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Persian cats are medium to large in size and have stocky bodies with short thick legs. Their chests are deep and broad while their shoulders and hips are about equal in width. Persians have well-rounded midsections, but their muscles are well developed. Their well-rounded heads have domed foreheads, and their short necks make it appear that their heads sit directly on top of their shoulders. Full cheeks and a broad snub nose make them easy to recognize. Persians have large, round eyes that are set wide apart and may be in various brilliant colors that conform to their coats. Their wide-set ears are small with rounded tips, and they tilt forward. The legs are straight, and the feet are firm and well rounded with long tufts of hair between the toes. The tails are considerably fluffy, and the tail length is in proportion to the body length. Persian cats are known for their thick coats of fur that can be as long as six inches or fifteen centimeters in length. The fur is soft and dense.

Persian cats are calm and gentle animals and are quite lovable. They enjoy being admired and pampered and also enjoy company but are not demanding of attention. Persian cats also have a quality of serenity that enables them to sit like statues for long periods of time.

Daily grooming is required to keep a Persian cat clean and healthy. A big part of this comes with taking care of the eyes, which should be cleaned daily. Daily grooming of the fur is necessary as well since Persians shed all year long. If the dead hair is not regularly removed, matting and hairballs may plague the cat. Metal combs or brushes with long wire or natural bristles are recommended.

There are many varieties of Persian cats. Varieties are based on what colors the cats are, whether their colors are solid or shaded, and what pattern if any is visible in their fur. In the United States, all colors of Persian cats compete on the same standards at cat shows. Cats with pointed colors are called Himalayan Persians in most associations, but in other associations, they are still classified as Himalayans and judged as a separate breed. In Britain, Persians are referred to as Colorpoint Longhairs.

In the solid color division, there are whites, creams, blacks, blues, reds, lilacs, and chocolates. All of these have brilliant copper eyes except for the white ones. Blue or copper eyes are found in white cats, or each eye may be a different color with one usually being blue and the other copper or yellow. In the shaded division, there are the chinchilla silver, goldens, cameos (white with red tips), as well as chinchilla and shaded versions of all the solid colors. The smoke division includes such colors as black smoke, cream smoke, blue smoke, cameo smoke, chocolate smoke, lilac smoke, and tortoiseshell smoke. Cats in the smoke class usually have copper eyes. In the tabby class, there are blue, brown, cameo, chocolate, cream, lilac, red, silver, and patched tabbies. Each one comes in four tabby patterns. The patterns are classic (patched), ticked, mackerel, and spotted. Most tabby cats have copper eyes. The tortoiseshell is the smallest section and consists of blue creams, chocolate creams, lilac creams, and tortoiseshell (red and black). This pattern is comprised of two colors that are randomly splotched all over the cat. Their eyes are typically copper colored. The particolor division or bicolor division is made up of calicos (white with red and black splotches), blue calico, chocolate calico, and lilac calico. In addition, any of the solid, smoke, shaded, tabby, or tortoiseshell colors with the addition of white will fall in this category. Their eyes are typically copper to orange in color. Himalayans fall into the newest division. This covers seal point, blue point, chocolate point, lilac point, red point, tortie point, and lynx point. All Himalayans should have blue eyes.

The original Persian cats most likely developed a spontaneous mutation that gave them their long coats as a way to protect them from the cold climate. These cats became well known in Europe in the 1600s and were among the first breeds to be registered and shown. They were first called longhairs, and that term was used until the early 1960s when in the United States they were then called Himalayans. In Britain, they are still called longhairs, and each color is considered a separate breed. Many of the Persian cats found in the United States today came from the mating of Angora and Maine Coon cats. Many outstanding Persians in various blues were produced in Britain in the 1940s and 1950s, and they eventually became part of the breeding stock in United States catteries. The average cost of a Persian cat varies but usually averages between $350 and $500.