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 several 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!
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.
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.
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.