The plush Persian cat is one of the most popular cats around. It is surprising that the fur nose, known in Persian as “Gorbe-ye irāni” (“Iranian cat”), is one of the oldest cat breeds. And that, although the Persian we know today does not come from the Orient at all!
History of the Breed
Until now, many believed that the Persian cat descended from the longhair cats of the Orient. Longhair cats were first introduced to Europe in the 17th century. These cats are said to have laid the foundation for breeding Persians. However, the original Persians no longer have much in common with the pedigree cats of today. No wonder, after all, the latest findings suggest that the ancestors of the Persian cats we know come from Russia. Genetic analysis of the Persian cat genome shows that the Persian cat is descended from long-haired Russian domestic cats. In addition, there is no relationship with the Asian line.
The term “Persian” was only established at the beginning of the 20th century with the establishment of the first breeding clubs. Until then, the term “Angora cat” was mainly used for long-haired cats. Since then, the breeding standard of today’s Persian cats has changed several times. Over time, more emphasis has been placed on a rounder forehead and a shorter facial skull. In addition, the fur became lusher and lusher and looked even plusher with more undercoats.
With the increasing popularity of the Persian cat, mass breeding was established, especially in the USA. The cats were mated regardless of health disadvantages and an increasingly extreme breed pattern was formed. Features included a recessed nose with watery eyes and a tendency to inflammation of the nose and throat. In addition, there were problems with eating and breathing. This made the Persian cat known as “torture breeding”. But what does “torture breeding” actually mean – and should the modern Persian cats of the 21st century still be called “torture breeding”? You can find more about this in the “Health” section.
The long, fine fur with a lot of undercoats is one of the peculiarities of the Persian cat. Not every long-haired cat is a Persian. In order to meet the breed standard, a Persian must have a lot more than long fur!
The appearance of the Persian cat is shaped by three different breeding associations that prioritize different characteristics differently. As a rule, however, a Persian cat must be medium to large in size. Males weigh up to 7kg, queens up to 6kg. The body is held up by low, stocky legs. Tufts of hair between the toes of the round paws are definitely welcome! In addition to the long fur, the face of the Persian cat is also typical of this breed.
The round, broad skull has round ears, at best with tufts of hair, and a very short nose. The bridge of the nose must end between the eyes. The so-called “stop” must neither be placed above the upper eyelid nor below the lower eyelid. This gives the Persians a very typical appearance but can lead to certain health restrictions. This has led to a great deal of criticism of the more extreme breeding of Persian cats. More on that later. There are breeders who therefore prefer the old breeding standard with a long nose. However, this no longer corresponds to the current breeding standard.
Persian Cat Colors
Almost all known colors occur in the Persian cat. Monochrome animals can have the following colors:
- Brown (“chocolate”)
- Dove gray (“lilac”)
But that’s not all. Two-tone and three-tone (“tortoiseshell”) Persians are just as popular as Persians of the exotic color “smoke”. While much of the hair is colored, the cat’s hair roots remain silver-white. If only the hair syringes are colored and most of the hair is silver-gray, the color variant is “Shaded”.
Persian cats, exotic shorthair cats, and Colourpoints have a common breed standard. There are only differences in the length, texture, and color of the fur. In 1933 the breed “Exotic Shorthairs” was recognized in one of the largest European cat associations. In terms of physique and character, it corresponds to the Persian cat but has a short teddy bear coat. The “Colourpoint” known as “Mask Persian” or “Himalayan” comes from the cross between Siamese and Persian cats. The animals correspond to the breed standard of the Persian cat but show the point coloration of the Siamese cat. Each coat color can appear as a point color. Black and red and their dilutions “blue” and “creme” as well as “chocolate” and “cinnamon” and their dilution “lilac” and “fawn” are seen particularly frequently.
Persian Cat Temperament
Persian cats are considered to be very calm animals, which, due to their low level of urge for freedom, are perfect cats for keeping indoors. This trait has made them one of the most popular cat breeds in Germany! Persian cats love to cuddle and cuddle with their humans and are quite affectionate animals.
Even if Persian cats are considered to be very balanced, they are still predators inside. Even calm, lazy animals should therefore be given the opportunity to discover, climb and play. A cat-friendly apartment is a must, especially when keeping cats purely as indoor cat. This way you can keep your cat mentally fit and happy even without extensive acrobatic units!
Persian Cat Attitude
A scratching post, for example, belongs in every cat household. Even if your kitty isn’t doing exciting climbing sessions, scratching is part of every cat’s behavior. Our fur noses have to scratch to get rid of the dead claw caps. They mark their territory with scratch marks and do not give us an imperceptible “feel-good smell” through scent glands on the paws. Without a scratching post, post, or even a scratching board, even the most patient cat will move to corners of the room and furniture. A scratching post is not only used for scratching. It offers your cat climbing opportunities and a great viewing platform. Quiet fur noses in particular love to watch the world from above! Window and heating couches in front of a secured window serve a similar purpose. Your fur nose is sure to be happy about controlled exercise in a cat-safe garden or balcony with a cat net.
The Persian Cat and the Subject of Torture Breeding
As already mentioned, the question arises whether Persian cats should still be called torture breeding at all. Paragraph 11 b of the German Animal Welfare Act defines the term “torture breeding” as follows. According to the legal test, “it is (it) forbidden to breed vertebrates or to modify them through biotechnological or genetic engineering measures if it is to be expected that in the offspring, the biologically or genetically modified animals themselves or their descendants are hereditary body parts or organs for the species-appropriate use is missing or unsuitable or altered and causes pain, suffering or damage ”.
It is also forbidden to breed vertebrates if it is to be expected that hereditary behavioral disorders associated with ailments will occur in offspring. In 1999, a report by various experts dealt with the subject in more detail. The resulting document deals with individual breeding forms in dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds and their effects on animal health. The focus was, for example, on deafness from breeding white and the out-breeding of kinked auricles. In addition, the brachycephaly (“brachis” = short and “cephalus” = head) known in Persian cats is mentioned. It is a deviation of the head shape due to a snub nose that has been bred out. Even if health should take precedence, there is still no Germany or Europe-wide regulation of clear breeding bans.
Diseases Typical of the Breed in the Persian Cat
Thanks to committed breeders who take priority over the health of their protégés, Persian cat breeding has meanwhile moved away from the image of mass breeding in the 1970s. Despite their problematic breeding history, Persian cats are relatively healthy with good husbandry, healthy nutrition, and regular care. However, the breed shows a propensity for polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and progressive retinal atrophy, a curvature of the retina that can lead to complete blindness. Persian cats can also be affected by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is common in many cat breeds.
All of these diseases are inheritable and suggest the importance of making smart breed choices. Professional breeders have their breeding animals and their offspring tested for hereditary diseases at an early stage and on a regular basis. They also exclude affected animals from breeding. This is especially true of kidney cysts. The symptoms do not appear until later in life, by which time many breeding animals have already passed the dominant gene on to their offspring. Fortunately, a PKD disease can be detected using ultrasound from the age of ten. Dedicated breeders can exclude sick animals from breeding at an early stage and also prevent sick offspring. Because a cat with cysts will always pass them on to its offspring! Cardiac ultrasound is the method of choice when it comes to diagnosing HCM. Unfortunately, this disease cannot be cured. With an early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, the affected cats can still be offered a long life.
Persian Cat Breeding
Breeding cats should therefore be regularly examined by a veterinarian in order to rule out hereditary diseases and their transmission to the offspring! During pregnancy , veterinary ultrasound should be carried out . If you buy your cat from a breeder, you should insist on appropriate examination documents from the parent animals. Please try to avoid unprofessional breeders who offer “pedigree cats without papers” cheaply. As a rule, they place little value on preventive health care, animal welfare, and nutrition for their animals. This can cost you dearly later if your cat suffers from various hereditary diseases.
The breeder of your choice should therefore be a member of a breed club that regularly controls the keeping of the cats. In addition, he ensures that individual cats are mated sensibly and thus tries to rule out genetic diseases. Of course, this also has its price. A Persian cat can cost up to 800 dollars, for breeding animals lovers often have to put around 1500 dollars on the table. With this price, you not only buy the cat itself, but also the commitment and knowledge of the breeders. You invest in the time your cat needs to develop and learn everything important before it moves into its new home at 12 weeks at the earliest.
Persian Cat Care and Nutrition
Even if the cuddly fur of the Persian cat appeals to many cat lovers, there is one thing you should not forget. Long-haired cats require a lot of care! Ideally, you should brush your cat daily to prevent the fur from becoming tangled. Once the cat’s fur becomes matted, often only the vet can help. But don’t worry, the fur that is shaved off in an emergency grows back quickly! During the coat change period, Persian cats lose part of their fur despite regular combing and brushing. Malt paste and cat grass can help with the natural shedding of swallowed hair and prevent blockages!
Due to the short nose, Persian cats often need additional help with cleaning the eyes and the nasal area. A damp cloth is usually sufficient. Chamomile tea and the like can irritate the eye area further. The flat face of some Persian cats is also associated with a special food intake. Some Persian cats mainly eat with their tongues. Food with a pulpy consistency is often easier for them to eat than large chunks of meat.
Otherwise, one thing applies when choosing the right food for your Persian cat. The higher quality of the feed, the better. Cats need a lot of protein in their diet, so meat should be the main ingredient in cat food. Wet food has a higher moisture content than dry food. According to their vote, our cats are “desert animals”. You do not have a great need to go to the water bowl and naturally drink little. They get most of the fluids they need from food.
It is not for nothing that the Persian cat is one of the most popular cat breeds in Europe. With a skillful selection of the breeder, a little care, and a healthy diet, you too will have a lot of fun with the cuddly fur noses. We wish you and your Persian cat all the best!