The White Persian Longhair (WPL) cat is within the Persian Breed Group. It was suggested, from historic references, that the WPL was first produced in the Middle East. It first arrived in France during the 1800s and France was then thought to be the place where the WPL started its development. The coat of white was considered to be the result of cross breeding with the Angora cat from Turkey as the brilliant white silky coat of the Angoras was a highly prized trait. In fact, white cats were originally referred to as Angora, but were later changed to Persian.
Two distinct varieties of the WPL cat exist, one with blue eyes and the other with deep orange/copper eyes. Due to inbreeding, the odd-eye variety has also occurred. It is quite common that the side of the ear where the blue eye is at, will be deaf. Thus, total deafness might occur in the blue –eyed variety. This is due to a genetic problem in the pedigree breed.
Breeding program with other long-haired cats was set up. This was when the crossing has resulted in the orange-eyed variety. It has also helped to improve the coat length, density and quality of the cat. The orange-eyed variety has gained more popularity over the years. One of the factors could be the difficulty in achieving the desirable depth for the blue eye color since outcrosses to develop this feature have not been permitted.
Another challenge is in producing the snow white coat. Genetically speaking, only one gene from one parent is needed to give a 50% possibility of producing a kitten with white coat. However, this white gene is later discovered to be different from the white spotting gene present in some of the bi-color cats. This thus limited the gene pool of the WPL breed. Moreover, there are essentially different shades of white. Thus to achieve the dazzling white coat and maintain it thereafter definitely calls for much concerted effort.
The Persian breed was imported to the United States in the late 1800s. Popularity soared and it has become a highly preferred breed to other popular cat breeds that have gone before. More than 100 years of selective breeding has helped to further refine the breed, resulting in the present form and appearance.
Physical appearance and attributes
The physical appearance of the WPL cat is similar to any other Persian cats except for its coat color. It is a medium to large sized cat that weighs between 9 – 14 pounds for males and between 7 – 11 pounds for females. This breed possesses the appearance of a huge full ball. However, beneath the glorious and voluminous coat is a study and toned muscular body of a cobby type. Its heavy boning adds to the weight. The shoulders and rump are considerably broad with a rounded midsection and level back. The legs are short and thick, but strong. They extend into large rounded paws that are firm with compact toes. Balancing this cobby's body is a short plume tail that is in good proportion to its body length. It is set at an angle that is slightly lower than the back.
The head is rounded and massive, well set on a short and thick neck. Skull structure is smooth, rounded and of a great breath. The face is also rounded and when viewed in profile, an imaginary alignment can be traced vertically from the forehead down to the nose and chin. The prominence of the eyes is also apparent. The nose is comparatively short, snub and board. A break in the center between the eyes is evident. Its cheeks lie full in the face and smooth, nicely into the unpronounced muzzle. The jaws are broad and powerful leading into a full and well-developed chin that is firmly rounded. Persian cats have small ears with rounded tips. They are set far apart and low on the head without distorting the rounded contours. The large, round and full eyes are one of the distinctive attributes of a Persian cat. They are set level and far apart. It is the feature that gives this cat its sweet expression.
Another distinctive feature of the Persian cat is its full-of-life coat. It is long, thick and stands off from the body. The extended length of the hair runs across its entire body, including the shoulders. Adorning the neck is an immense ruff that continues into a deep frill between the forelegs. Adornments can also appear as ear and toe tufts. The coat color of the WPL cat is of a pure glistening white with fine and glossy texture adding to the luster of the coat.
Personality and temperament
The Persian cat is a gentle, docile and sweet breed. It prefers a serene environment where lounging can be made comfortable. Unlike more athletic cats, the Persian cat is content to have its play on the ground and would rather adorn your furniture than climb on it. Being a mild cat, it expresses its sentiments mostly through its large expressive eyes rather than vocally. It does, however, have a soft, pleasant and musical voice that matches its sweet appearance and which it uses only when necessary.
Persian is an affectionate breed, but it reserves its attention only to those who are closer and sometimes to trusted guests. This is a breed that can tolerate solitude and does not demand for attention. However, it would greatly appreciate any attention and love shown through cuddling, stroking or petting it.
Care and health issues
The average lifespan of a healthy Persian cat is about 15 years. However, there were also cases where the cat has lived up to 20 years. Health issues that might be of concern are usually hereditary. These include polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which could lead to the eventual dysfunction of one or both kidneys. Signs of PKD usually start to appear when the cat is between 7 – 10 years of age or sometimes earlier. Progressive retinal atrophy is another health problem that causes vision problem on kittens as young as 4 to 8 weeks old. A kitten might become completely blind eventually.
Other health issues include the common hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is the thickening of heart muscles; bladder stones; cystitis (bladder infections) and liver shunts. It is important to obtain a written health guarantee from qualified breeders who are responsible in taking steps to avoid these health issues.
The amount of tears produced by the Persian breed should be at the normal level. Even though it has a flat face, breathing should also be normal. This trait also makes it sensitive to heat, thus an air-conditioned environment would be ideal for the cat.
Persian cat is a high maintenance breed. Brushing and combing the long coat daily is a necessity to keep it clean and tangle free. Regular bathing, at least once a week, should be considered. Its litter might be lodged onto its paws or coat, thus, the litter box should also be kept scrupulously clean. Otherwise, it might discourage the cat from using the box.
The condition of excessive tearing also calls for daily wiping of the eye corners in order to prevent under-eye stains from forming. Frequent teeth brushing with vet-approved toothpaste as well as nail trimming and ear cleaning whenever necessary should also be incorporated into the grooming routine.
The ideal home
This laid back breed is suited for indoor living. Safety and cleanliness of coat are also two reasons why it should be kept indoors. However, the cat would still appreciate the enjoyment and freedom made possible in a safe and escape-proof outdoor garden. The Persian can get along well with children and other friendly family pets if they are introduced well and not boisterous. A serene environment will contribute much to its overall good well-being.
Even though it does not demand for attention, this breed needs to be pampered and cared. The white Persian longhair cat is also a suitable pet for singles and couples, making it an ideal companion for most households as long as there is a readiness to give of the extra time needed to groom and to care for this charming and endearing breed.