This charming, sweet-tempered cat is the original version of the world’s favorite longhair, and it needs a committed owner.
By the late 19th century, when pedigree cat shows were starting to attract worldwide interest, the Persian (sometimes referred to as the Longhair) was already very popular in the US and the UK.
This luxuriously coated cat came to the show benches after a long but obscure history in Europe, and it is not known whether the true ancestors of the breed did, in fact, originate in Persia (modern-day Iran). The first recognized Persians were solid-colored, that is, they had coats in one solid color throughout.
The earliest known examples of the breed were pure white, often with blue eyes—a color combination commonly associated with deafness unless breeding is carefully managed. Crossbreeding with solid Persians in other colors produced orange eyes, and white Persians with orange, blue, or odd-colored eyes (one of each color) became accepted.
Queen Victoria can be given credit for making blue Persians popular—they were her favorite cats— and black and red were other early solid colors. Since about the 1920s onward, further solid varieties have been developed, including cream, chocolate, and lilac.
Characteristically, a Persian has a round head with a flat face, snub nose, and large, round, appealing eyes. The body is compact and sturdily built, and the legs are short and strong. The magnificently thick, long coat is a major commitment for the owner of a Persian. Daily grooming is a must to prevent the fur from tangling or developing impenetrable mats that are hard to remove.
Persians are renowned for their gentle, affectionate temperament and home- loving personality. These are definitely not all-action cats, although they can be charmingly playful if offered a toy. The flattened features of the Persian, over emphasized in modern breeding programs, have led to health issues. Breathing difficulties and problems with the tear ducts are common in this cat.
In the late 19th century, there was a rush of enthusiasm for breeding traditional Persians (sometimes known as “doll face” Persians) among women of the British upper classes.
One such aristocratic breeder was Lady Marcus Beresford, founder of the Cat Club of England, whose prize-winning blue Persian “Gentian” (right) was among her many notable successes. The Beresford Club in the US, named in Lady Beresford’s honor, sponsored one of the earliest American cat shows.
Origin: UK, 1800s
Breed Registries: CFA, FIFe, GCCF, TICA
Colors and patterns: Black, white, blue, red, cream, chocolate, and