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Is the Persian right for you?

The basics:
It’s not hard to understand why the Persian is the most popular breed of pedigree cats in the United States and the UK, and one of the most popular cat breeds world-wide: their distinctly flat face gives them an irresistible charm, their beautiful and luxuriously long coat gives them a regal and decadent air, and a sweeter, more docile companion you are unlikely to find. They have a history dating back to 17th century Persia (now Iran) and they have graced the laps of historical figures and celebrities, shined on the silver screen, and won fame and fortune in the advertising world.

There are a few things you should know before choosing a Persian, as their exotic looks don’t always come without cost. Their long, thick coat requires more grooming than they can manage by themselves, and you should be prepared for daily brushing sessions and regular bathing – not just a little wipe-down, but the soap-and-water kind! As an alternative, some have their Persians shaved into a “lion cut”, in which the fur on the body is cut short, but left longer on the head, legs, and tip of the tail. While this is an option, if you plan to rely on this, you might consider an Exotic Shorthair instead: they have the teddy-bear face and the same gentle personality without all the fluff! Because of the structure of their faces, they may also be prone to crusty buildup and tear staining around the eyes, which they’ll also need your help in cleaning.

As a breed, Persians are also more prone to a number of health conditions, though selecting cats and kittens from reputable and responsible breeders will definitely improve your cat’s odds. There are also two facial types that are standard for the breed: the traditional (or doll-face) Persian, and the peke-face or ultra-typing Persian. Ultra-typing represents the extreme flatness that has become somewhat the Persian’s claim to fame – unfortunately, it also comes with a number of added health issues and risks.

If all of that hasn’t scared you off, then know that the Persian cat is a remarkable companion: gentle, loving, and calm. They are quiet members of the household that are there for you when you want them to be, and a stalwart, unimposing presence when you need space. If you’re not looking for a lively and energetic companion, you could scarcely find a more perfect mix of independent and affectionate.

Appearance / health:
The Persian is a medium sized cat with an overall impression of roundness: a round body, round face, and round eyes. Though this cat may look a little on the chunky side they really are just big-boned. They have a stocky body, and are broad-chested, round-shouldered, and round-rumped. They have short, thick legs and large round feet, and (relatively) short, thick, and fluffy tail. All of that is rather difficult to see because the Persian appears to be mostly hair. It’s impossible to describe this cat without using the word “fluffy”. When they tuck their feet up beneath them, they appear to be little more than a pile of fluff with an adorable face.

And oh, that face! In general, the Persian has a rather large and round head with a round face, round chin, large, round eyes and small, rounded ears. They are what are called a brachycephalic breed, which describes their extremely short, snub nose. However, the degree of a Persian’s snub can vary, and is described by two distinct types: the peke-face or ultra-type, and the traditional or doll-face. A Persian with the traditional-look has a much shorter than average nose, but when seen in profile, it curves gently outward to a delicate tip. The ultra-typed Persian 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 sinus and breathing problems. Many airlines won’t even allow brachycephalic breeds to travel aboard their planes because of health concerns.

A Persian can certainly not be described without mention of 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-coated Persian may stain and mat more easily than their silky counterpart. Regardless of coat type, the Persian will need extra care in grooming and cleaning. They come in almost every color variety and pattern, though the pointed coloration is usually associated with a separate breed, the Himalayan. Eye colors may include blue, copper, odd-eyed blue and copper, green, blue-green, and hazel, and often correspond to coat colors.

While not every Persian 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, 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 the Persian is 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 remain one of the most popular breeds, 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, and though they can be moved to play, this is not a cat with a high need for stimulation. They are not overly prone to jumping or climbing, and you are unlikely to find them cruising your bookshelves and countertops. They much prefer lazy lounging and regal resting.


gorgeous coats, expressive eyes, stunning long coats, big luminous eyes, invaluable friend, perfection


care costs, daily brushing, high maintance, breathing problems, daily combing, regular bathing, high strung


short compact bodies, brachycephalic cat breed, long flowing coat, typical smooshed face

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