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Is the Himalayan right for you?

The basics:
What do you get when you cross the plush perfection of a Persian with the blue-eyed beauty of a Siamese? This question was answered in the form of the Himalayan. The Himalayan melds the Persian’s gentle nature with just a little Siamese playfulness, and the result is a sweet-faced, blue-eyed, and affectionate companion with the calm of a Zen master.

Except for the dash of Siamese that gives the Himalayan their eye color and pointed coat, this cat is very much a Persian. In some registries the Himalayan isn’t considered a separate breed at all, but rather a different color division of the Persian. The Himalayan has the same lush, long coat and uniquely flat face, but fanciers of this breed say they’ve also inherited a relatively livelier disposition from their Siamese half. Regardless, this is still not an energetic cat, and you’re more likely to find your Himalayan lounging sedately on the sofa than exploring the tops of your bookshelves.

Unfortunately, the Himalayan presents many of the same challenges as a Persian. You should be prepared for a coat that needs daily grooming, and their cute “smooshed” faces can come with a variety of health and grooming challenges. If that doesn’t scare you away, then the Himalayan can make a gentle, affectionate, and sweet-tempered companion.

Appearance / health:
The Himalayan is a medium to large sized cat with a solid, rounded body. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on under all that fluff, but this is a cat with a short and stocky frame, deep chested and with a heavy bone structure. They have short, thick legs and large round feet. The tail is shorter than average, thick, and very fluffy. Because of their long, thick coat and stocky build, the Himalayan often appears to be a chubby cat, though they are the very definition of, “I’m not fat! I’m fluffy!”

The Himalayan has a large, round head set on a short, thick neck. They have a round face, round chin, and large, round eyes. Their ears are small and also somewhat rounded. They’re a brachycephalic breed, which describes their extremely short, snub nose. Like the Persian, the Himalayan may be of two different facial types: ultra-type, or traditional (sometimes referred to as “doll-faced”.) The traditional face shape has a much shorter than average nose, but when seen in profile, it curves gently outward to a delicate tip. The ultra-typed face is truly flat-faced, and when seen in profile, the forehead, nose, and chin appear to be in vertical alignment. There has been much controversy over the ultra-typed face structure, as breeding for this variety has often favored appearance over health, and many of these cats suffer from a variety of sinus and breathing problems. Many airlines won’t even allow flat-faced (technically known as brachycephalic) breeds to travel aboard their planes because of health concerns.

Of course, the Himalayan cannot be described without mentioning their luxurious coat. It’s very long, and very thick, with an undercoat that causes it to stand out from the body. They have an impressive, mane-like ruff that extends all the way to between their front legs. Ears and toes are tufted, and the tail is a full plume. The texture is either silky and shiny, or soft and cottony. The soft coat may stain and mat more easily than the silky coat, but regardless of coat type, the Himalayan will need extra care in grooming and cleaning. The Himalayan is distinguished from the Persian primarily by coat color, with the Himalayan inheriting the pointed pattern and coloration of the Siamese. The body of the Himalayan is white or cream, while the face, ears, legs, feet, and tail are colored. The points may be solid, tabby, lynx, or tortoiseshell patterned, and come in colors of blue, lilac, seal, chocolate, flame (red) or cream.

Unfortunately, the Himalayan suffers from many of the same health problems that Persians do. While not every Persian or Himalayan will suffer from health issues, the breed is unfortunately prone to more than its fair share of issues, and may not have the longevity of other breeds. Their flat faces, particularly those with ultra-typing, can create breathing difficulties. Malformed tear-ducts may create excessive tearing, which is more a cosmetic concern than one of health. They may have issues with their eyelids and eyelashes that create friction against the cornea, which can create pain, infection, and corneal damage.

In addition, Polycystic Kidney Disease is more common in Persians and Himalayans, at an increased incident rate of almost 50%. This is a congenital, genetic condition that can be screened for, so it’s very important to know the health of a kitten’s parents and grandparents. Responsible breeders may have their cats screened, and choose to have them listed on an international registry.

A few of the less common diseases and conditions to which Persian and Himalayans are prone are Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, hip dysplasia, Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, and a variety of skin conditions, including infections in their facial folds.

Behavior / temperament:
Despite a laundry-list of potential health issues and the extra grooming concerns, Persians and Himalayans remain a very popular breed, and that is largely due to a temperament that can’t be beat. This is a docile, even-tempered, and sweet cat. They adore affection, but are no overly demanding of it, and don’t mind being quietly in the background sometimes. There’s not a mean bone in their fluffy body, and they are sweet, gentle, and easily handled. They tend not to get upset over much, and are therefore quite adaptable to other pets, including dogs. However, their relaxed nature isn’t overly fond of chaos and hectic surroundings, and they prefer quiet routine. They enjoy being combed and petted by children, but are unlikely to want to participate in any boisterous play.

They are one of the least active cat breeds, though Himalayan fanciers claim they are somewhat more playful than their Persian counterparts. Regardless, this is not a cat with a high need for stimulation. They aren’t one for jumping or climbing; you’re far more likely to catch them lazily lounging on the sofa, or regally resting in a window.


amazing blue eyes, wonderful family pets, easy going attitude, affectionate, gorgeous cats


high maintenance, overall cost, breathing problems, inbreeding, hairballs, daily grooming, knots


large expressive eyes, extreme flat faces, beautiful voice, long flowing coats, short noses

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