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Himalayan Cat

Himalayan Cat
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Himalayan Cat Personality

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 family 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.

Himalayan Cat Breed Traits

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.

Interested in the history of the Himalayan cat breed?

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.

Copyright © 1998 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

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