Known for their beauty and sweet, gentle nature, the Persian cat is a very well-known cat breed that has been beloved for centuries. With their flat faces and thick, long, silky coats this is a breed that is not often mistaken for any other.
There are many interesting things to learn about these cats aside from your typical breed overview, which is why we’ve provided you with a list of 10 fascinating facts about the stunning, lovable Persian cat.
The 10 Fascinating Facts About Persian Cats
1. Persians Are a Bit of a Mystery
The Persian is one of the oldest domesticated cat breeds that have a bit of a mysterious origin. The first documented ancestors of the breed were imported into the Italian peninsula from Persia, which is modern-day Iran, dating back to the early 1600s.
These beautiful, exotic-looking cats were a huge hit among European cat fanciers. They got their name from their supposed homeland, but no one was ever able to verify the exact origin or development of the breed before it came to Europe.
2. Persians Are Among the First Pedigreed Cat Breeds
While the first Persian cats arrived in the United States around 1875, it wasn’t until 1906 that the Cat Fanciers Association was established. The CFA is currently the world’s largest purebred cat registry. It was originally headquartered in Manasquan, New Jersey until moving to Alliance, Ohio in 2010.
The stunning Persian was one of the first cats registered and remains one of the most popular cat breeds in the United States to this day. The Cat Fanciers Association now recognizes 42 cat breeds for show in the Championship Class and three breeds as Miscellaneous.
3. Persians Were Part of the First Cat Show in the World
The first cat show ever held in the world took place on July 13, 1871, at London’s Crystal Palace. The event was organized by a man named Harrison Weir, who came up with the idea of setting breed standards for domestic and fancy cats to be judged on.
In addition to the Persian, other breeds such as the Siamese, Manx, English Shorthair, and more were also part of this show. The public interest in the show was overwhelming, drawing in much larger crowds than anticipated. There was even a second show held the same year due to the popularity of the event.
It wasn’t until 1889 that a breed standard was first set for the Persians, separating them from the Angora, though they were referred to as “points of excellence” at the time.
4. They Are Perfect Lap Cats
Persians are well known for being very calm, cuddly, and gentle. They make the perfect lap cat for those that want to enjoy some peace and quiet while snuggling up with their beloved pet. A nice, warm lap is just what the doctor ordered for these fluffy, affectionate felines.
While Persians will enjoy playing, they are not a very high-energy breed. Don’t expect these cats to be bouncing off the walls or showing off their hunting skills. Lounging around is the Persian’s favorite pastime.
This breed is meant for indoor life and should never be kept as outdoor pets. While all pet cats should be kept indoors for their safety and that of the local ecosystem, Persians are not built for the ruggedness of outdoor life.
5. Persians Come in Many Colors
While the pure white Persian may be the first to come to mind when thinking of the breed, this is a cat that comes in many different colors, shades, and patterns. CFA-recognized colors include silver, blue silver, red, brown, blue, cream, cameo, and cream cameo.
If you desire a certain color, you are likely to find a Persian that suits your fancy. There are plenty of reputable breeders available that put their focus on certain color varieties. These cats are quite expensive, though, and certain color varieties can come with hefty price tags.
6. The Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair Are Often Considered Variants of the Breed
Himalayans are nearly identical to the Persians except for their blue eyes and the color point markings. They are the result of crossbreeding the Persian and Siamese, giving them long, silky coats with cream-colored bodies and darker areas of color around the face, ears, feet, and tail.
The Exotic Shorthair is also very similar to the Persian, except they lack a long, silky coat. They were developed in the 1950s when a Persian was bred with an American Shorthair to create a more low-maintenance breed with the sweet, gentle disposition of the Persian.
Some cat registries place both the Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair as variants of the Persian while others consider them separate breeds.
7. Persians Are Among the Most Popular Cat Breeds in the World
The Persian was named the most popular breed of pedigree cat in the United States in 2008. The breed consistently ranks in the top 10 most popular cat breeds in the world. Considering the combination of their stunning looks, a variety of coat colors, and their unique, gentle treatment, it’s no wonder they remain such a sought-after breed.
8. They’ve Been Turned into Works of Art
Cats have always been a very common muse in the world of art. It makes sense, considering they are wonderful companions that are full of beauty and grace. It’s no wonder the Persian’s beauty made it into some pretty incredible works of art.
The breed was featured in 19th-century Austrian artist Carl Kahler’s oil painting, titled “My Wife’s Lovers.” Known as the world’s largest cat painting, it weighed in at a whopping 227 pounds and measured 75 inches by 102 inches.
The painting featured 42 cats, most resembling the Persian, and was inspired by Kahler’s wife’s love of cats, who was said to have owned as many as 350. The piece sold for $826,000 making it the most expensive cat painting in history.
9. Persians Are Quite Famous
It didn’t take long for the Persians to reach royal status when Queen Victoria, who was known for being an animal lover, was charmed by their beauty. She owned several Persian cats, which resulted in the Persian becoming very popular among the British upper class.
Marilyn Monroe owned a white Persian named Mitsou, and Florence Nightingale was said to have owned over 60 cats in her lifetime with the most popular being a large Persian named Mr. Bismark. You will easily recognize the breed on the cover of the famous cat food brand, Fancy Feast, and will have undoubtedly seen them all across the big screen.
10. They Didn’t Always Have Flat Faces
The Persian is often split into two categories, The “Doll Face” and the “Peke Face.” The doll face is the classic-looking version that has more pronounced features and more closely resembles the first recorded images of the breed. The peke-faced gets its name from the Pekingese dog because they have a very flat face, small ears, and a thick, bushy coat.
Persian cats did not always have that distinct flat face. A genetic mutation that was observed in the 1950s featured a litter of kittens with more scrunched, flat features. Breeders found the look very desirable and used selective breeding to develop the “peke-faced” look even further.
The flatter faces have been met with quite a bit of controversy, though. There are many associated health conditions related to brachycephaly, especially surrounding breathing difficulty.
Persians are a stunning breed that has been around for many centuries. They may have more of a mysterious origin, but since they were discovered, cat fanciers around the world have put much focus on the breed and developed them even further. Their unique look coupled with their incredible personalities makes them one of the most popular cat breeds across the globe and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Featured Image Credit: RebaSpike, Pixabay