Reviewed for accuracy on May 6, 2019, by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM
Anyone who has laid his or her eyes upon a Persian cat knows that these kitties are the epitome of elegance. The Persian cat breed is renowned for having long, soft fur as well as laid-back personalities that make them a pleasure to be around.
Before adopting a Persian kitty, however, prospective owners should be aware that they require more care than their feline brethren.
So, if you are planning on welcoming a Persian cat into your home, review the tips and care requirements below before you make the commitment.
The Persian Cat Breed
According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, Persians are one of the most popular breeds of cats. They’ve been around for a long time, with hieroglyphic references to the breed dating as far back as 1684 B.C.
The Personality of Persian Cats
Persian cats are known for being sweet, gentle animals. Dr. Carlo Siracusa, DVM, PhD, MS, is an assistant professor of clinical animal behavior and the director of small animal behavior service in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Advanced Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia and was once a breeder of Persian cats.
He says, “The breed is very mellow and very quiet. They’re not necessarily active, especially once they’re older. They also tend to get tired very easily.”
Yody Blass, MA, a certified animal behaviorist at Companion Animal Behavior, which offers behavior solutions for dogs and cats in the Washington, D.C. area, has owned several Persian cats over the years. She agrees with Dr. Siracusa, adding, “These cats can be active when they want to be, but they’re never bouncing off the walls. They’re a good fit if you have a quieter lifestyle.”
The Distinctive Persian Cat Coat
Perhaps Persians’ most distinctive feature is their fur, which is long and soft. And to keep their lustrous coats healthy, it requires active maintenance on the part of the cat’s owner.
“Persian cats require daily grooming,” Blass says. “And not just a once-over. You have to be diligent to remove knots and other debris from their fur because they can’t do it on their own.”
Persian Cat Grooming Requirements
Dr. Siracusa says that he would spend upwards of an hour daily brushing his Persian cats. “Persian undercoats tend to knot very easily, so you have to be sure that the knots don’t turn into mats, which can be painful and need to be removed.”
There are lots of brushes available for cats, but Persian cat owners should look for one that’s able to get through their kitty’s long fur. A double-sided brush, like the JW Pet double-sided cat brush, offers two options if you’re unsure which will work best for your cat.
Blass adds that keeping Persians’ fur pristine isn’t just a matter of daily brushing. “Because Persians’ coats are so long, sometimes their waste gets stuck when they use the litter box,” Blass explains. “As a result, they can get really fussy about their litter boxes and may start to eliminate in other places.”
Blass says that some Persian owners get their Persian cats’ bellies and back legs shaved to reduce some of the issues that come with cat litter box usage, noting, “Trimming these areas can help the cats feel more comfortable.” It is recommended to have a professional groomer trim or shave your Persian cat’s fur instead of doing it at home.
Of course, standard grooming also applies to Persian cats, and owners should be equipped to do a quick nail clip if necessary.
The Body and Face
Persian cats are known for having short, round bodies and adorable smooshed-in faces with short noses, big eyes and small ears. “For breeders, the overall goal was to achieve a face similar to a kitten or a baby. It’s attractive to many people, but it does come with issues,” Dr. Siracusa says.
First, the flat facial features can lead to breathing problems. “This is likely why they aren’t very active—they can’t breathe as easily as other cats, and [they] get tired,” Dr. Siracusa adds.
The prominence and wide placement of Persians’ eyes can also lead to some challenges. Persian eyes aren’t well-protected by their facial conformation and can be injured or develop ulcers quite easily. They are also prone to improper tear drainage.
“Persians tend to have what are called lacrimal tears, which is a discharge between their nose and their eye because there is a fold in their face there. The tears run down the fold and then oxidize, which makes the cat’s face look dirty,” Dr. Siracusa says.
You can use cat eye wipes to help keep teary cat faces clean, but if you notice excessive drainage, especially when combined with eye redness and pain, call your veterinarian immediately.
A Persian cat’s flat face may also make mealtimes more difficult. There are shallow cat bowls specifically made for pets who have difficulty picking up food from deep within a high-sided dish.
Finding Persian Cat Breeders
If you’re up to the challenges of caring for a Persian cat, both Dr. Siracusa and Blass strongly recommend doing extensive research when looking for a breeder.
“You want to adopt a cat from someone who’s willing to talk to you, can answer all of your questions and offers references. You also might want to ask for vet records and if their cats are tested for genetic disorders,” Blass says.
Persians can be prone to heart, eye, kidney, breathing and bladder issues, so you want to be sure that the cat you’re interested in adopting has a clean history and a clean bill of health.
While Persian cats are a lot of work, they do make great pets. “They’re not low-maintenance at all, but they’re super sociable, friendly, smart and great to be around,” Blass says.
By: Kate Hughes
Featured Image: iStock.com/rukawajung