All hail the regal Persian cat. This dignified feline breed is characterized by their long coat and their sweet temperament, though Persians tend to limit their affections to just those humans they are closest to. Among purebred cats, Persians are revered for their glamorous good looks and their calm demeanors. Over time, the breed has become one of the most popular among purebred cat lovers in North America, both for showing purposes and for their tendency to be calm and loving pets.
Features of show-worthy Persian cats include round heads, stubby noses, rounded ears, and short bodies. Traditional Persians, sometimes referred to as Doll Faces, have a more prominent nose, though they share many of the other physical and temperamental qualities of their pedigreed counterparts. Persians are natural cuddlers and lap cats with relatively undemanding personalities—together, these traits have perpetuated their popularity and made them a mainstay of the show circuit and the home.
- Weight: about 7 to 12 pounds
- Height: about 10 to 15 inches
- Coat and Color: Persian cats have a long, thick coat that can come in a wide range of colors and textures. In the show circuit, Persians are generally divided among seven coat colors: solid (white, black, cream, etc.), tabby, calico, bi-color, silver and gold, shaded and smoke, and Himalayan.
- Life Expectancy: 10 to 17 years
Characteristics of the Persian Cat
|Tendency to Vocalize||Medium-Low|
|Amount of Shedding||High|
History of the Persian Cat
Surprisingly little is known about the history of the Persian cat, despite its presence among humans for at least the past few centuries. Persians are thought to have originated in Mesopotamia (later Persia, and now modern-day Iran), where they became popular among the nobility due to their elegant long hair—a position they shared with other long-haired cats of the region, a group referred to at the time as “Asiatic" cats.
The popularity of Persian cats was further bolstered during the late 19th century, when the cat show circuit started to gain steam. It was during this time that they were brought over to the United States, where they quickly surpassed the Maine Coon cat as America’s preferred long-haired cat breed. Today, Persians are the most registered breed of cat by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) and a frequent “Best in Show” winner. The celebrated features of Persians, including their snub noses and chubby cheeks, have been selectively bred and exaggerated in the years since the breed gained such widespread human appreciation, though you can still find evidence of Persian’s ancient features in traditional, non-show focused members of the breed.
Persian Cat Care
Because of their long coats, it should come as no surprise that Persian cats require a good deal of regular grooming. Without it, Persians’ coats can quickly become tangled and matted, which can be painful. It is suggested that Persians be brushed once a day, and that they receive monthly baths to help them maintain their shine and softness. Eyes should also be wiped daily to prevent stains from excessive watering. As with all cats, regular dental hygiene should be observed in the form of daily or weekly teeth brushing.
Regular nail trims are also required.
Generally, Persians are considered to be high maintenance pets when it comes to care. Because their coats don’t naturally shed dirt and other debris, it’s up to their human caregivers to help ensure that they stay soft and clean and to keep them indoors. Persians prefer to be kept in tidy environments, so it’s also important to clean their litter box daily.
Common Health Problems
Like all purebred cats, Persians are prone to a number of health issues that are perpetuated by selective breeding tendencies. A lot of these problems are directly related to the preferred facial structure of pedigreed Persians, though they also may present with genetic health problems unrelated to their physical features. It’s important to keep a close eye on Persians so that any concerning health issues are caught and treated early.
While responsible breeders do take steps to mitigate the spread of common health problems among their litters, no breeder can say with certainty that their cats are completely free of illness or the potential for illness. Common health problems to look out for among Persian cats include:
- Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic illness affecting one or both kidneys that generally starts showing signs when the cat is around 7 to 10 years old
- Breathing difficulties and respiratory distress caused by their snub noses
- Eye conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), eyelid protrusions (cherry eye), and entropion
- Excessive eye watering
- Bladder stones and bladder infections
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the muscular walls of the heart
- Liver shunts
- Heat sensitivity
Diet and Nutrition
Persian cats do have a tendency to be picky eaters, but they will eat well once they find something they like. Their food should be high in protein and fiber and low in fat, and can be wet, dry, raw, or a mixture of two or more types. Persian cats aren’t particularly energetic, so caregivers should be careful not to overfeed them as that may lead to weight gain and obesity. Feed set amounts twice a day instead of leaving food out all of the time to limit overeating. Because of their flat faces, some Persians may have difficulty eating food of certain shapes or sizes, so if a Persian isn’t eating, she may just require a change in the structure of her food.
More Cat Breeds and Further Research
There are plenty of wonderful cat breeds out there. Before deciding if a Persian cat is right for you, do further research to ensure that you are well versed in their care needs and that you have the ability and inclination to keep them at their healthiest.
If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:
Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed profiles.