CFA Havana Brown
Breed Council Website



By Norma Placchi

In 1956, the very first Havana Brown, a female, Roofspringer Mahogany Quinn, was imported into North America from England by Mrs. Elsie Quinn of Southern California. Some time later, Mrs. Jasmine Peters also of Southern California imported a male, Laurentide Brown Pilgrim. The early imports were initially registered and shown in the United Cat Federation (UCF). As a result, the first CFA Havana Brown Standard was largely based on the UCF Standard. Mrs. Quinn, Mrs. Peters, and Mabel (Mame) Smith collaborated with other Havana Brown breeders and developed the wording of the original CFA Standard. It is possible that Will Thompson served as an advisor as well. Suggestions and comments were submitted and the vote of the majority resulted in the Standard that was ultimately accepted by CFA. The breed was granted CFA Championship status on July 1, 1964.

According to Will Thompson, the CFA Southwest Regional Director, Gwen Webb, also championed the acceptance of the Havana Brown. Gwen bred Silver Persians and solid blacks under the Silver Mesa Cattery name.

It is to be noted that the early imports lacked the refinement of today's Havana Browns; however they definitely fit the Standard. Reportedly, Roofspringer Mahogany Quinn had a wonderful head and a longer muzzle than we see today.

The very first CFA Havana Brown Standard bears a striking resemblance to our present Standard. However, today's Standard is more descriptive and has been standardized to conform to the other CFA breed Standards. There are slight differences in the distribution of the points; however, the wording is basically the same. The overall description of the cat has not changed.

The original Standard allowed for a Penalize section that penalized for "black nose leather and paw pads, Siamese head type, weak chin, and lack of a distinct stop at the eyes." Apparently, the "Siamese head type" was included in the original Standard because of controversy between the Foreign Shorthair and the Havana Brown breeders over what the breed should be named. The Standard was revised in 1978 and the Penalize Section was removed.

The Disqualify section was then expanded to cover "incorrect eye color, whisker, nose leather or paw pad color." "Siamese head type" was dropped from the Standard. The incorrect whisker color disqualification was added due to the occurrence of some Havana Browns exhibiting white whiskers. It was thought that the white whiskers was a throw-back to the breed's Siamese ancestors and was deemed an undesirable trait by the breeders.

As mentioned, there was some confusion regarding the name. In England, the breed had been called the Chestnut Foreign Shorthair. The American breeders chose the name Havana Brown. The English breeders finally settled on the name Havana. The term Foreign Shorthair included any Siamese-style cat. Some of the early American Havana Brown breeders were also working with the Lavender Foreign Shorthair. However, there was never any attempt to merge the two breeds. The American breeders ultimately focused on the Havana Brown. Over the years, there have been attempts by some American CFA breeders to produce a dilute (Lavender) Havana Brown. These efforts have not met with much success or approval and interest has subsided. However, TICA has two color classes - Chocolate and Lilac and the breed is called Havana.

Joe Bittaker, former Havana Brown Breed Council Secretary, confirmed that there was never a proposal or formal move to merge the Havana Brown with the new breed called Oriental Shorthairs. After all, the Havana Brown was an accepted and viable breed long before the Oriental Shorthairs came on the scene. It is a well known fact that Oriental breeders reregistered as Orientals several Havana Browns that had been imported from England in order to obtain the Chestnut color. Solitaire's Tonga Princess, a registered Havana Brown who had been shown in CFA was one of the reregistered cats.

At the June 1976 Annual Meeting held at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, Joe Bittaker, then Havana Brown Breed Council Secretary, and Peter Markstein, representing the Oriental Shorthair, both made breed presentations to the Board of Directors and the judging panel. Joe and Peter pointed out the many differences between the two breeds and stressed the desire of the breeders to each maintain their individual identity. The wishes of both were accepted.

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