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With its long fur and large eyes, the Persian cat is one of America's favorite felines. It's easy to see why these pets are so popular, as their beautiful coloring and affectionate nature gives them great appeal. A Persian's owner must be prepared to spend time grooming, to keep that glorious coat in top condition, and should also provide a soft bed where this home-loving cat can curl up and relax.
History of Persian Cats
Legend has it that a magician made the very first Persian cat, 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 are uncertain, but it is thought they may be the descendants of the earliest long-haired felines, pictured in ancient hieroglyphics.
There are many different tales about how these striking, fluffy-coated cats first came to the West. Some historians believe they were brought to Europe by Crusaders in the 14th century, while others argue they only arrived later, carried home as trophies of their travels by sailors in the 16th century. Some of the cats are said to have come from Persia, now Iran, while others came from Turkey.
They soon became the favored pets of European royal families, and interest in the breed grew in the 1870s, when Persians took the spotlight at the first organized cat show, held in London. Around the same time, the first Persian cats were imported from Europe to the US and quickly gained in popularity here too, as cat clubs were formed and many cat shows were held.
Persian cats are known for their flat faces, large eyes, sturdy bodies and sweet facial expression. They are medium to large in size, and usually weigh between 8 and 12lb, with large, round heads and small ears. Their beautiful fur will vary in length depending on the type of Persian, but can grow to 4 inches on the body and as long as 8 inches on the tail.
The original Persians are believed to have had gray fur, but today the cats are found in many different and distinct shades. Solid colors include black, red, cream and the famous blue, which is actually a pale silvery-gray. Pure white Persians may have blue or copper-colored eyes, or even one blue and one copper. There are also many other colors and patterns of coat, including chinchilla and shades of silver and gold as well as smoke-grey and tabby. One especially popular type is the Himalayan, which has Persian characteristics but combined with Siamese coloring and blue eyes.
Although they typically live for around 12 to 15 years, Persians can live to be 20 or even older. The number of kittens in a litter will vary, but is generally around four or five.
Persian Cats' Character and Temperament
Persian cats are the number one pedigree breed in the US, and one reason for this is that they are the perfect cats for an indoor lifestyle. This is because they are not as active as some other breeds and like to spend a lot of time curled up asleep. Known as lap cats, they typically don't climb as Siamese cats do, but are happy to sit on a chair, and they have a relatively quiet meow. Despite their placid nature, Persians do enjoy playing with cat toys.
They are affectionate pets and less independent than some other types of cat, liking to spend a lot of time with their owners being petted and stroked. This means that, if you are going to be out at work all day, it may be a good idea to have two cats, so that your Persian does not get lonely. Ideally, Persians like a quiet home, but they can adapt well to living in a noisier household, such as one with young children, especially if they are used to this from kitten-hood onwards.
Care for a Persian Cat
In order to keep their long fur in good condition and avoid it becoming matted, Persian cats need to be groomed daily. Combing is vital to get rid of dead hair and prevent any matting developing, concentrating on areas such as behind the ears. Persian cats also require regular de-greasing and bathing, which is something you can either do yourself or get carried out by a professional groomer. As well as caring for the coat, it is also important to cleanse a Persian's eyes properly, as the breed can develop problems such as discharge. However, it is best to consult your vet before using any specialist products in this area. Ears and claws also need regular attention. Despite being kept indoors, Persians still need to have all their inoculations, and regular health care is also vital, as with all cats. Feeding a quality cat food, maintaining a schedule of routine check-ups and contacting your vet at the first sign of any illness will help keep your Persian in top condition. It can be harder to train a Persian to use a litter box than it is with most breeds, so it is best if this is done as early on as possible.
Persian cats do need more attention than some other breeds, so ownership should not be taken lightly. However, if you look after your Persian cat properly, this pet will give you many years of affection, and become a much-loved member of the family.