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The Old Persian Cat Species

Updated on November 6, 2016

Introducing the Persian Cat

The Persian cat is one of the oldest natural cat breeds still alive today. Persian cats date back to ancient Egyptian times. But the origin of the race is believed to be in Persia (Iran). From there they were imported into Western Europe at around 1620.

The Persian is known in the Middle East as Shiraz or Shiraz and in Britain as Longhair or Persian Longhair. The Persian, a longhaired medium-sized cat, nowadays is different from its ancestor. The face is different. They have a shortened muzzle and flattened high nose. Their coat is thicker with colors and patterns ranging from silver to gold and even bi-colors.

The Persian cat is a very docile and affectionate cat who likes to be indoors. Because of the length of their fur it is best to keep them indoors, to prevent the hairs from tangling and protecting them from parasites. It is important to note that Persians can inherit a dangerous disease called polycystic kidney disease (PKD). This disease affects 37% of Persian up to 50% in some countries. As of now Persian cats are still one of the most popular breeds in the United States.

History of the Persian Cat

It is believed that the origins of the Persian cat lies, not surprisingly, in Iran formerly known as Persia and its neighboring countries. They were imported to Italy, France and England by early European travelers around 1620. In those days these cats were kept by nobles in France, Italy and England. One version of the history of the Persians is that their introduction into Europe was through Pietro della Valle in Italy and by Nicholas Claude Fabri de Peiresc in France.

Persian cats were brought to England in 1871 where they were one of the first cat breeds to be registered. They are still one of the most popular cat breeds in the world. The ancient Persians considered these cats to be of high value, this view was shared in Europe, where nobles would have owned one. Persian cats were also considered to be rare and thus were also favored by people of royalty, there was even a time they were the only ones who owed these gracious cats.

There is a different origin story out there that states that the Persian of today are descendants of Felis Libyca, which has its origin in Africa and Asia. This version also considers the introduction of the Persian cat was before 1620, in fact by the Romans and Phoenicians in the 1500s. But this origin story also states that the Persian was highly valued by people.

Appearance of Persian Cats

The Persian cat’s body is relative to other cat breeds between medium to large. They have a strong build, with a cobby body which is covered with a long silky coat. Their legs are short and heavily boned, they have a round head with large round eyes and a short muzzle. They have short thick necks and broad chests.

They come in so many different colors that cat shows have separate colored categories for them. In today’s cat-shows they look for the Persian with the longest and thickest coat, very short legs, an extremely shortened muzzle and large eyes. This breed weighs about 4.5 kilograms so they are lighter than the average cat breed. Because of the coat, Persian cats can look a little bit obese, but this is not the case, in fact their muscle tone is excellent.

Persian cats come in different colors:

  • black
  • blue
  • chocolate
  • cream
  • lilac
  • red
  • white

Persian cats only have copper eyes, with the exception of the white Persian who can have other colored eyes, like blue or odd eyes (one blue, one copper).

Persian Cat Personality Traits

The Persian cat is an intelligent people-oriented cat, very sweet and gentle. They are not the most active cats out there but they still like to run and play occasionally, yet they do tend to sleep a lot. They love to get attention and to be played with.

Petting and sitting on your lap are the things a Persian lives for. They can adapt quickly to a new environment and are very friendly to other pets and children. Persians greatly dislike it to be left alone, having some feline company could solve this when you have to leave for a while.

Persian Cat Health Issues

Persian cats are not susceptible to disease, but there is an inherited disease that can cause death by renal failure. The gene causes Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and is believed to be the result of selective breeding. Fortunately it can be tested if they carry the PKD gene and if so, the cat can be spayed.

But the symptoms are mostly appearing after the Persian is old, so untested breeding stock could already have passed the dominant gene on to the next generation. According to UC Davis Veterinary Medicine, over 37% of Persians have PKD. The test costs about 60$, but is well worth it if it means saving this breed.

There is another inherited dangerous heart disease which Persians can carry called feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). According to veterinarian: Rosemarie Williams about 40% of the Persian breed are affected with HCM. Symptoms of HCM can be very subtle, it can happen that the very first symptom the cat shows is sudden death.

Luckily the Persians can be tested if they have HCM through cardiac ultrasound and ECG. It is highly advised to test the cat regularly because there are breeders out there who don’t test Persians on this disease. There are catteries who test all their Persians on HCM like on: victorian gardens cattery.

Caring For Your Persian Cat

Their long hair requires to be groomed regularly to avoid it from getting matted excessively. These groom sessions are good bonding moments with your Persian. Another important part of care for Persians are their eyes, which have to be cleansed daily because the shape of their face causes an eye drainage complication.

All in all, the Persian cat is an elegant and social cat who loves to be cared for and likes to be intimate with their caretakers.

Persian Cats 101


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    • Frances Metcalfe profile image

      Frances Metcalfe 

      22 months ago from The Limousin, France

      How could you not fall in love with the picture of that kitten?


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