THE PERSIAN LONGHAIR CAT
The Persian Longhair is one of the oldest cat breeds. They originated in Persia, or Iran, as it is known today. During the seventeenth century, nobility enjoyed the Persian cat breed. Pietro Del Val imported the first Persian cat to Europe in 1626.
The Persian Longhair is known for its round face and short muzzle. The “Iranian cat”, as it is called in the Middle East, and the “Shirazi cat” in Iran, were first brought into Italy from Iran around 1620. Breeding of the long haired Persian took place in Italy and France after this cat breed became popular throughout Europe. In 1870 the first Persian cat attended a cat show in London, U.K. The Persian then arrived in the U.S in the early 1900’s.
The earlier Persian breed had a much longer nose than today’s Persian, which has a flat-face. By 2015, the Persian was the second most popular cat breed in the United States. Today’s Persian cats are related to the Western European cats. The Persian differs from the Angora cat breed in that their tails and heads are larger with ears that are less pointy.
With a large round head, and large round eyes, the Persian has a short nose and full cheeks. Their legs are short and thick, with paws that are strong and round. Their tails full and are in proportion to the body. Their necks are powerful and thick. Persians have long and thick coats with long ruffs around their necks. Their front legs typically sport a frill of fur and their ears and toes have tufts of long hair. There are two types of Persians:
- Peke-faced Persians (more flat-faced)
- Doll-faced Persians (less flat-faced)
There are seven solid color divisions:
- Chocolate (rare)
- Lilac (rare)
White Persian cats will have blue or copper eyes or one of each. Silver and Golden Division Persian cats yield chinchilla, shaded silver and golden colors. The chinchilla colored cat is white with black tipping scattered all over the face, legs, tail, and body. Shaded Persians will have black on their backs, with it being distributed evenly down the body. Leg and face tipping on the Persian should match, and yields a darker color than chinchilla. Golden Persians will have chinchilla coloring or shading. Green or blue-green eyes are matched with silvers and Guldens Paw pads are black and are matched with a red nose.
Smoke and Shaded Division Persians yield shell and cameo colors with a red tipping and white undercoat. Shell and shaded tortoiseshell Persians yield black tipping with patches of red tipped hair. Shell and shaded blue Persians will have a blue tipping with patches of cream hair.
Tabby Persian Cats come in classic, mackerel and patched. The Classic tabby will have bull’s eye markings on either side of the body. The mackerel will have narrow penciling throughout the body. There are also bicolor, particolor, and Himalayan Divisions of the Persian cat breed.
The Persian Cat breed is a sweet and kind cat breed that enjoys being pampered. Although super feisty if not exercised or mentally stimulated, the Persian fancies lots of cuddles and cute cat toys. The Persian can be aloof when needing time alone, but are also affectionate with immediate family. Persian cats do well in a quiet home without lots of disruptions. This wonderful cat breed tends to be placid in nature and friendly with strangers.
Persian cats have a compliant nature, and are easy to live with. These beautiful cats are docile, and adapt easily to new environments.
The Persian does best as an indoor cat. This cat breed thrives on affection, and plenty of cat toys. Pet parents should make sure to keep their Persian indoors during the hot summer months, as they can overheat easily. The Persian gets bored when alone for long periods of time. Eye tearing may be a problem with this cat breed. Inactive cats tend to pick up weight, and are prone to more medical conditions like liver disease.
Possible Health Concerns
The Persian is a healthy and moderately active cat breed that may be susceptible to the following health conditions:
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): This is a heart muscle disorder where the heart walls of the left ventricle thicken. This results in the walls becoming stiffer. This is a common primary heart disease in cats. It tends to noticed at around 3 months to 17 years of age. Most cats will be middle aged when this disorder occurs. This disorder tends to affect males more than females, and it is an inherited genetic defect. Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs. Fluid may also accumulate in the lungs, and in the space between the lungs and chest wall. Veterinary treatment will aim at improving cardiac function, and reducing blood clots. There is a good longterm outlook for mildly affected cats. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This is a group of diseases that cause degeneration of the retina. This also includes inherited abnormalities of the light-sensitive retina layer. Cataracts are common toward the end of PRA. This results in it being difficult to detect underlying diseases of the retina. Consult with your veterinarian.
- Basil Cell Carcinoma: These are malignant tumors that occur most often in elderly cats. The Persian cat breed is very susceptible to this. They will first show up as ulcers on the head, legs, or neck, and are not raised from the skin. Instead they will spread and form new ulcers. Surgery is the best treatment for removal. These tumors will spread to other areas of the skin, but not to organs.
- Hip Dysplasia: This is rare in domestic cats, and is common in purebred cats. This occurs when the hip joint is loose, and leads to degenerative joint disease. (osteoarthritis) Symptoms include lameness that can be mild to severe. Cats generally need no surgery for hip dysplasia. Weight reduction can help reduce discomfort.
- Heat Sensitivity: Cats will sweat through their foot pads. The Persian needs to be kept indoors during the hot summer months. This cat breed needs lots of fresh water to drink, cool places to lie in, and a cool home during extreme summers. Flat –faced cats and Persians have breathing problems, and don’t pant as well as other cat breeds. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include a fast heart rate, sunken eyes, and excessive panting. If your Persian is a senior cat or is obese, it will be necessary to watch closely for heat exhaustion.
- Cherry Eye (Eyelid Protrusion): This is a disorder of the third eyelid, resulting in swollen redness of the eye. It is more common in Persian cats. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.
- Entropion: This is the inversion of the lower lid. It is more common among purebred cat breeds like the Persian cat.
- Polycystic Kidney Disease. This occurs when the polycystic kidney has numerous cysts within the functioning part of the kidney resulting in enlarged kidneys. Consult with your veterinarian if your Persian vomits frequently, has a decreased appetite, and increased thirst or urination.
- Ringworm: This is an infection of the skin, hair, or claws, and is caused by a fungus called dermatophyte. This occurs in 98% of cats. It spreads easily from cats to people. Symptoms include circular, bald patches that scale and have broken hairs in a ring-like fashion. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.
- Skin Disorders: The Persian may be prone to skin disorders. Persian cats are prone to idiopathic seborrhea. This is an inherited skin disorder resulting in the overproduction of an oily substance. This clumps in the cat’s fur, and causes it to smell bad. Symptoms include red and irritated skin with excessive scratching. Consult your veterinarian for advice.
The Persian cat breed needs daily exercise combined with plenty of mental stimulation through active play and interaction with people. Finding a variety of mentally stimulating cat toys will allow for your Persian to lead a well-balanced life, with the right amount of exercise and cognitive stimulation. Cat harnesses also allow for daily walks.
All cats do well by being fed twice daily. During kittenhood, kittens will need to be fed every few hours. Growing kittens need more calories, nutrients, vitamins, protein, and calories. Your Persian cat should be able to enjoy a peaceful meal in a quiet corner of the house. Some cat parents prefer to leave cat food out 24/7. When looking for a high-quality cat food, here’s what to look out for:
- No low-quality fillers
- No artificial additives
- Low grade ingredients or toxic ingredients
- All cat food has to be meat-based because all cats are carnivores.
- No garlic
- Plant-based ingredients should be listed after the protein-based ingredients
Consult with your veterinarian for the best dietary advice for your Persian cat.
The Persian cat needs daily grooming to prevent hair from matting and removing shedding fur to avoid hairballs. Because this breed has a long and wonderfully soft coat, extra grooming care is required. Stainless steel combs help to remove dead hair. Care must be taken when grooming leg hair and body hair to avoid missing spots that could tangle or mat easily. All cat breeds will groom themselves several times throughout the day. Daily grooming is necessary because it limits the amount of hair that your cat will consume.
Daily cleaning with pet wipes beneath the tail is necessary. Ears should be checked weekly for cleanliness and sensitivity. If there is a buildup of wax and dirt, organisms can lead to an ear infection. Consult with your veterinarian about safe and gentle ear cleaning techniques. Nail trimming is necessary every few weeks. Eyes should also be cleaned gently every morning with cotton wool or a soft wipe. Each eye should be cleaned with different wipes or cotton balls to avoid eye infection contamination in both eyes.
Healthy Persians need minimal bathing with a gentle cat shampoo. Your cat will need dental care as well. By feeding dry food, and having professional dental cleanings with your veterinarian throughout your cat’s lifetime, your cat will have less of a chance of developing gingivitis or gum disease.