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Not just a bit of fluff: Why we love Persian Cats

If you have ever seen a Persian cat strutting around your neighbourhood, you could be forgiven for thinking they are high-maintenance and maybe a little snooty. Or perhaps the sight of one conjures up images of Bond villain Blofeld ominously stroking his luxuriant side-kick.

But while they are certainly majestic, these cats are also known for being loving companions, and over the years, their fans have ranged from Florence Nightingale to Kim Kardashian

So whether you are thinking of getting a Persian, or you can’t help but be enthralled by them, we’ve put together this handy list of facts about the breed.

Eastern treasures
Persian cats originate in the Middle East, from the region that is now modern-day Iran. Their heritage is something of a mystery, but according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, they appeared in the Ancient Egyptians’ hieroglyphics as far back as 1684 BCE.

It is believed that they were bred from the distinct but similarly fluffy Turkish Angora (could there be a better name?), which evolved from the African wildcat. They came to Europe in the 17th century thanks to an Italian nobleman Pietro della Valle, who kept a brood of his own.

Unsurprisingly, they were highly-prized in aristocratic circles, but reached a wider audience in 1871 when they were exhibited at the first cat show, held at London's Crystal Palace. Queen Victoria also loved Persian cats, and it is said that her pets brought comfort following the death of her husband, Prince Albert.

Coat of many colours
From elegant blue to luxurious white, there is no mistaking this breed’s magnificent coat! One of the most striking varieties of all is surely the Himalayan, which has a smoky black-and-white mane and was developed by crossing a Persian with a Siamese.

As you’d expect, Persians require daily grooming to keep their fur in good condition, and prevent matting. If your cat is light-coloured, or you want to show them, you might wash them too. It is worth speaking to your vet or a professional groomer, to find out about the best brushes, shampoo and techniques.

Although their coat can become matted, Persian cats are generally healthy and can expect to live to 15-years-old. That said, those with flatter faces may suffer excessive tears and eye discharge, so keep this area clean during your daily grooming. If you are worried about infection, contact your vet straightaway.

Sadly, this breed is also susceptible to polycystic kidney disease, which sometimes leads to renal failure. Since the problem was identified in the 1990s, steps have been taken to eradicate it through breeding – so if you are buying a Persian, always ensure you get a certificate showing they are free of the condition.

Best friends
Persians love nothing more than sitting contentedly on your lap, like a warm fuzzy blanket. Unlike some cats that crave independence, this breed loves to spend time with you, although they can be left alone if you work.

A word of caution
While many (including us!) love Persian cats, it is worth noting they are not for everyone. Although friendly, they are also docile so might not take well to a house full of noisy children and may be better suited to couples or those living alone.

Their coat might be their crowning glory, but the downside is that your sofa, clothes and carpet are more than likely to be covered in hair, requiring plenty of vacuuming.

Be aware too that Persians are very sought-after and can be a target for thieves so as a minimum, ensure they are micro-chipped.

As with all pedigrees, make sure you choose a reputable and accredited breeder. The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy has plenty of information about what to look for, and never be afraid to trust your gut instinct when viewing cats. If they look healthy, happy and playful, chances are you’ve found a good breeder.

Are you the owner of a Persian cat? Share your stories and photos with us on our social channels facebook.com/hilifecat and @HiLifeCat.

28 February 2017

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