Persian cats sport some of the longest and most luxurious coats, and are often characterised by their recognisable flat nose. But these are not the only special features of this cat breed! Read on to find out what makes Persians so loved!

Origins of the Persian cat

The Persian cat is a very old breed, descended from long-haired felines, including the Turkish Angora, that were imported from Iran (formerly Persia) to Europe in the 17th century.

At the time, explorer Pietro Della Valle came across the breed during his travels in the East and kept a number of the cats for his own enjoyment. In his travel diary, Della Valle wrote of his plans to export the breed to Italy.

The introduced cats became very popular in Italy, France and England where shorter-haired breeds were more common. People became enchanted by the Persian's gentle demeanour, magnificent coat and beautiful features.

In Great Britain, Persians were first referred to as ‘the French cat’ (following its route via France), then became known as ‘the Chinese cat’ and then ‘the Indian cat’ thanks to its more exotic looks. These exotic looks then led breeders to create newer, more desirable breeds such as the Exotic Shorthair and Himalayan.

Today, Persians are one of the most popular domestic cats throughout the world. Interestingly, they are also one of the most neglected, representing about 70% of abandoned cats.

Physical characteristics

Since the 17th century, Persians have changed in appearance as breeders began producing what they deemed the perfect feline companion. This led to two key types of Persian that we know today - the recognisable flat-nosed 'show' Persian and the 'Doll Face' or 'traditional' Persian.

The show Persian is characterised by its flattened nose, small ears, large round eyes (typically copper in colour), and short body and legs. The tail is voluminous and flowing.

The Doll Face Persian is closer in appearance to the traditional Persian breed that was introduced to Europe. Unlike the show Persian, Doll Face Persians have a more normal-sized nose creating a sweet, youthful (or doll-like) expression.

Both types have a magnificent long coat that comes in many different colours and patterns.

Character

Persians are favoured not only for their looks but for their sweet, calm and gentle demeanour. They love being social and giving and receiving affection. In many ways, Persians are often seen as a 'classic' feline companion, often appearing in movies or TV shows as the 'stereotypical' cat character.

It has been said that the extensive breeding of Persians dramatically decreased their wild instincts, resulting in this very affectionate, beautiful and docile personality. In fact, many Persian owners also claim their felines know their beauty and demand admiration in return.

While loving and sweet, Persians are less likely to be as affectionate with strangers, preferring the comfort and safety of their pride or family. They can also be wary of overly energetic children, particularly those they don't know.

In general, Persians are a less active breed of cat preferring a more placid and calm lifestyle. As such, they make ideal house cats. However, they also need exercise and love a good play!

Health

In addition to love and affection, Persian cats require a reasonable amount of care and attention to their health and wellbeing. They are more susceptible to various illnesses, particularly renal disease, than many other more robust breeds.

The right kind of diet and activity will help ensure a healthy lifestyle and functioning immune.

Their long coats require daily combing to ensure the hair does not get tangled and trap unwanted bacteria. This also applies to their small ears, where infections are more common. The eyes should also been cleaned daily due to the build up of fluid (or tears).

Due to the genetic mutation that results in the flatter nose associated with show Persians, similar to a French Bulldog, hot weather can be problematic. They are more susceptible to overheating and suffering from breathing difficulties. In this way, paying close attention to their wellbeing and environment will help manage health-related issues.

What do you love most about the Persian cat?

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