CAT NAMES

Persian Cat: Dubbed “The Most Popular Breed” for a Reason

Multicolor Persian Cat sitting in a studio
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

We all want different things when we get a cat—a play buddy for our kids, someone to keep us company when we are home, or someone to play with (and make funny videos of). To find the right cat for your needs can be a bit tricky. Some cats are rowdy, playful, and even destructive when left alone. Others are mellow and chill—perfect if you want someone to sleep on your lap for 16 hours a day. The Persian cat belongs to the latter category.

Known as one of the most popular cats in the world, the Persian might be your first choice when you’re looking to adopt a feline companion, but don’t just take one home on a whim. A long-haired beauty, the Persian cat is actually not for just about any owner. Oh, it’s not that there’s anything wrong about their temperament—they have a calm and laidback personality—but their gorgeous coat isn’t easy to maintain, and some of them can be quite sickly. To make sure you wouldn’t end up making the wrong choice, you might want to learn more about the Persian breed first before you commit.

Red Persian Cat sitting in a studio

In this article, we will go over all relevant characteristics of Persian cats—namely Persian cat lifespan, how to take care of a Persian cat, how to train your Persian cat, the typical Persian cat behaviour, and everything else you need to know about them.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Moderate; they don’t do well as outdoor cats

  • Grooming: High Maintenance; needs daily brushing

  • Health: Average; can even be poor especially if the Persian has a squashed face

  • All Around Friendliness: Good; loyal to their owner but not friendly towards others

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate; not very active so watch out for obesity

Cat Breed GroupLong-Haired, Natural Breed
SizeAverage
Weight7 – 12 pounds
Lifespan10 – 15 years

The Persian is one of the most famous cat breeds in the world, and that’s not without reason. They are astonishingly beautiful with their gorgeous long coats. They can also be a little funny-looking with their short muzzle and round ears.

As far as their personality is concerned, Persians are fairly unique here as well. They are very calm and mild-mannered, which makes them great lap cats and the perfect companion pet. A Persian will love nothing more than to sleep in your lap for hours at a time.

close-up of a white fluffy Persian-Cat

They do tend to be a little sicklier than other cat breeds because of the extensive crossbreeding they’ve been put through in the last several centuries, but if you take your Persian from a reputable cat breeder that has provided you with health certificates for the kitty and the parents, then you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

Main Highlights

Persian Kitten in a studio in a white background

  • The Persian is one of the oldest cat breeds in the world, but in the last several centuries it has been crossbred so intensely, that genetically it is more connected to the Western European cats than the original Persian cats.

  • Persian cats have a lot of sub-breeds. The Toy Persian and the Teacup Persian are mini cats of the Persian breed. The Chinchilla Longhair and the Sterling cat are also Persian sub-breeds; they were initially meant to be grouped as separate breeds, but they didn’t differ from the Persian enough, and so they remained sub-breeds. The Himalayan and the Exotic Shorthair are also considered to be sub-breeds of the Persian by some organizations, while others view them as separate breeds.

  • The Persian isn’t the healthiest breed out there due to all the crossbreeding that has been done to them over the centuries. So, if you want to adopt a Persian cat, you should look for a trustworthy pet breeder that will provide you with the necessary health certificates. You should also be prepared for possible health complications—not because they will absolutely happen, but just so you know that there is a risk.

  • Persian cats are so mild-mannered that they make great companion cats for households of 1 or 2 people. For homes with kids, however, Persians are often not a great fit because kids tend to be too hyperactive for them.

Breed History

As their name suggests, Persian cats trace their origins back to the ancient times and the Persian Empire. Today, this area corresponds to Iran and significant parts of the Middle East.

The exact time this breed came to be, however, is unclear. There are a lot of historical documents and artifacts from the Mesopotamian area that depict cats that resemble today’s Persians. Yet, we can’t be certain at what point these cats were domesticated in the Middle East.

What’s more, we also don’t know exactly how they got their distinctive long-haired coat. As is the case with most domesticated cats, Persians were descendants of the African Wildcat (which is the ancestor of most modern domesticated cats all across the world), but the Wildcats have short hair. While it is unclear when or how exactly the Persian became longhaired, it is most probably due to a random mutation and not intentional interbreeding with another breed.

persian cat lying on the floor in house

When did the Persian first come to Europe and the United States? The first recorded imports of Persian cats in Europe date all the way back to the 1620s – 1630s. The cat in question managed to cross over from Khorasan, Persia, into Italy all thanks to the efforts of a man called Pietro della Valle.

Closely to that, another documented case occurred as well. Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc imported another Persian cat from Angora (modern-day Ankara, Turkey) into France. The cat from Khorasan had grey hair while the one from Angora was white. After these two cats, many more followed and soon the breed found its way to Britain as well.

As for the United States, the Persian cat didn’t set foot in the New World until the late 19th century. Once the breed arrived, however, it quickly became a favorite of a lot of Americans and still is one to this day.

Within those several centuries that the breed has spent in Europe, it has been excessively crossbred. At first, it was crossbred with Angoran cats because the two breeds have quite a lot of similar traits. Later, however, Persian cats were actively crossbred with an innumerable amount of Western European cat breeds as well.

This crossbreeding quickly reached a point at which we can comfortably say that modern Persian cats have little to no genetic relation to their ancient predecessors from the Middle East. And recent genetic research shows exactly that; modern Persian cats have almost completely lost their phylogeographical signature. This basically means that they are related mostly to Western European cats rather than Middle Eastern ones.

Size

Persian cat height and size are medium, with males being slightly bigger than the females. The average weight of a Persian cat is 7 to 12 pounds. They have a distinctive round head with a short nose and full cheeks. Their ears are rather small and rounded, which also contribute to their cute look.

persian cat lying down on a blue blanket

Their head is supported by a short but strong neck and rests on a sturdy and muscular body—which feels almost surprising considering how lazy and inactive Persians can be. Their legs are also in sync with their body and are short but strong with big, rounded paws.

There are also smaller-sized Persian cats—namely the Toy Persian or the Teacup Persian. They are also often called “Palm-sized” cats,” “Pocket cats,” “Mini cats,” or “Pixie cats.” Even though they are closely related to Persian cats and are technically a part of the breed, you’ll hardly mistake these toy cats with their original bigger brethren.

Personality and Character

Persian cat personality and character, together with their gorgeous coats, are the main reasons for their popularity. These cats are very calm and reserved. This makes the breed perfect for anyone that is looking for a lap cat, or a cat that won’t run too much, won’t make too much of a noise, and won’t climb everywhere in your home.

When their owner isn’t around, Persian cats are more than happy to sleep on the couch, on their cushion, or on any other comfortable place as they wait for you to come back and shower them with your love and attention. This makes the Persian a perfect companion pet.

Persian Cat lying down with her head looking up

This breed is great for small households of 1 – 3 people as they thrive in quiet and calm environments. A Persian cat can have a significant impact on such homes with their presence.

As far as training is concerned, Since the Persian cat isn’t too energetic or playful, there aren’t a lot of things that they might like to train for. It is by no means a stupid breed, however; Persians aren’t the smartest cats out there, but they are fairly intelligent, and with a bit of effort they can be taught to respond to your voice and commands, as well as to adapt to your behavior and actions.

Cute White Persian Cat Playing In Snow

Socializing is another point in taking care of a Persian cat that needs to be underlined. Since they are very calm and they don’t enjoy commotion in any form, Persians can easily become anti-social. If you don’t give your Persian pal enough social interactions with guests, friends, and relatives, they might hide from the presence of anyone but you.

If, however, you have guests over fairly often and they are all well-mannered and don’t bother the cat too much (and you don’t throw wild parties until the crack of dawn), a Persian can easily learn to tolerate the presence of guests and even show them a little affection to reward their petting.

Health and Potential Problems

Image of a brown persian cat sitting on the floor

Unfortunately, Persian cats are very prone to a wide variety of health issues and diseases. Thanks to their rounded face and short nose, they tend to have breathing difficulties, as well as various skin and eye conditions.

In fact, the breeding of brachycephalic (short-nosed) Persian cats—specifically, if the tip of the cat’s nose is higher than their lower eyelids—is prohibited by a lot of organizations such as the British Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), Germany’s Animal Welfare Act, The International Cat Association (TICA), and others. To sum it up, here are some of the most common health problems you can expect in Persian cats:

  • Breathing difficulties due to their ill-shaped nostrils.

  • Dental malocclusions—this is a malformed jaw which leads to mismatching teeth.

  • Heat sensitivity.

  • Malformed tear ducts—this often causes an excessive overflow of tears called epiphora.

  • Cherry eye and entropion—with these conditions, the eyelids fold inwards and rub against the cornea of the eye. This usually leads to pain, tearing, infections, and damage to the eye.

  • Seborrhea oleosa and a lot of other skin conditions.

  • Cryptorchidism—missing one or both testicles from the scrotum.

  • Polycystic kidney disease.

  • Ringworm.

To avoid these problems as much as possible, it is of the utmost importance that you adopt your future Persian cat only from a trustworthy pet breeder. Such a breeder will be able and willing to provide you with health clearances for both parents of the Persian kitten you are about to purchase.

They will also give you health certificates that will prove that the kitten has been tested for all the health conditions that are possible to occur in a Persian cat. If you get your Persian cat from a reputable cat breeder and if you take good care of them, then your Persian cat’s lifespan will easily reach 15 years or more.

Care Features

As we’ve already warned you, the Persian cat requires quite a bit of care. For starters, as you’ve seen in the previous section, the Persian cat can suffer from a lot of diseases and health problems, so you must always be prepared to give your pet the needed veterinary attention.

persian-grey cat lying down and looking at the camera

As far as dental hygiene is concerned, as with all other cat breeds, you’d do great to brush your Persian’s teeth at least once per week. You should pay some attention to the eyes and the ears of your cat. Clean them with a damp cloth whenever they seem dirty. Remember to use different parts of the cloth for different eyes to avoid the spread of a possibly nasty infection.

It should go without saying, but the litter box of your Persian needs to be in a great condition; this usually means cleaning it at least twice per day. This is important for all cats but is especially important for long-haired breeds because feces can get stuck in their coat and cause all sorts of unpleasantness.

Feeding Schedule

Persian cat food is not very different from the typical cat food. Since they are long-haired, you might want to look into cat food that is good for the coat, as well as one that helps reduce the formation of hairballs (or, alternatively you can look for a malt paste that helps with hairballs; such pastes can also be a great treat for the cat when they have a nice flavor).

Other than that, the medium size of the Persian cat means that you don’t need to feed them too much or with anything too special. Another thing to consider is that the best cat diet usually consists of both dry food and wet or homemade food, alternated between the meals.

Persian kitten sleeping in bed

As far as the feeding schedule itself goes, as with all cats, it’s best to feed your Persian more than twice per day. Giving them 3 or 4 regulated meals per day is the best way to feed a cat, since feeding them only once every 12 hours will cause them to overeat. This can lead to puking and obesity—especially since Persian cats are not very active or energetic to begin with.

If you are worried that you can’t spare the time to feed your cat every 8 hours because you are working throughout the day, consider a 3-meals-per-day schedule that isn’t separated by 8 hours. You can easily space out the 3 meals by 11, 7 and 6 hours or 10, 7, and 7 hours.

A cat can easily get used to such a schedule; just make the meal after the biggest pause bigger than the other two. Such a schedule will really help with the digestive tract of your cat (something that’s especially important for a long-haired breed) and will make your pet much happier.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Of course, we can’t talk about Persian cats without taking a detailed look at their coat. It is long, thick, and shiny, with a fine texture. It is very long, fluffy on the tail and the ruff around the neck, as well as between the front legs.

As far as the color is concerned, these coats can come in a large variety of color schemes. There are white, blue, black, red, cream, chocolate, and lilac Persian cats, as well as silver and golden ones. There are also shaded, smoke, tabby, calico, parti-color, and bicolor Persian cats. And all this is without counting the Himalayan cats, which are often viewed as a sub-breed of the Persian by a lot of organizations (together with the Exotic Shorthair).

red with white persian cat sitting on a wall outside

It is also worth mentioning that the eye color of Persian cats is closely related to the coat color. White Persians tend to have blue eyes or copper eyes, whereas silver and golden Persians usually have green or blue-green eyes, and so on.

As far as the coat is concerned, you’ll need to brush or comb your Persian’s beautiful mane multiple times per week—preferably every day. Such a magnificent coat can be a challenge to groom, but it needs to be groomed nevertheless. Not only is it infinitely more beautiful when it is well taken care of, but if your Persian’s coat is not taken care of, it will easily get dirty and nasty.

persian-cats with big blue eyes lying on the floor

Plus, you will reduce the number of hairballs that are rather typical for long-haired breeds, as well as reduce shedding. To further help with the coat, you might want to consider a special food or a malt paste that is good for it.

The good news is that you won’t need to bathe your Persian very often, especially if you keep your pet strictly indoors, as you should—Persians aren’t much for adventuring anyway and might only get hurt.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Persian cat temperament is one of the key things to consider when choosing a cat for a home with children. If your kids are calm and collected and are smart enough not to torment their cat, then a Persian can get along with them.

However, if your children are too rowdy and want to play too often with their pet, they will quickly prove too much for a Persian. This is why Persians are generally not recommended for households with kids.

Orange Persian-Cat sitting on a table

As far as other cats and cat-friendly dogs are concerned, the same applies. If the other pet is calm and mild-mannered like the Persian (another Persian, perhaps), then there shouldn’t be a problem. However, a more energetic cat or a dog can drive a Persian nuts and wouldn’t be a good fit.

Wrap Up

The Persian is one of the most popular breeds in the world for a reason. They are not only exceptionally beautiful and cute, but their mild and calm manner also makes them the perfect companion for a lot of people.

If you have children or other (relatively energetic) pets, however, you might want to stray away from this breed. If you do choose a Persian, however, and if you give them the necessary calm and quiet environment, as well as an abundance of love and affection, the Persian will give you all their love in return.

persian_cat lying in bed on side with his tounge out

Interested in jumping on the bandwagon and adopting one of these world-famous cats? If, instead of going mainstream, you prefer to go the obscure path and choose a less-popular yet no less wonderful cat, check this breed out. Their curly hair might make them look difficult to groom, like the Persian, but they are actually quite low-maintenance. Please share any thoughts with us 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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