The Many Faces of the Persian Cat

With its luscious longhaired coat and cute squashed face, the Persian is perhaps one of the most recognizable breeds of domestic cat around the world. It is certainly one of the most popular with cat lovers and remains high on the list in US. But the Persian is actually more than just the one single breed of cat, with a number of breeds having been developed from it as well as differing types of the main Persian breed itself. So here is a glimpse into the many faces of the Persian cat.

Traditional and Modern Persians
Also known as doll-faced, classic or old-fashioned Persians, the traditional is one of the two main types of Persians cat found around the world. These cats are known for their less extreme features that have been selectively bred into the modern Persian cat and have less of a squashed nose look. They are also believed to more closely resemble the cats that first came to Europe from ancient Persia, now Iran in the 1500s.

The modern Persian, also known as the peke-faced, is perhaps the form of Persian most instantly recognized, with its short, squashed muzzle and round face. The look of the modern Persian has been the result of years of selective breeding to bring out these and other traits in the cats but has also brought out a number of health problems. They were first seen in the 1950s when a spontaneous mutation among a group of red and red tabby Persians led to a flatter profile and was named peke-faced due to the similarity to the Pekingese dog breed.

The breed standard for Persians with almost all major registries is sufficiently vague that either traditional or modern Persians can qualify. It calls for a cobby body with short legs, a broad chest and a general round appearance to the body. Generally, modern Persians score better in cat shows but there is a general public preference to the less extreme traditional style cats.

Himalayan
The Himalayan is a cross breed that was created by crossing a Siamese with a Persian. The resulting cats have the longhaired coat of the Persian along with the short muzzle and other physical features, while retaining the colorpoint coat coloration of the Siamese. They are known as the Colorpoint Longhair in the UK and were named Himalayan, as the color of the early cats was much like the color of the Himalayan rabbit.

Exotic Shorthair
The Exotic Shorthair is a Persian with a short coat – it was created by crossing with American Shorthair cats to create a cat that looks like a Persian but has the coat length of the Shorthair. Some registries don’t accept them as a breed in their own right because most carry a recessive longhair gene, meaning that random kittens can be full, longhaired Persians.

Chinchilla
The Chinchilla is a special type of Persian, also known as the Silver Persian, which is being created as a separate breed by dedicated breeders in the US. The Chinchilla now comes in more than just silver as there are shaded silver, goldens and shaded goldens in these cats. Another group of breeders in South Africa have also established a line of Chinchilla cats that favor the traditional Persian in their features.

Health issues
Persian cats may appear to be silky and gorgeous but like any supermodel, there is work required to achieve that look. This means that their owners need to assist with the grooming process, usually on a daily basis. In addition to a daily brushing, Persians are often taught from a young age to be bathed to help deal with coat condition and also with the problems often found in their faces.

This is particularly the case with the modern or peke-faced cats who have a condition called brachycephalia, which results in a shortened skull and face. This means they can suffer from breathing difficulties, develop skin, and eye problems. Shortness of breath is common and they often have malformed tear ducts that mean their eyes leak, also needing human attention to prevent a build-up and soreness.



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