Proud and yet friendly, the Persian cat breed is one of the most famous cat breeds in the world. Calm, cute, and with quite easily distinguished features, the Persian cat is a favorite of a lot of cat owners and there are a great deal of reasons for that.
In later years, the Persian cat is cited to be the second most popular cat breed in the United States, surpassed only by the Exotic breed.
Persian Cat Breed Information
Everything Future and Current Owners Must Know
General Persian Cat Breed Questions
Here are some of the most common questions about the Persian cat breed that most future and current cat owners may be curious about.
1. I’ve seen a variety of different cat breeds, all resembling the Persian cat’s flat muzzle. Are there different variations of the Persian cat?
As with all other cats and domesticated animals, breeders around the world have tried to breed different variations of the Persian cat. The main reason for that is an attempt by many breeders to restore and preserve the original type of Persian cat, mainly due to the health issues that modern Persians have (more on those – below).
The different names people often encounter, however, are mainly referring to the same breed and not variations of it. In different parts of the world, the Persian cat is also known as the Longhair, Persian Longhair, Shirazi cat, Shiraz cat, or Iranian cat (The modern country of Iran is on the territory of ancient Persia).
The Persian cat is also sometimes confused with the slightly different Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair cats. Some cat breeding organizations even view those two as variants of the Persian cat breed.
There are also the Toy Persian or Teacup Persian cats. Produced by some breeders, these cats are also often called “Palm-sized” cats”, “Pocket cats”, “Mini cats”, or “Pixie cats”. However, you’ll hardly mistake these toy cats with their original bigger brethren.
Another variation is the Chinchilla Longhair and the Sterling cat. First intended as completely different breeds, they didn’t differ from the Persian cat enough, so they are viewed as a sub-breed. Still, there are some differences – a slightly longer muzzle, resulting in a better overall health, as well as the prevailing blue-green or green eye color.
2. Persian cats and Angoras are quite similar, right? Or are they technically the same breed?
No, the Persian and the Angora cat breeds are different, however, most people will be pardoned if they mistake them. In fact, for a long time both breeds were simply considered “Long-haired cats” by most western breeders and organizations.
Dorothy Bevill Champion was one of the first to lay out the difference between the two types in the 1909 Everybody’s Cat Book:
Our pedigree imported long-hairs of to-day are undoubtedly a cross of the Angora and Persian; the latter possesses a rounder head than the former, also the coat is of quite a different quality.
Bell pointed out more differences between the two breeds:
- Persian coats have a more woolly under coat, and a significantly longer outer coat. During the warm summer months the under coat sheds and only the long hair remains.
- In contrast, the Angora cat has a different singular coat of soft hair that hangs in locks. Additionally, the Angora’s hair is longer on the shoulders and the hind legs.
- The head and the muzzle of the two breeds is also quite different, especially in later years – the Angoras have a pointier, wedge-shaped head.
As more years passed and the Persian’s muzzle became shorter and flatter, the breeds were officially separated. Still, they are often crossbred, so a lot of Persian-Angora mixed cats can be found.
3. That flat face cannot be natural. Was it breed like this on purpose?
Yes. Exactly when, how, and by whom, however, is not really certain.
The Persian cat is a very old breed and while its origins are relatively clear, it has been bred professionally for so long, that the source of both its short muzzle and its long hair, are quite unclear.
History of Persian Cat Breed
With the general questions about the Persian cat breed out of the way, some pet owners are often curious about the history of this breed of cat. Here’s what to know.
1. Given its name, the Persian cat likely comes from ancient Persia, correct? How old exactly is the breed?
Yes, the Persian cats’ origins are traced back to the ancient Persian Empire (today’s Iran and Middle East).
For how long have the Persian cats been a part of the Middle East is unclear – a lot of historical documents and artefacts from the Mesopotamian area depict a Persian-like cat.
At what point, however, did the breed get its distinctive long hair, considering that the African wildcat (the ancestor of domesticated cats) has short hair – that’s unclear. Most likely, it’s due to a natural mutation.
2. When did the Persian cat come to Europe and America?
The first documented import of a Persian cat in Europe happened around 1620-1630. The cat came from Khorasa, Persia into Italy by Pietro della Valle.
Around the same time, Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc imported another Persian cat from Angora (modern day Ankara, Turkey) into France. The Khorasan cats imported into Italy had grey hair, while the ones from Angora – white.
Not long after that, the breed found its way into Britain.
The breed didn’t enter the United States until the late 19th century. This delayed entrance, however, didn’t stop it from quickly becoming a crowd favorite.
3. How crossbred exactly are the Persian cats today? Do the modern breed represent its ancestry or are they overbred with other Asiatic breed?
The Persian cats have been excessively breed with a lot of different breeds. At first, they were crossed with other Asiatic breeds like the Angora cats, but in later years – with a lot of Western breeds as well.
Recent genetic research shows that modern Persian cats have almost completely lost their phylogeographical signature and are essentially related mainly to Western European cats and not Near East breeds.
Personality of Persian Cat Breed
Here are a few things that pet owners need to know about the personality of Persian cat breeds, because they certainly differ from many other domesticated cats.
1. How friendly is the Persian? Is it a nice companion cat, or is it too capricious?
Is it playful and energetic, or is it calmer and more of an “old person’s cat”?
“Playful” and “Energetic” are rarely very suitable words when describing a Persian cat. Persian cats are typically quite calm and reserved cats. They prefer to give you their attention by simply allowing you to give them yours.
As long as there is a family member at home, the preferred sitting place of most Persian cats will be in that person’s lap, where they can be properly adored and loved. When they are alone, they are likely to just sleep on a couch, bed or a chair, waiting for their attention-providers to come home.
All this makes the Persian cat an excellent companion cat – one that will always be close to you and give you its gentle warmth. Persian cats are not much of explorers or rascals, you’ll almost never see a Persian cat hanging from a curtain or anything like that.
If a Persian cat ever does any mischief, then it will usually be because it’s ill-trained or is simply unhappy with you. After all, even a calm and relaxed cat can get bored if it’s not getting any attention.
2. You mentioned training – what need does a Persian cat have of training?
Do I need to do something specific to make sure my Persian cat grows up into a nice and decent animal?
Cats are quite different from dogs and do not require that much specialized training. Cats will instinctively use their toilet crate from the first time you show it to them. They don’t bark, they won’t attack a guest unless actively provoked and pushed, they don’t need to be walked outside and therefore – don’t need to be trained to behave there.
However, they are still social animals that will be a part of your household and family for years to come. As a result, there are some things that you might want to pay attention to. As with dogs, we can sum those up in 3 main categories:
1. Parents. If you want to get an idea of what your little kitty’s personality will look like when it grows up, take a look at its parents. Mainly pay attention to the mother, but if possible – check out the father and the rest of the kitty’s siblings. Also, when presented with an entire litter, don’t necessarily go for the biggest and most active kitty, nor for the smallest outcast – just like people, cats’ personalities start developing from the earliest age, so it’s usually best to pick a kitty that’s right in the middle – it hasn’t be abused by its siblings and ignored by its parents, but it also hasn’t been a bully.
2. Training. As we said above, there’s not much specialized training that needs to be done for a cat, and Persian cats, in particular, are hard to teach tricks since they are not that playful. Nevertheless, as all other cats and pets, you’ll likely want or need to teach them some basic things – where you don’t want them to go, what you don’t want them to do, etc. In those instances, it’s important to remember to never train your cat through negative reinforcement – never hit them, neither with a naked hand, nor with objects, and avoid harsh language and tone. Cats react to such “training” even worse than dogs do. Instead, simply stock up with patience.
3. Socializing is quite important for any feline, and especially so for a Persian cat. Most cat breeds can be very frightful about outsiders and guests, and if they haven’t been accustomed to outside people, they may grow up to be very antisocial. That lack of social skills may not be displayed towards you and the rest of your household and your cat will likely still be close to you, but unless you want your cat to constantly run and hide whenever you have guests, it’s advisable to accustom it to that from the earliest age.
Persian cats in particular can be very discriminating. If treated well they will love all members of the household, but they may become very intolerant to outsiders if they are not used to them.
Health of Persian Cat Breed
One of the most important parts to cover is the health of Persian cat breed.
1. You mentioned that Persian cats are known to have health issues. How extensive are those health issues?
Unfortunately, Persian cats are one of the most sickly cat breed out there. The breed’s rounded face and short nose make it prone to a lot of breathing difficulties, as well as various skin and eye conditions.
Many different organizations such as the Germany’s Animal Welfare Act, the British Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), The International Cat Association (TICA), and others, have prohibited the breeding of brachycephalic (short nosed) Persian cats in which the tip of the nose is higher than the lower eyelids.
Here are some of the most common health problems in Persian cats:
- Breathing difficulties caused by constricted and ill-shaped nostrils.
- Heat sensitivity.
- Dental malocclusions – misshapen jaw which leads to mismatching teeth.
- Malformed tear ducts. This can often cause epiphora – an excessive overflow of tears.
- Other eye conditions include cherry eye and entropion – the eyelids fold inward and rub against the cornea. This can lead to tearing, pain, infection and damage.
- Polycystic kidney disease.
- Cryptorchidism – the absence of one or both testicles from the scrotum.
- Ringworm – a fungal infection.
- Various skin conditions such as eborrhea oleosa.
2. How do I make sure that my cat will be as healthy as possible?
With cats, as with dogs, it’s important to talk to a good cat breeder before purchasing your future feline friend. For example, you can consult with the Pet Professional Guild on how to find a trustworthy pet breeder.
An adequate professional cat breeder will provide you with health clearances for both parents of the kitty and prove that it’s been tested and cleared of many of the possible conditions it might have.
After you’ve gotten your Persian friend, make sure to find a trustworthy veterinarian, preferably one that works 24/7, and consult with them about all of your cat’s needs.
Care of Persian Cat Breed
Caring for Persian cat breed is similar to your regular cat care of other domesticated cats, but there are a few things that pet owners should know.
1. How often do I need to take care of my Persian cat’s hair?
A Persian cat’s coat needs to be groomed on a daily basis. If that sounds excessive, then a Persian is simply not the breed for you.
This breed requires daily grooming not only for the sake of having a beautiful coat, but for the sake of its health as well – such a long hair can get entangled very easily and hold small pieces of litter and waste, which in turn can cause hair and skin problems.
Additionally, a monthly bathing is also often a good idea. While it’s not advisable for most other cat breeds, with such a long hair, the Persian is one of the several exceptions.
Also, make sure to give your Persian cat food that eases the release of hairballs.
2. Outside of the hair issue, what other care should I keep in mind?
Related to the long coat of the Persian cat is the problem with the litter box – small pieces of litter can lodge in the cat’s paws and coat.
For this reason you should not only keep the cat’s coat clean, but make sure that the litter box itself is also impeccably clean as well – if the cat doesn’t like its litterbox, it will simply stop using it. Cleaning the litterbox at least twice per day is mandatory.
3. How should I feed a Persian cat?
Persian cats are notorious for being fussy eaters. Therefore, it’s advisable to get them used to a wider variety of cat food, otherwise you might have problems if you try to change their diet later on.
Other than that, as long as the cat food is of a high enough quality, and helps with the release of hairballs – there shouldn’t be any problems.
4. What else should I know?
Since Persian cats are known to have eye problems, you’ll likely have to regularly clean the corners of your cat’s eyes.
Brushing your cat’s teeth is also vital – daily, if you can, if not, at least once per week.
Children and Other Pets for Persian Cat Breeds
1. How will a Persian cat feel in a house with one or more little kids?
Being a calm and passive breed, Persian cats will not like overly playful kids that want to chase them, toy with them, or play with their hair. For this reason, Persian cats are usually not recommended for households with kids that are too young.
If, however, the children are older or well-behaved, and can be taught not to bother the cat, but instead – to groom it, show it gentle affection and play with it in a peaceful manner, then any Persian cat will be happy to join your family.
2. How about other pets? How will a Persian cat act around a dog?
As with kids, this depends entirely on the dog’s behavior. If the dog is too rowdy, too loud, and too playful – the Persian cat will not be happy. If, instead, the dog is calm and well-mannered, then the Persian cat will happily snuggle with it.
Conclusion on Persian Cat Breed Profile
Persian cats are great companion pets – they are calm and well-mannered, they love to snuggle and be petted.
They are not suitable for outside environment, they don’t like excessive playing, and they don’t misbehave unless provoked.
All this makes them an ideal pet for anyone who’s looking for a quiet and loving furry friend at home, as long as they’re ready to properly take care of the cat and its possible health problems.