Chinchilla cat is one of the first cat breeds that human ever developed. The idea was to create a Persian breed of a paler coat and this was carried out by patient, selective breeding over many years. Whereas the early Silver Tabbies and Smokes possessed the essential characteristics of the present day cats the earliest recognizable progenitors of the Chinchilla would hardly be recognized as ancestors of the cats that are currently to be seen on the show bench.
The origin of the cat breed was a female called Chinnie, born in 1882. It was uncertain whether the name "Chinnie" was given to this cat because the term "Chinchilla" was already in use or whether the later term was introduced as a variant of her vague resemblance of the Chinchilla rabbit or the rodent of that name.
Chinie’s parents were both prize winning cats. Unfortunately no photographs of her or her parents have survived. It seems likely that she was a mackerel striped Silver Tabby or even a long-haired spotted tabby. Weak markings in such patterns would give something vaguely resembling the product of a cross between today's Chinchilla and Blue.
Chinnie was bred by Mrs. Hurt of Sandal Mayner near Wakefield, UK. She was bought by Mrs. Vallance and was apparently regarded as sufficiently unusual by the standard of the day for her owner to try to perpetuate her coloring by mating her to a suitable male. Such a mate was found in Fluffy I a very pure Silver with undecided tabby markings, who won first prize and medals in the Silver Class at Maidstone, Cheltenham and Ealing, and second prize at Ryde. The record of the next few years is a catalogue of hopes raised only to be wrecked by fate that must be familiar to many who have ever laid plans for breeding.
The mating of Fluffy I and Chinnie in 1885 produced a male, Vezzoso and a female, Beauty, later to be known as Beauty of Bridgyate. Vezzoso became Best in Show at the Albert Palace in 1885, was first in the Silver class at Louth and Maidstone, second at Frome and third at Lincoln.
The mating between Chinnie and Fluffy in 1886 produced Fluffy II, who took first place at crystal Palace, Best in Show at Brighton and second place at the Albert Palace and Ealing shows.
Beauty, who had been bought as a kitten by Miss Howe of Bridgyate, after selective breeding had three litters of kittens.
The first litter did not meet the breeders expectations. However, from that time onwards, greater success attended these efforts and the next mating of Beauty, which was with a Smoke, Mrs. Shearman's Champion Perso, gave the legendary Ch Silver Lambkin, who is generally regarded as the first Chinchilla cat. Once this cat matured the breeding and perfection of the Chinchilla was undertaken with enthusiasm, with the result that the first class for this breed alone was instituted at the Crystal Palace Show in 1894.