A warm and fluffy ball of fur with huge expressive eyes, that’s what it comes down to, yet the regal bearing of the Persian cat easily makes it a Prince among equals.
Very popular and beloved for the beauty of its fur, the Persian is the result of careful, and actually quite recent (1800s), interbreeding experiments conducted in Great Britain. The name of the breed of this marvellous feline recalls the exotic Middle East and its origins are very likely linked to the long-haired cats Europeans imported from the Orient from the XVI century onwards, especially the Angora cat. After careful selective breeding the Persian, as we see it today, has very few traces remaining of his Middle Eastern ancestors.
So what are the characteristics of this cat? What makes it so remarkable and sought after?
- Its coat. A large part of the allure of the Persian is its gorgeous silky coat, the extremely soft, long hair that covers its entire body. This hair is longest around its collar, around his neck, chest and shoulders. The hair that covers this cat boasts both types, that is, the coat and undercoat, dense layers of equal-length strands of thin hair, and this is what makes this feline so very special. The types of coat that are currently accepted and recognised are many and varied, and they number more than 200!
- Its body. Short and compact, this cat has sturdy bones and strong muscles. Its shoulders are wide and powerful, as is its trunk, while its legs tend to be short and wild little tufts of soft hair pop up from between his toes. Its tail is rich with hair and, proportionately speaking, rather short. The average weight of this stocky, furry delight varies from 3 to 4 kg (Her Highness) and 4 to 6 kg (His Highness).
- The head. The cat’s face is one of its most remarkable features. Love it or hate it, its nose is squashed flat, short and wide with an accentuated stop. It has a large and impressive head, with a bulbous forehead and little ears on either side of the head with rounded points. The eyes are set wide apart, they’re big, round and very expressive. Depending on the coat, they can be blue, green, shades of ochre and even different from one another.
Persian cats are the only breed of cat that can officially claim the denomination ‘long-haired’. That’s because it was this very characteristic breeders selected when they created this new race. There are other breeds of gorgeous cats, like the Norwegian Forest cat and the Maine Coon who, because they live in very cold climates have developed hair that is longer than the norm (a type called semi-long) in an entirely natural (i.e. non-selective breeding) way. But they lose much of this long warming fur when winter ends, while the coat of a true Persian remains the same length.
This marvellous, super soft hair, however, requires a great deal of attention. Caring for the coat of your Persian cat is a fundamental requirement not just for keeping it soft and shiny, but also for the cat’s health. It needs to be combed every day to keep knots at bay, and because the hair is long, you need to make sure it is kept especially clean around its genitalia. A monthly bath is highly recommended, especially if His or Her Highness gets to play out of doors.
But all the hard work is richly rewarded with a great many satisfactions. Persians have a soft and affectionate disposition, they are peaceful creatures and are quite happy to live by your side even in apartments of a modest size. Regal of bearing and beautiful to look at, these aristo-cats are playful and happy, blessed with a mild character, quick to fall in love with the family, from whom lots of love and plenty of grooming are demanded in return!
Its classically serious expression and marvellous fur makes the Persian cat look more like an old wise man or a royal Ottoman dignitary, a real pasha-cat. Who can resist this adorable, beautiful soft ball of fur?
Our thanks to Beatrice and her lovely Bignè for the photos!