Monday, October 27, 2014

Cat Breeds: Himalayan

Colorpoint cats such as the Siamese have always held a mystical quality, one that has attracted many cat fanciers over the years. But, until the 20th century, colorpoint breeds all had short hair. If you wanted a longhaired version, you had to cross a colorpoint breed to a longhaired breed and hope you got a longhaired kitten with colorpoint markings.

But in the 20th century, all that started to change. It began in the early 1930s in the United States. Clyde Keeler and Virginia Cobb began an experimental breeding program. They hoped to achieve a more stable longhaired breed that had colorpoint markings. This program had its ups and downs, meeting with only limited success. In the 1950s, however, Ben Borrett started a similar program in Canada. This program was much more successful, and in 1955 the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) recognized the Colorpoint Longhair as its own breed, but this wasn't the end of the story.

Around this same time, Marguerita Goforth began her breeding program. Her goal was to create a Persian-type cat with Siamese markings. She was also determined to have the Himalayan recognized as its own distinct breed, and not simply another colorpoint breed. Through her efforts, the Himalayan was given Championship status in 1957. Since that time, the Himalayan has been a well established breed.

The Appearance of the Himalayan

If you picture a "Persian with Siamese markings", that describes a Himalayan perfectly. This regal cat even has the bright blue eyes of a Siamese. The Himalayan is a medium-sized cat with a cobby body. Like the Persian, the Himalayan should have a large, rounded head and a thick neck. Ears should be small and set low on the head. The tail should be short, at least when compared to most other breeds, but still long enough to give the cat a balanced look.

The coat is very much like the Persian coat, long and silky. The top coat should be shiny and the undercoat just thick enough to make the cat appear quite fluffy. This combination results in many, many tangles, so consider a Himalayan only if you're willing to groom your cat daily. This breed needs it.

As for color, the body of the cat should be a uniform cream (or similar shade). The points (ears, face mask, tail, legs and feet) should be a contrasting color, and it is this color that is considered the color of the cat. The Himalayan can be found in lavender, chocolate, seal point, and several other colors. Basically, if the Siamese comes in that color, so does the Himalayan.

The Personality of the Himalayan

Loving and affectionate, the Himalayan is the ultimate lap cat. They're not all that active, preferring to cuddle instead. Like the Siamese, they are quite vocal, so expect your day to be filled with chips and meows. Maybe even a few yowls if they get annoyed enough.

Though they do like to play a little, especially with scrunched up paper, they don't do well in high activity households. A quieter home is better suited to this elegant breed. They get along with other pets and even children, but they don't like to be bothered. So if you're going to bring a Himalayan into your home, teach children and even adults how to behave around your new feline companion.

Himalayans are sweet and loving. They make great companions for the elderly or those who live alone and need a friend. But they require extensive grooming and they don't like to be home alone. If you're home a lot and don't mind brushing out your cat on a daily basis, the Himalayan might be for you.