Persian Cat

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: September 12, 2008

Physical characteristics

The Persian cat is a large to medium-sized cat, with a well-balanced body and a sweet expression on its face. It has a huge and round head, small ears and a comparatively short tail. The breed was originally established with a short (but not non-existent) muzzle, but over time this feature has become extremely exaggerated, particularly in North America. These Persians are susceptible to a number of health problems because of this characteristic, specifically affecting their sinuses and breathing. In addition, Persians with short muzzles have dust and debris accumulate inside of the nostrils, making it difficult to breathe.

The Persian cat is also famous for its long, silky coat, which shimmers. And while solid silver is the most popular color for the Persian currently, there are more than 80 colors available today, including black, blue, cream, and smoke.

Personality and temperament

This cat can remain inactive for long periods, and have been called "furniture with fur" because of this characteristic. However, this is an ill-deserved reputation, as Persians and are extremely intelligent and love to play, but lack the same amount of curiosity that other cats possess.

A Persian makes for an ideal companion, especially if you're looking for a sweet and docile cat. While it is extremely affectionate and enjoys being petted, it is not the sort of cat that will pester you for attention.


The Persian cat breed requires a considerable amount of maintenance. This cat needs daily grooming to keep its beautiful hair in place and free from mats. Some owners even trim the Persian long hair, especially around the anus, which keeps it free from feces.

History and background

The Persian cat has long ruled the popularity charts. It participated in shows as early as 1871, when the first modern cat show was held at Crystal Palace in London. At this gala, organized by Harrison Weier, "father of the cat fancy," many representatives of the breed were present, easily placing it among the favorites.

The Persian cat breed was first registered with the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) in 1871, when the association first kept records. Although its long-haired ancestors were reported to have been spotted in Europe as early as the 1500s. They were probably brought to the continent by Romans and Phoenician caravans from Persia (now Iran) and Turkey, according to documents of the era. It is also widely believed that the recessive gene for long hair appeared naturally in the cats living in the mountainous area of Persia.

Some of these Persian cats were imported into Italy in the 1600s by Pietro della Valle (1586-1652), an Italian traveler. In his manuscript, Viaggi di Pietro della Valle, the Persian was described as a gray cat with long, silky hair. More Persian cats were brought from Turkey into France by Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, an astronomer, and later came to Britain by way of other travelers.

By the early 1900s the Persians reigned supreme. Blue Persians were especially sought after, as Queen Victoria owned two of them. Also in the 1900s, the British Governing Council of the Cat Fancy decided that the Persian (as well as the Angora and Russian Longhairs) should be known simply as Longhairs, a policy that continues today.

The Persian cat breed was not imported into North America until the 1800s, where they were quickly accepted. There was also an attempt in the United States to establish the Silver Persian as a separate breed called the Sterling, but it was rejected and Silver and Golden longhaired cats are now judged in the Persian category of cat shows.

Regardless of the Persian color, there is one thing for certain -- it is a luxurious-looking cat with a great personality.

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