Himalayan cats or “himmies” are a sub-breed of the Persian cat breed, set apart by their face mask and colored paws and tail. They have striking blue eyes like the Siamese cat, sometimes even lilac, and long white hair.
The Himalayan cat breed, which was first brought to the United States in the 1930s, is a man-made alternative to the Persian breed, which is why it is sometimes called Himalayan Persian or Colorpoint Persian. Virginia Cobb and Dr. Clyde Keeler created a trial breeding program in 1931 and produced the first new breed Himalayan kitten named “Newton’s Debutante”.
From that moment on, cat breeders like Marguerita Goforth, have created several variations of this distinct breed, including the long-hair colorpoint cat in the 1950s.
Himmies have been placed in the “Persian Group” category which contains the Persians and other exotic shorthairs. Renowned cat associations like the ACFA (American Cat Fanciers Association) and CFA formally recognized the breed in 1957 under the name Himalayan.
Characteristics of the Himalayan Cat Breed
Today, you can find this popular breed with the following coat color distinctions:
White to fawn body with color points that include:
- cream point tortie
- tortoiseshell lynx
- blue-cream lynx
- chocolate lynx
- seal lynx
- blue lynx
- red lynx
- cream lynx
- lilac lynx
- chocolate-tortie lynx
- lilac-cream lynx
It’s important to note the Linx pattern is similar to the tabby with its striped pattern.
Indeed, the Cat Fanciers’ Association treats them as a single breed, with the flame point and tortoiseshell being the most popular.
Himalayans are a fairly large breed of cats with long, silky coats that require regular brushing. Other traits include a medium to large cat with a short, cobby body type that is just as large across its shoulders and rump. They have large round heads that sit on their very thick necks. Himalayans have two distinct types of faces from the doll face to the traditional face.
Their large eyes are set wide apart, giving them a sweet, kind expression. Their cute button noses and round ears give them a very appealing appearance. Himalayans are known for their long hair that requires a lot of grooming to prevent mats. It earned its moniker from the Himalayan rabbit because of the similarities in their coats.
You may even recognize this prestigious cat from the popular movie Meet the Parents where the family cat, Mr. Jinx, was a Himalayan. Even Martha Stewart owns three Himalayan cats.
Some describe them as a kind of less hyper and less talkative Siamese, with their meow being more musical than braying. Overall they are a very mild-tempered, loving breed, preferring to cuddle up with you rather than shred your furniture.
Should You Get Pet Insurance for your Himalayan Cat?
Himalayans are healthy animals, generally living to around 15 years of age.
There are, however, a couple of health issues to which they are especially susceptible.
Himalayan Cat Common Health Issues:
- Breathing Problems: the Himalayan’s cute pug nose has a tendency to become blocked, and in extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to widen the nasal passages.
- Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD): not to be confused with polycystic kidney disease): pyruvate kinase is an enzyme required for the metabolism of energy by red blood cells, and some animals inherit a defective gene so that pyruvate kinase levels are low or the enzyme fails to function properly. Eventually, PKD leads to the development of a blood condition known as hemolytic anemia and possible feline hyperesthesia syndrome. Symptoms include weakness, loss of muscle mass, lethargy and a higher than normal heart rate, and the condition can significantly reduce a cat’s lifespan. Diagnosis is based on a detailed analysis of blood and urine. The only known treatment is a bone marrow transplant, which fortunately tends to be successful in restoring enzyme function.
- Ringworm: Because of their long coats, they are more susceptible to ringworm, so make sure you keep them groomed and take them to their vet appointments regularly.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: They can get excessive eye-watering and other eye conditions like cherry eye, entropion, and progressive retinal atrophy.
For a few of these health problems, surgery may be required; and just as it is for humans, it is not cheap.
The right pet insurance will be there to make sure that finances will not decide your cat’s fate.