Persian Cat – History, Appearance and Temperament

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History    Appearance    Temperament      Special requirements   Health   Suitable for

Persians cats at a glance:

  • Origin: Persia (Iran)
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Energy: Low
  • Temperament: Easygoing, quiet, gentle
  • Weight: Males 5-6 kg (11 – 13 lbs), females 4-5 kg (8.8 – 11 lbs)
  • Colours: Every colour except pointed or shaded (see Himalayan and Chinchilla)
  • Grooming: Requires regular grooming
  • Suitable for: Families, retirees, indoors
  • Also called: Iranian cat, Shirazi cat
  • Cost: $700 – $1,400

Persian cat history:

Persian Cat
deliabertola / Pixabay

One of, if not the most popular breed, the Persian is one of the oldest known breeds of cat. The early history isn’t entirely known although it is generally accepted that the early cats came from Persia (now Iran) and Turkey. Italian traveller Pietro Della Valle (1586 – 1652) is credited with bringing the first Persian cats back to Europe, arriving in his homeland of Italy in 1620 with them.

By the 1800’s the Persian had become a popular breed in Europe and the first Persians arrived in America in the late 1800’s. In the Harpers Weekly supplement dated January 27, 1872, there is an illustration of several feline exhibits from the London Crystal Palace show, including a Persian cat.

Persian cat Persian cat

Traditional vs modern Persian cat

Early drawings (see above) and photographs of the Persian show quite a different cat to the Persians of today.

Persian cat appearance:

The Persian is a heavy boned, cobby type with short, thick legs with large paws. Persians are well muscled and medium to large in size. They have a short, thick neck, large shoulders, and a broad chest.  It has a short tail which is in proportion to the body.

They have a large, broad head with large, round, expressive eyes set wide apart, small round tipped tufted ears which are set low on the head and wide apart.  The nose is short, with a stop (or break) centred between the cat’s eyes. The overall expression is sweet and sometimes described as “pansy like“.

Some breeders are focusing on breeding Persians who resemble those from the past with less extreme features. Called Traditional, Doll Face or Old Style Persians.

Doll face and modern Persian cat

Persian cat personality:

Persian cat

Persian cats have a sweet and gentle nature. Typically they have a laid back personality who are affectionate and enjoy the company of their carers. If you are out of the house for long periods of time, consider getting two cats so they have company.

Persians are a quiet cat, easy going and generally get along with other pets and family members although not boisterous children. They are well behaved and don’t generally get up to any mischief. They are a quiet and calm cat but have a playful side also.

Persians are suited to an indoor life, they don’t tolerate noise as well as other breeds. Like most cats, they prefer routine and don’t like change.

Choosing a Persian cat:

Persian cat

Persians should only be purchased from a registered breeder and should not leave home until they are a minimum of twelve weeks of age and have received at least two of their three F3 vaccinations.

Where possible, visit the breeder and to meet the litter and if possible the Persian’s mother. I prefer to buy kittens who have been raised under-foot, meaning they grew up in the breeder’s home where they have become used to the hustle and bustle of a household.

Always choose healthy looking kittens, they should have no nasal or eye discharge. Always get guarantees in writing from your breeder.

Persian cat care:

Persian cat

Persians require daily grooming to avoid knots and mats in their coat. This will only take a few minutes per day. Most cats don’t need a regular bath, and that includes Persians, but if you do want to give him one, please read our article on how to give a cat a bath.

Some Persians are prone to watery eyes, these can be gently wiped clean with damp cotton balls.

Due to their flat faces and heavy coats, some Persians may have problems during hot weather and they are best keep indoors.

Dental care is important with all cats, to keep your Persian’s teeth in good condition regularly brush with a cat toothbrush and toothpaste (never use human toothpaste) or feed raw chicken necks or chunks of human grade steak two to three times a week.

Your Persian will need an annual health check with a veterinarian and his F3 vaccination every one to three years, as directed by your veterinarian.

Monthly flea and worming treatment are also necessary even for indoor only cats.

Persian cats should not be allowed to roam outdoors, their trusting nature puts them at risk. If possible, give them access to a cat enclosure where they can enjoy the great outdoors but in a safe environment.

Persian cat health:

Persian cat

Persian cats are a brachycephalic breed, which means they have a short, flat face, this can lead to problems such as excessive tearing of the eyes, dental problems, eye ulcers and breathing difficulties.

Do your homework when selecting a Persian cat, they have a higher incidence of the following conditions:

When choosing a Persian cat, ask your breeder if he comes with a health guarantee. Ensure that the breeder screens her cats for polycystic kidney disease (PKD).

Persian cat
Image credit Kelly, Flickr.

Suitable for:

With their gentle and laid back temperament, the Persian is suits most families. If you have young children, try to find a breeder whose kittens have been raised in a family setting.

Due to their long coat, groom daily to prevent mats which are extremely painful.

There is also a shorthaired version of the Persian, known as the Exotic.

Persian cat
Image credit, Shandi-lee Cox, Flickr.

Related breeds:

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