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The Australian Mist is currently the newest breed to gain recognition in the UK, having been accepted by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in October 2011. The development of this breed has been very clearly documented both in Australia and in the UK as it has been recognised how important it is to do this for future generations of breeding, unlike many of our older breeds where such meticulous records were not kept. In addition, as it is a single named breeder who has led the development of the Australian Mist (and who has also maintained an active interest in the breed to this date), it has been easier to validate the records. Details of all Australian Mist foundation cats have been recorded, and the pedigrees of current breeding cats can be traced back accurately to these lines.
This breed was developed by Dr Truda Straede in New South Wales, Australia, as a cat with Burmese type and a spotted tabby coat that would meet the characteristic traits of being people-orientated and indoor-loving, an aim achieved by inter-breeding Burmese, Abyssinian and Australian domestic tabby cats. Each of these breeds has made its own unique contribution to the overall success of the Australian Mist - the Burmese contributed conformation, companionability and four of the basic colours, the Abyssinian added two more colours and the essential ticking, and the domestic tabby gave the spots and offset the tendency towards early sexual maturity often seen in the Burmese. These days, the Australian Mist is shown to breed 'true' and cross breeding back to the original breeds has not been found necessary to maintain the standard. It is the first breed to have been developed entirely in Australia, with the first kittens born there in 1980. They were originally known as 'Spotted Mists' but the name was changed in 1998 when cats with marbled coats were accepted into the breed standard. The first 'Mists' (as they are affectionately known here) were imported into the UK in 2007 by Mary Stuart who pioneered the breed here, and within two years there were 200 Australian Mists in this country, further cats having been imported from Australia to increase the gene pool. They are still comparatively rare in Britain, although now that they may be shown, they are quickly gaining in popularity. The British public saw their first Australian Mists when a small number were put on exhibition at the Yorkshire Cat Club show in 2009, although they were not allowed to compete, as they were not a fully-recognised breed then. There is also a growing interest in the breed from the USA and Norway, who have introduced their own breeding programmes following the standards set in Australia.
The Australian Mist is a well-balanced cat of moderate foreign type, with no tendency to extremes in any of its characteristics. Full maturity of muscle development, together with the desired coat texture and eye colour, is not normally achieved until the cat is two years of age. The pattern of the Australian Mist is distinct and a key feature of the breed. The merging of the random, yet delicate, spotted and marbled patterns into the overlying main colour causes the 'misted' effect. Colours produced in this lovely breed are - brown, blue, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon (called 'gold' in Australia) and fawn ('peach' in Australia). The overall colour should be rich and warm, paler on the under-parts of the body and with darker reddish tones on nose, cheeks and ears, even in the paler colours. The eyes are described as being large and lustrous, giving a gentle appearance, and are a delicate green in any shade from chartreuse to aquamarine.
The Australian Mist has been bred specifically to give a loving temperament, and these cats make idea family pets as they are very tolerant of handling by young children and not inclined to scratch in order to get their point across. Like most kittens, young Australian Mists are very lively, but they settle down into placid, well-rounded adults. They are perfectly happy to live indoors, and thrive on human contact, always wanting to be part of whatever is going on - they love sitting on laps and will relish being cuddled. This breed needs company and will become lonely if left on their own for long periods, but they are very sociable and happy to live with other cats or any breed of dog known to be tolerant of cats. The excellent temperament is as much a fundamental part of the Australian Mist as is the misted coat pattern.
The Australian Mist is not known to have any breed-specific health problems and although it is still early days for this breed, many have lived to the age of 15 years or even slightly longer. They need annual vaccination boosters against the common feline ailments of flu and enteritis, as well as against Feline Leukaemia if they go outdoors.
This breed will eat most good quality proprietary brands of cat food, but will also enjoy treats of cooked chicken, ham and grated cheese. However, cows' milk will probably give them a stomach upset, and a bowl of water should always be available. Eyes and ears should be checked and kept clean if necessary by use of a clean damp cloth. They have very short glossy coats, which need little grooming, and can normally be kept free of loose hairs simply by stroking.