One of the most popular long-haired breeds, the Himalayan cat has a fluffy coat with sultry colour points and stunning bright blue eyes. Affectionately called ‘Himmies’ they are sweet-natured, adaptable, people oriented cats and make great indoor companions.
Himalayans are a medium sized cat with a luxurious, long fluffy coat in a variety of sultry colour points including chocolate, blue, lilac, seal, flame or cream. Much like their Persian relatives, they have soft lines with full cheeks, large round eyes, and small ears that are rounded off at the tips. A short strong neck supports a large round head with squashed looking facial features and vivid blue eyes. Himalayan cats possess a muscular body with short thick legs that end in large round paws. The tail is short, but deceptively so, as it is proportional to the length of the body.
Himalayans are gentle, docile creatures who are perfect for children as they will rarely complain about being played with – but gently does it please. They will generally form a strong attachment to their family members and with guests who have earned their trust.
Himalayan cats are ground dwellers who would rather survey their world from the comfort of a chair, the floor or your warm lap, rather than from the top of a refrigerator or bookcase. As they don’t prefer high perches this precludes Himalayans from being the type of cat who will climb your curtains or jump up onto the kitchen bench.
Himalayans have the type of relaxed, sweet-natured personality which readily accepts the attention they are so deserving of, but the confidence and poise to never demand it. However, they do like regular meals and will let you know if you are late with a gentle reminder by way of their soft melodic voice.
The Himalayan cat breed was created through cross breeding Persian and Siamese cats specifically for the Siamese coat colours and the blue eyes. The whole process started with a young kitten named Newton’s Debutante in 1931 – the original intention was to discover exactly how Siamese colour point genes were passed on.
In 1957 the Himalayan cat was recognised as a breed in its own right by the Cat Fanciers Association but they later changed the designation to a variety of Persian in the 1980s. Other cat registries recognise the Himalayan as a separate breed.
Today Himalayan cats are crossed with Persians or sometimes Exotic Shorthairs – the Siamese is no longer included in the breeding program.
Did You Know?
A blue-point Himalayan male named Tinker Toy holds the record as the world’s smallest cat. He measured a mere 7 cms (2.75 inches) tall and 19 cms (7.5 inches) long.
Caring for Your Himalayan Cat
Due to their long, fluffy double coats, Himalayan cats have higher grooming requirements than many other breeds and require daily brushing in order to prevent their coat from matting. Daily grooming will also prevent hairballs which can be a problem in any long-haired breed. Regular baths are also recommended so start when your Himalayan is a kitten to get him used to the idea.
As a result of their flat face, Himalayan cats can be subject to breathing problems or may be sensitive to extreme temperature changes especially heat. Watery eyes can also be a concern – to prevent tear staining around your cat’s eyes, simply wash with a warm cloth daily.
In terms of genetic health problems, the Himalayan breed can also be prone to inherit polycystic kidney disease.
If you have a Himalayan cat in your life, please share your experiences below.
Image: Joseph Morris via Flickr