The Australian Tiffanie is a very new breed of cat, having only been recognised in 1999 by the Waratah State Cat Alliance. Australian Tiffanies are descended from the Burmilla, itself a fairly new breed (since 1981) developed from the mating of Burmese to Chinchilla. The Australian Tiffanie is essentially a semi-long haired type of Burmilla, which would normally have a short wiry coat.
Although initially regarded as an undesirable type, interested breeders soon began to pay more attention to these longer haired varieties. It became apparent to these breeders that these types would appear when first generation Burmillas were put together. In 1999 a group of breeders interested in further developing this variety submitted a breeding program to the cat council and the Australian Tiffanie became recognised as a new breed in New South Wales. Small breeding programs have since started in Victoria and Queensland, with registration available through New South Wales. There are approximately 50 cats within the breeding program with nine breeders in NSW, three in Victoria and two in Queensland.
Note, the name Tiffanie is spelt with an ‘ie’ ending not a ‘y’ as is seen in the famous US jewellery store, Tiffany & Co. This is to differentiate the breed from the long haired Burmese known as “Tiffany”.
The four most common colours in the Australian Tiffanie are black, blue, brown and chocolate. Lilac, the fifth colour, is seen less often. These colours are the same as the Burmilla.
So what features differentiate the Australian Tiffanie from the Burmilla? The most obvious difference is its semi-long haired coat. As well the Australian Tiffanie has three distinguishable coat patterns (the Burmilla has only two). All will have a white under coat with colour restricted to the ends of the hair. The coat patterns are: Tipped. The very tip of the hair is coloured. The coat will look white with slight colour. Shaded. The end of the hair is coloured. The coat will appear ‘mantled’, or dusted with colour. Smoke. Three quarters of the hair shaft is coloured. Smoke pattern can look solid until the hair is parted.Another striking difference between the two breeds are the eyes, lips and nose. All are outlined in a terracotta red while the eyes are emerald green. The Australian Tiffanie also has a broader head than the Burmilla, and a more compact body. It is a medium-sized cat with a silky, soft coat.
Loving, friendly, sociable and well behaved sums up the breed. Breeders say these cats are not as obsessive as the Burmese or Siamese types, and rather than the demanding wail associated with these types, the Australian Tiffanie will greet you with a quiet meow. Australian Tiffanies have a medium activity level and are generally regarded to be less active than the Burmilla. They cope well with apartment living and solitary life but also enjoy the companionship of other animals and their owners.
Health, breeding and lifespan
As the emergence of these semi-long haired types is due to the expression of a recessive gene, Australian Tiffanies crossed amongst themselves will always produce similar, semi-long haired types. Because Australian Tiffanies are derived from a cross of two different breeds, they may possess good hybrid vigour. That is, these first generation cross animals are less likely to display any recessive genetic traits common to either of the foundation breeds, many of which may be deleterious. This could make the Australian Tiffanie a more robust, healthier animal than other pure breed types. However this robustness rapidly declines in future generations.
The kittens of some lines have displayed large umbilical hernias which have required surgery. However this is not a problem common to all Australian Tiffanies and, due to the relatively early stages of breed development, this issue can be addressed by breeders.
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is an hereditary kidney disease associated with Chinchilla, one of the foundation breeds. Breeders state however that prior to breeding, all Australian Tiffanies must test negative for PKD. Australian Tiffanie breeders claim that a strict breeding standard, with a focus on producing genetically healthy animals, is the main objective of the breed society.
The average lifespan is estimated to be that of Burmilla’s that is around 17 years for a healthy cat.
1. Burke’s backyard