Himalayan cats, also known as "Himmies," are a hybrid breed of Persian and Siamese cats first developed in the United States. The result is a beautiful feline with a long, silky, Persian-like coat and Siamese-like pointed coloring on the ears, tail, face, and paws. Their bright blue eyes are also a nod to their Siamese ancestry.
Despite their larger size, Himalayans can be considered a "gentle giant" of the feline world. They adore the attention and affection of their owners, have sweet, temperate personalities, and are very playful. If you're looking for a low-maintenance cat, however, a Himalayan may not be the right pick for you—their long, silky coats require daily care.
Other Names: Himmy
Personality: Sedate, affectionate, gentle, friendly, and intelligent
Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
Length: 12 to 16 inches
Coat Length: Long hair
Coat Color: White to cream
Coat Patterns: Pointed markings, which can be a wide range of colors including chocolate, seal, blue, lilac, and red
Eye Color: Blue
Lifespan: Up to 15 years
Origin: United States
Himmies are gentle, somewhat sedate cats, but don't think that makes them boring. These felines enjoy playing with toys, although they aren't likely to go wild climbing your curtains like some other breeds. They are intelligent and very attuned to their owners, often greeting them at the door after an absence. Himalayan cats love to cuddle, be petted, and spend time interacting with their family.
These medium-to-large, sociable cats generally get along well with children, as long as they aren't too boisterous, and can settle in very well to a home with other cats and cat-friendly dogs.
|Tendency to Vocalize||Moderate|
|Amount of Shedding||High|
History of the Himalayan
Unlike many other breeds, Himalayans don't have a very long history. They've existed for less than 100 years, but attempts to breed a long-haired Siamese stretched over decades.
Through the 1920s and 1930s, breeders around the world attempted to produce a cat with a Persian body and Siamese markings. In 1935, two medical researchers from Harvard cross-bred a black, Persian male with a Siamese female to study how certain genetic characteristics were inherited. After creating and cross-breeding several litters, these researchers finally produced the first true long-haired Siamese, which they named Newton's Debutante.
Breeding slowed during World War II, but following the war, an American breeder named Marguerita Goforth continued working towards a Siamese-Persian cross. Her attempts to bring recognition to the Himalayan as a new breed were successful, as in 1957, this hybrid was officially recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) and the American Cat Fanciers' Association (ACFA).
However, several years later, the Cat Fanciers' Association dropped recognition of the Himalayan as a truly separate breed, instead recognizing it as a division of the Persian. Today, many organizations still do not consider Himalayans and Persians to be distinctly separate breeds.
If you're not willing to dedicate some time to grooming each day, the Himalayan probably isn't the right cat for you. Because they have long, silky hair that tangles and mats easily, a Himalayan's coat should be brushed with a sturdy, wide-toothed comb daily. This will help prevent tangling and mats, and also remove any dirt, dust, or debris, along with loose hair. It's also recommended that a Himalayan visits a professional groomer every few months to ensure its coat is healthy and clean. The good news: Himalayans love to get attention from their owners, which makes grooming easier—and an excellent bonding experience for both the owner and Himalayan.
You can protect your furniture by trimming your Himalayan's nails regularly, removing just the tip of the claw so as not to cut into the quick. Dedicate some time each week to examine your cat's ears, too. If you find debris in your cat's ears, use a pet ear cleaner and cotton ball to gently remove it. Never use a cotton swab in your cat's ears—it can cause serious damage to the delicate inner-ear structures. If the ears are very red or inflamed, very dirty, or smell bad, take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Like other short-faced cat breeds, Himalayans are prone to tear-staining, called epiphora. This can leave unattractive reddish-brown stains on your cat's face. If this is an issue with your feline, gently wipe its face once or twice a day with a soft, damp cloth to remove the excess tears before they create stains. If the color persists, ask your vet to recommend a product specifically formulated to remove the stains. There are many sold over-the-counter.
Himalayans have low exercise needs, but they are extremely playful and will get into mischief if they become bored. You can keep them entertained and engaged by providing plenty of cat toys and dedicating a few minutes to playtime each day. Because Himalayans have such playful personalities, something as simple as a ball of paper will keep them entertained for hours.
Common Health Problems
Like Persians, Himalayans are more prone than many other breeds to several health conditions. It's very important to ask for proof of health from the breeder if you are planning on purchasing a purebred Himalayan kitten. While this does not guarantee that your cat won't develop health issues, it can give you some indication of potentially inheritable conditions the kitten's parents might have passed on to their offspring.
Some common health conditions among Himalayans include:
- Polycystic Kidney Disease: PKD is characterized by the development of multiple cysts on a cat's kidneys. It's not immediately life-threatening but should be treated as early as possible to prevent the development of new cysts and to reduce the risk of dangerous bacterial infections.
- Respiratory Issues: Because Himalayans have flattened faces, they're more susceptible to certain respiratory problems, like difficulty breathing and swallowing, or inability to perform physical activity.
- Feline Asthma: This respiratory illness can cause your cat to have difficulty breathing, and potentially can be very serious. If you notice your cat has frequent attacks of coughing, struggling to breath, or other signs of respiratory distress, it's time to call your veterinarian.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This inherited eye disorder can lead to blindness.
Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to reduce your Himalayan's risk of these health conditions. They'll be able to provide active steps you can take to protect it, as well as an action plan if a health condition does arise.
Medium to large in size, the stocky, thick-bodied Himalayan cat has a wide, deep chest, a rounded abdomen, and sturdy bones. A healthy Himalayan should feel muscular and solid, but not overly chubby. Their head is somewhat large in proportion to their body size, with a snubbed nose, flattened face, small ears, and large, wide-set blue eyes. Their tail is not long, but is exceptionally fluffy.
Of course, it's the gorgeous coat and coloring that truly makes the Himalayan stand out. The fur is long and flowing, with a tendency to mat if not frequently groomed. The body of a Himalayan is white to cream in color, with darker "points" on the face, ears, tail, and legs. There are several accepted colors of the points, including lilac, chocolate, seal, red, and blue. It is also acceptable to the breed standards for the points—but not the rest of the cat's body—to have tabby or tortoiseshell patterns.
The cat's eyes should be a vivid blue, and its nose and paw pads should match its point color.
The Himalayan is definitely not a hypoallergenic cat, and is prone to considerable shedding without regular grooming.
Diet and Nutrition
Your cat's nutritional needs depend on its age, weight, and activity levels, so it's important to talk to your veterinarian about its feeding schedule. Because Himalayans are susceptible to hairballs—their long, silky coats are highly prone to shedding—you might want to ask your vet about a food specially formulated to prevent or reduce hairballs.
Feline obesity is a common problem among all breeds, so be careful not to overfeed your cat during regular mealtimes or with treats. If your cat is gaining excessive weight, your veterinarian can provide a customized diet plan.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Himalayan
Himmies are very popular, so it is possible that you can find one in a cat rescue or shelter if you are persistent in your search. Check out pet-adoption websites like Petfinder for breed-specific adoptions, but be aware that you'll mostly find mixes, rather than purebred cats, in a shelter.
There are many breeders that specialize in Himalayans, so if your heart is set on a purebred cat, look for qualified breeders by searching online, or by visiting cat shows to speak to breeders in person. You can also look for breeders on the websites of the major cat associations, including The Cat Fanciers' Association.
The Himmie is a gentle giant with the coloring of a Siamese and the face and body of a Persian. These long-haired beauties are gentle, fairly quiet cats that enjoy cuddling and quiet time with their owners, but they do like to play, as well, and enjoy batting around a ball or swatting a crumpled piece of paper.
Because this breed requires a great deal of regular grooming, and will shed quite a bit without daily brushing, it's best to choose another type of cat if you prefer a low-maintenance pet. But if willing to devote the time Himalayans need, you'll find your feline is a loving, wonderful addition to your family.
Gentle and quiet personality
Get along fairly well with other pets and children
Require daily grooming
Shed quite a bit
Prone to several health issues
More Cat Breeds and Further Research
Himalayan cats are extremely sweet, playful, and gentle pets that can adapt to virtually any home type. They have low exercise needs, but extremely high grooming needs—if you bring a Himalayan home, you can expect to groom its long, thick coat daily.
As always, be sure to do your research and determine if a Himalayan cat is right for your family's schedule and lifestyle before bringing one home.
If you're interested in breeds similar to the Himalayan cat, check out:
Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed profiles.
Are Himalayan cats expensive?
There are many factors that determine the price of a purebred Himalayan, including its age, gender, and location of breeder. However, the cat's "show quality" as well as its parentage, are the biggest determiners of price. As a general rule, for a show-quality Himalayan, you can expect to pay $1,000 and up, even as much as $2,500. However, a "pet quality" cat might only cost a couple of hundred dollars. And of course, you may find a Himalayan mix in a shelter or rescue for a much lower price.
Do Himalayan cats like children?
Himmies are gentle, quiet cats that do get along with with children, as long as the kids aren't too boisterous and respect the feline's needs for sleep and space when desired. A Himalayan enjoys play time, so children who interact with the cat on its terms are usually welcomed into the cat's "favorite people" circle.
Are Himalayan cats rare?
Persians are one of the most popular breeds of purebred cats, and Himalayans are one of the most popular varieties of Persians. While mixed-breed cats are more common overall than purebreds, Himalayans are not a rare type of feline.