With its long, silky coat and doll-like face, the Persian cat is one of the most popular in the United States. I mean, it's such a popular breed that they even have a sub-breed: The Himalayan cat. Also called the Himalayan Persian, this breed bears a specific shade, which somehow makes it even more glamourous and appealing to enthusiasts of this breed.
Himalayan Cat Breed Origin & History
The Persian cat has a very long history living among humanity. Descendants of longhaired cats living in cold mountainous regions of Persia, Persian cats were spread throughout Europe as early as the mid-1500s. They quickly became the cat of royalty, favored among the rich for their luxurious fur and unique appearance.
Persian cats came to America in the late 1800s, where they encountered the same amount of fascination. They became one of the most popular cats in cat shows worldwide and were even given seven distinct divisions by the Cat Fanciers' Association. One of those divisions was the Himalayan Persian cat.
A Swedish geneticist decided to cross a Siamese with a Persian in 1924. Ten years later, the first longhair Persian with a pointed pattern was born. In the 1930s, Harvard medical researchers established the new hybrid, often using black Persian cats.
The effort to create the ideal Himalayan stopped because of World War II, but the efforts continued soon after. In 1950, the American Marguerita Goforth created the colorpoint Persian researchers had envisioned.
The Cat Fanciers' Association and the American Cat Fanciers' Association recognized the breed by 1957, calling it Himalayan after the Himalayan rabbit, an animal with a similar color pattern. By 1961, Himalayans were recognized by all the major cat associations in the United States.
In 1950 American Marguerita Goforth succeeded in breeding the long-awaited Persian-like colorpoint. CFA and ACFA recognized the breed in 1957 under Himalayan, named for the color pattern found in other animals such as the Himalayan rabbit. By 1961, all major U.S. cat associations recognized the Himalayan.
Himalayan Cat Breed Personality
A hybrid breed, Himalayan cats, have both the calm and reserved Persian cat and the friendly and social Siamese cat breed. Himalayans are docile, content sitting in your lap and getting pets or hanging out alone on the couch when you're at work or busy. While they love attention, the Himalayan is not one to demand it.
The Himalayan cat is picky about who they spend time with. They often reserve their attention for family members they trust — and maybe some visitors who take the time to get to know them. They enjoy the company of calmer and quieter people and prefer an environment with routine and little change.
Like the Persian cat, Himalayan cats are not particularly athletic or active. You won't find your Himalayan cat exploring the kitchen counters or trying to climb your curtains. When prompted, they'll play with a few toys but are quite content to just relax on the couch or bed. Quiet and calm, Himalayan cats make a good companion for a family looking to shower a pet with affection.
Himalayan Cat Breed Characteristics (Physical)
The Himalayan Persian is all fluff. They are medium-sized cats known for their glamorously long plush coat, stunningly bright eyes, and smooshed faces. Himalayans should have the same body shape and features as Persian cats but don't have the same color and coat pattern range.
Himalayan Cat Size
Himalayan Persians weigh between seven and 12 pounds, a standard cat size underneath their massive fur coat. With a broad and deep chest, massive shoulders, and substantial rump, they are a heavily boned and round breed.
The Himalayan Persian's head is noticeably big and round, with distinct facial features. This includes a snubbed nose with a "break" centered between their large, circular eyes. Their ears are small for their head size with rounded tips. The CFA describes the Himalayan cat breed as looking alert and friendly.
Unlike the Persian cat— which may have any eye color known to cat kind — the Himalayan only has one eye color: "deep vivid blue." Their bright blue eyes will often stand out against the darker fur around their face.
Legs & Paws
Himalayans have short and muscular legs. The front and back legs appear straight, with round and large paws on the end.
This is where a Himalayan Persian stands out from other Persians. The Himalayan color point coat pattern is one of seven divisions of Persians. This particular division only consists of point patterns, meaning one solid body-color (often white) and then darker fur on their face, ears, legs, tail, and feet, much like a Siamese. Some of these point patterns include:
- Chocolate point
- Lynx point
- Seal lynx point
- Flame point
- Lilac point
- Blue-cream lynx point
Like the Persian cat, the Himalayan cat's long hair should be silky, thick, and glossy throughout their body.
Himalayan Cat Breed Care
As previously mentioned, the Himalayan has the same big, full coat as the Persian (they are a Persian, after all). While this is why they are so appealing — who can deny the beauty of their silky, long fur? — it's also a feature that comes with a lot of responsibility. You'll need to brush your Himalayan almost every day to keep them from getting matted and knotted. This also reduces shedding and hairballs.
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Here's what you'll need to tackle your Himalayan's coat:
- Metal comb with both narrow teeth and wide-spaced teeth
- Metal slicker brush
Get your Himalayan kitten used to brushing at an early age. While most Himalayan kittens will enjoy the attention, some may balk at the long brushing sessions. Try combing and brushing them before breakfast or dinner, so they associate the process with something they most definitely enjoy.
Part your cat's fur, and then use the wide-spaced teeth on the comb to brush out any knots and tangles. Then use the slicker brush to brush their fur out in sections, loosening dead hair. Finally, comb your Himalayan cat's entire body with the narrow-toothed side of the comb.
You'll also need to clean your Persian cat's face quite regularly. Their unique facial features — flat nose and wide eyes — can lead to improper tear drainage. This extra discharge will get into the folds of their face. You'll start to notice a discoloring of their fur. Tackle this with vet-approved wipes.
Your Himalayan should be kept strictly indoors to avoid dirtying and knotting their fur. This will also ensure that dogs and wild animals aren't chased or hurt. With their snubbed noses, they can become short of breath pretty easily.
Himalayans can live to be nine to 15 years old on average. But to live a long, happy, and healthy life, you'll need to schedule regular vet visits. Unfortunately, the Persian cat is prone to many diseases, illnesses, and complications related to its facial structure and breeding.
Their large, round eyes are damageable. They are also prone to malformed tear ducts and eyelids that fold inward, leading to cornea damage as the eyelashes rub against their eye. They also get a degenerative eye disease called progressive retinal atrophy.
Himalayan Persians are also known to get urinary tract disease, heat sensitivity, and shortness of breath. Persian cats also develop a kidney disease that eventually causes kidney failure and kidney disease that leads to cysts and enlargement.
It's very important to adopt your Himalayan Persian from a reputable breeder. Thanks to advanced DNA testing and responsible breeding, a trusted breeder will ensure that their cats don't carry many hereditary diseases. Start your search with CFA-registered breeders.
Himalayans love to eat — but they don't want to get off the couch to burn any of it off. It's very important to make sure you aren't overfeeding your cat, leading to several health issues. Always check your cat's food label to see the proper daily serving based on your kitty's age, size, and lifestyle.
Check out our guide on proper cat food ingredients and nutrients to make sure the commercial cat food you've decided on provides your cat with the protein and taurine they need to be healthy and happy. Always avoid cat foods that are heavy on carbohydrate "fillers" like corn and wheat.
RELATED: Wet vs Dry Food: Why It Matters & What to Look For
Children & Other Pets
Himalayan cats bond with children. You'll often see kids brushing them, dressing them up, and cuddling with them! As long as the child is gentle and respectful of this regal kitty, they will get along great. They also bond quite well with dogs when given the proper introduction. Himalayan cats love attention, but they can get a bit bothered by rowdiness and loudness.
Himalayan cats are not opposed to a feline companion when it comes to other cats. You'll just need to make sure you give them time to get used to each other. Make sure that your Himalayan cat has their secluded spot in the home to call their own if the other cat starts to get on their nerves. This will ensure they are never overwhelmed.
More About This Breed
The Himalayan probably looks familiar to you. That's because they're movie stars! Remember Mr. Jinx from Meet the Parents? That was a Himalayan Persian! Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey producers also employed over 10 Himalayans to portray Sassy back in 1999.
The average cost of Himalayan cats is around $2,500, but it can become much higher if you're looking for a show cat or one with an extensive award-winning pedigree. But when it comes to keeping you company, any Himalayan will do just fine. This cat loves to hang out and get some pets, no matter the time of day. You'll never find a cuddlier companion.