The history of this ancient breed of feline is shrouded in veils of mystery. One popular belief is that Persian Cats were first introduced into Italy in the early 1600’s by a certain Pietro della Valle. It is thought that they were brought from Turkey to France by M. Nicholas Claude Fabri de Peiresc at approximately the same date. This part of the Persian history is well documented.
Most authorities accept that next the breed was brought to England from France. At this time, they did not have the flowing long coats of today. The inter-breeding of Persians with the Turkish Angora cat is cited as the reason for the long hair. Some breeders disagree with this, thinking that the Persian was probably mated with the African Wildcat which also has long hair. But the temperament of these docile creatures seems to make this assumption unlikely.
Whichever school of thought you believe, one thing is for sure, Persians have always been considered creatures of very high worth. They were fairly rare and were the preferred breed for many Royal families.
Another idea on heritage is that the Persian is descended from Felix Libyca the breed which originated in Asia Minor and Africa. Yet others think that this breed was introduced by the Romans in the early 1500s.
Way back in time in the Middle East, the Persian cat was once traded for precious metals and jewels and was highly valued for its outstanding beauty and placid temperament. These attributes helped the breed to quickly spread around the world. Many experts believe that this type of cat originated in Persia (today called Iran) but ancient Egyptian writing and picture drawings found on pyramid walls strongly resemble the Persian cat and the truth is that no one knows for sure.
One thing is certain, this cat is known to be one of the oldest breeds on the planet and they are still highly prized today. Their long soft hair and strong sturdy build, coupled with huge expressive eyes and chubby round face make them a firm family favourite.
Persians finally made it across ‘the pond’ to America in the early 1900’s. Their popularity has grown and grown making them one of the most popular breeds of cat in the world.