Havana Brown: Cat Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Havana Brown cat

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As its name suggests, the Havana Brown cat is a brown-hued cat, but despite the name, the breed does not trace its origins to Havana. Instead, the Havana Brown was created in England in the 1950s. So how did this breed come to be named for the lively Cuban city? No one knows for sure, but some theories include that the breed name was inspired by the Havana rabbit or that it was christened Havana Brown in reference to the rich brown color of its coat, reminiscent of the color of Havana tobacco.

Havana Brown cats are friendly, affectionate, and playful cats of a medium size. Hardly aloof or independent, Havana Brown cats want to be close to their people as much as possible. Some even use their paws like hands to reach out and beg for attention, and they need plenty of it. Havana Brown cats are also quite social with others of their species and happy to cuddle with all family members, whether human or feline. 

Breed Overview

Personality: Outgoing, playful, alert, and intelligent.

Weight: About 6 to 10 pounds

Length: About 18 inches

Coat Length: Short to medium length hair

Coat Color: Rich and even shade of warm brown; color tends toward red-brown (mahogany) rather than black-brown

Coat Patterns: Solid

Eye Color: Any vivid and level shade of green

Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: England

Havana Brown Characteristics

While every cat of course has its own personality, as a general rule, Havana Brown cats tend to be very friendly, sociable, and interested in everything happening within their home. They enjoy interactions with their humans, and will happily spend time purring on their owner's lap, engaging in a spirited game of catch the ribbon, or being brushed or stroked. If their favorite human isn't available, Havana Browns are generally more than happy to play with other household pets, both feline and canine. They get along with children, as well.

Adult Havana Brown cats are a medium size, with a somewhat muscular appearance that is graceful in action. When not investigating, socializing, or playing, they are likely to be engaging in another of their favorite activities: taking a nice, long nap, possibly on their owner's pillow or chair.

Affection Level   High
Friendliness  High
Kid-Friendly  High 
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs  Medium
Playfulness  High
Energy Level  Medium
Intelligence  High
Tendency to Vocalize Medium
Amount of Shedding Low
Havana Brown cat

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Havana Brown cat

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Havana Brown cat

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History of the Havana Brown Cat

To learn how the Havana Brown cat came to be, first we must travel back to late 19th century England. During this time, solid-brown cats (called self-brown cats) were being exhibited at British cat shows under various names, one of which was “Swiss Mountain Cat.” These brown cats looked a lot like Siamese but rather than blue eyes, they had green eyes.

As the story goes, the Siamese Cat Club of Britain issued an edict in 1920 stating that Siamese may only have blue eyes—not green. As a result, the solid-brown cats slowly disappeared. Fast forward to the 1950s and some English cat breeders decided they would like to recreate that lost brown cat from the past. The group began researching color genetics and performing breeding experiments until they identified how to produce a self-brown cat. 

These breeders found success when a self-brown male kitten, named Praha Gypka, was born via a breeding between a solid black shorthair cat and a chocolate-point Siamese. Around the same time, an accidental breeding took place between a solid black shorthair cat and a seal-point Siamese. That breeding resulted in another brown male kitten, Elmtower Bronze Idol. The first cat to be registered in England as a Havana Brown, Elmtower Bronze Idol today is considered the forerunner of the Havana Brown breed. 

Eventually, after the breed was recognized by English cat registries, the breed name was changed to “Chestnut Brown” cats or “Chestnut Brown Oriental” cats. The body type of these cats looked much like today’s Oriental. Outside of the U.S., the breed today is known simply known as the Havana, and is essentially a chestnut Oriental cat. 

Meanwhile, around the same time in the United States (1950s and 1960s), some U.S. cat breeders were focusing on the Havana Brown as well. Then as now, in the United States, the medium-sized Havana Brown is muscular but with a more moderate body type. The head is slightly longer than wide, with round-tipped ears, and a somewhat rounded and prominent muzzle. The coat is a rich, warm mahogany solid brown color with brown nose leather and paw pads (even the whiskers are brown). The medium-sized oval eyes are set wide apart and are brilliantly colored in any vivid and level shade of green.

Two North American cat registries recognize the Havana Brown differently. The Cat Fanciers’ Association and the Canadian Cat Association both recognize the breed as Havana Brown. The International Cat Association recognizes it as the Havana. 

Havana Brown Care

The Havana Brown’s short, smooth coat requires minimal grooming. Brush once a week with a soft slicker or rubber curry brush to remove the loose hair. To give the coat a brilliant shine, polish it with chamois cloth after brushing. Keep your Havana Brown cat’s nails trimmed short and check inside the ears weekly. If you see any dirt in the ears, use a pet ear cleanser to clean the ears using a cotton ball (never stick anything like a cotton swab into a cat’s ear). If the ears look red, inflamed or excessively dirty, or if you see your Havana Brown shaking its head or scratching at its ears, call for an appointment with your veterinarian.

Havana Browns are naturally active and curious, so it’s easy to encourage daily exercise with indoor enrichment and play. Bring out toys a few times daily and engage your Havana Brown in play. The breed is quite frisky, and many love to play fetch with small toys like a dog might. Give your Havana Brown plenty of climbing opportunities, as well, with cat trees, shelving, or kitty condos.

Scratching is also an enjoyable and natural outlet for cats that helps exercise their leg and paw muscles, along with keeping their nails in tiptop shape. Provide your Havana Brown with several acceptable scratching places, including vertical scratchers (like tall posts or cat trees) and horizontal scratchers (like cardboard or sisal scratchers that lie flat on the ground).

Common Health Problems

Although any cat can develop a health issue during its life, some pedigreed cat breeds are more prone to certain congenital health problems. However, the Havana Brown has no known specific conditions. Even so, it’s a good idea to buy a kitten from a breeder who offers a health guarantee of some kind. 


The Havana Brown is a striking cat, thanks to its sleek and shiny coat, which is a warm brown from the tips of its ears to the tip of its tail. Even the whiskers and nose are brown. While Havana Brown kittens and young adults might have very faint tabby stripes showing through their coats, these "ghost" markings should fade away by the time the cat reaches mature adulthood. The coat is fairly short, although some individual cats might have a bit longer fur.

Dazzling green eyes are another hallmark of the breed. Any even color of vivid green is permitted by breed standards, but the deeper the better. Some of these cats have emerald-green eyes that are truly spectacular against their brown coats. The overall shape of the head is somewhat triangular, which is a nod to the breed's Siamese heritage.

Male Havana Browns are generally slightly larger than females, but both are somewhat muscular, with long legs and a slender tail that's nicely proportioned to the overall body size. While this is a breed that doesn't shed as much as many other cat breeds, it is not a hypoallergenic cat.

Diet and Nutrition

Havana Browns like to eat. Take care to ensure your Havana Brown doesn’t eat too much and gain too much weight. Keeping your cat lean may help to prevent certain weight-related health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Feed measured amounts of a healthy cat food at regular times (twice a day for adult cats). Free feeding (leaving food out all day) can lead to snacking and contribute to obesity. If you’re not sure what to feed your Havana Brown, talk to your veterinarian or breeder for advice.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Havana Brown Cat

The Havana Brown is an extremely rare cat breed. If you long for a Havana Brown kitten, it may be difficult to find. Your best bet is attending a local cat show, where you can meet reputable breeders. Cat shows are fun to watch, and you can view many different cat breeds all together. To find a cat show in your area, do an internet search for “cat show near me” or check The Cat Fancier's Association website, which lists registered cat shows all over the world. 

Because these cats are rare and valuable, you are unlikely to find one in a cat rescue or shelter.

Havana Brown Overview

Beautiful, playful, intelligent, and sociable, a Havana Brown cat is sure to win your heart. These sleek, warm-brown cats with bright green eyes love to interact with their household, including humans of all ages and fellow pets. As a plus, they don't shed as much as many other cats, although they still benefit from regular grooming, and generally enjoy it as well.

  • Friendly and affectionate 

  • Social with other cats 

  • Low shedding

  • Doesn’t do well if left alone

  • Needs a lot of attention

  • Rare/hard to find

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you like the Havana Brown cat, you might also like these cat breeds: 

Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed articles to help you find the perfect cat for you and your family.

  • Are Havana Brown cats expensive?

    Because this is a rare breed, you can expect to pay a premium to buy one from a reputable breeder. Typically, a Havana Brown will cost you over $1,000, although the cost can be lower or higher depending on the quality of the specific cat, the breeder, and the area.

  • Do Havana Brown cats come in any other colors?

    The breed standard for Havana Brown cats calls for a solid brown cat, including its whiskers and nose leather.

  • Are Havana Browns friendly cats?

    Havana Browns are very friendly, playful, and sociable cats that enjoy interacting with their family, including other household pets.

  • Do Havana Brown cats shed a lot?

    While they do shed, as a general rule Havana Browns don't shed as much as many other cat breeds. Still, this is not considered a hypoallergenic breed of cat.