With the name “Persian” you would have thought that this long established cat breed came from Persia, now Iran, or at least somewhere east of Europe. However, on the basis of “DNA microsatellite evidence” the Persian cat belongs to the random bred cats of Europe and America. For the record, I am not going to try and explain what “DNA microsatellite evidence” means except that it is a form of DNA testing which is much more accurate in respect of tracing the origin of cat breeds than any other method to date.
So, we can conclusively say that the Persian cat is a European/American creation, can we? It seems that way.
The CFA Persian Breed Council describes the origin of this cat very well, I think. The author says the origins are “muddled” but most experts agree that “longhaired cats were brought into Europe from points East”, whereupon they were cross bred with cat breeds such as the British Shorthair and Turkish Angora. If that is the case shouldn’t there be some DNA in the modern Persian that links it with areas east of Europe such as Iran, Turkey and Russia? Apparently not.
Perhaps all traces of the original Persian cats have been selectively bred away over 150 years of intense breeding. However, I am not sure that it is possible to erase all traces of DNA from long haired cats from the Near East if that is where they came from.
On the basis that the DNA testing is correct, all I can say is, “what a shame”. One of the most important factors in distinguishing cat breeds is their history and origin. A good history based on a verifiable origin helps to make a cat breed more popular. The cat fancy likes cat breed histories particularly for the so called “natural breeds” – breeds that evolved in a geographical area.
If all we can say is that the famous Persian cat is a European and American moggie at the molecular level, it takes some of the glamour away from the cat.
Associated page: Persian cat history.