Breed Profiles


The Persian is one of the oldest breed of cat.


The first documented ancestors of the Persian were imported from Persia into Italy in 1620 by Pietro della Valle, and from Turkey into France by Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc at around the same time. From France, they soon reached Britain. The longhaired cats from Persia were interbred with Turkish Angoras. Their appearance then differed greatly from today's standard. Hundreds of years of selective breeding made Persians cobby cats with a drastically shorter muzzle. In general, it's not clear when longhaired cats first appeared, as there are no African Wildcats, who are believed to be ancestors of domesticated cats, with long fur. There are claims that the gene responsible for long hair was introduced through hybridization with Pallas cat.


Persian cats are noted for their gentle temperament and their adaptability to new environments, making them ideal show cats. They are quiet and, although not shy, tend to be undemonstrative. They are quite loving and make wonderful companions.

Due to their "squashed" faces, it is not uncommon for Persians to have moderate discharge from their tear ducts. A Persian's eyes are easily cleaned and should be maintained consistently by its owner. The breed was originally established with a short muzzle, but over time, this characteristic has become extremely exaggerated, particularly in North America.

The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia) suggested that the Persian is derived from the Pallas Cat, a belief prevalent at the time. A photograph accompanying the entry in the Encyclopædia shows a Blue Persian Cat with the characteristics of what we would now call a "Doll-Faced Persian" or "Traditional Persian". Early photographs and drawings from magazines show the Persian as a Traditional Persian Cat.

Photographic records indicate that Persians, up until the 1960s, show a difference in appearance to cats of the early 1980s onwards (i.e., from the Traditional "doll face" to the "extreme", "ultra", "flat-faced" or "snubby" face of today).

Persian cats can have any color or markings including pointed, golden, tortoiseshell, blue, and tabby. Tipped varieties are known as Chinchilla. Point varieties are called Himalayan in the United States and Colorpoint Persian in Europe.


The modern brachycephalic Persian has a large rounded skull and shortened face and nose. This facial conformation makes the breed prone to breathing difficulties, skin and eye problems and birthing difficulties. A number of anatomical abnormalities associated with brachycephalic breeds, such as stenotic nares (narrowed nostrils) and elongated soft palate, can cause breathing difficulties including shortness of breath. Epiphora, an overflow of tears onto the face, is common but primarily cosmetic. It can be caused by other more serious conditions though. Entropian, the inward folding of the eyelids, causes the eyelashes to rub against the cornea, and can lead to tearing, pain, infection and cornea damage. Similarly, in upper eyelid trichiasis or nasal fold trichiasis, eyelashes/hair from the eyelid and hair from the nose fold near the eye grow in a way
which rubs against the cornea. Dystocia, an abnormal or difficult labor, is relative common in Persians


Since Persian cats have long, thick dense fur that they cannot effectively keep clean, they need regular grooming to prevent matting. To keep their fur in its best condition, they must be bathed regularly, dried carefully afterwards, and brushed thoroughly every day. An alternative is to shave the coat. Their eyes require regular cleaning to prevent crust buildup and tear staining.


Behaviour Tip

When a dog is presented for behaviour problems to a veterinary ethologist or accredited animal behaviourist it will usually have multiple disorders...

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