Release date: 5 May 2015
This stamp issue provides a snapshot of domestic cat ownership in Australia. Cats are the second-most popular pet nationally in terms of ownership (the dog being the most popular).
Most weekends, there is a cat show somewhere in the country. Cats are also very much entrenched in mainstream popular culture, with Australia’s first cat café opening in Melbourne in 2014 as well as an international cat film festival (of cat internet clips), hosted in Sydney earlier in 2015.
The history of cats in Australia appears to be limited to the first 200 years of European settlement. As there was no indigenous Australian cat, it is thought that the first cats came to Australia aboard on European sailing ships, as it was usual for a ship to have its own moggie on board. “Kittens” and “Rev. John’s Cats” appear in a 1787 list of stores for the First Fleet. According to the book, The Complete History of Cats in Australia, there are few references to pet cats in the early letters and journals of Australian settlers, but there were many newspaper ads for “working cats” at the time. It is thought that cats arrived in a more significant way from the 1800s onwards.
The first social cat club in Australia was founded in Victoria, in 1919. The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy was the first national cat association and was also set up in Victoria, in 1928. It was only the third such body in the world at the time. There are now various national and state cat associations, which look after breed standards, shows and competitions, cat welfare and the like.
Various breeds have combined to produce the official cat breeds of today, of which over 100 breeds are recognised by the various governing cat bodies.
The five cats represent a cross-section of well-loved feline pets in Australia. They span various coat-lengths, colours and types – from pedigreed breeds to the ever-popular Aussie moggie. There is an ancient breed that is thought to have been in Australia since the late 19th century (the Siamese) as well as the only breed wholly originated in Australia, the Australian Mist.
The stamp issue presents each cat as a well-cared-for domestic companion. Each cat is named to show that they are a well-loved member of a family.
The subjects featured in the Cats stamp issue also span each of the four categories of cats used by many national and state governing cat bodies for registration and showing purposes.
The design presents each cat in a portrait-like photographic pose, in order to bring out their facial features, colouring and eyes. The typography has been developed to represent the playful nature of cats as well as alluding to cat whiskers.
Charo (AKA Bajimbi Seal Charo) is a seal point Siamese. The Siamese breed is an ancient breed, dating back to the Royal Palaces of Siam, and one of the earliest pedigreed breeds to come to Australia.
Famous Australian soprano, Dame Nellie Melba is believed to be the first owner of a Siamese cat in the country, during the late 19th century or early 20th century in Melbourne, and the first Siamese breeding pair were brought to Australia in 1925.
Siamese are considered a balanced, refined and aristocratic cat. They are very affectionate and highly intelligent. They crave company, like attention and often ‘talk’ loudly.
Indeed, Charo loves to talk. He can be both highly playful or found basking in the sun through the window. He loves children as well as his owner’s elderly father, who he will play ‘fetch’ with for hours on end. Charo is a decorated show cat too.
Bubu is a domestic shorthair, which is by far the most common type of pet cat in Australia (particularly when you include domestic longhair varieties).
Bubu is a handsome, loyal and caring cat. He loves the various cubby houses he has made in the apartment block where he lives and he loves his food, especially fish.
Technically speaking, the name for a cat of no discernable breed in Australia is an alley cat. However they are more commonly known as domestic cats or moggies.
Moggies are often intelligent, adaptable and even-tempered, making them well-suited to their role as a companion cat. They come in a wide range of colours, sizes and coat patterns. It is because of their genetic mix that moggies are invariably robust and hardy. Cats with a tortoiseshell coat are almost always female, whereas ginger domestic shorthairs, like Bubu, are almost always male.
Sweetie is a tortoiseshell Maine Coon (also known as an American Longhair) – a newer breed to Australia, from the USA.
The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated breed of cat in the world. Males can weigh up to 11 kilograms and can reach a length of over one metre. The Maine Coon is a long or medium-haired, cat, with strong facial features and a soft and silky coat, with fluff around the neck and tail.
Maine Coons are often referred to as gentle giants. And indeed, Sweetie is very affectionate and sweet-natured. She loves playing with all types of toys and joining in on family life, including following her owners around the house (and also onto the bed to sleep). Sweetie needs a little extra attention too, as she has epilepsy.
Maine Coons are very intelligent and known for their loyalty and independent, with a gentle disposition (though they can be quite vocal). Maine Coons are very inquisitive and love water (so are even known to like having a shower).
Cato is a Ragdoll – so named because of their tendency to become limp and relaxed, like a ragdoll, when picked up.
Originating from the USA, the Ragdoll is a relatively new breed of cat to Australia and increasingly popular. The Australasian Pet Registry of Australia estimates that it is the probably the fifth most popular type of cat owned by Australians.
The Ragdoll is a large, semi-longhair, blue-eyed cat, with a long, thick and bushy tail. It has an affectionate and laid-back nature, so is very much a companion cat. The Ragdoll also has dog-like traits such as liking attention, being playful and following its family around the house. Cato certainly exhibits very typical Ragdoll traits, including going floppy whenever possible.
Cato is cheeky and playful and loves hiding behind doors and chairs and jumping out to surprise people. This behaviour led to his name, as it reminded his owners of the character in the Peter Sellers’ Pink Panther movies, Cato Fong, who would jump out of cupboards and elsewhere to surprise people.
Briony (AKA Domna Briony of Hastur) is a nine-year-old blue spotted Australian Mist. The Australian Mist (originally known as the Spotted Mist) is the only Australian cat breed that is wholly originated in Australia. In other words, it is the only current “true blue Aussie” breed.
Australian Mists are affectionate and thrive on human contact, making them an ideal companion cat. They are intelligent, love playing games and enjoy being a central part of family life.
True to her heritage, Briony has a very affectionate and friendly personality. She is very curious and loves to meet and greet visitors at the front door (when she is not sitting on shoulders so she can see exactly what’s going on.) She is also a champion show cat.
The Australian Mist was derived from the Burmese (for their loving nature, pattern and range of colours), the Abyssinian (for their temperament, vitality and tabby markings), and domestic cat (for added vigour and resilience).
Australian Mists are moderate in size, with large, expressive green eyes and a short coat on a warm cream background. The face has delicate tabby markings. The Australian Mist comes in spotted or marbled patterns and has a ‘misted’ veil over the top, hence the name.
Issue date5 May 2015
FDI withdrawal3 June 2015
Denomination5 x 70c se-tenant
Stamp designJonathan Chong
Product designJonathan Chong
Paper - gummedTullis Russell
Paper - self-adhesiveC100
Stamp size26mm x 37.5mm
Perforations13.86 x 14.6
Sheet layoutModule of 50
National postmarkBalcatta, WA 6021
Issue withdrawal date30 November 2015
The stamps were designed by Jonathan Chong. Jonathan is a Melbourne-based graphic designer. He was a designer in the Australia Post Design Studio until mid-2007. He runs his own freelance business, produces motion graphics, animations, award-winning music videos, visual communication and documentaries, including a series that screened on ABC2. Jonathan’s stamp designs for Australia Post include the Queen’s Golden Jubilee stamp issue (2002), Australian Legends of Horse Racing (2007), Aviation (2008) and the Southern Cross (blue and red) and wattle stamps from the For Special Occasions stamp issue (2010), 150th Melbourne Cup (2010), two stamp issues from the London Olympic Games (2012) and the Love Is in the Air stamp issue (2014).
- Stamp (5 x 70c)
- Cover (blank)
- First day cover (gummed)
- First day cover (s/a)
- Stamp pack
- Maxicard (5)
- PNC (PM)
- S/A booklet of 10 x 70c (x5)
- Chequebook of 20 x 10 x 70c (x5)
- Booklet Collection
- Roll of 200 s/a
- Strip of five
- Gutter (10 x 70c) design
*This content was produced at the time of the stamp issue release date and will not be updated.