Persians have enjoyed a long reign in the cat fancy and have featured prominently in shows since 1871, the year of the first modern cat show held at London’s Crystal Palace. At this famous affair, organized by the “father of the cat fancy,” Harrison Weir, many representatives of the breed were present, starting a supremacy that continues today. Persians have been around for much longer than 125 years. Longhaired cats, including the ancestors of the modern Persian and Angora breeds, were first seen in Europe in the mid- to late 1500s, introduced by Roman and Phoenician caravans from Persia (now Iran) and Turkey, according to documents of the era. Researchers believe the recessive gene for long hair appeared spontaneously in the cat population in the cold mountainous areas of Persia. An Italian traveler by the name of Pietro della Valle (1586–1652) is credited with bringing Persian cats to the European world in the 1600s. Both Angora and Persian cats are mentioned in the manuscript Voyages de Pietro della Valle. He described the Persians as gray with very long, silky, glossy fur. He noted that the cats resided in the province of Khorazan in Persia, and that they came from India with the Portuguese. The Persian cat is one of the oldest breeds of cat. The Persian cat originates from Iran (Persia). A show-quality Persian has an extremely long thick coat, short legs, a wide head with the ears set far apart, large eyes, and an extremely foreshortened muzzle. The breed was originally established with a short (but not non-existent) muzzle, but over time this feature has become extremely exaggerated, and Persians are prone to a number of health problems (specifically affecting their sinuses and breathing) caused by it. However, conscientious breeders eliminate this by careful choice of breeding stock, as the goal is first and always healthy cats. Persian cats can have any colour or markings except points, including tortoiseshell, blue, and tabby. There was an attempt to establish the silver Persian as a separate breed called the Sterling, but it was not accepted and silver and gold longhaired cats are judged in the Persian category of cat shows.
Because their fur is too long and dense for them to maintain themselves, Persian cats need extensive and regular grooming. To keep their fur in its best condition, they must be bathed regularly, dried carefully afterwards, and brushed thoroughly every day. Their eyes need to be checked for problems on a regular basis because some animals have trouble keeping them clean.
If you want your cats bouncing around like hyperactive popcorn, don’t buy a Persian. Persians are perfect companions, if you like placid, sweet-tempered cats. Don’t count on using your Persian pal as a furry doorstop, however. They love to play between periods of regal lounging on your favorite davenport. Proponents say that Persians do not deserve their “furniture with fur” reputation—they are intelligent, just not as inquisitive as some breeds, and not as active.
Persians are devoted to their humans, but can be selective in conferring that honor. You must earn their trust and love. They crave affection and love to be petted and fussed over, but won’t harass you for attention the way some breeds will. They will, however, let their feelings be known if they are not getting the requisite amount of attention.
Owning a Persian requires a significant time commitment. That beautiful coat requires daily grooming to keep it in good condition and free of mats. Because of the long coat and docile temperament, Persians should be considered indoor-only pets. Many Persian fanciers keep at least part of the coat clipped, particularly the hindquarters and around the anus to avoid the accumulation of feces. This should be done, though, only if the cat will not be shown soon.