All Persian cats (officially known as Persian type with long hair) have the same basic physical shape with flat faces, short noses, and small ears. Their bodies are wide-chested with sturdy legs and large paws. Persian long hair cats have a soft and thick fur coat with a distinctive ruff around the neck and a full, low-slung tail. These cats come in many different colors and patterns.
In some countries, such as the United States, color variations are considered varieties of the same breed, but in Britain, each different color appears as a different breed. Persian cats are among the best-known pedigree cats. Long-haired variations of wild species may have occurred spontaneously in colder regions in the heart of Asia and then have been gradually established with subsequent inter-breeding. The ancestors of today’s Persians were probably thick, long-haired and gray cats, brought to Europe from Persia (Iran) in the 17th century and white silky-haired Angora cats from Turkey. Today there are more than 60 different varieties of the Persian type long hair cats.
Black Persian Cat
Black Persian cats are believed to be one of the first variety of Persian breeds officially recognized since the 17th century. Today, however, they are not quite common. The show standard insists on a black coat of solid and dense coal-black, without signs of rustiness, shading, marks or white hairs. The kitten often shows some gray or rusting color and if this continues beyond 6 to 8 months, it is not considered acceptable. To keep its shiny black coat, the cat must be kept in a cool and dry place, free from direct light.
A damp atmosphere and bright sunlight seem to fade black. Like many Persians, black is affectionate and dignified. They have a reputation to be more playful than white Persian cats.
White Persian Cats
White Persian owes its purity of coat color to the native angora cat from turkey. However quite different from the modern breeds of Angora. Turkish cats were prized for their silky coats and white varieties were the most sought after of all. They provided the incentive to breed a pure white Persian type by crossing Angora and Persian cats in the 19th century. A show standard white self should be dazzling white and without marks or shadings. Kittens may have colored hairs on the top of the head, but they must disappear before they reach 9 months. Whites are meticulous self-groomers, but maintaining impeccable fur is a great challenge for owners.
The fur may yellow, especially around the face, legs, and tail. However, white grooming powder is available in pet stores and online markets, which cleans and helps protect against stains. The reward for an extra effort is a glacial white coat completely emphasizing a magical eye color.
Different varieties of white Persian cats have been established according to eye color. Because the original blue-eyed variety was prone to deafness, it was cross-bred with blue and black Persian cats. The resulting cats were generally stronger in shape and build. Some had copper-colored eyes, others had one orange or copper color eye and one blue eye. The odd-eyed white cats may become deaf in the ear on the side of the blue eye. Whatever the eye color, both eyes must be of equal intensity for a successful showing.
White Persian cats are not only glamorous and decorative but also happy to be so. Their calm nature makes them ideal indoor cats, although they can also be playful.
In the late 1800s, the Blue Persian cats became extremely popular as pets for the rich and were raised especially to be sold at high prices. They became particular favorites of European royalty. Queen Victoria of England acquired two blue Persian cats, Princess Victoria of Schleswig Holstein was an enthusiastic breeder and King Edward VII presented medals for the top prize-winners of the day.
One of the reasons for the popularity of blue Persian cats may have been because it was thought to be the closest color to the original Persian brought to Europe by merchants in the 17th century. The genetic mutation of the breed we know today may have emerged on the Mediterranean island of Malta, which is why it is sometimes called the Maltese-blue. The bluish-gray color is a dilution of black. The blue comes from a lavender glow that adds shine to the pale fur. This is very evident with the show cat, which is ideally a medium to pale blue, with no shadings, marks or white hairs.
A dark, slate gray coat is considered very undesirable. Due to its long and distinguished history of careful breeding, Persian blue is often used as the standard Persian type with which other Persian breeds are compared. For this reason, it is sometimes included in breeding programs to improve the type of other varieties.
The blue Persian cat is reputed to be a very affectionate and gentle cat who enjoys human company.
There is an element of the Siamese in chocolate Persian, which may account for a certain sauciness in its nature. The Siamese chocolate point was mated with blue Persian cats to create part of the formula for the Persian color point. Chocolate was an offshoot and gradually, through generations of breeding, it became a variety recognized in its own right. The ideal show cat has a medium to dark, warm and evenly toned coat without shadings, white marks or hairs. The warmth of the tone instead of a deep and dark bitter chocolate is very important.
Kittens sometimes show gray hair, although this often disappears at 6 to 9 months. The eyes should be the rich orange-copper color with no signs of a reversion to pale gold or green.
Only a few decades ago, the Persian red cat was one of the rarest feline varieties. This was largely because of the need to select parents which had fine mackerel-striped coats like kittens, combined with long fur and color intensity. The fiery red fur is much richer than that of common ginger tom. For a show cat, it must be even, in tone, without white hairs. Slight shading on the forehead and legs is acceptable. The sex-linked gene that creates red cannot mask the tabby marks that are characteristic of all red Persian kittens in certain lights. It is rare for a red to be free of these marks until the ground color has intensified with maturity.
Persian cream is a dilute red, with probable input of white angoras that cross-bred with Persian cats in the 19th century. Then, as now, the Blue Persians were not only the most popular variety but the best examples of the type. So breeders of other colors used blue studs in their programs. Blues are dilutes of black Persian cats and, therefore, dilute genes were released into many breeding programs, which ultimately resulted in a full range of dilute colors.
Early creams had larger ears and longer noses than their modern descendants and their eyes were almond-shaped. Today’s cream is the result of more than a century of very selective breeding that was initially done in the United States.
Persian lilac or lavender Kashmir was, like chocolate, an offshoot from the breeding program for color print long-hairs. It is a dilute form of blue with a siamese element. This may be the reason why these cats often show independence of spirit, are very capable to amuse themselves but quickly bond with their owners.
The perfect pedigree has a thick and silky coat that is warm in tone and even in color, without white marks or hairs. The eyes are copper or deep orange with lilac rims, and the nose leather and the pads of the paws are also lilacs. Once the lilac color has been produced, the lilac to lilac matings will only produce lilac kittens.
The classic tortoiseshell color is an amazing combination of black, red and pale red. The exact color configuration is greatly influenced by the mixture of color genes carried by the female parent. If the female gene has 2 red XX chromosomes, the offspring will be red. However, if one of the female’s chromosomes carries the red gene and one does not, then the offspring will be a mixture of red and another color or colors, this is called tortoiseshell. Of the complex genetic composition necessary to create a mix of tortoiseshell colors, all variations are generally female.
The tortoiseshells are also known as Torties, they come in dilute variations, such as chocolate tortie, blue-cream, and lilac-cream.
The object in the breeding of any tortoiseshell pedigree is to achieve a perfect balance in the color mix. When black and chocolate intermingle with red, the result can be a brilliant display of fireworks from a coat. Fans of these varieties expect the colors to be well defined, and better yet, that the kittens have a dazzling red glow in the center of the face. Some kittens show gray hair in black fur, which usually grows after 6 to 9 months.
It is said that tortoiseshell with red in their make-up inherit the supposed fiery temperament of the Red Persian, although their fans say they are just full of character. They also tend to be especially attentive mothers. tortoiseshell queens mated with black and red for the best opportunity to produce hawksbill kittens in their litter.
The eyes of all tortoiseshells are large, full and deep copper or orange.
In the early days of pedigree breeding, any long-haired cat with a white spot was seen with horror. However, there were so few animals without a white spot on the belly or neck, that to fill the classes at the shows, the bi-colors are allowed to compete. These solid-colored cats with white underside, muzzles, chests, legs, and feet were placed along with the tortoiseshell and whites, in any other variety category. Finally, breeders began to consider them seriously as a variety in their own right. The ideal standard is for white patches to be balanced and even, with an elegant and clearly defined inverted V shape that extends over the nose.
If tabby Persian cats were arranged in the exaggerated style of bouffants applied to other varieties, the impact of their rich marks would diminish. Although a full coat is still important, tabby owners have to take a more relaxed approach to the groom.
Characteristic tabby marks include triple lines that extend along the spine, a butterfly shape on the shoulders and an oyster on the sides. The legs and tail should have dark rings evenly spaced, and the underbelly is spotted. Spotted, mackerel and ticked tabby patterns are also shown, apart from in the UK, where the only recognized variations are blotched. The mainstream tabby colors are brown, red and silver although other varieties, such as cream, lilac, and cameo, are rich, reddish in color with dense black markings.
In 1882, a silver angora type cat of fine bones without markings mated with a non-pedigree male of similar color. Her kitten became the mother of the first Chinchilla title holder, whose body was exhibited in the Natural History Museum in London.
The inner layer of the chinchilla is pure white. The coat on the back, the flanks, the head, the ears, and the tail is covered in black. The tipping should be evenly distributed to give the characteristic silver glow. The legs may be slightly shaded with the tipping, but the chin, ear, stomach, and chest should be pure white. Tabby marks or brown or creamy tings are not desirable. There has been a great controversy about the required size of a chinchilla, the breed is sometimes described as a fairy, but this has nothing to do with size. The chinchillas are generally of medium size and quite solidly built.
The golden-colored Persian cat may have occurred as an offshoot of chinchilla breeding in the 1920s. However, the modern breed was established after an explosion of US imports of chinchillas in Britain in the 1970s, combined with an import from New Zealand import from American bloodlines. On the back, sides, head, and tail, the undercoat should be sufficiently tipped with a seal brown or black to give a golden appearance.
An apricot undercoat turns golden, while the chin, ear, stomach, and chest are pale apricot. The general tipping effect may be darker than on the body. The legs may be shaded, but the back from the paw to the heel should be a solid seal brown or black. Kittens often show tabby or gray marks at the base of the undercoat.
Shaded silver is largely the product of chinchilla matings with self-colored long hairs in an attempt to improve size and type. The general effect of a shaded silver is to be much darker than a chinchilla. The undercoat is pure white, with black tippings, that shades from the back to the flanks, with lighter tipping on the face and legs. The upper part of the tail is also tipped, but the chin, the chest, the stomach, the inside of the legs and the lower part of the tail are pure white. The tip extends to a third of the full length of the hair.
The hair on the footpad may be shaded to black and there is no barring on the legs. The lips are outlined in black. No tabby marks or brown or cream tinges are allowed on a show cat. In the United States, breeders mated with the best Persians available and then joined to recover the characteristics of the Chinchilla breed. Shaded silver was the inevitable consequence, and throughout the history of the Silver Persians in the United States, both chinchilla and shaded silver kittens have been produced in the same litter.
Smoke color Persian cats are the result of the cross-breeding of chinchilla, blue and black. Traditional smoke colors are black and blue, but the introduction of the sex-linked red gene, followed by the chocolate gene, led to represent the full range of long hair colors. Black smoke was the first to be introduced. Bluesmokes were initially kept as pets instead of show cats because they were considered poor-quality blue Persian cats.
All smoke cats are cats of striking contrasts. The undercoat should be as white as possible, with the tips shaded to the appropriate color. The darkest points are more defined in the back, head and feet, and the light spots on the frill, the flanks and the tufts of the ears.
The cameo was considered a delicious accident for many years, but in the late 1950s, the breed was formally registered in the United States. The formula for creating cameos turned out to be extraordinarily straight forward, with kittens of consistent colors that appear in the first hybridization.
In addition to the red and cream cameos, there are variations of blue cream and tortoiseshells.
There are two levels of color that adhere to the fur. In the shell cameo, the colors are restricted to the tips of the fur to give a soft shine like the mother of pearl. The shaded cameo has stronger tipping and usually occurs at the first crosses between a chinchilla and a red or cream cat. In all cameos, the undercoat should ideally be as white as possible with the tips shaded in red or tortoiseshell in the red series and shading to cream or cream blue in the series.
The deepest intensity of the color is defined more in the mask, along the spine from the head to the tip of the tail and on the legs and feet. The points of light are produced on the frill, the flanks, the bottom, and the ears.
Cameo breeding produces cats with black tips, instead of red, cream or tortoiseshell. These cats are a relatively recent development and have their place as pewter.
They are very similar in appearance to shaded silver but with orange or copper color. Pewters are recognized in the United Kingdom only with black tips. The coat is exceptionally long, almost to the point of obscuring the structure of the cobby, with a full neck that ends in a frill on the front legs.
The entire catalog of long-haired Persian cats up to this point has been based on a solid-colored cat modified by the introduction of the tabby pattern, sex-linked color, silver or white patches. The pioneers of colorpoint (Himalayan) breeding fused the Persian longhair with the Himalayan pattern of the Siamese cat. The result was a Persian cat with long hair and a restricted siamese fur pattern. The mask, legs, feet, and tail are evenly colored and there is a good contrast between the points and the color of the body.
The shading of the light body, if present, should be confined to the shoulders flanks and should complement the points. The mask covers the entire face. It should not extend over the head, although the mask of a mature male cat is more extensive than that of a mature female. Kittens are born white and fluffy, the point colors begin to appear in less than a week.