Federation Internationale Feline World Cat Federation
Although its name suggests differently, the Asian breed of cat does not come from Asia. The Asian is a man-made breed, which originated with the Burmilla in 1981 after a Chinchilla and a Burmese mated and gave birth to four kittens. The kittens had short, blacktipped silver coats, black ‘eyeliner’, delicate tabby markings on the face, legs and tail, and strong but elegant bone and muscle.
The breeder, Miranda von Kirchberg, embarked on a breeding programme with advice from fellow breeders to develop a cat of Burmese type, but with colour and pattern variations, aiming to produce a distinct pedigree breed capable of receiving GCCF recognition. Miranda and her colleagues soon realized they had the necessary gene pool to create a whole new group of cats, so the ‘Asian’ name was coined.
Exactly similar to the Burmese in type, all cats in this group have a short, fine and glossy coat, except for the Tiffanie, which has a fine silky semi-longhaired coat. The Asian is a slender, athletic cat of medium size, heavy for their size they are muscular and lithe with a broad rounded chest, slender elegant legs and neat oval paws. Tail is of medium thickness and tapers evenly to the tip. The head forms a short wide blunt wedge with a slightly rounded top, medium to medium large ears are spaced well apart. The eyes are large and lustrous, colour may range from pale green through shades of green and yellow chartreuse to golden yellow and amber. Asians come in a wide range of colours: Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Cinnamon, Fawn, Caramel, the tortie versions of all these colours, and Red, Cream and Apricot, in both full expression and Burmese Colour Restriction. Silver and non-silver versions are recognised in all colours and patterns.
Head: Forms a short balanced wedge with width at the cheekbones, tapering to a blunt muzzle and showing good width at the jaw-hinge. The top of the head should be gently rounded between the ears, which are set well apart. In profile the head should show a good depth between the top of the skull and the lower jaw, the brow should curve gently to the bridge of the nose with a distinct nose break; the nose should be straight with the tip of the nose leather in line with the chin. The chin should be firm and of good depth, and the bite level and even. The head, elegantly carried on a neck of medium thickness, should be in proportion to the body.
Ears: Medium to large in size, broad at the base with rounded tips and set well apart so that the outer line of the ears continues the angle of the upper part of the face to produce a butterfly-wing outline from the front. In profile the ears should have a slight forward tilt. Ear tufts and streamers are preferable in the Asian Semi-Longhair (Tiffanie). Allowance should be made for correctly shaped but over-large ears in kittens where the head size and shape is still developing.
Eyes: Large and lustrous and set wide apart, the top lid forms a slight curve slanted towards the nose, the lower lid is fuller and more rounded; overall the eye shape and set is distinctive, giving a unique expression typical to the Asian and Burmese breeds.
Body: Slender and of medium length and size, it should feel hard, lithe and muscular and heavier than its appearance indicates. The back should be straight from shoulder to rump. The chest should be generous and gently rounded but not disproportionately broad.
Legs and paws: The legs should be slender, elegant and in proportion to the body, of medium length with the hind legs slightly longer than the front legs, paws neat and oval in shape.
Tail: Medium to long, to balance the body, carried proud and of medium thickness, tapering slightly to a rounded tip. The length should be sufficient for the tip to reach the shoulder when the tail is brought gently around the side of the body.
Coat: The coat of the Asian Shorthair should be short, fine and lie close to the body, the texture should be smooth and satin-like with a glossy appearance. The Asian Semi-Longhair (Tiffanie) should have a fine and silky coat, medium long, except over the shoulders and without a woolly undercoat.
Free, flexible, balanced.
Weight — 4-7 kg.
This breed is known for its superb temperament. It has a very extrovert, inquisitive nature and together with a high intelligence, this makes the Asian an ideal family pet. However, the Asian also has a very gentle side to its nature, which may appeal to more elderly people who are looking for a loyal companion. Although this is a very affectionate breed, the Asian loves showing off, especially when there are visitors to impress and charm! Like the Burmese, it is a very vocal breed, with a loud voice when it wants to get its point across clearly, and it also likes being picked up and cuddled. Because it is such a sociable cat, the Asian relates to well to human company and will adapt well to indoor living, not feeling the need to go out. However, it will need company, and will not appreciate being left alone for hours at a time - another feline companion, especially a cat with a similar extrovert personality, will be much appreciated.
The Asian will eat most good quality proprietary brands of cat food, but will also enjoy treats of cooked chicken, ham and grated cheese, preferably shared with its humans if care is not taken! However, cows' milk will probably give them a stomach upset, and a bowl of water should always be available. It has a short plush coat, which will not need much grooming, and stroking (particularly with slightly damp hands) will normally remove any dead hairs. A dry chamois leather will bring up a wonderful sheen on the cat's coat. If the Asian is to be a pet, and not used for breeding, it should be neutered at around 6 months of age as it is a breed that matures sexually at a young age.
Lifespan — 16-18 years.
Steve, who is also chairman of the GCCF Genetics Committee, says that there have been very occasional instances of hypokalemic polymyopathy and flat-chested syndrome in the Asian breed, which have been inherited from the foundation breeds. A cat will only suffer from hypokalemic polymyopathy — a disorder that reduces potassium retention causing severe muscle weakness — if he inherits the recessive gene from both parents. Breeders are working to eliminate the disease using DNA testing to ensure that two carriers are not mated together.
Flat-chested syndrome — which results in a kitten with a compressed, flattened rib cage that may result in difficulty breathing — is believed to be caused by a recessive gene or a complex genetic cause. It can be fatal in very severe cases, but in mild cases the condition may improve as the kitten grows.