Persian Himalyan Cat

The Persian Himalyan Cat is affectionately called a Himmie and some of the best pictures of Himmies come from Dani Rozeboom first and foremost and then the best Flickr photographers. A Himmie as you might know is a Persian with a pointed coat. The term Himalayan is used in America. The history of a lot of the purebred domestic cats is often a little hazy but not in this case.

Himalayan Cat
Persian Himalyan Cat photo copyright Lithoglyphic under Creative Commons

The breed began and then abruptly stopped in the 1930's (which is early in history of the cat fancy, bearing in mind that things generally only started in the 1890s) in America when a cat breeder and a Harvard scientist (I believe) produced a color pointed long haired cat as an experimental and learning exercise. Once completed this short lived program stopped. The history thereafter of the Persian Himalayan Cat, in outline, is as follows:

In the 1950s there was a simultaneous awakening in three countries to the long haired pointed cat. In England a color point stray called "Bubastis Georgina" interested a cat breeder, Brian Stirling-Webb, and he joined with another breeder and developed the breed.

Himalayan Cat
Himalyan cat, a Red point. Her full name is Afina Pallada's Aphrodite del Mar. Her nicknames are: Ayla, Poppenkop, Grobbetrol. She lives with Dani and Rick at Cattery Yeri Shaes, which is located in Almere in the Netherlands.

In America a cat breeder and rancher, Ben Borrett, started a similar breeding program and made contact with Brian in England and imported some color point longhairs for the program.

Finally in another cat breeder in the US, Marguerita Goforth, also started a program of development of a long haired color point. This seems to have started accidentally as she agreed to take care someone's cat, a long haired color point. It wuold seem that there was news that this cat was in the development which prompted one to follow the other.

Himalayan Cat
Himalyan Kitten demonstrating his/her athletic prowess in mountaineering skills. Photograph is copyright Nico. The photographs illustrating this post are reproduced under creative commons if they aren't by Dani Rozeboom. Dani has given her permission.

The development of the Persian Himalayan cat continued uneventfully it seems and the associations recognized this breed in 1955 (GCCF) and 1957 (CFA). At the outset the CFA recognized these color points: Seal (the classic dark point), chocolate, blue and lilac. Thereafter other colors were gradually recognized until 1987 when the Chocolate Tortie Point and Lilac Cream Point were recognized. The development went well then. Or did it?

Himmie cat
Flame Point Persian Himalayan cat - photograph copyright Gini~. The flame point was recognized by the CFA in 1964.

The history is uneventful, the appearance is stunning. The health? Not so good. I don't know if it is me being grumpy or something but having always lived with mixed breed cats I never thought about genetic disorders. But the breeding of purebred cats in liable to result in defects due to recessive genes coming to the surface due to line breeding or inbreeding. Line breeding is the way to fix and maximize the good characteristics of a cat but the bad characteristics are liable to become apparent more frequently. That requires culling of cats with bad characteristics and I don't like the thought of that. This is something we don't hear much about from breeders of the Persian Himalyan Cat.

The Himmie is a Persian cat and Persian cats can have genetic disorders such as the heart disease HCM and PKD (a kidney disease). You can read more about these on this page. The Ultra faced Persians and therefore Himmies can also suffer from tear duct overflow. These are all breeding related issues and I am surprised that they seem to be accepted as part of the process of breeding. Perhaps these sorts of disorders are in fact a necessary spin off from the process of breeding for the desired type (the breed standard). Note: the Himmies illustrating this post are traditional cats i.e. not extreme faced cats.


Ayla again as she is so fantastic. Photo copyright Dani Rozeboom

You can read and see more on this cat breed and some more photos of Ayla on the main site.

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