With their snub noses, chubby cheeks, and long hair, the Persian cat is quite an exquisite breed. They’re also typically quiet and affectionate cats who enjoy being held, but they’re content just lounging around too. They make a perfect, purring lap warmer!
As one of the oldest cat breeds, Persian cats can be traced all the way back to the 1600s. While there are question marks about where they came from, they’re believed to have originated in Mesopotamia, later called Persia (hence the name), which is now modern day Iran. It’s said that they were smuggled out of Persia by European explorers in the 17th century.
Over the years, this Middle Eastern cat has been a favorite of royals, including Queen Victoria, and historical figures such as Florence Nightingale. They’ve also made appearances on the big screen, for instance, as the furry companion of James Bond’s archenemy Blofeld and as Mr. Bigglesworth in the Austin Powers movies. Though, for comedic effect, the latter supposedly lost his hair and was played by a Sphynx cat for the remainder of the story.
Persian cats are medium-sized, usually weigh between seven and 12 pounds, and measure from 10-15 inches tall. They have a rounded head, small, rounded ears, and big eyes. They also typically have a flat and pushed-in looking face with chubby cheeks. However, “traditional” or “doll-face” Persian cats have pointier features like their ancestors.
These cats have a sturdy body and thick, solid legs, which partly accounts for the fact that they are not known to be jumpers. They much prefer keeping all four paws planted firmly on the ground or hanging over the side of the couch while they relax.
One of their most distinguishing characteristics is their long, silky coat. They have an undercoat and a topcoat, which feels luxurious to the touch, but also tends to shed quite a bit. These long-haired cats can come in a multitude of patterns and colors, including white, black, blue, cream, chocolate, and red. These cats can additionally have a variety in their eye color, including multiple shades of blue, green, or copper eyes.
A cat’s personality is based largely on where and how they’re raised, but the Persian cat personality is known for certain characteristics. For instance, they are said to be relatively quiet and sweet cats who love to lounge around. While they are affectionate and enjoy attention, they’re not usually the type to demand constant attention. In fact, they can be standoffish and reserved around new people until they get to know them.
Caring for a Persian Cat
Like all cats, Persians need a healthy diet, daily exercise, and lots of love as well as a little special attention when it comes to grooming. These tips can help keep your Persian cat’s motor running and minimize the hair you’ll find around your house.
Oh, That Hair!
It’s lovely to look at and luxurious to touch, but all that hair can make for a messy house if you don’t stay on top of it. If you adopt a Persian cat, be sure to invest in a sturdy vacuum for your floors, a few lint brushes for your clothes, and a good pet brush for your feline friend. You can help reduce shedding by brushing or combing them daily.
Persian cats also need regular bathing and grooming—about every six weeks or so. Some Persian cat owners get their hair cut very short in what’s called a lion trim. It’s a personal preference of course, but it can be quite adorable and help keep your house tidier.
All that hair can also collect dirt and litter. It’s useful to trim your Persian cat’s fur around the paws and backend to help them stay clean. In addition, it’s helpful to scoop out the litter box once or twice a day and empty the whole thing every two to three weeks. Persian cats are known to be picky about their litter boxes and might stop using them if it gets messy (get the scoop on cat poop).
All cats should be kept inside as recommended by our strategic partner The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®). This helps protect them from contracting parasites like heartworms, catching contagious diseases, and getting injured by other animals. Persians, in particular, are known to be lovers not fighters and could get hurt in a tussle with another animal. Their long hair can also end up collecting dirt, leaves, and small twigs.
Quick Tips About Persian Cats
Here are more tips to help keep your Persian cat in top shape:
- Persian cats can have excessive tearing, which can cause staining. It’s important to wipe under their eyes each day with a cotton ball or soft cloth to help avoid black or brown smudges from forming.
- All cats need to have annual check-ups. This can help your veterinarian detect health issues in the early stages when they can be easier to treat. Need a veterinarian for your cat? Use our Vet Finder to locate one in your area.
- Be sure to brush their teeth regularly and schedule an annual cleaning at your veterinarian’s office. Unhealthy teeth and gums can lead to big problems, like infections that can affect the heart.
- Provide your cat with interactive toys to help them get exercise and avoid boredom. Persians are notoriously laid back, but a little catnip or catnip-filled toy can help get them moving.
- Is your Persian cat scratching the furniture? Put out a safe and sturdy scratching post. If your cat isn’t interested in the post, spray it with some catnip, which you can buy in liquid form online or from a local pet store.
Top 10 Illness Claims for Persian Cats
A Persian cat lifespan can be 15 to 20 years, but they can have problems like any pet. These are the 10 most common illness claims submitted by ASPCA Pet Health Insurance customers with Persian cats:*
- Eye conditions—Persian cats can be prone to cherry eye, and an issue called entropion where the eyelashes start pointing inward as they grow.
- Weight loss
- Upper respiratory infection
- Tummy problems
- Respiratory issues—the shape of their nose can constrict their breathing.
- Lack of appetite
Persian cats are also prone to polycystic kidney disease where cysts form in the kidneys. This is a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure. It’s important to take your cat to the veterinarian for regular check-ups, so issues like this can be discovered sooner rather than later.
*Internal Claims Data, 2019
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.