ALL CAT BREED PROFILES

Himalayan Cat: Unique Personality Quirks, But Absolutely Worth It

Cute Himalayan Cat with Blue Eyes
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

When it comes to the word “loyal,” what’s the animal that first jumps to the forefront of your mind? Is it a dog? It’s true that most people associate loyalty with dogs and independence with cats. At times, it might feel like your existence doesn’t matter to cats; they would accept anyone who can dispense food for them, and it doesn’t have to be you. But the truth is, there are cats that are so loyal they would only truly bond with one member of the family, while merely tolerating everyone else: the Himalayan cat.

One of the most popular domesticated cats of all time, the Himalayan is a sweet, affectionate, and even-tempered feline that you will love. Sure, this cat is not low maintenance by any definition, but their personality is more than enough to compensate for the kind of grooming their coat demands. We’ve mentioned their loyalty, but did we mention their cute tendency to meow and lead you around when they have something important to say? How about their loud purring? Their love of cuddling with you?

himalayan cat sitting on the grass

Do you want to know more about this well-loved feline? Continue reading as we break down everything you need to know about Himalayan cats. Since this is a high-maintenance cat, be sure to learn everything you can about their care features, health and potential problems, as well as their grooming needs before you adopt one.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Average; they don’t do well in noisy or warm environments

  • Grooming: High Maintenance; requires daily brushing

  • Health: Moderate; a bit vulnerable to respiratory and kidney diseases

  • All Around Friendliness: Good; shy around strangers

  • Exercise Needs: Above Average; you will have to be proactive because they don’t like to exercise

Cat Breed GroupLong-Haired, Crossbreed
Size10 to 12 inches
Weight7 to 12 pounds
Lifespan10 to 15 years

There are varying takes on how Himalayans are to be taken as a breed. Some organizations view them as a variety of the Persian while others consider them as a distinct breed. What cannot be argued is that Himalayans are the result of a crossbreeding between a Siamese and a Persian. As such, they get some of the best traits of the two breeds.

Just like Persians, Himalayans have big, round eyes, small ears, and a small nose. They also have that short and heavily-boned body that is typical of Persian cats. Like Siamese cats, the Himalayan has that long and beautiful coat that comes in many colors and patterns. This coat may not be the easiest to groom, but it undeniably enhances their beauty and appeal.

The Himalayan is called by numerous names. They fondly call them Himmies in the USA. In the United Kingdom, people call them the Longhaired Colorpoint in reference to their coat. In other parts of the world, they are known as the Himalayan Persian.

close-up image of a himalayan cat

Himmies have been widely featured in the media. They’ve been featured in movies like “Meet the Parents” and “Date Movie.” TV personality Martha Stewart has also been shown with Himmies in some of their commercials.

You need not spend a lot of time attending to their exercise needs. This is not an active cat by any definition. They are not as playful as the Siamese. They aren’t particularly fond of jumping and running around. But they will keep you company on your couch as you watch your favorite TV show.

It’s easy for some people to think of Himalayans as lazy cats because of their laidback demeanor. But make no mistake about it—these are smart cats. They are talkative but not as much as the Siamese. They will make conversations only if they have something important to say.

Himalayan cat resting on pillow

Himalayans are the ideal indoor companion. In fact, they should be kept away from the outside world. It’s not just because of their slow-to-react demeanor but also because of their thick and long hair. Their hair is so prone to parasites and thorns that you don’t really want to bring them outside.

At the same time, their long coat makes them very adorable, although be forewarned that Himalayans are not low maintenance cats by any definition. Their long and thick coat requires daily brushing to keep it tangle-free. Bathing them at least once a month is also necessary because there’s a tendency for oil to build up on their long tresses. Speaking of bathing, Himalayans are not known for being fond of this grooming habit. Let’s just say you need some help if you want to bathe a Himalayan.

Main Highlights

  • Himmies were the product of a breeding between Siamese and Persian cats. They were bred as early as the year 1931. The first Himalayan kitten was named Newton’s Debutante.

  • Cat registries have different takes on the breed. The International Cat Association and the American Cat Fanciers Association consider them a distinct breed. However, the American Cat Association and the Cat Fanciers Association register them as a Persian variety.

  • Himalayan cat personality is sweet, quiet, and affectionate. They can be excellent lap cats who enjoy being petted by their master.

  • While they are friendly, Himalayans can be very discriminating as well. They won’t be as friendly to other people as they are for family members. To counteract this tendency, the cat needs to be socialized from a young age.

  • Himalayans have their share of health concerns. They are prone to developing kidney diseases and respiratory problems.

  • Aside from their long coat, another reason why you’d want to keep your Himalayan indoors is their poor defensive skills. Himalayans are not fighters by nature. Thus, they can easily be bullied by other animals. Worse, they can easily be taken by other people especially those who mistake a Himalayan for a stray cat.

  • The main challenge you’ll have in caring for a Himalayan is grooming them. You’ll need to spend a lot of time brushing their long and thick coat. You’ll also have to bathe them at least once a month, which can be very challenging because Himalayans aren’t exactly fond of water.

Breed History

Himmies trace their history back to the early 1920s when breeders attempted to create a new cat breed by combining the traits of Persian and Siamese cats. In 1930, breeders Dr. Clyde Keeler and Virginia Cobb successfully bred the first true Himalayan kitten whom they named Newton Debutante. It is interesting to note that the kitten looked more like a Balinese cat than a Himalayan. Still, this gave way to one of the most popular feline breeds of all time.

It was after the Second World War when an American breeder named Marguerita Goforth was successful in creating a Persian-like colorpoint Himalayan. This was recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) as well as the American Cat Fanciers’ Association as a new breed.

Himalayan cats are related to Persians

Several decades later, however, the CFA changed their decision and classified the Himalayan as a variety of the Persian. It claimed that they have similar body types. But that decision had no negative impact whatsoever on the popularity of the breed. In 1996, it was considered to be the most popular breed according to the CFA. Other registries such as the American Association of Cat Enthusiasts and the Traditional Cat Association classify the Himalayan as a distinct breed.

Size

Himalayan cats have a small and cute pink nose. They will also have wide blue eyes that could darken if they aren’t purebred. Those eyes are also very expressive, which they will use to win people over.

Himalayan kitten sitting

When they grow up, expect to have a medium to large-sized cat. They can grow up to a weight of 12 pounds. These cats may appear fat, but most of the time they aren’t. They just have a stocky body buoyed by heavy bones, short legs, and a thick, long, and glossy coat.

Personality and Character

Don’t let their colorful body and serious looks fool you. Himalayan cats personality is one of the best reasons to get and take care of one. They are very affectionate just like their Persian cousins. They are the ideal indoor companion because of their relaxed personality. They are a little more active than Persian cats but not as chatty as Siamese cats. They are also very gentle and peace-loving. Their lack of athleticism and agility means they won’t be jumping and running around. You don’t have to worry about them damaging items around your house.

two beautyful Himalayan Cats sitting in a room

They aren’t as friendly to strangers as they are to their owner and members of the household. They tend to be very attached to their owner. Don’t be surprised if they follow you around the house. They will also be demanding your attention. They will meow to let you know that you have been neglecting them for far too long. That’s your cue to stop whatever you’re doing and go please them.

Luckily, you don’t need to exert a lot of effort in keeping the, entertained. Just put them in your lap, and they will be happy enough to purr away contentedly. They will even play with a piece of paper—that’s how easy it is to amuse them! Himalayan kittens are shy and prefer to be in a calm environment. If you have kids, you may want to keep them away from Himmies because Himmies don’t like being disturbed.

Health and Potential Problems

Aside from the grooming needs of the Himmies, one of the other Himalayan cat characteristics you may have to be cautious about is their health problems.

  • Himmies are at risk of developing breathing issues and sinus just like their Persian cousins. This can be attributed to their snub nose and short sinus cavities.

  • Their Persian ancestry also gives Himmies some level of susceptibility to a kind of congenital kidney disease called Polycystic Kidney Disease. Cysts will form in the kidneys, and the cysts will gradually grow as the cat ages. The cat may need to be kept on a special diet in order to lessen the workload of kidneys. But the progression of the disease may also lead to kidney failure.

  • The long hair of the Himmies may give them a regal look, but it could also cause some health problems. It is possible for Himmies to ingest hairballs which can potentially lead to intestinal blockages that require emergency surgery. This is why it is important to brush them every day so that loose hair will be removed.

Care Features

Himmies like to stay indoors. Their timid personality and long coat aren’t the only reasons why they don’t like the outdoors. They struggle in warm temperatures because they can’t cool themselves well no thanks to their long coat. Because of this, you should keep Himmies in a cool environment. During summer, they must stay in an air-conditioned room most of the time.

gorgeous Himalayan cat sitting in a natural enviroment

While Himmies can be a good addition to any family, they’re not exactly fond of loud environments. They also tend to get affectionate with just one member of the family—usually the owner. And when they find the house too noisy, they would just stick with that family member.

Feeding Schedule

Himalayan cats may struggle with weight issues because of their lack of fondness for exercise and their innate, large bone structure. It is thus recommended that you monitor their food intake instead of giving them unlimited access to food all day.

Himalayan cat hiding in flowers outside

Read the label on your choice cat food’s packaging to figure out their ideal daily meal proportions, then divide it into two to three smaller meals. Give them treats every now and then but remember that treats should not make up more than 10% of their caloric intake. Moreover, make sure that you provide them with enough water.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

If you get a Himalayan kitten, don’t expect to see markings similar to that of their Siamese cousins immediately. Those markings won’t be noticeable yet. Kittens will likely be cream or white-colored. The full markings will only be apparent after they are around a year old or possibly even more. Once they have advanced to adulthood, their markings or points will come in various colors such as:

  • Blue

  • Chocolate

  • Red

  • Seal

  • Lilac

  • Cream tortie

  • Chocolate tortie

  • Blue-cream

  • Lilac-cream

  • Seal lynx

  • Blue lynx

  • Red lynx

  • Tortie lynx

  • Cream lynx

  • Chocolate lynx

  • Chocolate tortie lynx

  • Lilac lynx

  • Lilac-cream lynx

Whew! That’s a lot of color points, right? These color points also run darker hues on their face, ears, tail, and legs. In males, the points also run along the scrotum. Here’s another interesting point about color points—the hues will be affected by temperature. These color points originate from an enzyme mutation that creates melanin in conjunction with environmental and body temperature. Cats who live in places with cooler weather will have darker color points compared to those who live in warm weather.

As has been emphasized earlier, the major challenge that you’ll have in caring for a Himmie is grooming them. As such, it would be wise enough to invest in a good quality comb or brush because believe us, you will be using it a lot!

side view of a himalayan-cat outside

Aside from a metal comb and a soft bristle brush, you might want to get a rubber glove and lots of tasty cat treats so that you’ll have an easier time grooming them. You’ll be fiddling with their ears, coats, and paws. Thus you need to keep them engaged during a grooming session.

In brushing their hair, always use a soft bristle brush to remove dead hair. If you find tangles, use your fingers to de-tangle them. You can also trim them using a pair of scissors—one with rounded off tips. Once you have removed all the loose hair, get a wide-toothed comb and run it over their body one last time. Remove all loose and dead fur to lower the risks of hairball problems. It is recommended that you groom their daily. Lastly, always check for fleas as well as sores and lumps.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Himalayans may not be as outgoing as other cats, but they can adapt well to their environment. Older children won’t have any problem playing with these felines. However, the Himalayans may not be able to match the energy level of your little ones.

Himalayan cat sitting on the floor and looking up

Himmies can also live with other pets like dogs if the canines don’t bark excessively. As for cats, they prefer the company of older felines who are as laidback as they are. Himmies may even be able to coexist peacefully with smaller animals such as birds or hamsters that cats usually eat because they have little to no hunting instinct—but you definitely should make doubly sure before you leave the cat alone with your smaller pets.

Wrap Up

Himalayan cats won’t wow you with their playful personality and boundless energy. But you will have a true companion and a friend for life when you get one—if they choose you as their one true master, that is.

These cats are seriously choosy and loyal. I lived with a Himmie while I was still living with my mother. He tolerated me, but he absolutely adored my mother. With those they adore, Himmies are truly lovable and affectionate. Their cute looks, long and glossy coat, and endearing personality make them popular around the world.

Himalayan cat sitting on the grass

Visitors will want to pet your Himmie, but don’t think your Himmie will make it easy for them. My Himmie used to run away and hide from strangers all the time; sometimes he would even yowl at them threateningly.

The Himalayan is one quirky cat, but do you think their loyalty makes everything worth it? If instead, you’d like a cat that gets along easily with everyone, consider this one. Have you owned a Himmie before? How was your experience? Was it similar to mine? Let us know by writing in the comments section below!

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.

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