The sterling cat must have been named after its silvery appearance (“sterling silver”). The coat colour is impressively luxurious. It is described by the cat fancy as chinchilla, silver or golden shaded. The cat itself is a “traditional type Persian”. Is this rare breed a traditional chinchilla Persian cat and if so why is it described as a Sterling cat? Here are some Sterling cat facts.
Apparently the breed originates in the UK being a created breed as opposed to being “discovered”. It was known as the Chinchilla Longhair in the UK.This cat breed is said1 to be a product of the selective breeding of “Colorbred Persians from the USA and Colorbred Chinchilla Longhairs from the UK, which go back to the late 1800s and before.
The eye color is green or blue-green, which is the ideal.
In the early 1990’s The International Cat Association (TICA) accepted the Sterling as a new breed and for championship status by International Cat Exhibitors (ICE). I have not heard of ICE before and as far as I can see they don’t have a website.
At TICA 1993 Annual Board Meeting, this cat breed was discussed. At the meeting the breed was referred to as “silver persians”. It was agreed that the silver and golden classes from the Persian cat breed be “transferred” to establish a new breed called “STERLING”. The idea behind hiving off a segment of the Persian cat breed to create a new cat breed was to “allow the silvers and goldens back into the show ring to compete”. A new Sterling breed standard was to be drafted. I don’t understand that. Perhaps a breeder can assist by leaving a comment.
It seem though that the underlying motivator behind the artificial creation of this breed was to recreate an old breed or cat type from the UK, the Chinchilla Longhair. But that is a guess. The Sterling has the traditional Persian appearance and is positively not flat faced.
TICA also make a passing reference to this cat breed on their Exotic Shorthair page. The Exotic Shorthair is a contemporary (flat faced) Persian cat with shorthair. They say that the Sterling was a transitional or proposed (my terminology) breed in the creation of the Exotic Shorthair.
American Shorthair cats were cross bred with Persians to create the silver colored coat and green eyes in the American Shorthair. This produced the coat but the type (the body shape) was not American Shorthair anymore. Jane Martinke proposed that this new cat be called the Sterling. They looked like Persians with a plush, dense and short coat. They were intended to have one colour: silver. But the decision was to have all colors and the name was changed to “Exotic Shorthair”. That story is a little different to the one recited by Jeannie Johnson of Ivyleague Sterlings.
In TICA 1993 Annual Board Meeting reference was made to the Sterling Breed Committee. The breed therefore existed at that time.
1. Jeannie Johnson, Ivyleague Sterlings who created the breed.