Modern Persian cat with lion cut - photo by Muffet (Flickr)
The Persian cat coat is too long. Is that correct? I am writing about the modern Persian cat, the cat with the flat face and exceptionally long fur that looks fantastic when it has been groomed daily (or more - not sure) but becomes matted fairly quickly if it is not groomed regularly by the human caretaker. The fact that the condition of the coat demands the input of a person indicates pretty conclusively to me that Persian cat breeders have gone too far in selectively breeding a cat with hair that the cat herself cannot keep in good condition. That is an unnatural state of affairs, isn't it?
The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) breed standard for the contemporary Persian states that the coat should be: "long and thick, standing off from the body. Of fine texture, glossy and full of life. Long all over the body, including the shoulders.The ruff immense and continuing in a deep frill between the front legs. Ear and toe tufts long. Brush very full." The CFA promote the flat faced very long haired Persian.
Well it just states that the fur should be long and thick. How long is long? The judges at cat shows decide that. And cat breeders will want to please cat show judges. In the desire to breed a cat with long hair to satisfy the judges' interpretation of the breed standard there will be a tendency to go too far and breed a cat with hair that is unnaturally long. This tendency to go too far is apparent in the Persian cat's face. It is overly flat, unnatural and unhealthy.
The natural course of human endeavour will lead to extremes. In the matter of cat breeding this should be resisted on cat health grounds.
Cat breeders have the commitment and time to regularly groom their Persian cats. But their customers, you and I, often have neither the time nor commitment to groom the cat's coat regularly. Also, the customer may not have realistic expectations about the demands of a cat with exceptionally long fur. It would seem that cat breeders breed cats for their own enjoyment and are not overly concerned with ensuring that the cat is cared for properly after sale. That is perhaps a bit harsh but cat grooming businesses and veterinary surgeries seem to get a regular supply of Persian cats with matted fur to deal with. I might be wrong on that but that is the impression I get.
Once the cat's coat becomes matted it becomes impossible to groom and that presents a barrier to further grooming. The downward spiral begins and the only way forward is to shave fur. This is sometimes done in a proactive way through the lion cut (see picture heading page).
Persian cats should have fur that the cat can maintain in the usual way without the support of a human.
Traditional Doll Face Persian Cat - does the breed standard insist on a flat face?