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Why are Persian Cats so Ugly?

After noticing that the Persian breed made #5 on Foxsumo.com’s “Top 15 Ugliest Cats in the World,” I started to wonder, “why are Persian cats so ugly?”

After all, they are one of the most popular cat breeds out there (and also among the most expensive).

During the ’50s, breeders began selective breeding programs that concentrated on particular fur types and colors. These programs resulted in an “ugly” breed having a higher nose and flatter face, which was called the peke-faced look, due to its resemblance of a Pekinese dog. 

Though cat fanciers preferred the peke-faced look over the breeds traditional snout, it began losing traction in the mid to late 1990s because of health concerns.

In the late 1980s, the Persian Standard Council had changed the standard for the cat, to discourage over-accentuation or ultra-typing of the face.

There are efforts to bring back into the mainstream the original facial structure of the Persian, which had a slightly more protruding snout than most contemporary Persians.

Though Persian enthusiasts and other feline organizations have shunned the peke-faced look, many breeders are still breeding this look into the current population.

Why Are Persian Cats So Popular?

Persian cat lying on top of a gray pillow

Let’s get the most obvious reason this question is asked out of the way first. Persians can indeed get pretty ugly, some worse off than others. And it isn’t surprising why some folks would ask why it’s one of the most popular cats out there.

The answer can be determined by asking a couple of other questions. Why are pugs so popular? Why are English Bulldogs so popular? Most would say that they’re so ugly, they’re cute.

And like the Persian cat, Bulldogs, and Pugs are extremely popular animals and also expensive. With any of these animals, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But with the Persian, it goes beyond whether or not their ugliness is favorable to behold.

Their long, thick, and wonderfully colored coats of fur make up for any, shall we say, facial appearance deficits, that the Persian might have. They often have a friendly attitude, a tendency to be lap cats, and are an extremely recognizable breed.

Why are Persian Cats So Expensive?

Why are persian cats so expensive image

Persians are expensive because they are purebred and are coveted by people around the world. Costs can span anywhere from $500 – $5,000!

Many breeding Persians are certified and have a well maintained and traceable pedigree. Its price is impacted in one way or the other by the cat’s lineage.

As fate would have it, peke-face Persians tend to be more expensive than a doll-faced variety. Doll-faced types don’t have a face that looks like it got hit with a shovel.

Another factor that is taken into account when prices are set is fur. Different colors are rarer than others, and the rarity of the coat is reflected in the price. Also taken into account is the quality of the fur itself.

Female Persians are more expensive than males because they have the potential to one day become breeders. Some breeders require the signing of a non-breeding contract upon purchasing a cat to avoid future competition.

Are Persian Cats High Maintenance?

Persian cat being groomed by its owner

Some Persian fur is more difficult to take care of than others. There is a type called cotton-furred, which is extremely soft but is prone to mat as soon as you look at it.

Despite the fur type, Persians are very high maintenance, requiring daily fur attention. If they don’t get the attention they need in this department, the cat’s fur will soon get nappy, knotty, then matty.

Eventually, the mats will get really tight to the skin, and in severe cases, can impair how the cat walks and moves.

Because their fur is helping you to constantly dry mop the floors, all kinds of things get stuck in their fur. A bath is required at least once a month.

Between the constant brushing and the baths, it can be a lot of work for unwitting first-time owners.

Do Persian Cats Have Trouble Breathing?

Persian cat with oxygen symbols around it

Yes, many of them do have some breathing troubles. Some of them have audible breathing issues, such as snoring and wheezing.

This is brought about by having genetically altered bone structure in the face, that causes abnormalities to occur in the trachea and nasal passages. The condition is called Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. Brachy means shortened, and cephalic means head.

Other Health Concerns

Some of the hereditary health problems that are associated with Persians are:

  • Polycystic Kidney Disease- This disease is the deterioration of the kidneys and ultimately leads to kidney dysfunction
  • Bladder Stones- When a cat’s urine becomes less acidic, crystals form and collect together in the bladder causing stones.
  • Cystitis (bladder infections)- The bladder infections can be caused by bladder stones that cause damage to the urethra walls and also to the kidney.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy- PRA can begin in kittens as young as four to eight weeks old, and can cause blindness as soon as fifteen weeks.
  • Liver Shunts- Shunts are a common birth defect. It’s an abnormal blood vessel that ultimately impairs the cat’s liver.

Honest breeders would be working hard to ensure that any of these genetic health issues are not passed down through their breeding lines.

Persian Temperament- Are Persian Cats Lazy?

Persian cat sleeping

Though Persian kittens can be playful, they eventually grow to become a piece of the furniture. Yes, they can be very lazy.

Their laziness is something that some owners are relying on, as they don’t want to suffer the woes of chasing around a hyperactive destroyer of curtains. Their mellow temperament is also why they’re not generally fond of small children or hyper dogs.

While they’re not an active cat, they tend to become annoyed with abnormal or excessive activity. Many will head for the hills when any boisterous company arrives.

They are sweet-hearted, loving cats when they’re in their element. That element could be no more than sitting on your lap for as long as you’re willing to sit still.

Final Thoughts

man thinking about a persian cat saying that it is not ugly

Yes, they’re ugly but cute. Why are Persians ugly? The truth of it is, they’re ugly because of us.

People made them that way; people made their shovel faces preferred; people have placed this breed in high regard because of that face ever since.

Without the popularity of this characteristic, breeders would have reverted all Persians to its doll-face appearance without any competition or gripes long ago.