Other names: Himalayan Persian, Colourpoint Persian
Taking its name from a breed of rabbits with an identical coat, the Himalayan is a type of Persian. While on the other side of the Atlantic, where they are particularly popular, these cats are considered a breed in their own right, some European countries have classed them as simply a variety of Persian since the 1980s. Their mixture of Persian and Siamese genes makes for a cat that is sweet and affectionate, but also sociable and playful.
Key facts about the Himalayan
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Origins and history
The Himalayan shares the mysterious origins of the Persian, which is thought to have originated from the East. But the first research into this breed began in the United States and Sweden in the 1930s. At the end of 1940s, Great Britain and the United States set up breeding programmes to obtain Colourpoint Persians by crossing black and blue Persians and a semi-long haired Siamese. It wasn’t until 1955 and 1957 that the two countries respectively recognised the breed. Himalayans are quite popular in North America, unlike in Europe where they are not so common.
Physical characteristics of the Himalayan
Female : Between 12 and 14 in
Male : Between 12 and 14 in
They continue growing until they reach about 18 to 24 months.
Female : Between 7 and 11 lb
Male : Between 7 and 11 lb
Black / seal, blue / slate grey, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, fawn, red, white
All colourpoint varieties are accepted.
Type of coat
Long. Their shiny coat boasts a generous undercoat.
The blue-eye gene is associated with the colourpoint.
Their physique is identical to the Persian’s. Medium in size, these are round, robust cats with short legs. They have a strong bone structure and powerful musculature. Their head is broad and round, with little ears on top. In between their two big, round eyes sits a small, turned-up nose with a stop between the eyes. They sport a beautiful, generous collar. Their tail is short and straight and their paws are round and big. The ACFA, the American association of cat breeds, specifies that their front paws must be polydactyl, meaning five-fingered.
Good to know
The Himalayan is a movie star! Sassy, a cat who accompanies two dogs in Homeward Bound (1993) and then in its sequel (1996) is a Colourpoint Persian. A Himalayan also stars alongside Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents (2000) and Meet the Fockers (2004).
These cats can spend hours on their human’s lap, purring in pleasure at all the scratches and strokes.
Himalayans are more playful than Persians since they have inherited the genes of the Siamese. They can sometimes be very mischevious.
Sweetness and a calm nature are some of their primary qualities.
Sometimes described as mischievous and impish, these cats are very intelligent and will surprise you from time to time!
Fearful / wary of strangers
These kitties are quite sociable and not necessarily fearful of strangers, but they may just take a little longer to acclimatise.
Himalayans love to be the centre of attention and to be close to their humans. They need attention and do not deal very well with being left alone.
Behaviour of the Himalayan
Himalayans do sometimes miaow, but they can make themselves understood with a look alone.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Daily play sessions are just fine, but they should be limited and low-intensity because of the Himalayan’s morphology.
Tendency to run away
Himalayans much prefer the comfort of their own home to outdoor escapades.
Greedy / Gluttony
These peaceful gourmands have a tendency to stuff themselves. Use interactive bowls to limit their nutritional intake and stimulate them physically and intellectually at the same time.
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Himalayan and cats
Life within a feline community can suit these cats as long as the environment is suitable and the introduction is done in the right way.
Himalayan and dogs
Being on the calmer side, they will get on well with dogs who share this character trait.
Himalayan and children
Being quite playful, Himalayans enjoy the company of children who are gentle and respectful with them. Just watch out for boisterous children, who won’t get along well with this feline!
Himalayan and the elderly
Himalayans are without a doubt one of the most commonly recommended cats for keeping calmer people company, provided the person is able to see to the cat’s daily grooming needs.
The average purchase price of a Himalayan kitten is approximately £500, with price varying depending on the lineage, breeding, age and even the sex. For your monthly budget you should allow on average £35 per month to meet their needs, by offering them a high-quality diet and ensuring to keep them in good health.
The grooming needs of Himalayans are particularly demanding: they must be brushed daily to prevent knots from developing and to get rid of any dead fur. The easiest way to deal with this is with a bath, followed by a thorough drying. The long fur on their hindquarters can sometimes be soiled by their stool, so it must be checked regularly. Cutting and trimming will be necessary from time to time to make maintenance easier.
Their eyes and the sides of their nose must also be cleaned daily because of the cat’s flat face. Secretions can actually colour their light fur and cause infections. You should also check the cleanliness of their ears regularly.
Like all Persians, the Himalayan loses a lot of fur.
Nutrition of the Himalayan
The choice of your cat’s food is heavily dependent on the physical and morphological characteristics of that particular breed. To maintain the brilliance of the Himalayan’s fur and their all-around good health, the food you choose must be of a very high quality.
Health of the Himalayan
Himalayans have quite a wide-ranging life expectancy since it depends on the individual and their genetic characteristics. They tend to live for between 10 and 15 years.
Strong / robust
These are house cats to a T, and extreme temperatures certainly aren’t for them!
Tendency to put on weight
Being such greedy homebodies, these cats can pretty easily become a little overweight. The quality and quantity of food you give them should therefore be closely monitored. Interactive bowls could be a good feeding solution as your cat will be both physically and intellectually stimulated.
Like many cat breeds, Persians - and therefore Himalayans - have a predisposition to certain hereditary diseases:
- Polycystic kidney: cysts appear gradually and slowly on the kidneys, hindering their proper functioning. There is a screening test for this disease.
- Idiopathic cystitis: this inflammation of the bladder is often observed in castrated males. There are many causes but they are often unidentified.
- Urolithiasis (or urinary stones): these usually appear after the age of 7, mostly in males and sterilised individuals
- Basal Cell Tumor: mostly benign, these skin tumors are often located within the head or the neck
- Sebaceous gland tumor: these benign skin tumors can be isolated or multiple
- Hypertrophic heart disease: heart disease characterised by thickening of the myocardium
- Pericardial diaphragmatic hernia: anomaly of the development of the diaphragm leading to the abdominal organ passage in the pericardial cavity
- Progressive atrophy of the retina that causes vision loss almost from birth
- Corneal sequestration (or necrosis of the cornea)
- Coloboma of the eyelids: malformation of the external part of the upper eyelids
- Entropion: malformation causing the edge of the eyelid to fold inwards
- Idiopathic epiphora: tear secretion anomaly relating to the shape of the cat's head
- Ringworm: mycosis, normally developing on the back or at the base of the tail, causing ulcerated nodules
- Testicular cryptorchidism / monorchidism: non-descent of both or one testicles
- They can also suffer from the same conditions as all domestic cats, including oral diseases.
It is advisable to carefully monitor your cat’s health from the age of about 7, with annual checkups at the vet.
As with Persians, Himalayans tend to give birth to smaller litters. The labour / farrowing process must be supervised as these cats are at particularly high risk - kittens with a large head may be difficult to expel, and caesarians are quite common.