Photo Credit: Helena Jacoba via Compfight cc
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Himalayan cats may look regal and aloof but they tend to be very affectionate. Their fluffy coats make them the type of pet you want to cuddle! We check out the endearing Himalayan feline.
Background

Originating in the 1930s in the United States, the Himalayan cat is actually a cross between the Persian and the Siamese breeds. Himalayan cats were established as a proper breed in the 1950s and accepted by every United States registry by the 1960s.  In recent years, Himalayans have been incorporated into the Persian class at some United States registeries. The breed is considered a pointed Persian according to these registries. Across the Atlantic in Britain, Himalayans are referred to as Colorpoint Longhairs. 

These breeds are highly popular as household pets. They are renowned for their beautiful lavish fur coats, lovable disposition and quirky personality. 

Physical Characteristics

Himalayan cats can regularly be confused with Persian cats because they look so similar! The main feature that sets them apart is that himalayan cats have coloured points. Their coloured points  come in various shades (chocolate, seal, lilac, blue, black, flame, red, cream, tortoiseshell, frost, silver, cinnamon, brown, fawn)  whereas their main coat is usually white. 

Himmies are average sized cats but their dense bones and abundance of fur make them appear larger! They are stocky in build with thick legs and a short thick neck. Himalayans tend to weigh around 3.5 to 6 kg. Their head and eyes are large and round. The eyes are normally blue in colour but sometimes can be copper. Breeders tend to prefer breeding a more squashed flat face himmie nowadays but you may sometimes come across one with the traditional doll face.

Himalayans can be very vocal or make mere squeaks when talking. It all depends on the type of Himmie you have!

Temperament

Himalayan cats are exceedingly loving and devoted to their owners. They are very social pets and like to be involved in family activities. Wherever you are in the house (or garden), along they come… preferring to hang out right next to you (or on you at times). They are usually placid and relaxed felines. Some of our clients have Himalayan cats that don’t mind being picked up and carried around like a baby. 

Although Himmies crave human attention, they are perfectly content being left to their own devices for a lengthy period of time.  They tend to sleep around 19 hours a day which is typical of most cats.

Fun Fact

These furballs can even be taught to fetch balls and other objects just like a dog. One of our staff even had a Himmie who would regularly pick up a sock and bring it over to her. Then he would promptly dispose it at her feet and meow loudly to garner praise for his impressive feat!

Diet

Providing your fluffy feline an excellent diet of cooked meat and cat food is recommended. It will set you back $12 a week to feed an adult Himalayan. 


Grooming

Due to their exceptionally long fur coats and the fact that they shed their hair continuously, this can result in your Himmie having matted and knotted fur. Daily brushing is advised. Some people opt to have their cats fur shaved off completely if it gets too chaotic!

For cats  that have a flatter face, they are more prone to their tear ducts getting blocked. It is imperative to wash their face frequently (sometimes daily) to prevent gunk getting trapped which could lead to infection.

Life expectancy

Himalayan Persian cats generally live up to 12-16 years. There are reports of some living into their 20s!

Health issues

Pedigree and mixed-breed cats, like the Himalayan, are known to suffer from numerous health defects.

A major health problem that has been diagnosed in the breed is Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). PKD causes cysts to form on a cat’s kidneys which eventually leads to renal failure. Cats often exhibit symptoms such as excess drinking, constant thirst, odd meowing and disinterest in eating. Your vet is able to check whether your cat has PKD through a simple genetic test. PKD is unfortunately not curable but there are treatment options available to prolong the life of your pet.

Other health issues include:

  • Difficulty with breathing or labored breathing because of constricted nostrils (particularly in flatter face cats)
  • Tearing excessively (particularly in flatter face cats)
  • Various eye problems i.e. entropion, progressive retinal atrophy and cherry eye.
  • Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (nervous system disorder)
  • Seborrhea oleosa – causes itchiness and redness of the skin. May lead to hair loss.


Is a Himalayan cat the right pet for you?

These beautiful cats are suitable for any type of household, whether they be a single person or family. The only major requirement is that you must be dedicated to grooming them on a daily basis. People with small kids should keep their Himmies under close supervision to ensure no issues arise. These cats can be housed in apartments or on large properties. If you work all day long and rarely home then most himalayan cats would be fine with that. Although don’t expect them to leave your side upon your return!!  

From what we have experienced, once you have a Himalayan cat in your life… you will always want to have one!