The Placid and Popular Persian: Is He Right for You?
As the most popular breed of cat in the United States, the Persian is a common sight. Long-haired and beautiful, these cats are prized for their calm natures and, if properly raised in a loving home, their tendency to be affectionate and personable. Learning more about the breed will help you to decide if a Persian is the right fit for your home.
History and Breeding Variations
Originally imported into western Europe around 1620, Persians were extremely popular in England among cat fanciers. Persians have been enthusiastically bred in the US since right after the second World War. Over time, different standards have been applied in order to gain a certain look or to breed certain traits into or out of the breed, including:
Doll-Faced Persians, otherwise styled as the Traditional Persian, lack the flat face of the more-common, modern Persian. Breeders interested in maintaining the traditional look do not follow the modern breed guidelines and, like many breeders, each has their own vision of perfection.
Peke-Type or Ultra-Type Persians feature the flat face so commonly found today. Peke-type, named so for the similarities to Pekingese dogs, have quite a flat facial profile. While many judges of cat shows consider this a standard, others decry it as detrimental to the animal’s health and well-being.
Cross-Breeds have also be created using the Persian as a foundation member. In the early 1900s, many Persians were cross-bred with Angoras to achieve better coats and more variety to coat colors. Today, Persians and Siamese cats are interbred to produce Himalayan cats, which can introduce seal-point coloration and add in more depth to the cats’ facial features.
Teacup and Toy Persians are another offshoot of specialty breeding that focuses on reducing the size of the cat overall. Descriptors such as mini, pixie and pocket Persians are used to denote these aims. No official registry recognizes these efforts, so buyers should be beware such claims.
Health Issues in the Persian
The flat face of many modern Persians is a bone of contention in the cat fancy world. While some maintain that it is a desirable trait of the breed, excessive flatness has been documented to cause breathing issues, problems with chewing and entropion, a condition where the cat’s eyelids turn inwards. The breed’s large, flat head can also cause issues with successful birth and is considered by many a factor in the breed’s 29% stillbirth rate.
Persians are also predisposed to Polycystic Kidney Disease, which is estimated to affect anywhere from 36% to 49% of the breed as a whole. Luckily, this is caused by genetics and many ethical breeders are attempting to exclude the responsible gene from their programs.
While these health issues may seem daunting, be aware that any animal has predispositions build into their genetics, including humans! To get the healthiest cat possible, looking at their pedigree can help you make an informed decision.
Care of the Persian
As a long-haired breed, a Persian will require some help to keep his coat clean and free of tangles. Due to the calm and loving nature of these cats, bathing, haircuts and even shaving are all commonplace. Much like a dog, a Persian that is raised to accept such handling will love the attention!
Other than regular grooming and regular vet visits, the Persian is an easy keeper. Some owners may also need to clean off eye crust or tear stains, while other cats will groom their face on their own. As with any cat, personality and grooming habits will vary from individual to individual.