Long-haired cats were unknown in Europe until around the mid-16th century. The Persian’s first ancestors were imported from Persia (now Iran) to Italy in the 17th century by Pietro della Valle.
Later, Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresec, an advisor to the Parliament od Aix-en-Provence, bought two cats to France from Turkey (perhaps they were Angora in type). These cats were highly prized by the European Aristocracy. Louis XV had a white angora Persian. In the first half of the 19th century, some “Persians” bred in Italy and brought to France and England were crossed with “Persians” of Turkish origin.
The first specimens were shown in London’s Crystal Palace in 1871. At that time, British breeders organised a selective breeding program. Crosses were made with Angoras to improve the coat. In addition, a systematic effort aimed at increasing the range of colours and patterns was begun, leading to over 200 varieties today. This smoke Persian, the product of black, white and blue Persians was shown in Brighton in 1872.
A cat named Silver was the first chinchilla Persian shown in London in 1888. Colorpoint Persians, called Himalayans in the United States and considered a separate breed by T.I.C.A. (or Kmer) in Germany, appeared around 1920. Tabby Persians, which appeared over a century ago, were shown in Paris in 1927 as “tigers.” Als0 in the 19th century, British breeders selected the roundest, most massive cats.
Around 1930, American breeders obtained an extremely short-limbed type called the “Peke face” (after the Pekinese dog). Possibly the world’s most famous feline breed, the Persian was probably used to create the Birman and the British Shorthair.
The placid, calm, phlegmatic, sedentary Persian is perfectly suited to apartment life. Sociable, peaceful, never aggressive, gentle and very affectionate, he is very attached to his owner. Persians get along well with other cats, dogs and children. They are more distant towards strangers. For their well-being, they need a tranquil life. They can tolerate solitude. They rarely use their soft voice.
Persians reach maturity at the age of two. They enter puberty late (at approximately 12 months). The breed is not very prolific, and birthing is difficult. Grooming (brushing, combing and cleaning) is a considerable undertaking. The Persian’s long hair is prone to the rapid formation of knots and tufts. It is therefore essential to untangle the coat every day. Persians shed in spring and summer. Their eyes, which produce tears constantly, must be cleaned regularly.
- Medium to large in size.
- Short-limbed type with a massive body.
- The limbs are short. The fur is very long. Royal majestic bearing.
Weight: 3.5 – 7 kg
Head: Round, massive, domed. Very broad, round skull. Rounded forehead. Round, full cheeks. Strong, prominent cheekbones. Short broad nose, sometimes slightly turned up. Marked break between the eyes. Short, broad muzzle. Strong, full, well-developed chin. Broad, powerful jaws.
Ears: Small, rounded at the tip, widely spaced. Not too open at the base, well-furnished inside.
Eyes: Large, round, wide open, well spaced. The intense, deep colour corresponds to that of the coat (gold for copper for all colours; green in the chinchilla, silver and golden; blue in the colourpoint; heterochromatic in some white coloured Persians, etc.)
Neck: Short, strong, very muscular.
Body: Medium to large, massive (cobby), powerful. Broad, deep chest; shoulders and hips of equal width. Broad, short back. Short abdomen. Short massive bones. Firm, well-developed muscles.
Legs and Paws: Short, strong, straight. Powerful bones, well-developed muscles. Broad, round, strong paws. Long tufts of hair between the toes.
Tail: Short, in proportion to the body, well-furnished hair in the topcoat and undercoat. Dense, silky, long hair on the entire body (10cm on average and up to 20cm on the frill). All colours are recognised.
Self-coloured coats (solid with no stripes or tabby markings). All colours prized and the oldest officially recognised colour.
- Orange or copper
- Heterochromatic (“odd-eyed”): one light blue eye, and one orange eye.
- Tortoiseshell coat and variants. Combination of patches of hair orange pigmentation and patches of black hair. Normally only females can be tortoiseshell.
- Coats in which the base of the hair is diluted: smoke Persians. The hair root is pure white, and the tip is the darkest possible. The ideal proportion is 1/3 white and 2/3 coloured. The most common colourations are black smoke, blue smoke, chocolate smoke, lilac smoke, tortie-smoke, etc. Orange colouration produces a so-called “smoke cameo” coat.
Bicolour coats with white patches. Among the recognised varieties (in combination with white) are black, blue, chocolate, lilac, red and cream.
Bicolour coats include:
- Strict bicolour: white covering 1/3 to 1/2 of the body
- Harlequin: white covering 1/2 to 3/4 of the body
- Van: the entire is white except for the tail and two spots forming a hood around the eyes and the base of the ears (cap).
Tabby coats, including:
- Blotched tabby: broad stripes, characteristic “M” on forehead, dark lines (mascara markings) on the cheeks, continuous necklaces on the upper chest, butterfly wings between the shoulders, rings around the legs and tail.
- Mackerel tabby: narrow stripes that are parallel to each other and perpendicular to a longitudinal stripe running down the spine.
- Spotted tabby: circular spots, evenly distributed up to the belly. Hairs between spots are agouti-type (with alternating dark and light bands).
- Chinchilla Persians and variants, originating from a cross between a smoke Persian and a silver tabby Persian. General appearance of the classic Persian but often smaller in size, less short-limbed, and with a less massive head. Very light coat with silver highlights. Tipping (dark pigmentation limited to the hair tip) covers 1/8 the length of the guard hair. The base of the hair is white. Green eyes and a brick red nose with a dark outline.
- Silver shaded Persian: base of the hair is pure white. Tipping covers 1/3 the length of the hair, producing silver shaded appearance.
- Gold shaded Persian: base of the hair is apricot, with black tipping. This gives the coat its apricot or gold shaded appearance.
- Colourpoint Persians: produced by crossing a Siamese with a Persian. Persian wearing a Siamese coat. Blue eyes.
- Seal colourpoint: buff body, dark brown markings.
- Blue colourpoint: white body, blue-gray markings.
- Lilac colourpoint: white body, pinkish grey markings.
- Red colourpoint: cream white body, red markings.
- Colourpoint Persian kittens are born white. Markings appear by around 6 months.
- “Peke face” Persians: This supertype is not always very popular. It suffers from complications involving head deformities (over-productive tear ducts that lead to constant tearing, underbite, difficulty breathing due to a pushed-in nose.)
Allowable outcross breeds: Exotic shorthair (short haired Persian).
Long or narrow head, long nose, narrow muzzle, obvious underbite. Large pointed ears that are too close together. Small, slanted eyes too pale in colour. Narrow, slender, long, high-standing body. Tail too long. Oval paws, long toes. Disqualify: lockets or buttons; kink in the tail; serious jaw deformity.
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