Himalayans are a special kind of cat that comes from a mix of Persian and Siamese breeds. They have a long, fluffy coat and smooshed face like Persian cats and pointed coloring on their ears, face, feet, and tail like Siamese cats. Known for getting along with just about anyone, this calm kitty is a delight to share your home with—if you can handle all the fluff.
Under that fuzz, Himalayans are medium-sized cats, weighing 7–12 pounds and averaging 11 inches tall.
Caring for a Himalayan Cat
Himalayan cats have a laid-back personality but a high-maintenance beauty routine. Their fur can be silky smooth or thick like wool—but either way, they need to be brushed every day to prevent knots and mats.
While docile, Himalayans have a kitten-like playful side and adore interacting with their human and animal family members. They enjoy being a part of whatever you’re doing and will be the first one to greet you at the door.
Himalayan Cat Health Issues
The Himalayan cat lifespan is an average of 9–15 years, so you’ll have lots of time to bond with your feline companion. However, they’re also prone to some health conditions, so purchasing pet insurance might be a good idea when you bring home your Himalayan kitten.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Flat-faced cats and dogs often suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome, which is a group of problems affecting the upper airway. Physical features such as narrow nostrils, a long soft palate, a collapsed larynx (voice box), and an undersized trachea can make breathing difficult for brachycephalic breeds such as Himalayans.
This condition can limit a cat’s ability to exercise and tolerate heat, particularly in overweight cats, senior cats, or cats with allergies.
In severe cases, veterinarians may recommend nostril corrective surgery. Your Himalayan should never breathe with an open mouth. If they do, this is a sign of a serious health issue and requires an immediate visit to the vet.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a common heart condition in cats. The disease may not show any signs in the beginning, but in advanced stages it can lead to problems like difficulty breathing and lethargy. Conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and hyperthyroidism often accompany—and complicate—treatment plans for cats with HCM.
At-home DNA tests can identify HCM-carrying genes, and regular veterinary checkups can detect early signs of HCM. Preferably before bringing home your new Himalayan kitten, ask your breeder if the kitten’s parents have been tested for HCM.
Polycystic Kidney Disease
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic condition that causes cats to develop cysts in their kidneys, leading to irreversible kidney damage by destroying normal kidney tissue and function. As with HCM, at-home DNA kits can test your cat for PKD before symptoms appear. If you’re working with an experienced Himalayan breeder, ask if both parents have been genetically tested for the disease.
PKD symptoms in cats can look a lot like those of kidney disease, including increased thirst, frequent urination, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Although the disease can occur in kittens as young as 6 months old, symptoms generally appear in cats that are 7 years old or older. If you notice any PKD symptoms, schedule a checkup with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Referred to as a “trick knee” in humans, luxating patella in cats is when a cat’s kneecap (patella) moves (luxates) from its normal position. The constant sliding of the kneecap can cause inflammation and premature arthritis. Managing luxating patella includes weight management, a joint-healthy diet, and in severe cases, surgery.
There is a risk of dental disease in all cats. Himalayans, however, may have an increased risk of dental problems because of their flat face, which can cause overcrowding of their teeth.
Your vet might recommend tooth extraction if the overcrowding is severe. Otherwise, brushing your cat's teeth daily with pet-safe toothpaste and scheduling regular veterinary check-ups and dental cleanings are the most effective methods of preventing dental issues.
What To Feed a Himalayan Cat
Your Himalayan cat requires a high-quality diet that meets Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommendations for their age. To choose the best diet for your cat, talk with your veterinarian.
How To Feed a Himalayan
Although Himalayans have a sturdy build, their fluffy fur can make them appear larger than their actual size. So while they’re stocky, they’re not big cats and are prone to weight gain. Himalayans shouldn’t be allowed to eat as much as they want. Rather than free-feeding, consider feeding your cat two or more small meals a day.
These smart cats might enjoy food puzzles and lick mats, which make eating more mentally stimulating.
How Much Should You Feed a Himalayan?
You can use the cat food label as a reference for how much to feed your Himalayan cat. That said, serving sizes will vary for individual cats based on their age, lifestyle, and ideal body condition. If you’re not sure how many calories your cat needs, your veterinarian can help determine the right amount of food to give your kitty.
Nutritional Tips for Himalayan Cats
When cat food is complete and balanced, that means it contains all the nutrients your cat needs. If your cat develops any health issues, your veterinarian may recommend additional nutrients.
Behavior and Training Tips for Himalayan Cats
Himalayan Personality and Temperament
Himalayans can go from napping in the sun to zooming around the room. They’re peaceful and fairly lazy lap cats, but they have a playful side that goes wild for interactive toys, balls, and catnip kickers. On days when they prefer to snooze for hours (and there will be plenty!), your Himalayan may need some encouragement to exercise.
If you’re looking for an affectionate cat to join your family, a Himalayan kitty might be for you. They can get along well with children and dogs, as long as they are introduced gradually. And though they may need time and patience to adjust to new situations, Himalayans are generally more open to changes in routine than other feline breeds.
You can teach your Himalayan tricks and cues by using a clicker and rewarding them with treats. But although Himalayans are smart, not all of them are interested in clicker training, and some might not be food-motivated.
Fun Activities for Himalayan Cats
Cuddling with their human or furry companions
Solving food puzzles
Playing with children and other pets
Himalayan Cat Grooming Guide
With a thick, long coat and flat facial features that require extra special care, Himalayans require daily grooming.
Himalayan cats may need weekly baths to prevent matting. If your Himalayan is prone to skin infections or allergies, ask your veterinarian for a recommended shampoo, which may be a prescription formula.
Himalayans have long fur with “points”—meaning darker spots on their ears, nose, feet, and tail. Their fur is typically cream-colored, and the points can come in seal, blue, lilac, chocolate, flame, and cream, as well as patterns like tabby, lynx, and tortoiseshell.
To prevent matting, brush your cat every day using a comb that can reach their thick undercoat. Skipping daily grooming could result in large, painful mats that require professional grooming to untangle.
Rather than daily brushing, some pet parents choose to take their Himalayan to the groomers for routine haircuts.
Himalayans have big blue eyes that produce more tears than most other breeds do, thanks to their flat face. This can cause unsightly tear stains and moist, infection-prone fur.
You can keep your Himalayan’s eyes healthy by wiping them with warm water and a small cotton facecloth. Consult your veterinarian before applying any cleaners or medications on or near your cat’s eyes.
While they don’t require special care, inspect and gently clean your cat's ears if they’re dirty. Talk to your veterinarian if there are indications of an ear infection, including redness, a foul odor, itchy head/ears, or debris in the ear canal.
Considerations for Pet Parents
Himalayan cats are docile and affectionate, making them ideal companions for new cat parents, families, and multi-pet households. They require daily grooming to keep their fur from matting, but most love being pampered, and the daily grooming sessions can be a fun way to bond with them.
Though they’re true lap cats, Himalayans also have a playful side and enjoy interacting with their human and animal family members.
Himalayan Cat FAQs
How much do Himalayan cats cost?
Himalayan cat prices can range anywhere from $500 up to $2,500. If you’re interested in adopting a Himalayan cat, they can be found through special purebred cat rescues at a lower price than Himalayan kittens may cost from a breeder.
Do Himalayan cats make good pets?
Himalayans make loving additions to households that can dedicate time to daily grooming, play, and affection. These long-haired cats are good with kids and other pets when appropriately introduced.
What is the life expectancy of a Himalayan cat?
Himalayan cats can live for 9–15 years. However, they’re prone to some health conditions that can impact their lifespan.
Featured Image: Adobe/Tatiana
Help us make PetMD better
Was this article helpful?