Chinchilla Cat Breed – History, Appearance and Temperament

Chinchilla cat
Image Allen Watkin, Flickr

Chinchilla cats at a glance

  • Origin: England
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Eyes: Green or blue-green
  • Energy: Low
  • Temperament: Loving, easygoing, quiet
  • Weight: Males 5 – 5.5 kg (11 – 12.1 lbs), females 4 – 5 kg (8.8 – 11 lbs)
  • Colours: Every colour is accepted
  • Grooming: Requires weekly grooming

Chinchilla cat breed history

Named after a South African rodent, the Chinchilla is essentially a silver Persian although some claim 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.

It is one of the oldest man-made breeds beginning in 1882 with a cat by the name of Chinnie. Chinnie was the result of a chance mating between a blue Persian and a stray tom (of unknown origins), the resulting litter produced a smoke-coloured kitten who was sold to a 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). He was named Silver Lambkin.

The breed is also referred to as shaded silver Persian or golden shaded Persian.

Chinchilla cat
Image Andrey, Flickr

Appearance of the Chinchilla cat

The Chinchilla is a large cobby cat with a round head and small ears. The eyes are either green or blue-green in colour, highlighted with black “eyeliner”. The nose is less extreme than on the Persian with a slight break, finishing with a brick red tip which is outlined with a darker pencilling of black.

The coat is long and luxurious with a pure white undercoat. Tipping occurs at the end of each hair strand. Despite the name, the Chinchilla comes in both silver and gold.

Chinchilla cat
Image Kristian Niemi, Flickr

Buying a Chinchilla cat

Chinchillas should be acquired from a breeder who is registered with an appropriate cat council and not a pet shop or backyard breeder.

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.

Kittens should have had at least two of their vaccinations. Many breeders also prefer to have kittens desexed (spayed or neutered) prior to them going to their new home.

If you would like to breed or show your Chinchilla, you should notify the breeder. Most breeders will only sell to registered breeders (rightly so), and breeding cats are often more expensive. If you would like to show, you should purchase a kitten who is a great example of the breed. If you are buying a kitten with no plans to breed or show the breeder may sell you a pet quality kitten. Often they are still a great example of the breed, but in some cases they may have some flaw (according to the breed standard) which makes them unsuitable for showing in the pedigree category. This is usually something minor and in no way associated with the cat’s health.

Chinchilla cat
Image Allen Watkin, Flickr

Chinchilla cat personality

Placid, quiet and gentle are three words to describe the Chinchilla. They are very loyal cats and can become especially attached to one member of the family.

The Chinchilla is extremely intelligent and can often be quite playful, even into adulthood.

As would be expected, they have a similar temperament to the Persian cat. They are better suited to quiet households without small and boisterous children.

Chinchilla cat health

The Chinchilla is a generally healthy breed of cat.

  • Polycystic kidney disease – As with the Persian, this inherited condition can crop up, when selecting a kitten it is important to ask the breeder if the parents have been screened for PKD.
  • Furballs can become a problem if the coat is not well maintained.
  • Blocked tear ducts can occur, but are not as prevalent as in other Persian cats.

Chinchilla cat

Caring for a Chinchilla cat

The coat requires daily grooming to prevent mats forming. This only takes 5 minutes but is extremely important. The front claws should be clipped monthly, or as necessary.

Eyes may occasionally need to be wiped down with a damp cotton ball to remove the discharge.

Your Chinchilla should be fed a high-quality, premium diet. When you first bring your kitten home, he should be fed the same type of food he was eating at his old house. If you want to switch foods, do so gradually over a few days.

Dental care is important in all cats, to keep your cat’s teeth in good condition, your Chinchilla should be given raw chicken necks or human grade chunks of raw beef twice a week, alternately, his teeth can be brushed with a toothpaste made for cats (never use human toothpaste on a cat).

Due to their friendly and docile nature, Chinchillas should be indoor only cats, or if possible, given access to a cat enclosure.

Monthly flea and worming treatments are necessary, and vaccinations as per your veterinarian’s guidelines. 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. This is usually spaced out at 8 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.

Suitable for

The Chinchilla makes a great companion in a house with older children and retirees.

Related breeds

  • Persian
  • Himalayan
  • Exotic
  • Burmilla


The average lifespan of a Chinchilla cat is between 12-15 years.

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