A Cat Bred for Science: Himalayan Cat

Pet Type


May 6, 2020

All throughout their history as a domesticated breed, cats have been looked up to as royalty and regal in appearance, and for good reason too. Cats carry themselves proudly, acting as if they own the street. They are sleek, colorful, and elegant in appearance, spending a large portion of their days grooming themselves.

They tend to have a self-important attitude and will quite literally just walk away from a situation that it doesn’t like, rather than tolerating it. All of these features of the classic cat attitude give off a sense of royalty, and in many historical societies, cats were a sign of royalty themselves. Take ancient Egypt, for example, where cats were once worshipped. There is no cat that carries this air of nobility better than the Himalayan cat does.

The Himalayan cat was created from two breeds of cat that were already known for their elite status. This includes the regal Persian cat, with its long and flowing coat of fur, as well as the Siamese cat, with its amicable personality. As one can imagine, combining these two well-known breeds was bound to lead to a cat that people would love, but not everyone realized just how popular this new cat breed creation was going to be. This new cat breed would soon become one of the most popular purebred cats around both for its appearance and its personality.

Where Did the Himalayan Cat Come From?

Originally taken from two already noble breeds of cat, the Persian and the Siamese cats, the first deliberate creation of the Himalayan cat took place in 1924 by a Swedish geneticist, although it wasn’t until 1935 that the first long-haired variant was born. At first, the goal of combining these breeds wasn’t to produce a brand-new breed of cat that could be bred and marketed, but it was actually to study how different characteristics were inherited, such as the long fur, the patterns, and so on.

As time went on, people began to want a cat that had the iconic Persian coat and build, but also had the same coloring as a Siamese cat. Unfortunately, World War II caused some delays in the development of these characteristics, but eventually in 1950, the first modern Himalayan cat was bred. it wouldn’t be until 1957 that it would adopt the name “Himalayan.”

Many people are surprised to learn that this breed doesn’t get its name from the location where it was bred, but rather from the color patterns of other animals from the Himalayan Mountains. The popularity of this new cat breed spread quickly, and by 1961, all major cat associations in the United States recognized the Himalayan cat as its own breed.

What started out as a simple science experiment to better understand genetics and inheritance gifted the world with the lovable and popular breed of the Himalayan cat, as well as a slightly better understanding of how cats inherit different traits from other breeds during cross-breeding.

What Does the Himalayan Cat Look Like?

The Himalayan cat takes a lot from its Persian ancestors, which is something that you will notice as soon as you lay eyes on this cat. It has a relatively short but stocky body, with its legs being equally as thick. It also has a short, wide neck in combination with its body and legs. It has a heavy-set stature, but its ears and tail remain smaller than most other cats. The head of the cat is round with large, inquisitive eyes. Much like the Persians before it, the Himalayan cat has a flat face with a slightly up-turned nose. They typically weigh between 8 and 15 pounds, with males being fairly larger than their female counterparts.

What really sets the Himalayan cat apart from most cats is its long, flowing coat of fur. It has a coat that looks very similar to a Persian’s coat with thick, full, long fur. Their coats tend to be lustrous and glossy when properly groomed and cared for.

They tend to take on the coloring of Siamese cats, mostly due to their breeding history. This means that the majority of the cat will be cream colored, aside from the face, back, tail, and feet. The face will be a slightly lighter shade of brown than the feet, and the back will also be a little bit lighter than that. The coloring on the back will lead down to the tail, which will also be darker in color. The feet will have dark brown “socks” that might even be near black in color. This is the traditional coloring pattern of a Himalayan, although some might have red, tortoiseshell, and silver coloring. Their coats are very, very high maintenance and will be a commitment that comes with adopting a Himalayan cat.

How Does the Himalayan Cat Behave?

There is a very good reason why the Himalayan cat is one of the most popular pedigreed cats around. It has a very likeable and adaptable personality. While most people think that cats are lazy and cold-hearted pets, the Himalayan cat will quickly prove this notion wrong. Friendly and outgoing to most people it comes across, these cats will be quick to try and socialize and make friends with anyone that they come across.

They also enjoy attention and affection from most people, but especially from their owners. Himalayans are often lap cats, meaning that they will make their way onto your lap if they want the attention. Do keep in mind that while these cats are outgoing, they do not enjoy inherently loud environments and prefer a calm and more peaceful area to relax in. These cats prefer a regular routine lifestyle where they can get used to the flow of the house and people, and they are not very welcoming to big changes to this lifestyle.

These cats love to play and interact with the world around them, which can sometimes mean that they get into mischief, especially if they feel that they are being left alone. Interactive toys, children who know how to play with cats, and anyone who has the other end of a piece of string are going to be this cat’s favorite. These cats enjoy being pet and brushed on a regular basis, although they are modest cats that will never yell or demand this attention. They will simply take it as they get it. They are known to have quiet voices and they enjoy talking with their family of people from time to time.

What Kind of Care Does the Himalayan Cat Need?

Like most cats, the Himalayan is fairly independent in terms of food, water, and exercise. These cats will take care of these needs on their own, assuming that the food and water are kept full. You should play with them every day, as these cats do enjoy interacting with their family, but this won’t lead to destruction of the house if you forget to play with your cat for one day. On the other hand, these cats are very high-maintenance with their fur, especially compared to most other cats.

While most cats groom themselves, the length and thickness of the Himalayan’s coat means that you will need to step in to get some work done. You will need to comb your cat’s fur daily, not only to prevent matting and tangles, but because these cats shed regularly. Combing the cat’s fur will help remove the shed fur, keeping the coat clean, clear, and healthy. For most Himalayans, combing and brushing your cats fur quickly becomes a time of bonding for both you and your cat, so it is important to make this a commitment in your day.

How Is the Himalayan Cat’s Health?

As with all purebred cats, it is important to be aware of some of the health conditions that your Himalayan is more prone to. You should always be aware of the fact that purebred cats are more susceptible to inherited conditions as well, which means you should speak to the breeder about the health history of their cats before you adopt.

Some of the conditions that the Himalayan is more prone to include polycystic kidney disease, respiratory issues (due to their flat faces), and ringworm. Keep in mind that dutiful grooming of the Himalayan’s coat will reduce the chances that your cat develops ringworm.