Persian Breed Guide
Middle Age: 7 years
Life Span: 10 to 15 years
Even dog people will tell you that the Persian cat is the epitome of beauty. Known for their long, silky coats and beautiful eyes, these cats are showstoppers. They come in many different shades and styles, but all are equally sweet, smart, and handsome.
A History of Persian Cats
Persian cats have a very rich history and are some of the oldest known domesticated cats. Although they have been shown since 1871, they actually originated in Persia (now Iran) much earlier. Historians believe that their long hair was genetically favored because of the cold, mountainous regions of Persia.
The first documented Persian cats in Europe dates back to the mid to late 1500s, which was when they were introduced by Roman caravans from Persia and Turkey. During the Persian cat’s journey to the western world, Italian traveler Pietro Della Valle described them as grey with very long, silky, glossy fur during his trip in 1600.
Persians came to America in the late 1800s, where they were received with love. The Persian quickly took its place as the top cat. Americans enjoyed showing these cats using the standards set forth by the British earlier, but they soon developed their own standards and today, the modern day Persian cat has a style all its own.
Persian Cat Size and Physical Appearance
Most Persian cats are medium-sized, with males ranging from 9-15 pounds and females ranging from 6-9 pounds. Some branches of Persians, such as Silver Chinchilla, run a little smaller, and some, like Himalayans, can grow even larger. Persians have stockier body shapes than other purebreds like Ragdolls or Siamese cats.
Persian cats’ most notable feature is their short-nosed face and big, round eyes. Because of selective breeding, some Persians have an extremely short nose, while some have more of a doll face. They range in color and some breeder favorites include silver or golden shaded, bi-color, or pointed (darker ears, paws, and tail). Even though Persians are known for their long, beautiful coats, short-haired Persians have begun to rise in popularity, as well.
Persian Cat Personality and Temperament
Possibly from their royal ancestors, Persians are the kings and queens of their household. What they lack in athletic ability, they make up for in unparalleled lounging. These docile cats are perfect for the owner that is looking for a furry companion to curl up at the foot of the bed and grace them with their royal presence.
If you’re lucky enough to earn the love of this discerning breed, you will be greatly rewarded with fluffy bellies and cuddles. Persians are loyal, kind, and sweet. Persians are also loved for their docile nature and ability to adapt to children and other pets. Although they are happy to welcome others into their lives, they like consistency and a calm environment. With a little feeding, playing, and petting, these kitties are sure to be your best feline friend.
Common Persian Cat Health Problems
Unfortunately, Persian cats have been the subject of very selective breeding and in the process, they have become one of the more delicate purebreds. Pet parents looking to invest in this breed should expect regular preventative vet appointments and time to dedicate to close monitoring of their kitty’s health. The most common health problems that can affect a Persian include respiratory problems, kidney issues, and various eye concerns.
Respiratory Problems in Persian Cats
Especially for Persians with extremely short noses, respiratory problems are a common concern for Persian cat parents. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is the fancy medical title for various upper airway problems found in Persians. In simpler terms, a brachycephalic breed has a short, broad head. This may cause partial obstruction of the upper airway due to narrow nostrils, a long soft palate, or an abnormally small trachea.
Symptoms of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome include:
- Loud breathing when inhaling
- Frequent panting
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
- Coughing and gagging
- Inability to perform physical activity
Unfortunately, there isn’t much a Persian cat owner can do to prevent the above symptoms because of the cat’s natural appearance. But, you can make sure you don’t push your kitty to exercise too much, always provide fresh drinking water, and monitor his airway to prevent emergencies.
Kidney Issues in Persian Cats
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is the most common kidney disease found in cats and Persians in particular. PKD is a genetic disease and Persian breeders must test their mating pairs for this gene. It is always recommended to get a Persian kitten from a reputable breeder that can guarantee, through an ultrasound, that your cat’s line is PKD-negative.
Symptoms of kidney failure in kitties include:
- Changes in urinary habits
- Increased water consumption
- Not wanting to eat
- Listlessness or lethargy
- Weight loss
- Poor hair coat, including increased shedding
Eye Concerns in Persian Cats
Again, due to excessive breeding flat-faced Persians often have eye leakage because of their short noses. Luckily, most eye leakage is harmless and just a cosmetic concern. But, if not treated properly this increase in eye drainage can cause infections and other eye issues.
Things to look out for in your Persian include:
- The color of drainage. If it is a yellowish color, it may be a symptom of more serious infection
- Entropion, which causes a Persian’s eyelashes to go inward and irritate their eyes. If this goes untreated, it could cause infections or even blindness.
Persian Cat Grooming Needs
As any Persian cat owner will tell you, grooming is essential. That beautiful, silky coat that we know and love doesn’t happen overnight and requires serious time and attention. Persian cats need to be brushed daily and bathed regularly to prevent mats.
Not only are mats not nice looking, they can also breed bacteria and pull on your kitty’s skin. If you don’t want to groom your cat yourself, you can take your cat to get professionally groomed. In addition to grooming needs, Persians shed a lot. If you or someone in your family is allergic to cat hair, this breed might not be the best bet.
As mentioned, Persians are great with kids, other cats, and love showing their affection. Their perfect day is spent lounging around their kingdom, being treated like royalty, and lots of naps. Persians are the perfect fit for the pet parent who doesn’t mind a little cat hair.