First printed in OSSTS Newsletter, December 2003

The Oriental Smoke

John S Harrison

Ch Shungshu Moveover Darling 42b

Photo by Robert Fox

During the late 1960's Mrs Dora Clarke 'Craigiehilloch' bred from two 'Foreign-type' Silver Spotted queens, they were from a mating of Amberley Silver Sue, a British Silver Tabby, and a Siamese male. From these two queens mated back to her Siamese studs Mrs Clarke bred several 'Foreign' Smokes. There was no general interest and the variety was not progressed.

In 1970 Miss Pat Turner had two Shaded Silver female kittens, Scintasilva Sue and Scinta Celeste, from the now famous mis-mating between Marisarni Dandino a Chocolate Point Siamese and Marisarni Retara a Chinchilla, and the creation of the Oriental Smoke became a reality. In 1971 Scintasilva Sue was mated to Pitapat Zeno a Red Point Siamese and produced a litter consisting of Seal Point, Black Self, Smoke and Silver Shaded kittens, the Smoke kitten was called Scintilla Pastel Pansy.

By 1975 there were many Smokes around the country including Scintilla Honey Frost (red), Scintilla Taffeta (black), Scintilla Shimmering Mist (black), Thistlemuir Stormcloud (black), Plainsong Pastel Phoebe (tortie), and my own Red Smokes Scintilla Crown Imperial and Samonola Honeysuckle. By 1980 the Oriental Smoke was well established and some cats such as Scintilla Thunderbird had reached seventh generation Oriental breeding.

The Oriental Smoke did not achieve popular support, and through the 1980's and 1990's though bred in small numbers tended to be the product of Silver Tabby matings rather than by deliberate attempt. There were no serious attempts made to promote the variety and the variety languished into obscurity, though never quite disappeared! Well known Smokes of this period included Farodell Shady Lady, and Cheona Napoleon who by 1988 had 13 Merits to his credit.

Two other influential cats were Mrs Kathy Toft's Myomah Moses and Myomah Mojo who was BiS at the Tabby Point Siamese & Progressive Breeders Cat Club Show in 1983. It is interesting to note that Mojo was from another winning Smoke Myomah Misty who's mother was Myomah Mahali, a Seal Smoke Point Siamese sired by Scintilla Shimmering Mist who was owned by Mrs Gill Tanner.

It was not until 1995 that there were sufficient qualifying cats for the variety to be granted Provisional Status and have the opportunity of winning Intermediate Certificates. In order to be promoted from Preliminary Status to Provisional Status there had to be at least 7 cats who had been awarded at least 3 Merits under three different Judges - it might sound easy now, but breeders of the time will tell a different story!

Besuqueo Tordomimo & Salasim Genistella
Owned by Mrs Sally Lillington

By 2000 the number of Oriental Smokes, and interest in them had increased and on June 1st 2001 the variety finally achieved Championship Status. The 20 Intermediate Certificate winning cats who supported the application for full status were Mrs C. Falconer's Adhirsh Vladimir Chinsky (42) and Advensh Rudee Granovski (42); Mrs G. Devaney's Amlanka Benadin Lynx (42), Mrs Bathgate's Amlanka Kauri Kobin (42e); Mrs S. Lillington's Besuqueo Tordomino (42h) and Salasim Genistella (42e); Ms G. Hemmings Bosscats Theladyofshalott (42e); Mrs B. Fellows Chelanca Flamenco Dancer (42e); Mrs M Gibbon's Dawntreader Gemini Shades (42b); Mrs M Stafford's Heybury Joanna (42); Mrs Bishop's Kariwowl Black Velvet (42); Winyard & McLellan's Kariwowl Elladeville (42); Mr & Mrs Armstrong's Lynavon Midnightmagic (42); Miss Cunningham's Onapromise Evan Ellpuss(42b); Miss May's Palantir Cotinus (42h) and Palantir Kindasmokey (42b); Omer & Hansson's Pannaduloa Kudos (42b); Mrs Smales' Saitan Optimusprime (42); Mrs Muffett's Siaforebur Crypticnickers (42); and Mr & Mrs Parkinson's Smaug Minnie Theminx (42e).

Ch Shungshu Moveover Darling 42b
Showing typical "Clown" markings
Photo by Robert Fox

Whilst all these cats did their bit I have to make special mention of two of them who certainly did more than their share in promoting the variety. The first of these is Mrs Caroleen Falconer's Adhirsh Vladimir Chinsky who won his first IC under me at the OCA Show in 1996, and picked up his sixteenth IC at Notts & Derbys Cat Club Show in 2000. He took the IC & BoB at the 1997 and 1998 GCCF Supreme Shows, and in 1998 was Supreme Best Provisional Neuter. Not being prepared to 'sit on his laurels' this great exhibit went out again after Premier Certificates and became the first Oriental Smoke to take the title of Premier …… not bad going! The other Oriental Smoke who cannot be ignored is Mrs Lesley Muffett's Siaforebur Crypticnickers who won her first IC under Mrs Sheila Hamilton at the Bucks, Oxon & Berkshire Cat Society Show in 1995 and her twentieth IC, again under Mrs Hamilton, at the 1997 Herts & Middlesex Cat Club Show. I well remember awarding her an IC at the 1995 GCCF Supreme Show.

The honour of being the first Smoke GCCF Champion was Ms G Hemmings Ch Bosscats Theladyofshalott (42e) who just pipped to the post Ms Mary Parkinson's Smaug Minnie Theminx (42e) though she subsequently became the first GCCF Smoke Grand Champion. The first Smoke Neuter to make 'Grand' was Mrs Katie Rose's Gr Pr Onapromise Total Eclipse (42h). It seems that the Tortie Smokes are the most popular!

Gr Ch Smaug Minnie Theminx
Owned by Ms Mary Parkinson. Bred by Mr & Mrs M Parkinson
Photo by Alan Robinson

So what then is the Oriental Smoke? Well quite simply it is a non-agouti cat, either Self coloured or Tortie, with the addition of the Silver gene, just as the Silver Tabby is the Silver version of the standard Tabby. It is recognised by GCCF in all colours accepted in the Oriental Shorthair.

Smoke & Silver Tabby - Comparative genotypes
Smoke Genotype Description Tabby Genotype Description
aa B_ D_ C_ I_ Black Smoke A_ B_ D_ C_ I_ Black Silver Tabby
aa B_ dd C_ I_ Blue Smoke A_ B_ dd C_ I_ Blue Silver Tabby
aa bb D_ C_ I_ Chocolate Smoke A_ bb D_ C_ I_ Chocolate Silver Tabby
aa bb dd C_ I_ Lilac Smoke A_ bb dd C_ I_ Lilac Silver Tabby
aa B_ D_ C_ I_ Oo Black Tortie Smoke A_ B_ D_ C_ I_ Oo Black Tortie Silver Tabby
aa B_ D_ C_ I_ O Red Smoke A_ B_ D_ C_ I_ O Red Silver Tabby
aa bb dd C_ I_ O Cream Smoke A_ bb dd C_ I_ O Cream Silver Tabby

When we drew up the Breed Standard of the Oriental Smoke in 1975, at an unforgettable meeting chaired by Mrs Lesley Pring, now GCCF President, we made an error in not following the Breed Standards of other established breeds, something we had done with the standards of all the other Oriental varieties. There was a view amongst some breeders that ghost tabby markings were desirable and the first standard actually asked for "ghost tabby markings giving the effect of watered silk on the body".

The Breed Standard was subsequently changed and the present GCCF Standard asks that there should be 'a near white undercoat, which should be approximately one-third to two-thirds of the total hair length in adults'. This is quite a considerable range, especially in a short coat, and certainly exceeds that accepted in other breeds. In the Smoke Long Hair for example the Standard states that the top two-thirds should be 'of deepest intensity of the appropriate colour' with 'the bottom one-third of the hair as light as possible'. In the Asian Smoke the requirement is that the undercoat 'be no less than one-third, and no more than one-half of the total length of hair in adults.'

The Oriental Smoke Breed Standard still therefore differs slightly from other breeds and allows for the white undercoat to show through with the result that 'faint ghost tabby markings may be evident on the body'. The Standard does state that 'distinct tabby markings in adults are undesirable' but they are not a withholding fault - in other breeds this would not be acceptable and awards would be withheld by Judges.

'Silver' colour is caused by the action of a dominant gene known as the Melanin Inhibitor. When this gene (I) is present the full development of pigmentation in the hair is prevented, and the hairs do not develop 'yellow' pigmentation and have white bases. It affects both the non-agouti and the agouti cat; it turns a non-agouti of 'Self' Cat into a Smoke, and an agouti cat into either a Silver Tabby or Silver Shaded. The gene has a widely variable effect, in some animals there is a very deep white base, whilst in others the animal is so dark that it appears visually self-coloured.

The Melanin Inhibitor or 'Silver' gene is dominant, however because of it's very variable degree of expression some kittens may be so dark that they appear to be a solid normal colour. In the past we used to refer to these animals as being 'overlaps' and may well produce Smoke or Silver kittens, thus giving the impression that the gene is recessive. Because of this the GCCF 'over stamps' or endorses the registrations of all 'apparently' non-silver kittens from Silver breeding with the statement "Silver in pedigree"

In Silver Tabbies the pattern colour, and top colour in Smokes, lacks the warmth of colour which is found in their non-silver, or 'standard' counterparts, so for example a Chocolate Silver Tabby or a Chocolate Smoke will lack the warmth and richness found in a Havana. In the red series there is little if any difference between the pattern colour in a Red and a Red Silver or Red Smoke. In Red, Cream and Apricot the Silver lacks the 'sparkling whiteness' found in other colours and is of a distinct 'ivory white' colour, and to the uninitiated may appear to be a pale cream rather than silver.

Because of the widely variable effect of the Silver gene and the fact that in reds the silver ground is ivory coloured it is often quite difficult to differentiate between reds and red silvers, as is also true for the cream and apricot counterparts. Where the silver genes has a very strong expression there is no problem but where the expression is poor it is a totally different matter. Because of the epistatic effect of the 'O' gene it is impossible to differentiate visually between the Smoke and Silver Tabby in Red, Cream & Apricot and the Smokes will show as much tabby patterning as their Silver Tabby cousins.

© John S Harrison, 2003



The Oriental should be a beautifully balanced animal with head and ears carried on a slender neck and with a long svelte body supported on fine legs and feet, with a slender, whipped tail, free from abnormalities. The body, legs, feet, head and tail should all be in proportion, giving a well balanced appearance. The expression should be alert and intelligent. The cat should be in excellent physical condition.

Head & Neck:
Head long and well proportioned with width between the ears and narrowing in perfectly straight lines to a fine muzzle and forming a balanced triangle with no break or pinch at the whiskers. The head and profile should be wedge shaped, neither round nor pointed, avoiding exaggerated type. In profile the nose should be straight, free from any stop or dip, and the chin should be strong with a level bite. The tip of the chin should line up with the tip of the nose in the same vertical plane. The neck should be long and slender.

Large, pricked and wide at the base with their setting continuing the lines of the wedge.

Oriental in shape and slanting towards the nose with good width between. No tendency to squint.

Medium in size. Long and svelte with a tight abdomen, firm and well muscled throughout.

Legs & Paws:
Legs long and slim. Hind legs higher than the front legs. Legs to be firm and well muscled. Paws small and oval.

Long and tapering. Not blunt ended and free from any abnormality of the bone structure.

Coat: Very short and fine in texture. Glossy and close lying. Even and sound throughout in adults and free from any flakes of dead skin.

Eye Colour:
Green with no flecks of contrasting colour. In Red and Cream Smokes the eye colour may be less intense.

Coat Colour:
Any colour accepted in Oriental Shorthairs with a near-white undercoat, which should be approximately one third to two thirds of the total hair length in adults. The degree of contrast on the head and face should match the body as closely as possible and too much silver giving the appearance of clear tabby markings is undesirable. Some faint ghost tabby markings may be evident on the body, especially in kittens, but distinct tabby markings in adults are undesirable.

Nose Leather, Eye Rims & Paw Pads:
In accordance with the basic colour.

Withhold Certificates or First Prizes in Kitten Open Classes for:
Scattered white hairs.
General Oriental Withholding faults

Scale of Points :

Head & Neck 15
Ears 5
Eye Shape & Setting 5
Body 15
Legs & Paws 5
Tail 5
TYPE 50 Points
Eye Colour 15
Colour & Pattern 30
Coat Texture 5
COAT & COLOUR 50 Points
TOTAL 100 Points

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