As the name suggests, the Persian cat originated in Persia, which is now known as Iran. It is one of the oldest yet most popular cat breeds. Records suggest that Pietro Della Valle, an Italian nobleman and world traveler, was the one who had brought the first longhaired breed to Europe in 1626. Other longhaired domestic cats had been brought over from the icy regions of Russia and Turkey. These cats were all bred together. The longhair trait was probably the result of a natural mutation for the colder temperatures in the stated regions. The Persian cats were first recognized for its silky grey fur before selective breeding introduced a wider range of colors for this breed.
While cat shows were gaining footings at that time, the Persian cat was also establishing its popularity. In fact, the desirability of the Persian breed was considered to be sparked off by Queen Victoria, who had a special fondness towards the breed and had owned a blue Persian herself. Importations of this breed into the United States started in the late 1800s and its popularity soon outweighed that of the Main Coon, the homegrown breed in America.
With over hundred years of selective breeding, the Persian breed has become very different from when it was first discovered. However, the refinements only promoted the Persian breed, making it account for nearly 80 percent of the pedigreed cat population.
Physical appearance and attributes
The Persian breed is a medium to large sized cat that weighs about 9 -14 pounds for males and 7 – 11 pounds for females. It possesses a cobby body type with heavy boning. The wide chest, broad shoulders and rump, level back and rounded midsection formed the soft rounded lines of the body. The large size of the cat should be credited to its well- developed muscles with no hint of obesity. Persian cat has short legs that are thick and strong. Their large, firm and rounded paws keep them well-grounded. It balances well with a short but well-proportioned tail that is set at an angle slightly lower than the back.
The massive head is set on a short, broad neck. Its skull is of a good breath with a smooth rounded touch. The face is flat as evident from the vertical alignment of the forehead, nose and chin when viewed in profile. The prominence of the eyes is also apparent. It has a short, broad and snub nose that runs with a break between the eyes. Its firm and well-developed chin complemented its strong and powerful jaw. The unpronounced muzzle appears to smooth into its full cheeks. Ears of the Persian cat are small with rounded tips. They are set far apart and low on the head such that it blends well with its head contour. Completing the sweet expression is a pair of large, rounded and wide-set eyes that are positioned at a good level. They gleam in the brilliant colors of copper. Blue, green, hazel and odd-eye are also possible depending on its coat colors and patterns.
What marks the cat a Persian breed is also the fine textured and glossy hair that spreads long and thick across its body. It wears an immense ruff with a length that spills over into a deep frill between the front legs. Such beautiful hair also appears as tufts on the ears and toes. The coat can come in an array color combinations and patterns, making it a truly charming breed.
Personality and temperament
The Persian cat is more than just a breed with charming appearance. What truly captures the hearts are its delightful personality and temperaments. The gentle and laid back disposition has made it an endearing and sweet pet to have around the home.
The Persian cat does not shy away from any forms of pampering and cuddles. It prefers to have its footings on the ground to high places. However, it is far from being passive and has enough energy for hours on interactive toys and tricks to satisfy its playfulness.
It is a well-composed cat that is not overly demanding. Even though its soft, pleasant voice is rarely used, the Persian will display its affections through its devotion and trusted companionship. Such loyalty is however reserved for the one who would shower it with an equal amount of love and attention.
Care and health issues
This breed has an average life expectancy of between 12 – 15 years. Though generally healthy, possible health concerns include Polycystic Kidney disease (PKD), a hereditary condition that could lead to kidney dysfunction caused by kidney cysts. The symptoms usually occur in cats between 7 – 10 years of age or earlier.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is another hereditary health issue that causes vision problems. This would occur early in the life of the kitten, usually between 4 – 8 weeks old and deteriorates rapidly to complete blindness.
Other common health problems are Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), bladder stones or infections, and liver shunts. To ensure that the cat was healthy at the time of purchase, it is necessary to obtain a written health guarantee from qualified breeders.
Persian cats require high maintenance. Its coat mats easily; thus, in order to remove tangles, dead hairs and the discomfort these causes the cat, it is necessary to comb the coat daily with a stainless steel comb. A weekly bath should also be considered. Persian cats also have the tendency to tear due to its pushed-in facial structure. Hence, it is advisable to wash or wipe the face daily in order to prevent any tear stain under the eyes.
Other basic care should include mail trimming when necessary, ear checks for redness or odor that indicates infection, and frequent teeth brushing with vet-approved products. Being sensitive to have made it necessary for the cat to live in an air-conditioned or cool environment.
The ideal home
For safety reasons and coat maintenance, the Persian is best suited for indoor living. However, it would not reject the privilege of having an escape-proof and tranquil garden where it can run and play freely.
The Persian prefers a household that prizes serenity. Even though it is able to tolerate solitude, it should not be kept in that state for extended periods. It requires a substantial amount of time to play, thus, it is necessary to have an adventure zone equipped with all interactive toys. The family would also need to make the time for daily proper grooming.
Having a balanced-temperament and a striking appearance made the Persian cat an invaluable breed to have as a pet. It possesses an adaptable and predictable nature. Coupled with its gentle and composed disposition, the Persian will prove itself to an endearing, sweet and easy-going for any families that would shower it with the necessary care and attention.