The Persian Cat is named after Persia, the former name of Iran, where similar long-haired cats originated. The Persian is easily recognized by their round faces, shortened muzzle and long coat. In spite of an often perpetually-bored expression and a reputation for being a diva, this breed is typically mellow, easy to get along with and affectionate. There are two types of Persians: the show version with a particularly flat-faced appearance, and the older type which has a more pronounced muzzle.
The Persian is a beautiful cat characterized by a round face, round body style, and long fur. The face of the show-type cat is very flat (brachiocephalic) with the top edge of the nose being at the same level as the bottom of the eyes. As with dogs with this pushed-in face, breathing and other health problems may occur. Eye tearing and infections are also common. Due to these health problems, many Persian fanciers have made a push to breed back to the original type in which the muzzle is slightly more extended and, for some, more aesthetically appealing. This style is often called the "dollface" Persian. Persian coats come in over 80 color combinations.
The origin of the Persian cat is not as obvious as the name would suggest. Genetic research has indicated that the greatest contributor to the present-day Persian is not from Persia, but rather from Western Europe, though long-haired cats imported from Persia into Italy in 1620. Very similar cats, called Angoras, were imported from Turkey to France, and the two breeds were interbred to the point where it was difficult to categorize a Persian can from an Angoran one. In the 1950s, a spontaneous mutation common in red tabby Persians became known as the Peke-faced Persian where the flat faced was especially pronounced. This condition was named after the Pekingese dog, which also has a flat face. This trait became prized by fanciers and established firmly into the Persian line.
The Persian is a docile, laid-back couch potato that can be playful, but would rather watch the world and their subjects from a plush throne. They get along with most anyone, including other pets and gentle, respectful children.
Breed Club Links: The Persian Cat Club
BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: Long Hair FURminator for Large Cats
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Photo courtesy of Joanne Goldby.