What is a Persian cat?

Per the Cat Fanciers' Association, a Persian cat is described as follows:

Persians, with their luxurious coats and open pansy-like faces are the number one breed in popularity. Their sweet, gentle, personalities blend into most households once they feel secure in their new environment. Creatures of habit, they are most at home in an atmosphere of security and serenity, but with love and reassurance, can easily adapt to the most boisterous of households. Their quiet, melodious voices are pleasant and non-abrasive. They communicate delightfully with their large expressive eyes and make charming pets for all ages. Persians have short heavily boned legs to support their broad, short bodies. They like to have their feet firmly planted and are not given to high jumping and climbing. Playful but never demanding, they love to pose and will drape themselves in a favorite window or chair, enhancing the decor in much the same way as a treasured painting. Persians are tremendously responsive and become a constant source of joy and delight to their owners. Pleasurable as an unexpected sunbeam, their companionship is close and enduring.

Their long flowing coats require an indoor, protected environment. Proper maintenance requires a daily run-through with a metal comb to eliminate the potential drawbacks of tangles and hairballs. An occasional bath, attempted only after a complete comb-through and clipping of the nail tips, will keep the coat clean, healthy and beautiful. It is wise to establish the routine of the bath when they are young. While the white Persian has long been the darling of photographers and advertisers, Persians come in an astonishing number of colors, which are divided into seven color divisions for purposes of competition.

Solid Division

In the Solid Division, only the pristine whites come in three different eye colors. Some have brilliant copper or deep blue eyes, others the surprising combination of one blue and one copper eye of equal intensity. The other solid colors have brilliant copper eyes.

The coat color for all solids should be sound to the roots and free from markings or shadings. Blues, once the apex of the breed, have been interbred with other colors to produce a more uniform type. Their pale silver-blue coats are most beautiful when viewed in natural lighting. Blacks have glossy patent finishes that glisten with intensity. Pale milk-colored creams are the dilute of the deep vibrant glowing reds. Chocolates and lilacs, introduced through the combination of Persian and Himalayan, are rarely seen. The chocolate demonstrates a warm chocolate-brown color while the lilac is a warm lavender with a pinkish tone.

Silver & Golden Division

The Silver and Golden Division consists of chinchilla and shaded silvers and goldens.

The exquisite silvers are considered the most ethereal of all Persians. The chinchilla is a sparkling white cat with black tipping scattered as evenly as stardust, ever so lightly, on the face, legs, tail and body. Shaded Persians show a mantle of black on the back, shading evenly down the sides. The tipping on the legs and face should match and is darker than the chinchilla. Goldens are either chinchilla or shaded. Their ground color is a rich, warm cream tipped with black. Silvers and goldens have green or blue-green eyes rimmed with black, black paw pads and brick red or rose nose leather.

Smoke & Shaded Division

The Shaded and Smoke Division includes the shell and shaded cameos which have red tipping with a white undercoat. The cream shell and shaded cameos demonstrate a white undercoat tipped with cream. The shell and shaded tortoiseshells have a mantle of black tipping with well-defined patches of red tipped hairs while the shell and shaded blue-creams have blue tipping with well-defined patches of cream tipped hair.

The smoke Persian is one of the most striking patterns of the Persian colors. There are six separate colors, black, blue, cream, cameo (red), smoke tortoiseshell and blue-cream smoke. In repose, the smoke appears to be a solid color cat. In motion, the coat will break open, giving glimpses of a startling white undercoat. All should have the characteristic white ruff and ear tufts. The perfect balance of undercoat to overcoat is transitory and the perfection of color balance can usually only be seen six to eight weeks annually. Their brilliant copper eyes seem almost like burning embers within the smoke setting.

Tabby Division

The Tabbies are the extroverts of the Persian breed. They come in three patterns: classic, mackerel and patched tabby. The patched tabby may exhibit either the classic or mackerel pattern with the addition of patches of red. The classic tabby is identified by the bull’s eye markings on the side of the body while the mackerel pattern is characterized by narrow penciling encircling the body. The brilliantly contrasted markings can be as striking as an exotic jungle cat.

Often referred to as the “fun’’ cat, tabbies are outgoing and demonstrative. Their facial markings give them a zesty added appeal. Recognized colors are silver, blue silver, red, brown, blue, cream, cameo and cream cameo. There are no patched tabby patterns in red, cream and cameo. All have brilliant copper eyes except silver varieties which also may have green or hazel.

Particolor Division

The Parti-Color Division consists of the tortoiseshell, blue-cream, chocolate tortoiseshell and lilac-cream.

The tortoiseshell is a black cat dispersed with great patches of red. A dividing blaze of color on the face adds interest to this brightly colored variety. The blue-cream, a delightful study in pastel, is a solid blue cat patched with cream. The muted coloring of the blue-cream and lilac-cream are as softly lovely as the tortoiseshell and chocolate tortie are flashy. All four colors have brilliant copper eyes.

Bicolor Division

The Calico & Bi-Color Division consists of calicos, bi-colors, smoke and whites and tabby and whites. Calicos have white coats splashed with vivid patches of red and black, while the dilute calico is patched with blue and cream. The chocolate and lilac calicos have white coats splashed with vivid patches of chocolate and red or lilac and cream respectively.

A van pattern is a white cat with color confined to the head and extremities. A maximum of two spots of color are allowed on the body. Bi-colors (black, blue, red, cream, chocolate or lilac with white) commonly exhibit white on the feet, legs, undersides, chest and muzzle. All established colors and patterns of tabbies with white and smokes with white are shown in this division. All have brilliant copper eyes except for the silver tabby with white which also may have green or hazel.

Himalayan Division

The Himalayan is one of the most popular of all Persians. The Himalayan is shown in the following point colors: chocolate, seal, lilac, blue, red, cream tortie, blue-cream, chocolate-tortie, lilac-cream, seal lynx, blue lynx, red lynx, cream lynx, tortie lynx, blue-cream lynx, chocolate lynx, lilac lynx, chocolate-tortie lynx and lilac-cream lynx. Color is restricted to the facial mask and extremities with the body of various shades of white to fawn.

Himalayans were developed by breeding Persians to Siamese to combine the Siamese point coloring with Persian type. After many years of cross breeding they were approved as accepted color variations of Persians. All must have deep vivid blue eyes as eyes other than blue are a disqualification.

Keeping the Persian indoors also keeps it safe from transmission of disease and parasites, as well as the dangers of urban life. With an annual trip to a trusted veterinarian, and good nutrition and care, the Persian can live as a family member for easily 15 years, and some surpassing 20 years. Persian breeders dedicate themselves to breeding healthy cats, availing themselves of the latest in veterinary screening procedures to test for any heritable disease conditions. A well-bred Persian is a hardy and healthy cat and is not more prone to illness and respiratory infections than other breeds. However, the large eyes do mean that a certain amount of tearing is normal, and a daily face wash is recommended.

Usually breeders make kittens available between twelve and sixteen weeks of age. After twelve weeks, kittens have had their basic inoculations and developed the physical and social stability needed for a new environment, showing, or being transported by air. Keeping such a rare treasure indoors, neutering or spaying, providing acceptable surfaces (e.g. scratching posts) for the natural behavior of scratching (CFA disapproves of declawing or tendonectomy surgery) and regular claw trimming are essential elements for maintaining a healthy, long and joyful life. For more information, please contact the Breed Council Secretary for this breed.


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