Chinchilla Cat Breed Profile

  • Origin: England, 1882
  • Weight: Males 5-6 kg (11 – 13 lbs), females 4-5 kg (8.8 – 11 lbs)
  • Colours: Silver or gold
  • Pattern: Ticked
  • Eye colours: Blue or blue-green
  • Coat: Long
  • Shedding: Moderate to high
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Characteristics: Silky
  • Grooming: Daily
  • Club recognition: All cat clubs
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Energy: Low
  • Temperament: Loving, easygoing, quiet
  • Prevalence: Reasonably common
  • Also called: Chinchilla Persian
  • Cost: $1,000 – $2,000
  • Good with children: Older children

About

The Chinchilla is a large breed of cat with a luxurious long coat that is tipped with silver or gold. Chinchillas were developed to create a silver Persian, and have similar features to the Persian, only softer.

Chinchillas are a laid back breed, whose sweet nature will steal the heart of their family.

History

The Chinchilla is essentially a silver Persian although some claim cat registrars class it is a separate breed. Either way, it is a cat with Persian-like qualities, although less extreme in the face. The breed came about in an attempt to create a silver-coloured Persian cat.

Chinchillas are one of the oldest man-made breeds, whose history began in 1882 with a cat called Chinnie. Chinnie was the result of a chance mating between a blue Persian and a stray tom of unknown origins. The litter produced a smoke-coloured kitten that was sold to Mrs Vallence, who named her Chinnie. Chinnie was mated to a silver tabby, and one of the kittens from this litter gave birth to the first Chinchilla male (Chinnie’s grandson),  named Silver Lambkin.

The CFA and TICA group the chinchilla as part of the Persian breed. Other councils consider the Chinchilla a separate breed from the Persian.

Appearance

The Chinchilla is a large cobby cat with a round head and small ears. Overall, they have softer features than Persian cats.

Body: Chinchillas have a cobby body type with a broad and deep chest and large shoulder, the rump is equally large. The legs are short and strong and end with large and round paws with black paw pads. The tail is short and in proportion to the body.

Head: The nose is less extreme than on the Persian with a slight break, finishing with a brick red tip which is outlined with darker pencilling of black. Eyes are either green or blue-green (aqua) and highlighted with black eyeliner.

Coat: The coat is long and luxurious with a pure white undercoat. Tipping occurs at the end of each hair strand. Accepted coat colours include silver, gold and blue.

Chinchilla coat genetics:

The striking silver coat is due to the effects of several genes. Genes are abbreviated to one or two letters, dominant genes are always uppercase and recessive genes are lowercase. As we can see before, the genes responsible for the chinchilla coat are all dominant.

  • Agouti tabby (A): The ticked tabby cats have a gene that hides the tabby striping, leaving only the underlying agouti colouration. Each hair has bands of colour along the hair shaft but there is little to no striping on the body.
  • Melanin inhibitor gene (I): The silver tips at the end of the hair shaft is caused by the melanin inhibitor gene I/i, which suppresses the development of pheomelanin (yellow pigment) from the agouti areas of the coat. Normally, the background colour has areas of yellow and black banding (ticking) along the hair shaft. Non-silver agouti Chinchillas have yellow pigmentation towards the end of the hair and a dark tip with a slight grey undercoat at the base.
  • Wide band (Wb): Determines how much pigment is present along the hair shaft. Silver agouti has a range of phenotypes (observable traits) which include silver tabby, silver shaded and silver-tipped. The Chinchilla falls into the latter category, with only the very tips of the hair containing pigment.
  • Chinchilla cat
  • Close up of a Chinchilla cat
  • Chinchilla cat
  • Chinchilla cat
  • How long do Chinchilla cats live?
  • Chinchilla cat
  • Chinchilla cat

Buying a chinchilla cat

Kittens should not leave the breeder until they are at least 12 weeks old. It is always a good idea to meet the kitten and his littermates/parents if possible. Most breeders will have spayed or neutered the kitten before they go to their new home to prevent unwanted breeding.

Most cat breeders also prefer to have kittens desexed (spayed or neutered) before they go to their new home to prevent accidental litters and ensure entire cats do not end up in the hands of a backyard breeder or a kitten farm.

Purebred Chinchillas may be ‘breeder, show or pet’ quality.

  • Breeder quality: A cat who is an exceptional example of the breed that is sold as a breeding cat. A reputable breeder is just that, and will only sell a cat for breeding to a registered breeder.
  • Show quality: The cat is an exceptional example of the breed standard and will make an excellent show cat.
  • Pet quality: The cat may (but not always) have a slight cosmetic fault. This may be a white spot where there shouldn’t be one or a kinked tail.

Always get guarantees in writing from the breeder and we advise prospective kitten buyers to not pay in cash, and definitely not upfront. 

Personality

Placid, quiet and gentle are three words to describe the Chinchilla. They are sweet-natured and loving cats who bond closely with one member of the family. Chinchillas are more outgoing than their Persian cousins but are quieter than other breeds of cat.

The Chinchilla is suited to a quiet household with retirees or homes with older children. They can become lonely if left alone for extended periods.

Health

Polycystic kidney disease: A slowly progressive disease, which causes multiple fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys. Small cysts are present from birth, slowly increasing in size. Cysts can range from very small to several centimetres in diameter. The increasing size of the cysts damages the normal kidney tissue, eventually causing kidney failure. A blood test of cheek swab is

Hairballs: As the cat grooms, backward-facing papillae on the tongue remove loose hair from the coat, which is swallowed. Most of this will pass out of the cat in the feces, however, if too much fur builds up in the gastrointestinal tract, the cat can bring it back up. Large amounts of fur in the gastrointestinal tract can form a blockage.

Care

Coat: The long coat of the Chinchilla can be prone to mats, and requires a daily groom to remove loose hairs and tangles.

Claws: Trim the front claws every 4-6 weeks. Both grooming and claw trimming should begin in kittenhood so that your cat becomes accustomed to it from a young age.

Safety: Due to their friendly and trusting nature, the Chinchilla should not be allowed to free roam, the best compromise is to provide a safe cat enclosure. Provide a tall scratching post to climb and burn off some energy.

Teeth: Dental care is essential to prevent gum disease which impacts not only the teeth but the cat’s overall health. Brush teeth daily with a cat toothbrush and toothpaste (don’t use human toothpaste), or give him chunks of human-grade steak or chicken necks 2-3 times a week.

Feeding: Feed a premium cat food suitable for the cat’s age. Kittens should eat kitten food until they are twelve months of age, and can be slowly introduced to premium adult cat food.

Vaccinations: The most common protocol recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners as well as the Australian Veterinary Association is that kittens should receive the three core vaccines, known as F3, feline enteritis (panleukopenia), feline calicivirus and feline rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus) three times as a kitten. Spaced at eight weeks, 12 weeks and the final vaccine at 16 weeks followed by a booster vaccine at 12 months. After this, it is recommended that boosters be every three years. Some local states or councils may make it compulsory to administer certain vaccines (notably rabies) yearly.

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) believes that in most cases, core vaccines need not be administered any more frequently than triennially and that even less frequent vaccination may be considered appropriate if an individual animal’s circumstances warrant it. However, local factors may dictate more frequent vaccination scheduling. These recommendations may be off-label for some vaccines.

Chinchilla cat FAQ

How long do Chinchilla cats live? The average lifespan for a Chinchilla cat is 12-14 years. Indoor cats typically have a longer lifespan than cats who are allowed to free roam.

How much does a Chinchilla cat cost? The price of a Chinchilla cat will depend on several factors which include if it is a pet or show quality cat and if you are buying one to breed with. Show and breeding cats are more expensive than pet quality cats.

What condition does Wilfred the cat have? According to his owner, Wilfred the Chinchilla cat is in good health. His large and prominent eyes are due to his brachycephalic features, which result in a shortened skull, snub nose and protruding eyes. The same brachycephalic features have also caused an underbite (malocclusion), which is why his lower canines are visible.

Most Chinchilla cats are less extreme than their Persian and Exotic cousins and don’t have these noticeable features that Wilfred has.

Is there a shorthaired Chinchilla? The Chinchilla is a longhaired cat, Burmillas are closely related and came about when a Burmese cat mated with a Chinchilla. The Burmilla has the same ticked coat and green eyes as the Chinchilla but has a short coat.

Burmilla cat

Do Chinchillas cats shed? Yes, the Chinchilla cat sheds. They have two heavy moults twice a year and also lose a small amount of hair throughout the year. Daily brushing can help to reduce the amount of hair in the home.

Are Chinchilla cats hypoallergenic? The Chinchilla cat is not hypoallergenic.

How did the Chinchilla cat get its name? The Chinchilla takes its name from the chinchilla a South American rodent with soft grey fur, large ears and a long bushy tail.

Chinchilla rodent

Related breeds

Author

  • Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio