Sweet, easy to teach, and attached to owner. These are some of the qualities inherited by the Himalayan, from its ancestors, the Persian and the Siamese.
The Himalayan is the result of breedings done with the objective of producing a cat with long fur, and round shapes as the Persian, but with darker markings on the face and other extremeties, like the Siamese. It was a challenge for breeders, who, in order to achieve their goal, concentrated in breeding these two very different races. The Persian is robust, with massive bones, body proportionally short, and long fur, while the Siamese is lean, with light bones, long body and short coat. But the hard work paid off. In two decates of breedings, the Himalayan was recognized as a race. At first, in England, in 1955, and two years later, in the United States. Today, this new breed is widely accepted.
It looks like a Persian, and has a similar sweet attitude, but inherited the sharpness and agility of the Siamese. Active, and extremely alert, the Himalayan likes to please and obey the owner's orders. It doesn't demand a lot of special care, and usually gets along with pets in general.
Very attached to the owner, it constantly demands his or her attention. When it breaks the silence, the objetive is to call attention, purring loudly. It shows affection licking or rubbing its paws on people's faces. It's jealous. "When, for instance, I don't give my Himalayans attention, because I have guests, they clearly demonstrate their insatisfaction by sitting next to me, but giving me their backs," comments breeder Érica Knieling de Araujo, from the Himalayan's House, in Porto Alegre.
Perfectly adapted to the domestic life, this cat likes the daily routine. It loves to play. In an ideal situation, he should have lots of space to run, play and hunt, something this cat performs very well. When raised exclusively indoors, it finds in toys a motivation for exercise, which is important to maintain its weight and muscles in shape, avoiding overweight. The owner is always welcome to play along.
Everything contributes to give the Himalayan the "round" look of the Persian. Coat is dense, head is round and wide, small ears, with round tips and inserted low, and nose is flat. It's shiny blue eyes are round, big and expressive, preferably in a very intense tone of blue.
Coat color can be white or any light colors, with darker markings in the face and other extremities, that is, ears, tail and paws. These markings are accepted in all colors, from shades of brown - beige to chocolate - as well as the gray and black, or even a mixture of these colors, such as tortoiseshell, or tabby. These are called "point" (the "chocolate point" for example).
There is a recent and rare variation known as Kashmir, in solid colors, without the darker extremities, either in Chocolate or Lilac (grayish beige) colors. The eyes, in this case, are copper. Breeder Érica explains that, usually, the Kashmir Himalayan has a leaner body, and the face is less flat than what is required by standard, because it originated from additional breedings with Siamese cats.
Choice of kitten: It is born white. The ones
which have darker markings are born with them, and have dark nose and pads. In
the ones with light markings, these appear when kitten is one month old, and its
nose and pads are pink. The kitten comes with characteristics required by
standard: round and wide head, flat nose, wider than long, wide and strong
muzzle, prominent cheeks. Looking at its profile, eyes, forehead and chin should
be in the same line. Ears are small and round at tip, separated from each other.
Big and round eyes, short neck, and short tail, which is also wide at the base,
narrowing at the tip. Short and straight legs, round, large and firm feet, and
long, silky and shiny coat.
Care: "Monthly baths are recommended, and daily brushing, to make fur look better, free of dead hair and knots. Use the palm brush and 2 steel combs for a finishing touch: one with wider separation between teeth and the other with close teeth, for the face, back of ears, paws and tail," teaches Érica de Araujo.
Health: It is a resistant cat. In the ones with nose too flat there might be excessive tear shedding, due to malformation of lachryimal duct.
Average brood: 4 kittens.
Recognition: The three international feline institutions with activities in Brazil recognize this cat: CFA, TICA and FIFE. The Kashmirs are considered Persian by CFA, and Colorpoint Persian by FIFE.
Reading material: All About Himalayan Cats, by Joan McDonald Brearley, R.F.G. Publications Inc., New Jersey, USA.
We would like to thank the people interviewed, and
acknowlegde the assistance of Celso Tirloni, president of The Brazilian Cat Club
(FIFE); Júnia Virgílio, president of CFA in Brazil, and Liane
Diehl, president of The Federation of Cat Breeders in Brazil.(TICA).
Research: Carmen Oliveri.Text editor: Marcos Pennacchi
Picture: Gernando Torres de Andrade
Owner: Regina M. A. Maia