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The Persian Cat

This differs somewhat from the Angora, the tail being generally longer,
more like a table brush in point of form, and is generally slightly
turned upwards, the hair being more full and coarser at the end, while
at the base it is somewhat longer. The head is rather larger, with less
pointed ears, although these should not be devoid of the tuft at the
apex, and also well furnished with long hair within, and of moderate
size. The eyes should be large, full, and round, with a soft expression;
the hair on the forehead is generally rather short in comparison to the
other parts of the body, which ought to be clothed with long silky hair,
very long about the neck, giving the appearance of the mane of the lion.
The legs, feet, and toes should be well clothed with long hair and have
well-developed fringes on the toes, assuming the character of tufts
between them. It is larger in body, and generally broader in the loins,
and apparently stronger made, than the foregoing variety, though yet
slender and elegant, with small bone, and exceedingly graceful in all
its movements, there being a kind of languor observable in its walk,
until roused, when it immediately assumes the quick motion of the
ordinary short-haired cat, though not so alert. The colours vary very
much, and comprise almost every tint obtainable in cats, though the
tortoiseshell is not, nor is the dark marked tabby, in my opinion, a
Persian cat colour, but has been got by crossing with the short-haired
tortoiseshell, and also English tabby, and as generally shows pretty
clearly unmistakable signs of such being the case. For a long time, if
not now, the black was the most sought after and the most difficult to
obtain. A good rich, deep black, with orange-coloured eyes and long
flowing hair, grand in mane, large and with graceful carriage, with a
mild expression, is truly a very beautiful object, and one very rare.
The best I have hitherto seen was one that belonged to Mr. Edward Lloyd,
the great authority on all matters relating to aquariums. It was called
Mimie, and was a very fine specimen, usually carrying off the first
prize wherever shown. It generally wore a handsome collar, on which was
inscribed its name and victories. The collar, as Mr. Lloyd used jocosely
to observe, really belonged to it, as it was bought out of its winnings;
and, according to the accounts kept, was proved also to have paid for
its food for some considerable period. It was, as its owner laughingly
said, "his friend, and not his dependent," and generally used to sit on
the table by his side while he was writing either his letters, articles,
or planning those improvements regarding aquariums, for which he was so
justly celebrated.

Next in value is the light slate or blue colour. This beautiful tint is
very different in its shades. In some it verges towards a light purplish
or lilac hue, and is very lovely; in others it tends to a much bluer
tone, having a colder and harder appearance, still beautiful by way of
contrast; in all the colour should be pure, even, and bright, not in any
way mottled, which is a defect; and I may here remark that in these
colours the hair is generally of a softer texture, as far as I have
observed, than that of any other colour, not excepting the white, which
is also in much request. Then follow the various shades of light
tabbies, so light in the marking having scarcely a right to be called
tabbies; in fact, tabby is not a Persian colour, nor have I ever seen an
imported cat of that colour--I mean firmly, strongly marked with black
on a brown-blue or gray ground, until they culminate in those of intense
richness and density in the way of deep, harmonious browns and reds, yet
still preserving throughout an extreme delicacy of line and tracery,
never becoming harsh or hard in any of its arrangements or colour; not
as the ordinary short-haired tabby. The eyes should be orange-yellow in
the browns, reds, blues, grays, and blacks.

As far as my experience extends, and I have had numerous opportunities
of noticing, I find this variety less reliable as regards temper than
the short-haired cats, less also in the keen sense of observing, as in
the Angora, and also of turning such observations to account, either as
regards their comfort, their endeavour to help themselves, or in their
efforts to escape from confinement.

In some few cases I have found them to be of almost a savage
disposition, biting and snapping more like a dog than a cat, and using
their claws less for protective purposes. Nor have I found them so
"cossetty" in their ways as those of the "short-coats," though I have
known exceptions in both.

They are much given to roam, as indeed are the Russian and Angora,
especially in the country, going considerable distances either for their
own pleasure or in search of food, or when "on the hunt." After mature
consideration, I have come to the conclusion that this breed, and
slightly so the preceding, are decidedly different in their habits to
the short-haired English domestic cat, as it is now generally called.

It may be, however, only a very close observer would notice the several
peculiarities which I consider certainly exist. These cats attach
themselves to places more than persons, and are indifferent to those who
feed and have the care of them. They are beautiful and useful objects
about the house, and generally very pleasant companions, and when kept
with the short-haired varieties form an exceedingly pretty and
interesting contrast; but, as I have stated, they certainly require more
attention to their training, and more caution in their handling, than
the latter. I may here remark, that during the time I have acted as
judge at cat shows, which is now over eighteen years, it has been seldom
there has been any display of temper in the short-haired breeds in
comparison with the long; though some of the former, in some instances,
have not comported themselves with that sweetness and amiability of
disposition that is their usual characteristic. My attendant has been
frequently wounded in our endeavour to examine the fur, dentition, etc.,
of the Angora, Persian, or Russian; and once severely by a "short-hair."
Hitherto I have been so fortunate as to escape all injury, but this I
attribute to my close observation of the countenance and expression of
the cat about to be handled, so as to be perfectly on my guard, and to
the knowledge of how to put my hands out of harm's way. If a vicious cat
is to be taken from one pen to another, it must be carried by the loose
skin at the back of the neck and that of the back with both hands, and
held well away from the person who is carrying it.

Next: The Russian Long-haired Cat

Previous: The Angora

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