. The head should be broad between small neat ears, nose short, cheeks full, and chin firm, but not protruding.

The size and shape of the eyes are most important. They should be very round, large and open and not placed near together, and they should either be an ultramarine blue-green or emerald green, never a yellowish green.

The coat should be long and flowing, pure pearl white with delicate black tipping on the ends of the hair on the back, flanks, tail and head, but without bars on the legs or splashes of collected tipping, causing dark patches anywhere. The stomach should be pure white. This colouring is very difficult to attain but when perfect, is exquisitely lovely. Dark patches should not be present, but, on the other hand, the delicate tipping must be.

The most perfectly tipped cats carry the tipping on a coarser top coat over a softer undercoat. If this tipping is carried too far down the hair, it will appear too heavy; if not far enough it will be insufficient to five the correct appearance of frozen snow sparkling in the sun – as I once heard it most aptly described.

If the hair is of extra fine texture, the tipping will be sufficiently apparent.
One very great characteristic of the Chinchilla is the dark skinned pads on the paws and the rims round the eyes. The latter removes any trace of insipidness and makes the large eye so expressive.

Chinchillas were evolved from Silver Tabbies. “Ghost” specimens of Silver Tabbies (i.e. faintly marked specimens) were crossed with each other. The first results were like the Chinchilla animal, hence the name.

One of the early specimens “Silver Lambkin” is stuffed and on view in the South Kensington Museum. Gradually the pale specimen was bred to its present perfection of colour, but the Silver Tabby origin is plainly seen in the new-born kittens which often appear to be little Silver Tabbies either striped or mackerel marked.

If the legs and head are unstriped, even very “tabbyish” specimens have a chance of becoming good adults. Kittens of two months upwards may often appear practically white, as in the very fine baby coat the tipping is not apparent and the fine tipped overcoat does not appear till the second coat comes in.

Similarly, cats out of coat may appear much too dark as there is not enough undercoat to diffuse the tipping. Another bequest of the Silver Tabby is the rich red or deep pink nose which adds character to the face.

A brown or sable Tabby will appear in the most select family and more often a brownish patch which is a serious defect. The complete sable is very rare and very attractive but, of course, not a Chinchilla. It is only part of the Tabby heritage.

Chinchillas are cats of great character and intelligence. Often they are very “ticklish” and detest nursing. It is not in keeping with the quality of the breed for the cats to be very large.

Any trace of coarseness is detrimental to the ethereal quality, which is part of the Chinchilla’s charm. I like the males, however, to be definitely masculine and well-boned, but I am not keen on very large females. I do like good bone and short thick legs.

A Chinchilla may look like a fairy but should never be a weed. Chinchillas are not delicate. In fact, in severe illness they have a marvelous ability to pull through.

They do, however, require careful weaning, and I go slower with the weaning process than I do with my Blues.