Until now, blue eyes were the apanage of white cats, a few bicolors and colorpoint cats. Cats with blue eyes not related to a particular fur color or pattern, had previously appeared in the USA (in New Mexico) in the 80s, Ojos Azules recognized by the Tica in 1991. Unfortunately, the Ojos Azules gene was linked to congenital anomalies, kittens inheriting two copies of the gene being deformed or stillborn.
Another mutation appeared in a gutter cat in the late 90s in Kazakhstan. This is the gene / allele Altai, which gives a blue-eyed cat with almost no white hair. As we will see, this gene is not associated with major health problems.
A blue-eyed cat with a colorful coat was found in Astana, Kazakhstan, in 1998 in the street and was collected by the breeder Zikeevoy Love Borisovny. This breeder conducted breeding work that led to a first recognition of the Altai breed in the SFF (Selection Feline Federation). Unfortunately, the breeder's health concerns forced her to stop work abruptly and valuable information learned during the years of selection was lost. Moreover, the race would be (again and / or become again) at the experimental stage.
The trace of most of her Altai cats has also been lost. Among those whose I found information was Roxi, a blue-eyed cat who was lodged with Ustinia (another Altai but with green eyes) in a family in Ust-Kamenogorsk. He was lent for 6 months to a breeder in Ukraine, Iryna Merzlenko.
This one used it for reproduction and in 2015 Lazuli (black mackerel with the odd eyes) was born and was in turn sold in France at Sophie Guittonneau where he became the founder in his project approved by the LOOF in introducing blue eyes in the British cats. Our Merlin is the son of Lazuli (and Kaena, another descendant of the Altai, also from Ukraine, with green eyes).
As extraordinary as it is, Merlin does not have a pedigree. Of course I keep track of his family and I have pictures of his parents as well as his grandparents (see below), but being the race not yet recognized he is paperless.