19 Years of Persian Cat Experience

by Lisa James
(Green Cove Springs, FL)

Introduction by Michael (Admin): These are the words of an experienced Persian cat breeder who has strong views on the subject. It was written many years ago but I have brought the post forward as it still has value and is interesting to purchasers of the Persian which I’d say is today a somewhat controversial breed because of the health issues associated with the breeding.

Tia, tortie rescue Persian, surrendered for litterbox issues, adopted & doing wonderfully!

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Tia, tortie rescue Persian, surrendered for litterbox issues, adopted & doing wonderfully!

Number One: There is no such breed as a "traditional" or "doll faced" Persian. They are all the SAME breed, & these fancy names are simply names given to PET quality Persians, which are the cats that are bred by what we would refer to as back yard breeders who are not concerned with the breed standard. These cats would be most likely disqualified from a major registry's show rings, which is why proponents of this style of cat wanted to give them their own designation. They are not any healthier than their show quality litter mates or cousins.

Number Two: The tear duct issue is NOT limited to the show quality or "ultra" Persian, it is prevalent in the breed as a whole, but responsible breeders do not breed cats with these issues. Other health issues prevalent in this family of breeds, which includes the Himalayan (pointed Persian) & the Exotic(shorthaired Persian) not even mentioned here, which I find a major oversight include PKD, or Polycycstic Kidney Disease, which responsible, ethical show/hobby breeders test for nowadays via a DNA test, HCM, or Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy which is diagnosed via ultrasound, Stenotic Nares, which are nostrils that are not patent or open allowing good air flow while breathing, but "pinched in" looking, which causes them to snuffle & wheeze. Again, this can be found in Persian family cats of BOTH head styles, & responsible, ethical show breeders will not use cats in their breeding program which are born with stenotic nares. There IS an operation that a good vet can perform which will correct this problem so the cat's nares can be open again & they will be better able to breathe normally.

Dysplasia, diagnosed by OFA certification x rays, more rarely found, but mostly found in the hips as they are a large cat. Munchkinizing these cats (creating Napoleons) is NOT in the cats' best interest, as then you are simply adding shorter legs to support the large body, & can cause undue stress on the cats' back, hips, & shoulders. The breed has a large head at birth, & C-sections are not uncommon.

Related: Napoleon Dwarf Cat

Number Three: Coat length has nothing to do with the head style of the cat. It has everything to do with the genetics the individual kitten is born with. If the parents have coat factor, most likely they will pass coat factor on their offspring. If one parent has coat factor & the other does not, the genetics have an equal chance of being one way or the other. It's a simple recessive gene.

Show style Persians however, have a much better chance of having a full, lush coat because the breeders study the genetics behind their cats, & know which ones have the coat factors & which do not. Pet quality Persians that get called doll faced cats can sometimes have wonderful coats if they have come down from lines which are genetically predisposed to coat factor.

But the breeders of these cats generally do not know about genetics or know what to breed for. If they did, they wouldn't be perpetuating this style of cat in the first place.

I have owned Persians since I was 5, & done rescue for them since 1990. The cats that I have had in rescue were surrendered for many reasons, & have been of both head styles. The VAST majority of litterbox problem Persians are directly related to being declawed! 99% of the ones I have had that were litterbox issue cats have been declawed, the other 1% were not.

RELATED: 63% of declawed cats have bone fragments in their toes. Go figure how that feels.

I have been able to turn approximately 90% of that total percentage around, but sadly have had to euthanize unrehabilitatable cats after many months of working with them, going through other foster homes in less stressful atmospheres, as well as placing several as only pets & having them bounce back for the same problem.

So if you declaw your cat, you are better than 95% more likely to have a cat with litterbox issues, as well as a cat that may develop biting habits because their first line of self-defense has been taken away.

Most of the other reasons for surrender is pregnancy & the ignorant doctors who know nothing of toxoplasmosis or it's transmission tell them to get rid of the cat, allergies to the cat that they are unwilling to work with, the cat doesn't get along with the other cat because they didn't introduce the cats correctly in the first place, etc.

Basically, not valid reasons, but excuses to make their responsibility as pet owners someone else's problem because they cannot be bothered any longer. Coat care has never been a reason for a cat's surrender into my rescue. If the owner cannot care for the long coat of a Persian, they wish to adopt from us, I recommend they take the cat to a groomer & have it clipped down into a lion cut.

Lisa James

Comments for
19 Years of Persian Cat Experience

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Apr 06, 2011 Persians and Litter Box issues?
by: Anonymous

Hi there,

I'm desperate to find a solution for our 3 year old Persian. She used to use the litter box very well, but in the last 4-5 months, she has stopped using the litterbox to defecate--she will still use it to pee, but now will poop in the corners of the room.

We haven't changed litter. I have tried her with a covered box as well as an open pan. We tried moving the litter box further from her food. Nothing seems to help.

Anything you can suggest will help! We're at a complete loss.

by: Anonymous

As somebody who has just become the owner of a rescued (and currently naked) Persian cat I am truly disgusted at breeding practices that have produced an animal that struggles to breathe or eat in a normal fashion. I have owned cats for 40 years and am well aware of the needs of long haired cats but Persians with 'doll faces' (a pet is not a toy1) seem to have a major disadvantage when it comes to cleaning themselves. And don't even get me started on the runny eyes.
However, Buffy is a charming friendly cat who ALWAYS uses a litter tray, despite spending a large part of her 4 year life in a concrete pen without bedding or a litter tray. Lucky for her that she was rescued from a 'breeder'.

Oct 21, 2010 genetics and extreme typing
by: Anonymous

If you have long been involved with Persians and know anything of the history of the breed (and not just the past few decades) then surely you know they did not always have the extreme facial type that is now the standard. These were cats admired by judges, breeders and the public. I don't see why someone choosing to breed that older type would be INHERENTLY less knowledgeable in genetics, or why someone knowledgeable in genetics would necessarily choose to breed an extreme type. In fact, when a breed goes in an extreme direction, with people choosing to breed to the most extreme sires of their time and abandoning old lines that are less extreme, the result in shrinking the gene pool might not be so healthy for the breed as a whole.

Normally I do feel people should breed to the breed standard. but in certain cases where the standard, or the interpretation of it, has changed so radically, I see a value to some breeders preserving genes from the more moderate lines.
But it does seem like there are a lot of less than responsible breeders breeding that type of Persians though. I guess it is partly a funciton of when you make a type an outlaw then outlaws will get involved with it. I would be curious to know if in Persians there is the equivalent of the organized and dedicated breeders and fanciers who put in a lot of work within the cat fancy and finally got the more moderate older type of Siamese accepted to be shown in TICA as the "Thai".

Sep 08, 2010 Ha.
by: Anonymous

"...these fancy names are simply names given to PET quality Persians, which are the cats that are bred by what we would refer to as back yard breeders who are not concerned with the breed standard."

"But the breeders of these cats generally do not know about genetics or know what to breed for. If they did, they wouldn't be perpetuating this style of cat in the first place."

Regardless of how ethical a breeder you are, these statements are pathetic and just shows how delusional people in the show world can be. It's disappointing that this site would publish an article of such poor quality.

Aug 02, 2010 My thoughts here.
by: Anonymous

"Doll Faced" and "Traditional" are not names officially accepted by cat registries but they carry specific meaning thus rendering them valid expressions. There is nothing wrong with using the terms and it annoys me to no end when show breeder partisans decide what words may or may not be used.

While the vast majority of the public prefer traditional Persians (with a moderate amount of face shortening to be sure) the cat breeding and showing folks have a preference for the extreme face. This is sort of a natural outgrowth of the nature of show competition - where minute differences in physical characteristics are all important in a highly competitive atmosphere. Therefore; type drifts evermore towards one extreme or the other. Anyone who is old enough, as I am, to remember Persians of the late 1960s, early 1970s can testify to the tremendous change taken place in the breed.

Keeping to a middle road is hard for show folks, who have a natural inclination to be extreme - in behavior, in pet care, in ideology, in preferences for type.

Excessive tearing is most certainly related to the facial structure of the Persians and HIGHLY correlated to the degree of brachycephalia present in the individual. ANY claims otherwise are hogwash and patent silliness. Even breeders readily admit that their cats tear and require high maintenance and (if white around the eyes) MAKE UP in the form of powder (i.e. Pandecat powder, Eye Envy powder, etc...) Many breeders actually use antibiotic eyedrops.

I think it's time for a "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" type expose to take place regarding cats.


Sep 01, 2009 Thanks for sharing your experience
by: Michael

Lisa, thank you for sharing your valuable experience. It is much appreciated. The declaw information is particularly good (or bad) to hear.

There is a reference on the Exotic Shorthair page to the Persian cat health problems. But your submission adds information.

I agree that the traditional Persian and Ultra Persian are Persian cats (the same cat). It is just that one cat is bred differently to the other and the CFA decided to allow one and not the other to be acceptable to them. That decision was fairly arbitrary and for me incorrect but I respect your views nonetheless.

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