In the late 1950s a spontaneous mutation gave rise to the “peke-faced” Persian, named after the flat-faced Pekingese dog. Without changing the name of the breed from “Persian”, both looks were incorporated into the same breed, but with 2 different standards. Some organizations consider the peke-face type as their modern standard for the Persian breed, compared to the doll-face, Traditional Persians. A Traditional Persian has a visible muzzle the can extend out past the forehead, nose, and chin, rounded head, large, wide-spaced round eyes with the top of the nose leather placed no lower than the bottom of the eyes. The standard calls for a short, cobby body with short, well-boned legs, a broad chest, and a round appearance, everything about the ideal Persian cat being “round”. In 2004, the statement that muzzles should not be overly pronounced was added to the breed standard. The standards were altered yet again in 2007, this time to reflect the flat face, Peke-face Persian and it now states that the forehead, nose, and chin should be in vertical alignment. While ultra-typed cats do better in the show ring, the public seems to prefer the less extreme, older “doll-face” types.
The standard breed is a medium to large-size cat weighing 8 to 12 pounds. Toy and teacup sizes: A number of breeders produce small-stature Persian cats under the generic terms of “toy” and “teacup”. These Also can be called “palm-sized”, “pocket”, “mini” and “pixie”, due to their relatively small size. Currently, they are not recognized as a separate breed by major registries and each breeder sets their own standards for size. They can be anywhere from 2 – 8 pounds fully grown.
The first documented ancestors of the Persian were imported into Italy from Iran (historically known as Persia in the west) around 1620. The is a long-haired breed of cat also known as the “Persian Longhair” in the English-speaking countries. In the Middle East, region they are widely known as “Iranian cat” and in Iran they are known as “Shirazi cat”.
The permissible colors in the breed, in most organizations’ breed standards, encompass the entire range of cat coat-pattern variations.
It is not clear when long-haired cats first appeared, as there are no known long-haired specimens of the African wildcat, the ancestor of the domestic subspecies.
The first documented ancestors of the Persian were imported from Khorasan, Iran, into Italy in 1620 by Pietro della Valle, and from Angora (now Ankara), Ottoman Empire (Turkey), into France by Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc at around the same time. The Khorasan cats were grey coated while those from Angora were white. From France, they soon reached Britain.Recent genetic research indicates that present day Persians are related not to cats from the Near East but to cats from Western Europe. The researchers stated, “Even though the early Persian cat may have in fact originated from Persia (Iran), the modern Persian cat has lost its phylogeographical signature.”
The Persian is generally described as a quiet cat. Typically placid in nature, it adapts quite well to apartment life. Himalayans tend to be more active due to the influence of Siamese traits. In a study comparing cat owner perceptions of their cats, Persians rated higher than non-pedigree cats on closeness and affection to owners, friendliness towards strangers, cleanliness, predictability, vocalization, and fussiness over food.
Persians are prone to a number of potential health problems, most commonly related to their facial structure:
- Breathing difficulty or noisy breathing caused by constricted nostrils
- Dental malocclusions, meaning the teeth don’t mesh well together
- Excessive tearing
- Eye conditions such as cherry eye and entropion
- Heat sensitivity
- Polycystic kidney disease, for which a genetic test is available
- Predisposition to ringworm, a fungal infection
- Seborrhea oleosa, a skin condition that causes itchiness, redness and hair loss
* The Toy and Teacup Persians can be genetically weakened with severe health issues and shortened lifespans due to harmful and repetitive inbreeding to obtain smaller cat size.