Believe it or not, Persian cats are thought to be the oldest breed of cats, but at the same time, there are numerous different versions of where the Persian cat began. It is widely believed, however, in all versions that the Persian cat originated in the country that was once known as Persia, which is now modern day Iran.
The popular version of the Persian cat history is that Persians were introduced first to Italy, around 1620, by Pietro della Valle and that they were brought from Turkey to France by Nicholas Claude Fabri de Peiresc about the same time. These are documented instances, and again, they fit into all versions of the Persians history.
It is believed that Persians were introduced to Britain from France, and that before this time, they did not have the long hair that we see today. Instead, they were bred in Turkey with Turkish Angoras, which is where the long hair comes from. However, in other versions of the history, the cats were bred with African wildcats to obtain the longer hair.
There is no doubt, in any version, that Persians were always considered to be cats of high value. They were considered to be rare, and they were favored by royalty. In fact, there was a point in time where royalty were the only people who owned Persians or at the very least that Persians were only owned by people of royalty and/or wealth.
Another version of the Persian history has today's Persians as descendants of Felis Libyca, which is actually a cat that originates from Africa and Asia. This version also has the Persian being introduced to Europe much earlier than 1620. In fact, this version has the Persian being introduced in the 1500s by the Romans and Phoenicians. This version also states that Persians were considered to be of high trade value.
We can be certain about the time that these special cats were first introduced to the United States and Canada. This occurred in the early 1900s, and from that time on, the cats gained in popularity, quickly becoming the most popular breed of cat in the world, which is a distinction that the breed still holds today. In fact, Persians started out as symbols, and became pets, after which they were prized for their show quality. Today, they are prized for their show and pet qualities, as many Persian owners never show their cats, while others are active exhibitors.