The York Chocolate is a large cat with firm muscles and solid bones. Similar in structure to its ascendant, the Siamese (the old style Siamese, that is), but with a broader and heavier carriage. It is a farm cat in almost every way: hardy, vigorous, strong, and big. The male cat generally weighs a substantial 14 to 16 pounds, females are a little less at 10 to 12 pounds.
As the name suggests, this breed is selected for its coloring, which is chocolate brown, lavender, or a combination of the two. The coat will usually be lighter colored while the York is a kitten, but will develop into a rich, silky, chocolate colored coat with maturity. And this is what separates the York from the traditional farm cat: the York has a lustrous, semi-long coat, with a light, not woolly, soft to the root undercoat that resists matting. The coat is downy soft and stays close to the body, thicker at the ruff (neck and chest), and on the upper legs. The tail is full and puffed, with an appearance like a lambs wool duster. The feet are lightly tufted between the toes, and there is light feathering in the ears. The eyes are almond-shaped, and may be green, golden or hazel in color. This breed is active and bright.
The York Chocolate is an affectionate, loyal cat which bonds well with its humans. It is independent, and does well enough on its own, but it takes tremendous joy in being with people, in being cuddled or petted, and taking part in household activities. The York loves attention, and even when you are being inattentive, it will lavish you with its own, "helping" out with whatever you are doing, whether you are on your computer, cleaning the house, or reading quietly. They show their joy in your presence when you arrive home, greet you at the door with a friendly purr. They are best known for their little motor purrs, generally using a purr in place of a mew to speak to you.
As a breed that been bred and raised on farms, the York gets along well with other animals and children, and maintains a good disposition. The York is happiest when you spend time playing with it, rather than leaving it to knock a ball around on its own. Living up to its primary job description as a farm cat, it has proven itself a capable hunter. It is quick and sure, and makes for excellent rodent control. It enjoys the chase and the hunt. For suburban dwellers lacking in live prey, the York may find contentment playing with moving toys, or with interactive play. Objects tied to a stick and bounced around for your cat's amusement is one way to make sure its hunt and capture needs are being met.
The York Chocolate line began in 1983, on a goat dairy farm, with the auspicious pairing of a black and white spotted farm queen named Blacky, and her local paramour, Smokey. One of the offspring, a bittersweet chocolate coated female, aptly named Brownie, caught the attention of the farm owner, Janet Chiefari. Brownie had looks and charm, and the next summer she had her own litter of kittens, one of which included a semi-longhaired male with a black coat and an undercoat of deep brown. A year later she mated with her offspring, since named Minky, and together they produced Teddy Bear, a solid brown male, and Cocoa, a brown and white female.
By now, Chiefari had fallen in love with her new breed, for their temperament and intelligence, and for their glossy, soft, richly hued coats. She devoted her time to learning all she could about breeding and turned her porch into a make-shift cattery. By the summer of 1989, she had 27 more chocolate brown kittens (no word on how many chocolate brown names she was able to give to all of her cats before she ran out).
With her new-found enthusiasm for cat breeding, and pride in her new line, Chiefari began to spread news of her wonderful cats. In July of 1989, Chiefari's veterinarian introduced her to a judge with the Cat Fanciers' Federation (CFF). Nancy Belser, judge and fellow cat breeder, made a visit to Chiefari's farm to inspect her new line, and agreed that the cats were unique and special. Belser encouraged Chiefari with an invitation to show her best cat at a CFF show, and Chiefari did just that. In September of 1989, Chiefari registered one of her cats in the household pet category, a six-month-old tom named Prince. Happily for Chiefari, Prince was awarded a CFF first place trophy, and took home an additional four rosette awards.
Her enthusiasm bolstered by the recognition, Chiefari went forward, giving her new breed a name, which she based on the rich brown color of her cats combined with the name of her home state, New York -- hence: Chocolate York. She applied as a new breed with the cat registries, and in 1990 the CFF and the American Cat Fanciers Association accepted her cat line as an experimental breed. In only two years her York Chocolate was granted championship status by the CCF, and in 1995, the Canadian Cat Association also granted championship status to the York.
During this time, and with the help of the registries, Chiefari wrote the standard for the York Chocolate. Currently, the York breed is still undergoing the experimantal process for standard conformation, using domestic, non-pedigreed cats for cross breeding, and selectively choosing for desired traits, while preserving the York's unique combination of farm vigor, sweet temperament, and elegance. The number of breeders is limited, and wider acceptance of the breed in cat registries is being sought.