When it comes to the popularity of different types of cats in the UK, the common or domestic moggy far outnumbers any given pedigree breed, and likely will be for the long term too. But in terms of pedigrees, if the average person was asked to name some pure breeds, they’d probably be able to come up with a total of five to ten, with the Persian featuring heavily towards the early part of most people’s lists.
Based on advertisement information on Pets4Homes, the Persian is not actually the most popular or commonly advertised cat breed at all - for the past 2 years in a row, the Persian has consistantly come in as the 4th most popular cat breed in the UK, behind the British Shorthair, Bengal and Ragdoll. At the time of writing, around 50Persian cats for sale are listed on Pets4Homes, compared to well over 100 for some other breeds, such as the British shorthair.
However, the Persian certainly is always at the front of many cat owner’s consciousness, and many cat lovers aspire to being able to own one one day, or at least have a softy spot for these large, fluffy and very beautiful cats! So, why is the Persian so popular? In this article, we will attempt to find out.
The Persian cat breed today is virtually unrecognisable from their historical appearance, even if you go back less than eighty years-until that point, Persian cats did not have the signature flat (brachycephalic) faces that are what most people think of as their main trait, instead having a delicate, normal face structure instead.
In fact, the flat face of the breed is caused by a genetic mutation-an anomaly, that was first isolated in 1942, and had it not been for selective breeding since that time to reinforce the heredity of that gene, it would have become bred out of the Persian population very quickly.
Today, Persian cats that do not have a flat face are known as doll-faced Persians or traditional Persians, and they also have a strong following of owners and breeders that both prefer the natural appearance of the breed, and that have concerns for the health of their flat-faced cousins.
Both types of Persians, however, have a long, soft and luxurious coat and share all of the other common Persian traits.
Long haired cats might not be exactly rare today, but they are not as common as shorthaired cats, and back in the 20th century, longhaired cats would have been even rarer. Coupled with this, the Persian’s exotic origins in Iran (despite the fact that the breed was already firmly established in the UK during the 19th century) meant that they were desirable to a lot of people as both a beautiful, loving pet and potentially, a talking point and something a little different.
Certainly it is true that during the early and mid 20th century, a Persian cat would have been seen as an aspirational pet, and not something that would have been within reach of the average working cat-loving man on the street!
However, their popularity has endured and even risen since these times, leading to their continued popularity today.
If you asked any given Persian owner or enthusiast what they like about the breed, you would undoubtedly get as many answers as people! The reasons for their popularity are numerous, and this is no doubt what helps to ensure that there are never a shortage of people wishing to own them!
Their flat brachycephalic faces, which is of course an unusual trait in a cat is what draws many people to them, much as the same appeal is replicated in popular dog breeds such as the French bulldog and the pug. However, this trait can come with complications of its own, such as overheating in hot weather, breathing problems and potentially, eye problems too.
Any person considering buying a Persian cat should of course do lots of research to ensure that they purchase from a breeder selling only healthy cats, in order to ensure the cat’s health and comfort.
The coat of the Persian cat too is of course long, plush and very tactile, and delightful to stroke and play with! However, again this comes at a cost-the Persian needs almost daily brushing and grooming to keep their coats in good condition, and they are very prone to getting knots and tangles if this is neglected!
However, ultimately it is the Persian personality that really wins people over and keeps them fans for like-they love being adored and pampered, and are incredibly sweet, loving and entertaining with their owners. They also tend to be calm and not nervous about meeting new people, and will often sneak onto a visitor’s lap for some fuss when they think no one is looking!
As is usually the case when it comes to tracking the popularity of a breed, the combination of positive aspects that they possess is what really tips the scale-and the Persian is notable for having all of these things in combination, hence their enduring appeal.