The Persian cat is one of the most elegant-looking and well known cat breeds in the word; their distinctive looks are almost synonymous with luxury, and even non-cat lovers tend to know when they spot a Persian cat out and about that they’re looking at something a little unusual.
For this reason and many others, Persian cats are hugely popular and in great demand in the UK, and they’re one of the first breeds that most people consider when they’re in the market to buy a pedigree cat.
However, ownership of any animal is not a thing to be entered into lightly, and like all pets, there are potential challenges and downsides to Persian cat ownership as well as rewards.
If you’re considering buying a Persian cat or kitten, or you’re trying to rule them in or out of your selection process, here are ten things you need to know about the breed to get your detailed research underway. Read on to learn more.
First of all, most Persian cats (more on that in a moment) have flattened-looking faces, and this is correctly referred to as being brachycephalic. This is a trait that is shared by many dog breeds too, like the French bulldog, but that is less common across cat breeds.
However, this flatness of the face does more than cause a unique and to many people, cute look; it also has implications for the cats’ ability to breathe normally, cope with hot weather, and exert themselves whilst getting enough air.
How much it affects any given cat directly relates to how flat the face is, and the flatter it is and the narrower the cat’s nostrils, the more likely they are to suffer from discomfort, health issues, and shorter lifespans.
Learn to identify exaggerations and moderate examples of Persians before you go shopping, and always pick cats bred for good health.
The vast majority of Persians in the UK are brachycephalic – but up until around 70 years ago, this was not the case at all. That flat face developed from a genetic mutation that was then selectively bred to be replicated in ever-more cats – to the point that it is the Persian norm today.
However, cats with pointed noses like other breeds can still be found in the Persian breed, and as full purebred Persians too. These are known as doll-faced or traditional Persians, and are an alternative that is worth considering when you look for a Persian as a pet.
The Persian breed’s recorded history goes back to at least the 1600s, and the cats that formed the breed’s origins go back much further. Modern-day Iran is the country we historically referred to as Persia, and this is where the breed as we recognise it today is thought to have originated from.
The Persian’s good looks are matched by a sweet temper, and they tend to be kind, personable and affectionate, making for excellent lap cats. Like all cats they will have a playful streak and some Persians are competent and keen hunters, but they are generally happier chilling out on the sofa and getting some fuss.
Persians don’t tend to be among the most high-energy of cats, and their temperaments are generally laid back. Additionally, their thick coats and flat faces make them more couch potato material than athletes, although many Persians, and particularly younger ones, will have quite the mischievous streak too!
All cats need to play and have stimulation, but the Persian is often a good breed to consider if you wish to choose a cat that will take to an indoor-only lifestyle, or have outside access only when supervised, or by means of a balcony or pen.
If you do intend to keep an indoor-only cat, this is best achieved by getting a kitten that only knowns indoor life from the get-go.
Persian cats that do go outside unsupervised can sometimes be a desirable target for thieves, as they tend to look regal and potentially expensive, and are often quite personable.
However, a huge percentage of the UK Persian cat population lives an indoor-outdoor lifestyle, and cat theft is much rarer than dog theft, so don’t worry unduly.
The Persian coat is both long and very plush and thick, and this means that it needs daily brushing and grooming to keep it in good condition. Without daily grooming it is apt to become knotted and matted, and whilst all cats groom themselves, this alone is not enough to care for the Persian coat.
Additionally, if you don’t brush your cat, when they do groom themselves they will ingest shed hair that can cause hairballs.
As well as the breed’s brachycephalic faces (other than in the doll faced variants) Persian cats may also have a number of other hereditary health challenges that can be found spread across a reasonable percentage of cats of the breed as a whole.
These include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, progressive retinal atrophy, and polycystic kidney disease.
Always research breed health in detail before committing to a purchase.
Aside from their rather onerous need for grooming and the need to factor in the breed’s health challenges, the Persian cat is generally considered to be a good choice of cat breed for a first-time owner.
However, if you don’t wish to spend time each day grooming your cat or don’t research the breed’s health first and take pains to ensure you make a wise choice based on health not looks, the Persian cat will not be the right breed for you.