Luxurious coat, doll face adorable little ears and eyes wide open of Persian cats conquered the hearts of millions all over the world! And now add to all that some charming markings, emphasizing the beauty of a fluffy cloud – and you can see a Himalayan cat!
The idea to breed a Persian cat of Siamese coloring occurred to many breeders, but it was the American pioneer breeder Virginia Cobb, who developed a breeding program in 1931 and after 5 years of work the first Himalayan cat appeared. In England, the work on Himalayan cats breeding began somewhat later, in the 1950s. Hard work of Mrs. Harding and Brian Stirling-Webb eventually brought results: in 1955 the breed was recognized by GCCA. “Persians in masks” provoked interest throughout the world, it was a kind of cat boom – a familiar Persian cat suddenly turns into a charming stranger.
However mating of Persians and Siamese cats affected not only the coloration, but also on the physique of kittens born. Himalayan kittens, unlike the Persians, were long-legged, had a lighter body and lost the roundness of forms. For this reason, Himalayans were isolated in a separate breed, but breeders continued adding the genetics of Persians, trying to return the original shape of these cats. And they succeeded: in 1984 the GFA commissioners recognized Himalayan cats as a variation of Persian breed. Today, the Himalayan cat breed may have different status depending on the organization: these cats may be considered as an independent breed, as a color variation of Persian cat breed or these two breeds (Persian and Himalayan) may be considered related and included in the same group.
Interestingly, one of the world's smallest cats is a Himalayan cat named Tinker Toy. It was so tiny that its dimensions are staggering: about 700 g of weight, about 8 cm of height, and only 19 cm of the body length! That was recorded in the Guinness book and the cat remains the world’s smallest cat even today. Tinker Toy belonged to a Forbes couple from Illinois. Scott and Catherine showed it to vets as a kitten, but the specialists came to the conclusion the Tinker Toy is a common dwarf-cat, which is rare, but still may happen not only among people but also among cats.
Persian and Himalayan cats in different systems have either single or nearly identical standard. Like the Persians, Himalayan cats have compact body, and their legs and tail shouldn’t be long. Neck, shoulders, chest and croup are strong, well-developed and broad. The skull is rounded and wide, the muzzle is flat and quite broad. The nose should be a bit lower than the eye level, but there is an extreme type (like in Persians) when nose is almost on par with the eyes. Large round eyes of Himalayans should be deep blue. Ears small, rounded and half hidden by the fluffy coat.
Modern Himalayan cats differ from Persians not only in color. The coat is long, flowing, very soft and pleasant to the touch. On the head and on the paws the hairs are slightly shorter than on the body. The tail is decorated with the longest fluffy hair. The Himalayan cat Tinker-toy had a Seal Point coat: light brown color with rich brown markings that blackout muzzle, ears, paws and tail. Another beautiful coloring is Blue Point: blue marks on the almost white body with a light steel shade. The pet looks like a weightless cloud – so neat, airy and touchy. There are many color variations, but it’s important there were contrast markings with clear boundaries on a light-colored coat. Markings may be not only solid, but also stripped or spotted (tortoiseshell).
Himalayan cat are true royals! They are independent, autonomous and even somewhat stubborn, with a great sense of self-esteem. They are attached to their owner but rarely show their love by keeping a certain distance. The breed is perfect for the role of a pet, rarely bothering with meowing, playing and not demanding any affection.
Rough handling, physical coercion and any rudeness won’t be tolerated – it will release its claws rightly annoyed by such outrageous behavior. Himalayan cat is created to be admired, loved and treated with respect – only in this case the pet will be happy and show its affection. For this reason the breed is not very suitable for families with little kids, if the parents are not able to monitor the behavior of their children.
Housing and care
Himalayan cat breed is suitable only for people who enjoy cat grooming. Without regular combing and bathing your fluffy beauty quickly turns into a pitiful creature with dirty coat is full of tangles. Eyes of these cats also require attention – lacrimal paths need daily care and secretions congestions may lead to eye disease. To the delight of the breed lovers, these cats have strong nervous system and high intelligence: the pet quietly endures all treatments and grooming, knowing that no one wants to offend it.
Tinker Toy from Illinois was the exception to the rule. In Himalayan cat litters dwarfs aren’t born more often than among other breed. But Himalayans have enough health problems: hereditary heart disease and kidney failure, asymmetry of the jaws, respiratory failure and multiple eye diseases. Like Persians, these cats can’t be called genetically healthy. However, breeders exclude defective cats from breeding, and therefore it won’t be a problem to buy a healthy kitten without congenital diseases. The most important thing is to buy a kitten in a good nursery.