Himalayan cat at a glance
The Himalayan is a long-haired Persian, with coloured points and blue eyes. They are known for their easygoing nature and quiet disposition. A moderate to large breed of cat, with a beautiful long coat that has darker points on the extremities.
A Himalayan (or Himmie) is essentially a Persian cat with colourpoint markings. The CFA considers the Himalayan to be a Persian, while other cat bodies recognise them as a separate distinct breed.
Himalayans were developed by crossing Siamese with Persian cats to create a Persian-type cat with colour point markings. Attempts began in the 1920s by crossing a Siamese with a white Persian. These cats were named “Malayan Persians” however they quickly disappeared.
The Himalayan cat was the creation of a scientist and a cat breeder. In the 1930s, Dr. Clyde Keeler of Harvard Medical School and Virginia Cobb of the Massachusetts-based Newton Cattery teamed up to blend a Persian cat and a Siamese cat. After six years, the first true Himalayan kitten was born named Debutante. Miss Cobb published an article for The Journal of Hereditary in 1936, outlining the progress of this programme.
In the 1950s, the development of the Himalayan was taken up by Marguerita Goforth of Goforth Cattery in San Diego. At the same time, Brian Stirling-Webb of Briarry Cattery in Richmond in Surrey and Mrs Harding of Mingchiu prefix had also started work on breeding programmes to create a colour-pointed Persian. Mingchiu cattery is credited with developing the finest-typed show specimens along with two new colour varieties, the lilac and chocolate Himalayan. The cats produced by Stirling-Webb and Harding were named Colourpoint Longhairs.
The American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA) was the first United States cat club to recognise the Himalayan for champion status, and Goforth’s LaChiquita was the first Himalayan champion. The Cat Fanciers Association recognised the Himalayan breed in 1957, and all cat councils had recognised the Himalayan by 1960. In 1984, the CFA decided to re-classify the Himalayan as a Persian subtype. In Britain, the breed received official recognition with the GCCF in 1955.
The Himalayan takes its name from the Himalayan rabbit who has the same pointed coat pattern.
The Himalayan is a sweet and good-natured breed of cat and share the same placid nature as their Persian cousins. That is not to say they don’t like to play, but the Himalayan is generally less active than other breeds of cat.
Himalayans love their human family and can be quite talkative, but not as much as their Siamese counterparts. They can be reserved around strangers until they’ve got to know them.
Words used to describe the Himalayan include gentle, intelligent, outgoing, devoted, affectionate and docile.
Due to their gentle and laid-back nature, Himalayan cats get along well with children, as long as they are gentle.
The Himalayan standard is based on the Persian standard, however, as with the Persian, there are two types of Himalayan, the traditional or doll-face and the peke-face. Traditional Himalayans have a less extreme face than the peke-face.
The body is large, strong and cobby with good muscle tone. The chest, shoulders and rump are broad and the legs are strong, short and thick.
Himalayan cats have a massive, round head with a great breadth of the skull. Skull is smooth and round to the touch. Ears are small and round-tipped. The nose is short and wide with a nose break, between the eyes. Nostrils are well open, which allows the free passage of air. Eyes are large, round and set wide apart, which gives the face a sweet expression.
- Seal Point
- Blue Point
- Chocolate Point
- Lilac Point
- Red Point
- Cream Point
- Seal Tortie Point
- Blue-Cream Point
- Chocolate Tortie Point
- Lilac Cream Point
- Seal Tabby Point
- Blue Tabby Point
- Chocolate Tabby Point
- Lilac Tabby Point
- Red Tabby Point
- Cream Tabby Point
- The Himalayan requires daily grooming to keep the coat in good condition and matt-free. This will only take 5-10 minutes and if started from an early age, can be an enjoyable experience for both cat and human.
- Dental care is important for all cats to prevent gum disease. Brush the teeth once a day with a pet toothbrush and toothpaste. Some veterinarians also recommend chicken necks once or twice a week for dental care.
- Like their Persian cousins, the Himalayan can be prone to watery eyes which can cause tear staining. The folds can be cleaned with a soft face cloth and warm water.
- As the Himalayan is less active than other breeds, schedule daily exercise and pay attention to the diet to avoid excessive weight gain.
The Himalayan is a brachycephalic breed, which means they have a short, flat face which can lead to health problems such as excessive tearing of the eyes, dental issues, eye ulcers and breathing difficulties. There is a higher incidence of the following diseases in Persian, Himalayan and related cat breeds.
- Polycystic kidney disease: A slowly progressive disease, which causes multiple fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys.
- Epiphora: Tears that run onto the face.
- Entropion: Turning in of the eyelids.
- Malocclusion of the jaw.
- Myelodysplasia: A group of diseases caused by a dysfunction of blood cell production in the bone marrow. It can affect red or white blood cells and platelets.
Choosing a Himalayan cat
Purebred cats should be purchased from a registered cat breeder and not a pet shop. A registered breeder will be affiliated with a cat council and will have a prefix (the cattery name) and a registration number.
Do an internet search of the breeder’s name and prefix and look for a Facebook page. Do they have any negative reviews? Ask who they are registered with (for example, Cat Fanciers Association, The International Cat Association), and check to see if they are listed on their website? If not, contact the cat association and verify they are registered with them.
Where possible, it is always best to visit the cattery and meet the kittens as well as the mother (and father if possible). Does the cattery seem clean, well-managed and not overcrowded? I always recommend kittens who have been raised under-foot and not in a cage, which means they grow up in the home around the normal hustle and bustle of a home.
Look for a kitten who appears confident and in good health. The eyes, ears and nose should be clear and free of discharge.
Questions for the breeder:
- What is included? Pedigree papers, kitten pack, insurance?
- Does the breeder provide a health guarantee, if so, how long?
- Has the breeder tested for inherited diseases?
- Will the cat be desexed?
- Can you show the cat (if you want to)?
- How many vaccinations will the kitten have received?
- Will the cat be microchipped?
Don’t be rushed into a decision or payment and always keep a record of conversations.
Frequently asked questions
How long does a Himalayan cat live for?
The Himalayan lifespan is between 10-15 years.
Can Himalayan cats be left alone?
Himalayan cats can be left alone for short periods, but do not like to be alone for an extended amount of time. If you are out of the house a lot, consider a second cat for company.
Do Himalayans meow a lot?
No, the Himalayan is a quiet breed of cat.
How often should you bathe a Himalayan cat?
Most cats, including the Himalayan, do not need to be bathed unless their coat has been contaminated. All longhaired cats should be brushed once a day to prevent mats from forming.
Is there a Himalayan shorthair?
There is no ‘Himalayan’ shorthair, however the Exotic is essentially a shorthaired Persian which is found in all colours and patterns including pointed.