Medium to large.
Usually Good With:
4 to 8 hours per day.
Needs lots of attention.
Easy to handle.
|In the CFA,
the Himalayan is considered a division of the Persian
breed. They are known as Pointed Pattern Persians. Persians who carry
the recessive colorpoint
gene are called Colorpoint Carriers and are given a different registration
number for breeding purposes. Because they have a copy of the colorpoint
gene, they can produce Himalayan kittens if mated to a cat that also
possesses a copy of the colorpoint gene, even if both parents do not
show the colorpoint pattern in their physical appearance.
The Himalayan, a gorgeous cat with the color and pattern of the
Siamese but the body and coat of the Persian, was deliberately created
in 1950 by American breeder Marguerita Goforth. Soon after Goforth's
success, British breeders also achieved the same goal. By crossbreeding
Persians and Siamese and then crossing the resulting offspring,
these breeders succeeded in producing the desired appearance. These
innovative breeders weren’t the first to try, but they were
the first to attempt to establish this new variety as a distinct
breed. In 1955 the British Governing
Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) recognized the Himalayan under
the name Colorpoint Longhair. The American associations CFA
recognized the breed in 1957 under the name Himalayan, named for
the color pattern found in other animals such as the Himalayan rabbit.
By 1961, all major U.S. cat associations that existed at that time
recognized the Himalayan.
In 1984, CFA united the Himalayan and the Persian breeds, and the
Himalayan became a color division rather than a separate breed.
By that time, the body type was the same for both breeds and only
the colors and pattern remained of the Siamese ancestors. And since
the breeders needed to cross their Himalayans to Persians occasionally
to maintain the ideal body and head type, registration and status
problems had arisen for the hybrid offspring. Before 1984 in CFA,
the Persian and Himalayan were two separate breeds, and the hybrid
offspring of the two were not considered true members of either
breed. Now, as varieties of the same breed, the offspring can be
registered and shown in whatever color division they belong.
The decision was controversial, however, and not everyone was happy
with the new policy. Some of the Persian breeders didn’t like the
idea of hybrids being introduced into their pure Persian bloodlines.
Some Himalayan breeders were equally concerned about the breed they
had worked so hard to refine. In fact, a group of fanciers so strongly
disagreed with the new policy that they split from CFA and formed
their own organization, the National Cat Fanciers’ Association (NCFA).
Today, whether the Himalayan is considered a breed in its own right
depends upon the association. In CFA and ACA
Himalayans are considered a color division of the Persian breed.
However, in the AACE,
the Himalayan is considered a separate breed and has its own breed
standard. In TICA,
the Himalayan is included in the Persian Breed Group, which includes
the Persian, Himalayan, and Exotic Shorthair. They share a standard
but each breed is mentioned and the differences noted.
However, because Himalayans are regularly crossed with Persians,
most of these associations have special rules for Himalayan-Persian
hybrids. In TICA, for example, Persian, Himalayan and Exotic
hybrids or variants may be shown as the breed they resemble. That
means if a cross between a Persian and a Himalayan results in offspring
who look like Himalayans, they can be registered and shown as Himalayans.
If an Exotic-to-Exotic mating produces, say, a longhaired tabby,
he can be registered and shown as a Persian. In ACFA, non-pointed
Himalayans are included in the Himalayan standard, allowing them
to be shown as that breed. This makes it much easier for breeders
and avoids the problem of breeders ending up with kittens who can’t
be bred or shown for championship.
Each year, the Himmie proves its popularity by recruiting more
humans into its exclusive club. This is hard for some to understand,
since membership requires becoming a cat hair stylist. However,
Himalayan owners say it’s no secret—and no contest;
the Himmie is the most poised, loving and sweet breed who ever padded
around the planet. It’s all about personality. The regal Himmie
is a sedate and affectionate cat, preferring to cuddle with you
rather than climb your favorite curtains. Responsive to your moods
and emotions, Himalayans share your joys and help you bear your
Tranquil doesn’t mean unintelligent, although breeders say that’s
a common misconception. Like most cats, Himmies spend a lot of time
learning how to wrap their people around their little paws so they
can get just what they want. That doesn’t mean they don’t love you—they’re
just being cats.
Some breeders say that there are differences in personality between
the Himalayan and the Persian. Others claim there are no differences,
and this could very well depend upon the bloodline, since different
traits can be concentrated in different lines. Some breeders say
Himmies tend to talk more (a gift from their Siamese ancestors,
no doubt) and have a more slightly active temperament. Don’t
worry, though—Himalayans don’t keep you awake with their
yowling the way Siamese are prone to do. They have soft, pleasant
Himalayans crave affection and love to be petted, but don’t
demand attention the way some breeds will. If they are not getting
the requisite amount of attention, however, they let you know by
quiet meows and meaningful stares with those big, wide eyes. Himmies
tend to be a bit more playful than Persians, and some enjoy an occasional
game of fetch with their favorite people, perhaps because Siamese
are prodigious fetchers. Interactive toys with which you take an
active role are favorites with Himmies, but that can be the most
expensive feathered toy or a balled-up scrap of paper.
One might assume from seeing those perfect and seemingly effortless
curried coats at the cat show that grooming Himalayans is a breeze.
One might assume incorrectly. When you buy, make sure the breeder
is willing to provide ongoing advice about grooming and health.
The Himalayan demands a serious time commitment to keep those long
locks looking lovely, and it takes knowledge and practice to do
it properly. If you let your cat’s grooming slide, you’ll
end up with a matted, miserable kitty bearing no resemblance to
the lovely Himmies in the show ring.
The Himmie is not unhealthy, although some lines are prone to certain
conditions and diseases. This is true of most pedigreed breeds;
one of the unfortunate side-effects of selective breeding is that
it’s possible to acquire and concentrate detrimental traits
along with the desirable ones. Polycystic
kidney disease (PKD), a disease that can cause renal failure,
is known to exist in Himalayan lines. According to the UC Davis
School of Veterinary Medicine in California, an estimated 37 percent
of Persians have PKD, a serious problem for the Himalayan since
the Persian is the only outcross, and is used often in Himalayan
breeding programs. Fortunately, a PKD genetic test for Persians,
Exotics, and Himalayans is available from the school's Veterinary
Genetics Laboratory (www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu).
Buying from a Himmie breeder who tests for the disease and provides
a written health guarantee is a wise precaution.
Like the Extreme Persian, some Extreme Himalayan are prone to excessive
eye tearing and breathing problems due to the foreshortened face.
Such Himalayans need daily face washing to eliminate the dark streaks
tears can leave under the eyes, although some breeders say Himmies
don’t have as much trouble with this as Persians do. Be sure
to ask your cat’s breeder. Tear stain remover, made especially
for cats to clean the discoloration under the eyes, can be purchased
at pet supply stores, catalogs, and web sites.
In addition, some Himalayan lines are prone to plaque, tartar buildup,
and gingivitis. Gingivitis can lead to the dental disease periodontitis
(an inflammatory disease affecting the tissues surrounding and supporting
the teeth), which can cause tissue, tooth, and bone loss. Untreated,
periodontal disease can undermine a Himmie’s overall health. If
your Himmie is prone to dental disease, it’s crucial to get dental
exams during annual veterinary checkups, periodic teeth cleaning
by your veterinarian and, if your Himalayan will tolerate it, regular
tooth brushing using cat toothpaste and a cat toothbrush (you can
also use a soft child’s size toothbrush).
|Otherwise indistinguishable from the Persian,
with the same body type and long, silky coat, Himalayans are distinguished
by their pointed
pattern (the pattern of the Siamese) and their deep vivid blue
eyes. Because of their long fur, the pointed pattern appears softer
than that of the Siamese.
The Himalayan is a medium to large breed with short, thick legs
and a muscular, heavy-boned, cobby
body. The head is massive and round with great breadth of skull,
set on a short, thick neck. The eyes are large and round, set far
apart, giving the cat a sweet expression. The nose is short, snub
and broad with a break
centered between the eyes. When viewed in profile, the prominence
of the eyes is apparent and the forehead, nose, and chin appear
to be in vertical alignment. The ears are small and rounded at the
tip, set far apart and low on the head. The tail is thick and short
but in proportion to the body. It is carried without a curve and
at an angle lower than the back. Adult males weigh 9 to 14 pounds;
adult females weigh 7 to 11 pounds. The Himmie is solid, but not
fat, with an overall appearance of soft roundness. Type is more
important than size.
There are two different facial types: the Extreme and the Traditional
(also called the Original). Although the Extreme head type is what
you’ll see in the show ring, the Traditional has many fans.
Both types have the small, rounded ears set low on the head, wide,
round eyes, full cheeks and a full, well-developed chin. However,
the Extreme’s face is round and extremely flattened, and in
many cases the nose is nearly as high as the eyes.
The Traditional Himalayan’s head is also round and massive.
However, the nose, while also snub, is placed lower on the face
and has only a slight break. The up-curving mouth helps give the
desired sweet expression that fanciers of this type prize. For those
who like this look, the Traditional
Cat Association (TCA) promotes the Traditional Himalayan and
other traditional versions of pedigreed cats, such as the Siamese
and Persian. According to TCA’s founder, Diana Fineran, the
Traditional Himalayan lacks many of the problems that trouble some
Extreme Himalayan bloodlines such as breathing difficulties and
The Himalayan’s coat is long, flowing and very thick, which
softens the cat’s lines and accentuates the appearance of roundness. The
points, consisting of the ears, legs, feet, tail, and face mask,
show the cat’s basic color. Body color ranges from white to
beige; a clear, uniform color is preferred, but subtle shading and
darker shaded areas on the coats of older cats are allowed. Still,
there must be a definite contrast between body color and point color.
Point colors include chocolate, seal, lilac, blue, red, cream tortie,
blue-cream, chocolate-tortie, lilac-cream, seal lynx, blue lynx,
red lynx, cream lynx, tortie lynx, blue-cream lynx, chocolate lynx,
lilac lynx, chocolate-tortie lynx and lilac-cream lynx.
The only allowable outcross
is the Persian, except in TICA, where the Exotic Shorthair is also
permitted. The Siamese is no longer used in breeding programs.
|Photo copyright (c) 2006 Chanan Photography. All rights reserved.
Text copyright (c) 2006 Telemark Productions. All rights reserved. Written by J. Anne Helgren for Telemark Productions.