History of the Asian Group
The history of the development of the Asian Group, began with a happy accident back in 1981.
Miranda von Kirchberg (Bickford-Smith by marriage), who was a successful and well-known Russian Blue breeder with the prefix Astahazy, had purchased a male Chinchilla (Persian type) cat as a pet for her husband. This cat was called Jemari Sanquist, and just before he was due to be neutered, he managed to gain access to one of Miranda's Burmese females, Bambino Lilac FabergÚ. On the 11th of September, this mating produced a litter of four females of mostly Burmese 'type' (body format), but with the Black Silver Shaded appearance coming from the Chinchilla. Miranda was so taken with the appearance of these accidental kittens that she decided to look at developing it into a breed in its own right.
Miranda and one of her friends, ThÚrŔse Clarke (Kartush), began working with these striking cats, and decided on the name Burmilla, as a contraction of the Burmese and Chinchilla names. As development continued, Miranda and her friends became interested in the range of different colours, patterns, and even the two coat lengths, that the future matings produced. She formed the the Burmilla-Asian Association in 1985, to develop this whole group within the GCCF. Meanwhile, the Clarkes continued with the original Black Silver Shaded Burmillas, working towards having them accepted within the Cat Association of Great Britain, rather than the GCCF. Miranda's club is still running today, now called the Asian Group Cat Society (AGCS), and Richard and I are both on the Committee.
The GCCF awarded preliminary recognition to the five breeds of the Asian Group in 1990. The Asian Smokes, Burmillas and Tabbies were awarded Championship status in 1997, followed by the Asian Selfs in 2000, and finally the Tiffanies in 2003. Since gaining full recognition, the group has taken numerous Best of Variety awards at a range of shows, including the GCCF Supreme Show, which is the top show in the GCCF calender - the feline equivalent of Crufts.
In 1988, only 67 cats of the Asian Group were registered. By 1993, the GCCF was registering over 200 cats of the Asian Group per year. Since 1996, the annual registration has been over 500 cats per year, although at its peak in 2001 there were 733 registered! Unfortunately, there are no figures published as to what proportion of this number are Tiffanies, so it is difficult to know how they are progressing as a breed in their own right, but our black girl, Annas, was the first Tiffanie to win an Imperial title, the first to win the UK title, and the first Tiffanie to win an Olympian certificate, so they still have a way to go.