Himalayan Cat Breed Guide

Himalayan Cat Basic Facts

The Himalayan cat, also known as the Himmy cat, is a long-haired and medium-sized cat with blue eyes. The Himmy inherited its famous look from the Persian and its colorpoints from the Siamese breed. Himalayan cats were created through human intervention, unlike its natural parent breeds. Their name is a reference to their color which is similar to the coloration of Himalayan animals, such as the Himalayan rabbit.

himalayan cat breed, blue eyes cat

Source Flickr / Joseph Morris

History of the Himalayan Cat

Himalayan cats were developed by breeding Persians to Siamese in order to have the Persian cat adopt the distinct colorpoint pattern. This breed was the work of humans, breeders started working on this breed in 1931. They first had to figure out how the colorpoint cat gene was passed on. Virginia Cobb and Clyde Keeler, a medical researcher, managed to develop longhaired cats with the Siamese colorpoint pattern through selective breeding. The first cat that was called a Himalayan cat was Newton’s Debutante.

It was Brian Sterling-Webb, a British breeder, who spent over 10 years developing a longhaired cat with the pointed colors of the Siamese. This breed was granted its registration status in 1957 by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA). This meant that the Himalayan cat was to be considered as a distinct breed, but in 1984 the CFA Board of Directors decided on reclassifying the Himalayan as a simple color variety of the Persian cat breed.

There were a couple of other associations who classified Himalayan cats the same way as the CFA like The International Cat Association. But this was not accepted by all, like the Traditional Cat Association who classify the breed as a separate breed from the Persian. Nowadays the Siamese breed isn’t used in the Himalayan breeding program. As of today the Himalayan cat is definitely one of the most popular cats of all of the Persians.

Appearance of Himalayan Cats

Mariamichelle / Pixabay

Having an almost identical appearance as the Persian, a medium to large breed Himalayan has long fur, short thick legs and a muscular cobby body. Its head is broad and round which rests on a short and thick neck. The eyes are big and round, far apart which gives the cat a cute face. Its nose is short and snub with a break between its eyes. The Himalayan cat has small ears which are far apart on the head and they are rounded at the tip. The tail is short and thick but nonetheless still in proportion to the body.

An adult female weighs about 3 to 5 kilograms and an adult male about 4 to 6 kilograms.

There are different colorpoint versions of the Himmy:

  • blue, blue-cream, blue-cream lynx and blue-cream lynx
  • chocolate, chocolate lynx, chocolate-tortie lynx andchocolate-tortie
  • cream lynx and cream tortie
  • lilac, lilac lynx, lilac-cream and lilac-cream lynx
  • red and red lynx seal
  • seal lynx and tortie lynx.

Unlike similar breeds, the eyes of a Himmy comes only in one color: deep, vivid blue.

Himalayan Cat Health

Himalayans are not susceptible to disease, but there is an inherited disease from the Persian line that can cause death by renal failure. The inherited gene causes Polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Fortunately the cat can be tested if they carry the PKD gene and if it is a carrier it can be spayed.

But the symptoms are mostly appearing after a Himmy is old, so untested breeding stock could already have passed the dominant gene on to the next generation. According to UC Davis Veterinary Medicine, over 37% of Persians have PKD, this is directly linked to Himalayans, because Persians are often used in Himalayan breeding programs. The test costs about 60$, but well worth it if it means saving this breed.

There is another inherited dangerous heart disease which Himmies can carry called feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). According to veterinarian: Rosemarie Williams about 40% of the Persian and Himalayan breed are affected with HCM.

Symptoms of HCM can be very subtle, it can happen that the very first symptom the cat shows is sudden death. Luckily the Himmy can be tested if they have HCM through cardiac ultrasound and ECG. It is highly advised to test the cat regularly because there are breeders out there who don’t test Himmies on this disease. There are catteries who test all their Himalayans on HCM like on: victorian gardens cattery .

For a healthy cat with a nice fur for you should always find proper food. It’s important to know if you’re cat has certain allergies and avoid low quality food in general. We once had problems with cat urination which was solved by changing food. More on cat food can be found here.

A Couple Of Famous Himalayans

  • Mr. Jinx from – Meet the Parents trilogy (2000-2010)
  • Goma – Animal Planet show Cats 101 (2009)
  • Luna The Fashion Kitty – Facebook (2011)
  • Beethoven, Mozart and Bartók – owned by Martha Stewart
  • Colonel Meow – Guinness World Records (2014)
  • Hector – Heathcliff (1984)

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