Persian cats are one of the most popular breed of domesticated cats in the world today. In fact, in 2020, the Cat Fanciers’ Association ranked Persian cats as the most popular breed in the United States (and the fourth most popular worldwide)! If you are a Persian owner, love this breed, or just want to learn more about these long-haired beauties, keep reading to discover some fun facts and trivia about Persian cats!
History of the Persian Cat
The Persian cat likely comes from Persia, of course, but even this is a supposition and not a verified fact. The first long-haired cats were brought back to England by European diplomats who had been stationed in the Middle East in the mid-1800s. These cats were highly valued for their looks, and were given the name Persian, as most people thought that area of the world was their origin. Back then, one of the most famous Persians was from Iran, which was the seat of the Persian Empire in ancient times. (Angoras, which are closely related to Persians, were brought to Europe from Ankara in Turkey around this time as well).
Persians were presented at the world’s first cat show at the Crystal Palace in London in 1871, alongside other exotic breeds like Manx, Scottish Wild and Siamese cats. The Persian won “Best in Show” at this cat show.
The first Persian cats arrived in the United States soon thereafter, around 1875. It is said that the increased interest in cat breeding in the early 1900s was driven by the popularity of the Persian cat, as this was one of the earliest pedigreed cats.
The coat of the Persian cat is made up of individual hairs that are four to six inches long. The Persian’s coat is also slightly oily, and will mat easily if not taken care of. Because of this, their coats require brushing and/or combing on a daily basis. They also need to be bathed regularly, unlike other breeds of cats (owners note that weekly bathing and daily grooming does prevent some of the shedding, so there is a benefit to the care you must take of your Persian!) Before making the decision to acquire a Persian through adoption or purchase, make sure you know the maintenance it will require from you!
The colors within a Persian’s coat run the spectrum, from snowy white to multi-tone combinations like tabby and tortoiseshell. The Cat Fanciers’ Association has listed seven categories of Persian colors: solid, silver and gold, smoke/shaded, tabby, particolor, bicolor, and Himalayan. However, within these seven categories, there are endless combinations of colors and patterns, producing more than 30 different possible color combinations.
The face of the Persian cat is quite distinctive – flat and open with small button-like noses. Their eyes look large and expressive on their faces. They have curved pansy-shaped cheeks and small, triangular mouths. Persian faces are classified in three ways:
- Show quality face- this face is extremely flat, with little to no nose
- Doll face – this is considered a breeder quality, rounder face, and has a bit more of a nose
- Pet quality face – this face has more of a nose and is not as perfectly round
The body of the Persian cat is usually compact, with short, heavier-boned legs and tails of medium length.
Many owners of Persian cats cherish the kitties’ friendliness, saying that they are affectionate and dog-like. They love people, and have been known to greet visitors at the door and come when called by name. They have a distinctive, sing-songy meow and seem to enjoy chatting with humans.
While they may seem more active than many other breeds of cats, don’t be fooled. The Persian is known for its laziness, loving to sleep 20 hours a day. Even Persian kittens don’t play as often as other kittens, owners have said. Because of this, Persians are less likely to cause mischief or get into trouble than other cat breeds.
Persians aren’t the smartest cat breed, as owners are quick to acquiesce. They often take a bit longer to reach developmental milestones, such as figuring out how to use a litter box, than other cat breeds. They also are not natural predators or hunters, and usually show no interest in chasing other creatures like mice.
Keep Your Persian Indoors!
Because of the Persian’s coat, love of lounging around, and slow-wittedness, Persians are best kept indoors. This is much safer for the cat and less troublesome for the owner as well.
The litters of Persian cats are typically small, from two to six kittens per birth. This is a good thing, as female Persian cats have more compact hips than females of other breeds.
Health Problems Found in Persian Cats
Persians usually don’t have many genetic health issues, with the exception of polycystic kidney disease. However, breeders have recently been able to eliminate the gene that causes polycystic kidney disease, so this disease is rarely found in newer Persians.
Some Persians can have brachycephaly, a breathing condition arising from shorter skull and lack of nasal bones. This is quite rare and only found in a few varieties of Persian cats.
Longevity of a Persian Cat
If kept indoors, Persians can be expected to live a long life, from 15 to 18 years.
Price of a Persian Cat
If you choose to purchase a purebred Persian, you should know that they are not cheap. Persian kittens, which are spayed or neutered and microchipped, start at $1000 and can go up to $2000. Intact Persians, which have not been fixed, can start at $1500 and go as high as $3000 for a male. So, save your pennies if you really want to purchase a Persian! You could choose, however, to find a Persian (possibly purebred, possibly not) at a shelter, of course, and instead, adopt a cat who really needs a home.
Persians in History and Popular Culture
There have been many famous Persians, or famous people who have owned Persians, over the years:
- The French nobility loved and owned Persian cats
- Marilyn Monroe owned a white Persian named Mitsou
- Florence Nightingale owned a Persian named Mr. Bismarck, and was said to have owned 60 Persian cats during her lifetime
- Duchess from Disney’s “The Aristocats” is a famous Persian
- Snowbell from the movie “Stuart Little” is also Persian
- Tinkles in the movie “Cats and Dogs” is Persian
- Kitty Galore in “Cats and Dogs” is also a Persian
- The “Fancy Feast” cat is a Dearhart Chinchilla Persian cat, said to be the oldest man-made cat breed in the world
- James Bond’s supervillain, Blofeld, famously strokes a Persian cat (who is never named)