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Persian Cat
Characteristics, History, and Health

Persian Cat

Persian Breeds

Persians are one of the most popular breeds and easily recognizable by their fluffy longhaired coat, flat face, large cheeks, and expressive eyes. They like quiet time with their humans. While they prefer to lounge and rest, they are also known for their surprise bursts of playful activity.

Main Info
Origin
Iran
Coat Pattern
Variety of solid, colorpoint, tabby, tortoiseshell, and calico patterns
Coat Length
Longhair
Health Issues
  • Brachycephalic airway obstructive syndromeBrachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome
  • Tear duct drainageTear duct drainage
  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  • Feline lower urinary tract disease Feline lower urinary tract disease
  • Progressive retinal atrophyProgressive retinal atrophy

Main Characteristics of the Persian Cat

The Persian cat is considered the "glamor puss" of the cat world. It is one of the world’s most popular breeds, with an exceptionally beautiful coat, adorably chubby cheeks, expressive eyes, and an affectionate personality. The modern-day breed comes in two types: show and traditional. The show Persian is characterized by certain exaggerated features, while the traditional Persian, or the "Doll Face", is the original version of the breed without exaggerated features. However, both have long and flowing coats that come in a rich array of colors and patterns.

Persian Cat Origin

Little is known about the history of this breed. Legend has it that the breed was introduced in Europe in the 1620s by Pietro Della Valle from Italy, who received the cat as a souvenir from Persia. At its height, Persia encompassed the areas of modern-day Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. These longhaired cats were considered precious cargo, traveling among the caravans that moved jewels and rare spices westward from Persia. Breeding of Persians likely began in Italy and France, with the practice quickly spreading to the rest of Europe. By the early 1900s, the Persian was introduced to the United States where it also gained enormous popularity.

Persian Cat Personality Traits

Persians are gentle, friendly, and affectionate. These delightful creatures are not as active as other feline breeds. They would rather spend their time lounging in their favorite spot on the sofa. They don't require as much space for activity, so are well-suited apartments and smaller living spaces. Their long and luxurious coats require daily grooming to prevent knots and tangles, as well as to provide protection against troublesome hairballs.

Persian Cat Common Health Issues

Persians are associated with a range of health issues. They are a brachycephalic breed, and as such they can suffer from obstructed airways, tooth misalignment and crowding, tear duct blockages, and heart problems. Persians are also at a high risk for polycystic kidney disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, progressive retinal atrophy, and feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).

Persian Cat Fun Facts

  • They love to win popularity contests. In 2015, Persian cats were ranked as the second most popular breed in the U.S. according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, and in 2021 the fourth most popular after the Ragdoll, the Maine Coon, and the Exotic Shorthair, respectively.

  • Early “Best in Show” winners. In 1871, Persians were presented at the world’s very first cat show in London, alongside other exotic breeds such as Siamese, Scottish Wild, and Manx cats. They won “Best in Show”.

  • Famous “celebrity” Persians. Florence Nightingale had a large Persian named Mr. Bismarck. Marilyn Monroe owned a white Persian cat named Mitsou. And Raymond Chandler was a proud owner of a black Persian named Taki.

  • The muses of the cat world. The art world has long embraced its love for Persian cats. The world’s largest cat painting sold for more than $820,000 and it was entitled “My Wife’s Lovers”.

  • Well-known actors of the cat world. Persian cats are stars. They have all the elite qualities: they are luxurious, their demeanor is unmatchable and they walk with a pompous bearing. Two of our favorite Persian celebrities include “Duchess” from Disney’s The Aristocats, and “Snowbell” from Stuart Little. Duchess is a classy, white Persian who lives in a mansion with her owner, a butler, and her tiny kittens. She is voiced by Eva Gabor. Snowbell is a white Persian voiced by Nathan Lane, and film critics have claimed that Snowbell stole every scene in the movie.

Persian Cat Characteristics

Lifespan
15-20 years
Good with
Children, Gentle Dogs, Cats, Families
Shedding amount
Medium
Playfulness
Medium
Affection level
High
Activity level
Low
Tendency to vocalize
Low
Exercise needs
Low to Medium

References

The International Cat Association (TICA) “Introduction to the Persian”

Cat Fanciers' Association "About the Persian (and Himalayan)"

FETCH by WebMD "What to Know About The Persian Cat"