The Havana Brown, also known as the Swiss Mountain cat, is a breed of cat well known and shown in England in the 1890s. Similar to the oriental shorthair, full color cats, also known as non-blue eyed Siamese, were known to interbreed with the pointed cats of Siam.
During World War I and World War II, the breeding programs of pedigreed cats suffered. It was not until the post World War II era that cat fanciers renewed their breeding efforts. In the early 1950s a group of English cat fanciers began working together to restore the breed.
The ladies credited with this effort include Mrs. Armitage Hargreaves of Laurentide Cattery, Mrs. Munroe-Smith of Elmtower Cattery, the Baroness Von Ullmann of Roofspringer Cattery, Mrs. Elsie Fisher of Praha Cattery, and Mrs. Judd of Crossways Cattery. These breeders produced a chestnut (chocolate) colored kitten through mating a black shorthair and a chocolate point Siamese.
The Havana Brown is a moderately sized, muscular short-haired cat with a body of average length. The coat color must be brown, typically reddish-brown, with no tabby markings. Whiskers should also be brown and the eye color should be green. The head should be slightly longer than wide and the nose should have a distinct stop at the eyes. Males tend to be larger than females and are average in weight compared with other breeds.
The Havana Brown is an intelligent cat that often uses its paws both to examine objects and to communicate with its owners. The most likely explanation of the breed's name is that its coat color is very similar to that of Havana cigars.
The breed has been recognized for championship competition in both the US and Britain since the late 1950s. It is considered an endangered breed, since the breeding pool is very small. In the late 1990s, there were only 12 CFA-registered Havana Brown catteries and under 130 unaltered cats.