Persian cats are always one of the most popular cat breeds around. With their long fur, wide eyes, and laid back friendly personalities, they are a beautiful breed which everyone loves. But how much do you know about them? Here are ten interesting facts about Persian cats, some of which you may not have known before.
Persians are one of the world's oldest cat breeds, but their exact origin remains a mystery. They are named after the country where they were thought to originate, but even this is uncertain. The first reliable recordings of imports to the west were in the 17th century, but some may have arrived much earlier, perhaps during the Crusades. They did not make it to America until late in the 19th century.
Originally all long haired cats were described as Persians, and the early Persians were very different in looks from those of today. Their faces were not nearly as flat, and their fur was somewhat shorter, so that they looked more like the Turkish Angoras and other semi-long haired breeds of today. The demands of showing mean that Persian faces have gradually changed, with the cats having increasing flatter faces, particularly those of show quality. Many people feel that this has gone too far, and they prefer the older style Persians with the less extreme look. It is now possible to obtain Persian cats like this; you need to look for 'Traditional' or 'Doll Faced' Persians.
The first cat show took place in London in 1871. Not many breeds specific existed at that time, but Persians were there, along with Siamese cats, Manx cats, a Scottish Wild Cat, and a few others. More than 20,000 people attended the show, and a Persian kitten won Best in Show. Since then, the breed's popularity has steadily increased.
Queen Victoria owned two blue Persian cats, and this increased their popularity in Britain at that time. Florence Nightingale and Marilyn Munroe both owned Persian cats.
Persians are definitely not low maintenance cats. Their long coats require regular grooming if they are not to form knots and mats. Most Persians need to be brushed and combed once a day, but some require it even more often than that. Additionally, many Persians have runny eyes, so owners need to be prepared to clean their eyes daily as well. So please don't get a Persian unless you are prepared for all this.
You can get Persian cats in almost any colour you can think of. There are said to be more than 50 possible colours! Basically the colours can be divided into several groups. There are solid or self coloured Persians – black, white, blue etc. Then there are bicoloured Persians, multi-coloured such as tortoiseshells, tabby Persians, colourpointed (ie with Siamese type markings), and tipped or smoke Persians. So whatever colour of cat you like, you should be able to find a Persian in that colour.
Persians are very relaxed cats which in general just like to lie around the house. Indeed, some people refer to them as 'furniture with fur'. Although they can be playful at times, particularly during kittenhood, they are definitely not hyperactive. Of course this means that they are excellent as lap cats.
Persians have a high incidence of an inherited disorder called polycystic kidney disease (PKD), although obviously not all cats will suffer from this. The flat face of the also Persian means it often has breathing and eye problems, with runny eyes due to blocked tear ducts being a common problem. The shortened face also means that some Persians find it hard to eat tidily.
Persians do not really like loud noises and disruption in the home. Despite being laid back, many of them are quite shy cats, and will tend to hide if they find their environment too noisy or unpredictable. For this reason they are not always suited to a family with young children. So if you have children, you might want to consider getting some other breed.
Many people love the gentle personality of the Persian but don't feel able to cope with the amount of work required to take care of their long coats. Since the 1960s there has been a breed which is essentially a short haired Persian – the Exotic Shorthair. The breeders who developed the first of these cats were actually trying to do something else, but the resulting short haired Persian cats were eventually developed as a breed in their own right. Exotics are almost exactly like Persians in most respects – they have flat faces, round eyes, and the same gentle, quiet personality. But being short haired, they do not require the daily grooming which the Persian needs. This means that their popularity has steadily increased, and the breed has almost made it into the top ten breeds in the UK. It is the Persian cat for busy people.
If you are looking for a Persian cat for sale, but don't want to pay the large amount of money usually asked by breeders for pedigree kittens, why not adopt or re-home one? Persians end up looking for new homes fairly frequently. This is usually through no fault of the cat; it is most often because people find that they cannot cope with the amount of grooming and other maintenance required by this breed. If you feel that you can, then contact your local rescue organisation, or there are specialised Persian rescue organisations too. Pets4Homes also have a category dedicated to Persian Cats for Adoption.But make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for; you will need to devote a lot of time to your Persian cat.