Lifespan: 10-17 years
Size (Adult): 10-15 inches tall, 8-12 pounds
Personality: Quiet, low energy, affectionate but not demanding of attention
Shedding: With soft, silky, flowing locks like those of a Persian, expect plenty of shedding – frequent grooming is required.
Pet Friendly: Persians don’t like a lot of fuss and noise, so they may prefer to be solitary cats in a quiet household with no or older children. Some Persians may take comfort in having one familiar pet companion, but they are typically not happy in a home loaded with other pets and noise.
Vocal: Generally very quiet with a soft meow. Not much of an attention seeker – don’t anticipate too much begging or clinginess.
Indoor/Outdoor Cat: Indoor is preferable to keep their hair coat as clean and mat-free as possible.
Intelligence: Moderately intelligent
Most of us are familiar with a Persian cat’s physical attributes – who can resist that snub nose, silky fur, and slightly grumpy but content look? Couple that with a calm, quiet and affectionate personality, and you have a breed of cats that is quite popular. Cuteness and easygoing nature aside, Persians can be more high maintenance than some of us may prefer. Is a Persian right for you? Let’s take a look.
Persians are an old breed of cats, thought to originate somewhere in the 1600s. They originally came from Mesopotamia, later known as Persia, and now known today as Iran. Due to their luxurious haircoat and unique facial structure, Persians were thought to be smuggled from Persia by early European explorers. They later became very sought-after pets in Victorian England.
Throughout the years, selective breeding has created a wide variation in the coloring of their fur and further developed their facial features. They are now one of the most popular cat breeds worldwide due to their looks and personality.
Persians are a medium-sized cat breed, made to look larger by their long hair. They range in weight from 8-12 pounds and can be 10-15 inches high at the shoulder. As with most cat breeds, males tend to be larger than females.
These are not fine-boned cats. They have quite thick legs and a solid body, which probably has something to do with them not being as athletic as other breeds.
Every kitty is different in their personality due to how they were raised. However, there are some common threads that make up a Persian’s temperament.
- Quiet: Most Persians will prefer not to chat about your day; instead, they will let you know they care through snuggles and lap time.
- Affectionate: A Persian will appreciate some one-on-one time with you but will tend not to demand it.
- Sedate: You won’t find most Persian adults scaling your walls or whipping around after a ball. Instead, they prefer to lounge lazily on your lap or draped across your sofa arm.
- Serene: Loud, busy houses are not for Persians. They prefer quiet without a lot of commotion. Kids and other pets are okay as long as they can keep noise levels down and not expect to play too much.
- Stand-offish: Rather than greet strangers at the door, Persians prefer to get to know somebody before they trust them enough to allow quiet petting.
Lifespan and Health
Persian cats have a lifespan between 10 and 17 years and require a fair bit of care to reach those older ages. Like all kitties, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, dental disease, and diabetes are some concerns. However, Persians have some unique health considerations, mainly due to their facial structure.
Those illnesses that pop up more commonly in Persians include:
- Difficulty Breathing: With a short nose comes smaller nasal airways, which means when a Persian takes a breath, they’re not getting the volume of air that other cats with longer noses get. This can lead to difficulty breathing during exercise, excitement, or with nasal congestion.
- Along with the shortness of the nose, some Persians may experience brachycephalic airway syndrome that may require surgical treatment.
- This may also make them more sensitive to heat since a large part of a cat’s cooling ability comes from evaporation in the nasal airways. Homes with air conditioning are preferred for Persians in warmer climates.
- Eye Issues: Along with the short nose, Persian may exhibit more than their fair share of eye issues. They may experience excessive tearing from hair in the eyes, inverted eyelashes, or cherry eye. A hereditary form of progressive retinal atrophy is linked to some Persian lines that can lead to blindness as early as four months of age.
- Polycystic Kidney Disease: This is a condition in which the kidneys develop cysts that eventually lead to kidney failure around middle age. Reputable breeders will only breed PKD negative cats.
- Skin Conditions: Without proper grooming, Persians may be more likely to have trouble with their skin. Dandruff, bacterial or fungal infections, or seborrhea are all things to look out for, as well as mats, snarls, and tangles.
Caring for a Persian may require a slightly different approach than other breeds of cats.
Hair this long requires daily grooming. Regular brushing will help remove tangles and snarls to prevent mats and spread the skin’s natural oils for a healthy softness and shine. Brushing will also help remove excess hair to spare your carpets, clothes, and furniture.
Along with daily brushing, your Persian may also need the occasional bath, probably about once a month. Bathing helps to remove excess dirt and debris and can aid in reducing shedding. You’ll want to choose a mild shampoo, and be sure to rinse all soap from the haircoat thoroughly. Be careful not to overdo it with bathing, as frequent shampooing can strip the hair of its natural oils and cause dry skin.
You’ll also want to trim toenails and maybe even the long hair that grows between a Persian’s toes to reduce litter tracking.
Wipe the eyes daily with a soft, damp cloth to help remove debris and reduce tearing. If you have a lighter colored kitty, daily wiping will help reduce that brown tear staining that can occur around the eyes.
With that snub nose comes a smaller mouth. So small that a Persian can have trouble fitting all of their teeth in there. Because of this, Persian teeth can easily be crowded or come in crooked, a major prequel to dental disease.
You can help reduce the incidence of dental disease by brushing your cat’s teeth daily. You may also look into dental treats that help to remove tartar while your cat eats them. Regular veterinary exams are a must to catch dental disease before it becomes too severe.
Since Persians are more sedentary, a low-calorie diet can help prevent excessive weight gain. You’ll still want a diet that is high in protein but low in fat and calories. Bonus points if you pick a diet that is shaped for easy pickup by a Persian-shaped mouth.
While some cats will willingly run laps around your home, Persians are more apt to not. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still exercise. Engage your Persian friend in a light game with a feather wand or laser pointer, or interact with them by tossing their favorite chew toy and having them “retrieve” it. Catnip laced toys are also a great way to get a Persian kitty up and moving.
All kitties should see the vet at least once a year, preferably more as they age. Regular veterinary care can help catch and prevent illnesses and help you answer burning questions such as what to feed your cats, which litter is best, and why my cat is doing ___? Vaccinations are part of a Persian’s health care plan and should be kept up to date to avoid certain illnesses.
There is quite a range in the cost of a Persian cat. The variation is mainly based on the quality of the haircoat and lineage of the cat. If you’re looking for a pet-only Persian, you’re in for anywhere from a couple hundred to $1,000. If you want a cat for showing or breeding, that cost escalates to $3,000-5,000.
Not only are there upfront costs for buying a Persian, but there is also the maintenance costs. If you’re not up for some grooming, that’s an expense that you can expect every couple of weeks or once a month. There’s also the cost of veterinary care, food, toys, etc.
If you’re looking to purchase a Persian kitten, do so from a reputable breeder. These are breeders that are recommended by veterinarians and have done some pre-breeding screening of their cats. This will help ensure that you get the healthiest Persian possible.
If sorting through breeders isn’t your style, there’s always a Persian to rescue. Search Petfinder for available Persians or contact your local Persian rescue organization.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.