Monday 14 April 2008

Pictures of Persian Cats

Pictures of Persian Cats are as popular as Persian cats and Persian cats are in the top 5 of the most popular cats. I am pleased to note that a considerable number of people go to rescue centers when considering keeping a Persian cat.

Some of the best photographs of this breed are by Helmi Flick. Some more great photographs have been taken by Dani Rozeboom. These are my favorite cat photographers. Helmi is probably the most well known and respected cat photographer worldwide.

Traditional Persian Cat
Pictures of Persian Cats - Cristalline by Dani. It's the Wow factor again. This is one of the cats living with Dani and Rick at her cattery Yeri Shaes in Almere, Netherlands. The photograph is copyright Dani and is reproduced as is all her work on my website with her permission. She is a traditional Persian orange eyed cat with gleaming white fur. She was born on 22nd May 2007 making her about one year old at the time of this post. Her full name is Kristal Cristalline and her nicknames are Christalline and Kristalletje. Another white traditional Persian with orange eyes, who lived with Dani and Rick, was Yeri. The cattery is named after him and I built a page in memory of him on the website.

Traditional Persian Cat
Yes, here is Christalline again. These two pictures are so good I had to reproduce them both here. Photograph copyright Dani.

In addition to these two great photographers, there are a lot of amateurs or semi-professionals who are talented and some of their work can be seen on Flickr. The problem is there are a lot of photographer on Flickr so it takes time to find the really good stuff. I reproduce some of the best here. These are more or less chosen at random from the best that I can reproduce under the creative commons license.

Traditional Persian Cat
Pictures of Persian Cats - Traditional Persian cat - black tortoiseshell coat. Photo copyright seb79. You can read about the black tortoiseshell coat by clicking on this link.

There a many people, the vast majority in fact, who prefer the traditional look. This is in relation to the Persian and the Siamese. Polls conducted on the Pictures of Cats website indicate that 78% of visitors to the site prefer the Doll Face (traditional) Persian. As the Siamese the proportion is even higher; 81% prefer the traditional Siamese appearance as opposed to the remaining 19% preferring the Modern Siamese. The traditional Siamese is called the Thai in TICA.

Persian cat
Pictures of Persian Cats - Heather, a golden shaded Persian. She is a traditional appearance. She was photographed by Helmi Flick for the Stardazl cattery for the cover of United Silver Fanciers. She has lovely "ear furnishings" - the hair coming out of her ears.

Persian cat sleeping on a bed
Photo copyright misplacedparadox (these names are Flickr usernames). I chose this picture as one in contrast to the others, more informal and it portrays the vulnerability of this lovely small Persian cat. It also shows the tenderness of the photographer and keeper towards the cat who I think is a female. Misplaced guesswork probably!

Pictures of Persian Cats to Persian Cats the transformation from Doll Face to Ultra.

Burmilla Health

Burmilla Health - As mentioned in the post on the history and origins of this cat breed, the Burmilla's founding cats are the Burmese and Persian (Chinchilla coat). The Persian cat breed is known to suffer from a number of disorders including the genetic disorder PKD - Polycystic Kidney Disease (apparently about one third of all purebred Persians contract PKD).


This disease is nasty. Cysts form in the kidneys. It can lead to renal failure, which kills as you might expect.

Accordingly, the Burmilla may have inherited this disease. Good breeders will screen for it by DNA testing. This ensures as near as possible that the breeding program operated by the breeder is free of this disease. Enquire about this with the breeder. They should have medical documentation certifying that their cats are free of PKD.

Genetic Defect USA Burmese

As for the Burmese cat the other founding parent cat of the Burmilla, it might be useful to mention that the USA Burmese carries a genetic defect that occasionally rears its ugly head in the form of the birth of kittens with deformed heads - quite tragic really. These kittens are killed. I do not know how this gene is or isn't transmitted to the Burmilla. It is probably transmitted but is recessive so is rarely seen. I'd ask about and watch for this as well, though. This disorder does not affect UK Burmese cats apparently.

Burmilla Health to Home Page

Chinchilla Persian Cats

Chinchilla Persian Cats are Persian cats with chinchilla coats (I guess that sounds obvious but it might not if you are not part of the cat fancy). So, what is a Chinchilla coat like? Chinchilla is one of a range of tipped coloration of the hair of a cat. Tipped coloration means that the tip or top of the each individual hair shaft is a different color to the rest of the hair strand. The color near the top of the hair strand is called the "top color" and the different color below the top extending to the base of the hair strand is called the "under color".

China the greedy Chinchilla Persian who loves Coco Pops. Picture: Kennedy News.

The hair shaft is then made up of two colors. In tabby cats the hair shaft is also more than one color but the shaft is banded all the way down. The Chinchilla though is genetically a tabby cat despite the "banding" of the hair being very different. In Chinchilla Persian Cats the tipping is very light. This is because the very tip of the hair shaft is colored and the rest of the hair shaft is colored silver giving a light sparkly appearance. 

Chinchilla Persian cats are probably the most well known and desirable of all cats with this type of coat. The Silver Chinchilla has fur with a black tip and white under color. A short haired cat with the same markings is the Burmilla. The degree of tipping can vary. When the top color extends about half way down the shaft of hair the tipping is called "shaded". When the top color almost reaches the bottom of the hair the tipping is called "smoke". 

 Persians are the obvious choice of cat to show of this kind of coat pattern because their fur is the longest in the cat fancy (as far as I am aware - sometimes, it could be argued, too long). This allows the tipping of the hair to take on a very interesting, fine and exotic appearance.

A rescued Chinchilla Persian shaved for health reasons. Photo: Rex/Shutterstock.

Tipping, shading and smoked coats in Persian cats go back a long way to the earliest moments of the cat fancy. Apparently, the origin is in a female named Chinnie in 1882. The word "chinchilla" also describes a type of cloth or fabric. I am not sure if the name for the cat coat came from this or the other way around. The name of the tabby cat comes from a type of silk found originally in a particular area of Baghdad in Iraq so I am guessing that the cat coat called Chinchilla followed the name of the cloth - wrong? please tell me.

Sunday 13 April 2008

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.

Persian Himalyan Cat to Home Page

Black Persian Cat

Black Persian Cat - The cat immediately below is a young male Smoke Black Ultra Persian Cat photographed by Helmi at a CFA cat show. Photograph copyright Helmi Flick. Helmi calls the photo "High Fives". I love the way Ken (the cat wrangler) gets the cats into such great action poses which are captured so well by Helmi. This cat was three months old at the time of this photograph. He was one of Helmi's favourites at the cat show that day.

Young Smoke Black Ultra Persian Cat
Photo copyright Helmi Flick
In a "smoke" cat coat, the bottom one eight of each hair strand is a creamy white or white. This part of the fur becomes visible when the cat moves as in the picture above. The remainder of the hair is a solid color, in this case black. 

This effect is not caused by the Agouti gene but an inhibitor gene (I guess it inhibits the spread of the black pigmentation throughout the hair strand). A Black Persian Cat is, in my experience of searching for photographs of cats, quite a rare cat. 

Here is straight black Persian by Helmi Flick again. This is an ultra-Persian or extreme bred.

Black Persian Cat

Black is certainly one of the rarer coat types for a Persian cat. Yet for the humble Moggie black and variations on it, is very common. Other than pure black the Tuxedo comes to mind.

When I say traditional Persian, I mean the more normal facial conformation and not the squashed faced cat which is sometimes called an Ultra Persian. The header picture by Helmi Flick is of an Ultra Persian. You can read about how cats become black cat by clicking on this link. One purebred cat that has to be black is the Bombay. This cat is selectively bred to be a shimmering black like a Panther. 

She is one a group of purebred cats that are designed to look like wild cats.

There is a lot of history behind the black cat. Some people consider them unlucky, some lucky and some in-between, basically there is a mass of superstition in relation to black cats. Despite being unlucky for some, black cats may also be able to help us understand more about how cells in our body defend themselves from infection. 

The tabby (particularly brown tabby) cat is the most common cat coat color and pattern. You can see some great tabby cats by clicking on this link and see all the cat coat colors as well with summarizes descriptions as to how the coats come about.

Black Persian Cat
Black ultra-Persian. Picture in the public domain.

Persians like to sit and watch. I love the expression on his face. The brown tabby is the most common because it is the most successful as it affords the cat the greatest protection in terms of camouflage. Cat coats evolve pursuant to Darwinian principles. A successful UK wildcat that has survived against the odds and that has a brown tabby coat is the Scottish Wildcat. The American equivalent is the American Bobcat. So why do some cats have black coats? Why did black coats evolve at all? The Black Panther (a melanistic Jaguar) wild cat comes to mind.

Research carried out in America (at the National Cancer Institute and University of Maryland) indicates that the gene that produces black fur (or more accurately the pigmentation in the fur) also plays a role in boosting genetic resistance to diseases. The main function of the gene in Jaguars is to regulate what passes through the membrane of the cells of the body. The gene is one of a group of genes called 7-transmembrane receptors. In regulating what can get into a cell the gene is able to help improve resistance to viruses that need to enter cells to survive. 

 The argument is that the black fur gene has evolved because it serves more than one purpose, one at least of which improves the cat's chance of survival. It could also be argued that black fur increases the chances of survival as well as cats commonly hunt at dusk and at night and obviously black makes them less visible. Cats have developed specialist eyesight to see better in the dark. Persian cats are well known for their long fur. 

Some might argue that it is too long sometimes as it needs regular grooming by the human keeper and the cat should stay indoors to prevent the coat picking up dirt and other objects. The gene that produces this, sometimes exceptionally long, fur is called the Long hair gene (strange that :-). In the dominant form (L) it is produces short hair and in the recessive (l) form it codes for long hair. In long haired cats the recessive gene delays the time at which hair growth stops. Apparently the technical term for hair growth is anagen. Sources:
  • BBC
Black Persian Cat to Pictures of Persian Cats

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