With its soft, long fur, and large, expressive eyes, the Persian cat has long been one of America's favorite felines. It's easy to see why it's so popular – it’s intelligent, well-tempered, and affectionate.
However, a Persian's parents must be prepared to regularly groom cats because this breed has a coat full of life, and someone has to help the Persian keep that glorious fur in top condition. So, before adopting a Persian kitty, take some time to learn more about this extraordinary breed and the care it requires.
History of Persian cats
Legend has it that a magician created the very first Persian cat by waving his wand to bring together a bright flame, a puff of smoke, and the glow from a pair of distant stars. In reality, the origins of these cats' origins are uncertain, but it’s believed they are descendants of the earliest long-haired felines, pictured in ancient hieroglyphics.
No one knows exactly how the fluffy felines first came to the West, and many tales exist. Some historians believe they were brought to Europe by crusaders in the 14th century. In contrast, others argue that Persian cats arrived later with some sailors, who carried the felines home as trophies in the 16th century. It’s believed that some Persian cats came from Persia, nowadays Iran, while others are from Turkey.
Either way, these gorgeous cats soon became the favored pets of European royal families, and they even adorned the parlors of Queen Victoria. Interest in the breed grew in the 1870s when Persian cats took the spotlight at the first organized cat show in London.
Around the same time, the first Persian cats were imported from Europe to the US and quickly gained popularity as cat clubs were formed and cat shows held. Mrs. Clinton Locke (Lockehaven) was one of the early breeders in America, winning shows with her cats.
Physical characteristics of the Persians
Persian cats are known for their flat faces, large eyes, sturdy bodies, and sweet facial expression. They have large, round heads with big cheeks, and their ears are small and set apart. The nose is short, and so is the neck. The tail is short and straight too.
The Persians’ beautiful fur varies in length, depending on the breed’s type, but can be up to 4 inches long and, on the tail, even up to 8 inches. It’s soft, dense, and plush – standing away from the body. The dense undercoat is what gives it a full volume. Two main types of texture are noted, and each requires special care:
- Silky – associated with dominant colors like black and red. It’s shinier and more resilient.
- Soft and cottony – associated with dilute colors like cream and blue. It stains and mats more easily and needs extra attention.
Persian cats are medium to large in size and usually weigh between 8 and 12 lbs. The typical life expectancy is 12-15 years, depending on many factors, including environment and nutrition. The number of kittens in a litter will vary, generally around four or five.
Persian breed group
The Persian breed group includes the Exotic Shorthair and the Himalayan. The Exotic Shorthair is the shorthair equivalent of the Persian and differs only by coat length. It has a plush, dense coat makes this kitty look like a teddy bear.
The Himalayan was developed by combining the breeds of Persians and Siamese. This man-made hybrid breed is identical to the Persian but distinguished by the points on the cats' facial mask, feet, ears, tail, and deep blue eyes.
Colors of Persian cats
The original Persians are believed to have had grey fur, but today the shades are many. The Persians can be solid, bicolor, particular, as well as shaded, smoke, silver, and golden. There are also many other coat types, including tabby, calico, and a chinchilla. The colors include black, red, white, chocolate, lilac, sepia, mink, and the famous blue, a pale silvery-grey. Pure white Persians may have blue or copper-colored eyes or even one blue and one copper.
Character and temperament of the Persian breed
Persian cats are always among the most popular breeds worldwide, and one of the reasons is that they are perfect for indoors. On the one hand, these cats aren’t as active as some other breeds. For example, they don’t typically climb as the Siamese do but are happy to relax. On the other hand, Persians are mellow and docile. They love to pose and hang out at a favorite spot, such as a window sill.
Additionally, these cats have a relatively low meow and are overall quiet creatures. They do best in an atmosphere of peacefulness. Ideally, Persians like a quiet home, but they can adapt well to living in a noisier household with young children, especially if they get used to it early on.
Despite their placid nature, Persians do enjoy playing with cat toys. They also love spending time with their owners. So, if you are away all day, consider getting another cat so your Persian does not get lonely.
Care of Persian cat
If you are considering adopting a Persian cat, be prepared to make time for a regular grooming ritual. A metal comb is a must, as it will help you prevent tangles and mats. It will also spare you the drawbacks of hairballs.
Bathing is also part of active maintenance and should be started when the cat is young, so it can get used to it. A towel-dry is recommended after each bath, and after that, the Persian cat’s coat needs to be combed smooth and blow-dried. Of course, you could leave all of that to a professional groomer.
The Persians’ eyes require special care too. They should be wiped daily as the large eyes can attract dust and irritants that may cause issues. The breed is prone to eye problems, but you should consult a vet before using any special products in this area.
The Persians ears and claws also need regular attention. Despite living indoors, Persians still need to have all their immunizations as well. Regular health checks and quality food are important as with all other pets.
All in all, Persian cats do need more attention than some other breeds, so ownership should not be taken lightly. However, with its laid-back personality, this cat will give you many years of gentle companionship and will surely earn its spot as a much-loved member of the family.