What does Asian cat mean?

When a person asks the question ‘what does Asian cat mean?’ my impression is that they are asking about the domestic breed of cats which are bundled together under the heading “Asian Cats”. This is not a reference to Asian wild cat species of which there are several.

What does Asian cat mean?
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Singapura photo copyright Helmi Flick

If I’m correct the term “Asian” was introduced to cover a group of breeds (Asian Cat Group). At this point I’m going to rely on the expertise of Dr Desmond Morris although I have referred to other sources as well in the past. He says that the group of breeds covered by this term are best described as “unusually coloured Burmese”.

What does Asian cat mean?

Bombay cat – part of the group of cat breeds called “Asian Cats”. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

Breeders have created new breeds based upon the traditional Burmese type. These have new colouring and coat types. Some cat associations refused to recognise these new variants as a distinct breed and as a consequence they call them Burmese. Other cat associations only accept traditional dark brown Burmese as Burmese and therefore call the modern variants by other breed names (see below).

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No doubt this is confusing to everybody outside the cat fancy. Sometimes these naming problems do develop within the cat fancy because of a lack of coordination in management in my view.


The conclusion that Dr Morris comes to is that “Asian Cats” incorporates the cat breeds: Burmilla, Asian Smoke, Bombay (a jet black purebred cat), the Tiffanie or Asian Longhair and the Singapura (the smallest breed of domestic cat). Whereas in the narrow sense the term includes only “Burmese types which are Smokes or Tabbies”. All the cats are featured on PoC. Please use the search facility.

I hope this answers the question: What does Asian cat mean?

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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