In Origin of Species (1859), Charles Darwin wrote, “…cats from their nocturnal habits, cannot be so easily matched (bred) and although so much valued by women and children, we rarely see a distinct breed long kept up.” These few words aptly sum up the condition of a breed that is fast disappearing– Solid Persians. Today there are more than 35 breeds of wild cats and over 300 breeds of domestic cats. The familiar pedigreed Solid Persian cats are feared to be disappearing quickly. Exhibitors in this division, as well as the cats themselves, are certainly not as evident in frequently organised pet-shows.
The origin of Persian cats vary– from manuscripts and drawings as early as 1684 BC to the first documented findings of the longhaired cats. It was in the year of 1620 when, in Persia (now Iran), Pietro della Valle accounted for his discovery of remarkable gray longhaired cats, writing in his journals subsequent to his finds. And that was the first ever written record that exists of these unarguably cute creatures. This marked the start of the rule of these furry fellows on the show halls of the cat fancy.
Still sought after today, Persian cats are known for their dramatic flowing coats that surround a bulkish frame. Their rounded bodies have stumps for legs (makes one wonder how all that fur and cuteness can be supported on such tiny legs!). The pedigreed Solid Persians are desired for their light soothing voices and for their accommodating, stable and low-keyed natures. They are adored for their non-athletic yet gently playful personalities.
So how does one possibly recognize a pedigreed Persian cat? According to CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association) standards, Pedigreed Persian cats are heavy cobby-bodied (short) with short thick legs, which are held straight (not bowed or cow-hocked) when viewed from the rear. The paws are large and round with a solid firm feel and the toes are held tightly. The skull of the cat is rounded and sits atop an equally short, heavy, thick neck, that blends into the large-to-medium torso. The Persian cat’s chest is broad (wide) and deep, while across the shoulders and rump, the cat exhibits a hefty, solid body, with a well-rounded middle section and straight level back. The tail should be in proportion to body length. It should be held without any curvature at all and carried at an angle that is lower than the back. The entire cat should have good muscle tone and exhibit no tendencies toward flabbiness. The size begins with large and goes to medium but a Persian is never small in size or stature. The facial expression should show refinement coupled with a gentle, soft, alert sweetness. The eyes should not be of dull colour. Phew! One barely goes through so many specs before buying cell-phones!
It was in the year of 1909 when D.B Champion authored the book Everybody’s Cat which focussed on providing the perfect description of a Persian show cat.Most Solid Persians of today can trace back their lineage to imported longhaired cats that came to America from Britain (in the early 1900s). By 1914 nine color classes were listed under the longhairs with the following colors accepted for Solid Persians by CFA’s Board– the solid color division, silver and golden, shaded and smoke, the tabby division, parti-color division, calico and bi-colors, and the Himalayan category.
So what exactly was the reason that contributed to the decline in number for these unbelievably cute feline creatures? During the 1990s, Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) was determined to be a serious problem for Persian cats. In CFA, the fear pertaining to PKD reached heights of paranoia the moment it came to light. Heavy loss of actual bloodlines of Solid Persians resulted. Exhibitors got rid of their pure bloodlines with the result that the number of Solid Persians in showhalls today is but a tenth of what they used to be a decade ago.
However, in many places pure and un-meddled bloodlines still exist and there is still hope for these adorable creatures to increase their number. Several treatment methods and techniques for PKD have also come up that should come as comforting news for breeders. So it will be best, if you are a breeder, to keep faith and keep you purr-fect Persian companion in the warmth of your home!
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!