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Buying a pet

Persian Cat: Breed info & health advice

Date updated: 17 11 2017

If there were prizes for facial expressions, these guys would win hands down. Persians are the friendliest, most easy-going moggies around. With that thick fluffy coat, short body and flat nose it’s no surprise that they’re one of the most popular cat breeds in the world.

Persians are the perfect lap cat: docile, gentle and calm. They love to cuddle, but they’re also playful and curious. Your buddy will be just as happy wandering around the house, snoozing on your lap or taking part in a tea party with the kids.

But if you’re thinking about getting a Persian, remember that long, beautiful coat doesn’t clean itself! Be prepared for lots of combing, brushing and bathing to help keep your buddy happy, healthy and tangle-free.

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Stats

Average lifespan: 14 years+

Weight: Males: 3.6 to 6.8 kg, Females: 3.2 to 4.5 kg

Height: Males: 10 to 15 inches, Females: 10 to 14 inches  

Colouring: Lots of choice, including tabby, Himalayan, smoke, shaded, solid, silver and bi-colour

Grooming requirements: high-maintenance (that long fur needs a lot of brushing).

Average purchase cost: £500

Bet you didn’t know…

  • There are two types of Persian. Show persians have been bred to have a round head and short stubby body, with enhanced facial features to give that famous flat nose and big round eyes. Traditional Persians have less extreme features, with longer legs and more natural noses.
  • They probably don’t have Persian roots. Exactly where Persians come from is a bit of a mystery, but recent genetic research suggests that the present day Persian’s ancestors originated in Western Europe - not in the Middle East.
  • Blofeld’s cat was a Persian. Yep. One of the many plus points of having this moggy in your life is pretending (occasionally) that you’re a bond supervillain. See also, Dr Evil. 
  • Ever wondered what a Persian relation with a natural purrm looks like? Here it is. The ‘Selkirk Rex’ originally came about when a rescue cat was bred with a Persian Tom.  
  • Without its coat, a Persian looks totally different. A Taiwanese Persian, Jin Jin was at the sharp end of a “breakdown in communication” with her groomer. The results were - urm - memorable.

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Great for…

These chunky little cats are the purr-fect blend of chilled out, independent and playful. So whether they’re part of a big family, or it’s just you and your buddy, Persians are equally at home.

This easy-going temperament also means that your buddy usually doesn’t mind too much if you’re out at the office for most of the day. With a decent selection of toys and some quality time when you get home, they’re happy to entertain themselves.

They might like the occasional stroll around the garden, but Persian’s aren’t really outdoor cats. They’re not that interested in exploring, so whether you’ve got a one-bed flat or a huge pad with acres of land, your buddy’s not bothered. And whether there are other pets or kids in the house, chances are everyone’s going to get on just fine.

Behaviour & temperament

Persians love attention, but definitely won’t demand it. Don’t take your buddy for granted; just because they’re not throwing themselves at you the second you get in the door doesn’t mean they don’t need lots of fuss and attention.

Persians aren’t exactly athletes. You won’t see them attempting to scale your bookcase or jump up onto your kitchen worktop, they’re much happier napping. That said, these are pretty smart cats with a strong sense of curiosity, so keep choking hazards and anything else that might cause your buddy harm well out of reach!

Post-nap is usually the best time for a short play session. Persians have short bursts of playful energy, so make the most of these times to help them to stay trim and strong.

Persians also tend to love routine, and adapting to sudden change can be hard. So at holiday time, if you’ve got a friendly neighbour who can check in with your buddy a few times each day, this can be a much better option than the cattery.

TLC...

Like other pedigree breeds, Persians can be fussy eaters. A strong routine can help you with this; teach your buddy when to eat by choosing a mealtime and sticking to it. And anything “new” should be introduced gradually. If your cat suddenly gets very choosy - and especially if they’ve refused food for 24 hours, it’s time to speak to your vet.

Remember that tangles and matting can cause your buddy a lot of discomfort - so regular grooming isn’t just for show cats. Daily grooming with a stainless steel comb clears away loose hair - and helps keep your furniture clean! A weekly bath is also a good idea.

That scrunched-up face means that a Persian’s eyes water regularly. Wipe their face each day with a damp cloth, paying close attention to the corners of the eyes. Once a week, use a cotton bud to remove dirt from the inside of the ears - but be really careful not to probe into the ear canals when cleaning, as this can cause your buddy a lot of problems. Take your buddy to the vet if you see any signs of redness or discharge around the eyes or ears, this could mean infection.

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Common health issues to watch out for...

  • Brachycephalic airway syndrome. That tiny, flat face means that Persians have narrow nasal passage and a long soft palate. Breathing can be a struggle - and in some cases these breathing difficulties can be severe. 
  • Ringworm. Persians are especially prone to this fungal condition which causes painful crusting and scaling of the skin. Your vet will confirm the diagnosis; treatment is usually via a medicated shampoo or oral medication. 
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This causes the heart muscle walls to thicken, stopping it from working properly and efficiently. A specialist care plan can help to control the heart rate and manage the condition. 
  • Progressive retinal atrophy. This genetic eye disease leads to progressive loss of sight. Specialist ophthalmological input can help your buddy deal with it. 
  • Hip dysplasia. This genetic abnormality of the hip joint can cause lameness or dragging of the back leg and cats that have it are highly prone to developing osteoarthritis. Depending on the severity, your vet might be able to set out a range of treatment and management options.
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