To say the Himalayan is popular is an understatement. Each year, the Himmie, as he's affectionately called, recruits more devoted humans into his not-so-exclusive fan club. Membership requires only two things - a desire to share your life and heart with a sweet, devoted feline, and a willingness to spend part of every day slaving over a hot cat comb. The Himalayan demands a serious time commitment to keep those long locks looking lovely.
The Himalayan has the stocky body type, long hair, and placid temperament of the Persian, but has the pointed pattern of the Siamese. The breed started in the 1930s when breeders wanted to blend the body type of the Persian cat with the striking colorpoint markings of the Siamese. (Note to pet buyers: The Siamese is not used in responsible Himalayan breeding programs and has not for decades. Anyone trying to sell "Siamese-Himalayan mixes" or "Siamese-Persian mixes" is selling mixed-breed cats, not true Himalayans). It was first accepted by GCCF in 1957 as the Colourpoint Longhair.
Himalayans are docile, gentle cats, though they do enjoy play. "Docile" does not mean "inactive"! Their coats are long, luxuriant, and mat easily. Daily grooming is required to keep their coats free of painful mats.
|Himalayan - Current - Persian cats with colorpoint pattern coat. Known in Europe as Colorpoint Longhairs/Colorpoint Persians. |
In some associations, such as CFA, Himalayans are considered part of the Persian breed. In Britain, the Himalayan is known as the Colourpoint Longhair.
Some 50 years ago, cat fanciers decided to try to create a cat of Persian coat and type but with the color pattern of the Siamese. In North America the resulting cats were called Himalayans, while in Europe they were classified as Colorpoint Long-hairs. The ideal Himalayan cat is identical to all other Persian cats in type, the standard being the same except for the color. The Himalayan cat's eyes are as deep blue as possible. Recognized point colors in the Himalayan cat include seal (dark bitter chocolate), chocolate (milk chocolate), blue, lilac, red (or flame), cream, tortie, blue-cream, seal lynx (tabby) and blue lynx. Some registering associations regard the Himalayan cat as a separate breed. The largest group, the Cat Fanciers Association, decided some years ago to register Himalayan cats as Persian-Himalayans, a division of the Persian breed. The Himalayan cat breed's gentle, entertaining disposition makes it a popular pet.
The first deliberate cross between a Siamese and a Persian was made in 1924 by a Swedish geneticist, but it wasn't until 1935 that the first pointed pattern longhair was born. In the early 1930s two Harvard medical employees crossed a Siamese female with a black Persian male, not to create a new breed, but to establish how certain characteristics were inherited. This mating produced a litter of black, shorthaired kittens. They then bred a black Persian female with a Siamese male. The outcome was the same. This is not surprising, since long hair and the colorpoint pattern are both governed by recessive genes. Both parents have to possess the genes in order for the traits to be expressed in the offspring.
By crossing a female from the second litter with a male from the first, they produced Debutante, a cat that possessed the Siamese body type and color pattern and the long hair of the Persian. Debutante looked more like today's Balinese than today's Himalayan. At this point, the Harvard employees, having learned what they wanted to know about genetics, ended their experiment.
During the same year, British fanciers formed a breeders' club, hoping to produce a pointed pattern breed with the Persian hair type and conformation. Breeders in America showed interest in the same goal.
World War II interfered with the breeding program, both in Europe and in the United States. Finally, in 1950 American breeder Marguerita Goforth succeeded in creating the long awaited Persian-like colorpoint. The CFA and the ACFA 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 recognized the Himalayan. While this was going on in the States, British breeders were also working to create the breed. In 1955 the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy recognized the Himalayan under the name Colorpoint Longhair, a name that remains to this day.
In 1984 the CFA united the Himalayan and the Persian breeds, reasoning that the body type was the same for both breeds. Also, since the Himalayan requires occasional outcrosses to the Persian to preserve the type, no registration or status problems would occur for the Himalayan/Persian hybrids if they were considered varieties of the same breed. This policy continues today. Himalayans are considered part of the Persian breed and are called Pointed Pattern Persians. Persians that carry the colorpoint gene are called colorpoint carriers.
The decision was controversial, and not all breeders welcomed the new policy. Some Persian breeders were concerned about the introduction of hybrids into their Persian bloodlines, while Himalayan breeders were concerned about losing the breed that they had worked so hard and long to perfect. A group of fanciers and breeders split from the CFA and formed the National Cat Fanciers' Association (NCFA) because they so strongly disagreed with the new policy.
Few breeds in the history of the cat fancy have both fired the imagination and captured the adulation of cat lovers like the Himalayan. With its striking coat pattern borrowed from the Siamese and its physical conformation matching the Persian, the Himalayan combines the best qualities of both breeds in one exemplary feline.
From the beginning, the dream was to produce a cat of Persian type and coat, with the colour of the Siamese. Because of this, the Himalayan is one of only a few breeds that has a clearly verifiable history. Work began on establishing the breed simultaneously on several continents. In the USA, Miss Virginia Cobb and Dr Clyde Keeler began the work of crossing Persians & Siamese. This work was later taken up by Mrs Marguerita Goforth.
In Britain, feline geneticist Brian Sterling-Webb was brought the famous "churchyard" cat, "Bubastis Georgina",which apart from her colouring, possessed no Siamese characteristics and was reasonably Persian in type. This cat fired his imagination and under the Briarry prefix, he set about crossing Persians to Siamese and keeping the solid coloured offspring carrying the Siamese (Himalayan) coat factor. These solid coloured cats were known as CPC's,(Colour Point Carriers) as they carried the recessive genes for producing the Siamese (Himalayan) coat pattern. The pointed Longhairs which resulted from these breedings were then bred back to Solid Persians again in the quest for improved type. He also bred the churchyard cat, to a Siamese male, Henry of Abingdon, retaining Pointed cats carrying genes for Longhair. After several years his "Colourpoint" Longhairs were finally recognized and allocated the breed number 13b by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in 1955, two years prior to Mrs Goforth achieving recognition for her new "Himalayan" breed with ACFA in 1957.
This superb breed can now boast type equal to that of any solid coloured Persian, but with a glamourous silky flowing coat, with contrasting point colour and blue eyes - an almost unbeatable combination! The Himalayan has gained the intelligence of the Siamese and the placid nature of the Persian, making it a most loving companion cat that should be admired for its personality as much as its beauty.
Himmies, as fanciers call them, are perfect indoor cat companions. They are gentle, calm, and sweet-tempered, but they possess a playful side as well. Like the Siamese, Himalayans love to play fetch, and a scrap of crumpled paper or a kitty toy will entertain them for hours.
Himalayans are devoted and dependent upon their humans for companionship and protection. They crave affection and love to be petted and groomed, which is fortunate, since every Himalayan owner will spend part of each day doing just that. Like their Persian siblings, they are docile and won't harass you for attention the way some breeds will. More vocal and active than the Persian, they nevertheless are much quieter than the Siamese.
Himalayans make perfect indoor companions. Like their Persian siblings, Himmies are devoted and loyal. They are gentle, calm, and sweet-tempered, but they also possess a fun-loving, playful side. Himalayans love to play fetch, and a scrap of crumpled paper or a kitty toy will entertain them for hours. More vocal and active than the Persian (a gift from their Siamese ancestors, no doubt), they are nevertheless much quieter and less active than the Siamese. Himalayans are devoted and dependent upon their humans for companionship and protection. They crave affection and love to be petted and groomed, which is a good thing since every Himalayan owner will spend part of each day doing just that.
Heavily boned, broad through the chest, low on the legs, and massive across the shoulders and rump, the ideal Himalayan is a large, substantial cat with an overall impression of roundness, a body style known as "cobby." The long coat adds to the impression of roundness and mass.
Two distinct facial types exist - the extreme and the traditional. In both types, the Himalayan has small, rounded ears set low on the head, wide, round eyes, full cheeks, and a full well-developed chin. Although the extreme head type is favored in the show ring, the traditional has many fans. The extreme's face is round and flattened, and the nose is short and snub with a definite break. The nose is nearly as high as the eyes. The current show trend toward a more extreme facial type troubles some fanciers, who feel the extreme face is harmful to the breed. Reported problems include breathing distress, eye tearing, malocclusions, and birthing difficulties.
The traditional's head is also round and massive. However, the nose, while short and snub, is placed lower on the face, and only has a slight break. The up-curving mouth helps give the desired sweet expression that fanciers of this type prize. Reportedly, this type experiences fewer problems than his extreme counterpart. Like their Siamese ancestors, Himalayans are decorated with the pointed pattern. Pointed and lynx-point colors accepted are seal, chocolate, lilac, blue, flame, cream, tortie, blue-cream, chocolate-tortie, and lilac-cream.
The Himalayan cat's body is medium to large, of the "cobby" type, low on the legs, broad and deep through the chest, equally massive across the shoulders and rump, and with a sweet "pansy" face. Contrary to its "fluffy" appearance, the Himalayan cat has good muscle tone with no evidence of obesity.
With its glorious long-flowing coat and sweet face to match its disposition, it is no wonder the Himalayan cat is the favorite cat among all pedigreed breeds. Himalayan cats require a secure, serene environment, but once they feel safe, they will be a constant source of pleasure to the lucky household that is owned by a Himalayan. The Himalayan cat requires regular maintenance to keep the beauty of that coat, so consider carefully before making what should be a lifetime commitment to this glorious cat.
Breeders recommend a 10 to 15 minute grooming session each day and a thorough one hour grooming session once a week. During the shedding months - spring when they shed their heavier winter coats, and fall before growing their winter coats - additional grooming is usually necessary. Occasional bathing is also needed to remove oil accumulation. Some breeders recommend a bath every two weeks, although some can go longer, depending on the oiliness of the skin. Daily face washing is necessary if tear staining is a problem, which it often is with this breed. Fortunately, with their calm, gentle personalities, Himalayans take well to grooming if you are gentle, consistent, and start their grooming programs early in their lives. Some breeders report that the Himmie coat is easier to maintain, and that eye tearing is not as much of a problem as it is with the Persian.
The current show trend is toward a more extreme facial type. This troubles some fanciers, who feel the extreme face can be harmful to the breed. Reported problems include breathing distress, malocclusions, and birthing difficulties.
For those who like a less extreme look, the Traditional Cat Association (TCA) recognizes and promotes the original Himalayan, also called the "Doll Face Himalayan." This cat possesses a less extreme facial type.
|General||The ideal Himalayan is a heavily boned, well-balanced cat with a sweet expression and soft, round lines.|
|Body||Large to medium-sized; cobby; low on the legs; broad and deep through the chest; equally massive across shoulders and rump, with well-rounded midsection and level back; good muscle tone.|
|Head||Round and massive with great breadth of skull; round face with round underlying bone structure; nose short, snub, and broad with break centered between eyes; cheeks full; jaws broad and powerful; chin full, well developed, and firmly rounded.|
|Ears||Small, round-tipped, tilted forward, not unduly open at base; set far apart and low on head.|
|Eyes||Large, round, and full; set level and far apart. Color deep vivid blue.|
|Tail||Short in proportion to body length.|
|Coat||Long and thick, standing off from body; fine texture; glossy; full of life; long all over body, including shoulders; ruff immense; deep frill between front legs; ear and toe tufts long; brush very full.|
|Color||All colors pointed pattern only: chocolate, seal, lilac, blue, flame, cream, tortie, blue-cream, chocolate-tortie, lilac-cream, seal lynx, blue lynx, flame lynx, cream lynx, tortie lynx, blue-cream lynx, chocolate lynx, lilac lynx, chocolate-tortie lynx, lilac-cream lynx.|
|Disqualify||Locket or button; deformity of spine or skull; crossed eyes; white toes; eye color other than blue.|
|Allowable Outcrossees||Persian |