Persian

Sweet tempered and loving, Persian cats are famous for their long, flowing coats and appealing round pansy-like faces. Find out everything you need to know about the Persian cat breed.
By Doug Jimerson
August 24, 2020
Persian
Coat Length
Pattern
Other Traits
Temperament
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Persian

height
  • 10 to 15 inches
weight
  • 7-10 pounds (female) to 9-13 pounds (male)
life span
  • 10 to 15 years
good with
  • children
  • seniors
  • dogs
  • cats
  • families
temperament
  • sociable
  • affectionate
intelligence
  • medium
shedding amount
  • frequent
playfulness
  • medium
activity level
  • calm
vocalness
  • quiet
coat length
  • long
colors
  • white
  • black / ebony
  • red / orange
  • blue / gray
  • lavender / silver
  • cream / beige / tan
  • chocolate / brown / sable
  • cinnamon
  • fawn
  • lilac
patterns
  • solid
  • bi-color
  • tabby
  • calico / tri-color
  • color point
other traits
  • requires lots of grooming
  • friendly toward humans
  • friendly toward other pets
  • friendly toward strangers
  • tolerates being alone
  • low prey drive
  • good lap cat
  • tolerates being picked up

Probably the most recognized and adored cat breed on the planet, Persian cats have been happily snuggling up against their owners since the 1600s. With their long, flowing coats, thick bodies, and flat faces, Persians are very hard to resist. Persian cats are a medium-sized breed that takes their role as a loving companion seriously, always ready to be stroked and fussed over on a moment’s notice. This beautiful breed comes in a wide variety of colors and bi-colors and gets along with all family members (including other furry ones) when introduced young.

Appearance 

There’s no mistaking a Persian cat when you see one. That’s because these iconic felines are well-known for their thick fur coats, large eyes, and stocky bodies. These cats are a mid-sized breed, weighing in between 7 to 13 pounds. The long, lustrous coats of Persian cats come in a host of colors. Eye color varies depending on the color coat an animal has, but brilliant copper, green, hazel, and blue are typical by the breed standard.

Over the years, two forms of Persian cat have emerged—the show and the traditional or doll-face type. Show Persians (also called Peke-face due to their resemblance to Pekingese dogs) generally have flatter faces, smaller ears, thicker coats, and larger eyes than the traditional or doll-face Persians. Doll-face Persian cats have less pronounced features and more closely resemble the original countenance of this cherished breed. Both types, however, share the same sweet temper and both require regular brushing to keep their long coats from matting.

Temperament 

Sweet and stylish! That’s the best way to describe the Persian cat personality. These quiet, elegant beauties are walking love sponges, whose main purpose in life is to adore you and be adored in return. Persian cats are happy, inquisitive animals, but they won’t drive you crazy pacing around your home looking for things to knock over. Plus, Persian cats are solidly built, so they’re unlikely to climb the curtains. They also get along with everyone, including dogs, as long as they are socialized when young. Persians are energetic enough to enjoy cat toys and games, but don’t need constant entertainment to keep them happy.

Living Needs 

Although they may look like fashion models, Persian cat care doesn’t involve fancy accommodations. In fact, this medium-energy breed will be equally happy in a tiny apartment or large home. Like other cats, Persians will enjoy a cat tree to climb on, but depending on your cat, it might not be necessary, since not all of these loving felines are that athletic. They do, however, enjoy lying in a sunny window, so adding a carpeted perch or two will allow your kitty to watch the world go by in comfort.

Because they have such sweet personalities, Persian cats make great pets for all members of the family especially seniors and older children. If there’s a comfortable lap around, your Persian will find it.

Care

In order for their coats to stay in top form, Persian cats require daily brushing to prevent tangles and mats. Brushing and combing will also remove excess dirt, dead hair, and even cat litter that might stick to their fur. Bathing is essential to keep your Persian’s coat and skin in good shape. If you start bathing your cat when she’s a kitten, she won’t think twice about being placed in a tub of warm water when she’s an adult. If you’ve adopted an adult Persian, she might not be so willing to take a bath, so you might need to resort to spot cleaning with a warm, moist cloth.

Excessive tearing can also be an issue, particularly for those cats with a flatter face, so wipe your cat’s eyes daily to prevent staining. And, like other cat breeds, Persians require regular dental and nail care and visits to your veterinarian for vaccinations and health examinations. And don’t forget to keep your cat’s litter box clean because Persians can be picky and may refuse to use it if it doesn’t meet their expectations.

According to Marilyn Krieger, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant in San Francisco (aka The Cat Coach), some cat breeds require more maintenance than others. Before deciding to adopt a specific breed of cat, it’s mandatory to understand the specific care that the breed may need. In her opinion, the ideal owner for a Persian cat is someone who has the necessary time to spend maintaining their coat. “You have to brush them every day,” she says. If you don’t, “Their fur gets tangled up. And if the fur gets matted, it’s painful for the cat,” she says. 

Krieger stresses doing research on any breed before bringing it into your home. Before you adopt, “New cat owners should understand everything that goes along with having a cat,” she says.  

Health 

Persian cats do have a number of potential genetic health issues that make it especially important to buy your pet from a reputable breeder who produces healthy animals. Two common ailments in Persian cats include progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and polycystic kidney disease (PKD). PKD is an inherited disorder that manifests itself with small, liquid-filled sacs in the kidney tissue that grow and multiply over time, eventually leading to kidney failure. PRA is a genetic eye disease in cats where the cells of the retina deteriorate over time and eventually lead to blindness.

Eye and dental problems are also an issue for Persian cats, especially those with flatter faces and short jaws. Regular attention to these areas will keep your cat in better health. Like other breeds, Persian cats should be spayed and neutered and not allowed to free roam outside without close supervision. 

History

No one knows exactly when or where the very first Persian cat turned up, but in the 1600s, these long-haired beauties were being brought to Italy from Iran (then called Persia). And by the 1800s, they were introduced into Britain where early versions were exhibited at the Crystal Palace cat show. Queen Victoria took particular interest in the breed and owned several during her lifetime, including one she named White Heather that remained in Buckingham Palace after the Queen herself had died. The Queen’s attachment to these loving animals helped make them popular with the British public.

The first Persian cats came to America in the late 1800s. In 1906, it became the first breed registered in the newly formed Cat Fanciers’ Association. By the 1950s, selective breeding started to produce Persian cats with flatter faces and rounder heads. Today, Persian cats are the number one cat breed in the United States. Also, because of its regal bearing and ancient lineage, Persian cats have played starring roles in art, advertising, and photography through the decades. In fact, the largest painting of cats ever sold, titled My Wife’s Lovers, depicted both Persian and Turkish Angora cats.

Fun Facts

  • Besides Queen Victoria, Persian cats have always had adoring fans from all walks of life. Florence Nightingale, for example, is reported to have had over 60 cats in her lifetime, including many Persians. Marilyn Monroe, on the other hand, had a single white Persian named Mitsou, whom she adored.
  • Other past and present  Persian cat fans include Martha Stewart, Giorgio Armani, Elizabeth Taylor, Freddie Mercury, and Regis Philbin.
  • One of the most famous cinematic Persian cats was Mr. Tinkles, who appeared in the 2001 movie Cats & Dogs. This villainous character was voiced by actor Sean Hayes in that original movie and the 2010 sequel, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.