Qualities of Some Long-haired Cat Breeds
Long Haired Cats
Though the long-haired cats have an overpowering dignity and allure, the nature of their physical built generally renders them less nimble than the short-haired foreign cats. It is not strange for a long-haired cat to set his sights on a tabletop, crouch for the daring leap, spring, and drop off in disgust when he overlooks his mark by a foot or so. Aiming at a sunny windowsill, they are very apt to plow headfirst into a wall. Sensitive to the silliness of their situation, they rarely make a second attempt until they have regrouped their forces and reappraised the situation. They hate looking silly.
Angoras were the first long-haired cats on the European continent, coming along about three hundred years ago. The Persian was presented later. Most of our long-haired cats nowadays which we relate to as Persians are a cross between the long-haired wildcats of Europe and Turkish Angoras. Generations of cross-breeding and outbreeding practically wiped out the original Angoras that came from Turkey. The breed has been restored, but in white only. The body types of the two long-haired cats are different, and an Angora having a cobby (squat), Persian-type body is not fit as show material.
Persians are considered to be derived from cats that are still wild in southern parts of the Caspian Sea close to the Caucasus. They were taken back to Europe by the Crusaders returning from the Near East where it's alleged these cats inhabited in sultans' palaces. Long-haired cats stick to their royal ancestry and never allow you forget who they are.
Whether your cat is a Persian or a cross between a Persian and almost anything excluding a dog, it is quite suitable and very dignified to identify him simply as a longhair. The Persian type has a thick body on short legs having a silky, luxurious coat. The long-haired cats are gentle and loving with large round eyes and beautiful faces. They come in immense arrays of color and design, and appear like little whimsical lions. The tail or "brush" is dense with fur and affords the cat an aura of lordly pride. Among the more distinctive of the long-haired breeds is the Peke-Faced Red which was bred from a red tabby and red self. It bears a face like a Pekinese with a wrinkly muzzle and a snub nose that is indented or depressed.
A different glamorous breed is the Chinchilla, a soft, silky, white or silver-ticked cat having huge expressive emerald or blue-green eyes. Chinchillas seldom have to catch mice for survival; they are quite in demand for TV commercials. Their residuals alone maintain their mackerel diet.
The Maine Coon Cat is another variety of long-haired cat, encountered mostly in Maine. Less cobby than the conventional Persian, their bodies are slimmer like the Angora. They come in self colors ( solid shades of one particular color) or tabby markings. Similar to the Down-Easterners with whom they live, they are strong and hardy. Among the personality characteristics that tells the Maine Coon Cat apart from others is his love for high areas. He's apt to pick out a high shelf or barn rafters for sleeping. The Maine Coon Cat is in no way related to the raccoon for which he has been named—they just share a passion for climbing.
This group of long-haired cats look more or less similar to the untrained eye, but there is one that is instantly recognizable and distinctive. This is the Himalayan, a fresh man-made breed first accredited by cat fanciers in 1957. This cat has blue eyes and the color markings of a Siamese, but the body and long-haired coat of a Persian. You could say a Himalayan is a shaggy Siamese. These are beautiful cats which appear to present the best of both worlds. They give the gentle, loving tendencies of long-hairs with the strange coloring of the Siamese. However, they're without the demanding nature of the Siamese.
Closely related to the Himalayan in look is the Birman. The Birman bears the Siamese coat pattern having long hair, but its paws are white, giving it the look of wearing gloves.