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Black Persian Cats: Facts, Pictures, Origin & History

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By Nicole Cosgrove

black persian cat walking outdoor

Persian cats, including black Persian cats, are one of the oldest known breeds of feline. Loved by royalty, celebrities, and everyone in between, these beautiful cats have been one of the most popular breeds since they were first discovered. With their flattened faces and long, fluffy coats, black Persians can be found winning fans worldwide.

You may recognize them by sight, but how much do you really know about the black Persian cat? If you are thinking of adding one to your family or are just curious, keep reading to learn more about the gorgeous black Persian!

The Earliest Records of Black Persian Cats in History

Specific details about the origins of black Persian cats are not entirely known. They are believed to have originated in Iran, previously called Persia. The ancestors of modern-day black Persian cats were first recorded landing in Europe in the 17th century.

Italian explorers reportedly smuggled the cats out of Persia and brought them home to Italy. Based on early drawings, the first Persian cats looked much different than the modern versions. They had long hair without the characteristic flat face of today’s Persians.

From Italy, black Persian cats began to spread throughout Europe. In England in the 19th century, breeders began to develop the black Persian breed that we know today.

How Black Persian Cats Gained Popularity

Once they reached Europe, black Persian cats became popular among the noble class due to their beauty and long, luxurious hair. Before the arrival of long-haired cats from the Middle East and Asia, European cats were primarily short-haired. Because of that, black Persian cats became quite the superstars based on their looks.

In 19th century England, the Persian’s popularity became even greater once cat breeding and cat shows became all the rage in England. Also, around that time, Persian cats were imported across the ocean to America.

Reportedly, the first Persian cat to journey to America was a black Persian. American cat owners loved the new breed, and Persians were soon the most popular cats in America. American owners began establishing their own black Persian breeding operations, making their own contributions to the fast-growing breed.

Formal Recognition of Black Persian Cats

When black Persian cats first came to Europe, they were inter-bred with another long-haired cat from the Middle East, the Angora. Once English breeders became interested in developing cat breeds, they began careful breeding to separate the black Persian breed from the Angora.

In 1871, Persians first appeared in a cat show as a distinct breed. However, they were still undergoing the process of separating the Persian genetics from the Angora.

About twenty years after the cat show, black Persians were first recognized as a distinct breed and have been bred as such ever since. Today, they are one of the most popular purebred cats in the world.

black persian cat close up
Image Credit: Stefan Ivanov, Unsplash

Top 5 Unique Facts About Black Persian Cats

1. They Were In the World’s First Cat Show!

The 1871 cat show in England, where the Persian was first shown, is also the world’s first known cat show. Black Persian cats were there! The event reportedly attracted 20,000 visitors, and a Persian kitten won Best in Show! Black Persians continue to be regulars on the cat show circuit to this day.

2. Queen Victoria Was a Fan

Queen Victoria of England was reportedly quite fond of the Persian cat, which no doubt helped the breed become so popular in the country. During Queen Victoria’s reign, the British Empire spread to all corners of the world, making it easy for the black Persians’ popularity to go global.

3. They Are Famous For Their Personalities

Black Persians are known for their people-loving personalities. Sometimes described as “dog-like,” Persians often run to greet their owners when they come home and can even learn tricks.

4. They Are Champion Nappers

Black Persians are sweet cats but not known for being the most active of breeds, even as kittens. They spend a lot of time napping, in laps, or lying in the sun. The black Persian cat will happily oblige if you’re looking for a nap buddy.

5. They Could Be Described as Pop Culture Icons

Persian cats are one of the most recognizable breeds and have been well-represented as celebrity pets, as well as in film and advertising, for a long time. Raymond Chandler, a famous author and screenwriter, reportedly read the first drafts of his books to his black Persian cat.

Other famous owners of Persian cats include Florence Nightingale and Marilyn Monroe.

Do Black Persian Cats Make a Good Pet?

Since they’re gorgeous, easy-going, and surprisingly easy to care for, black Persian cats make lovely pets. Because they are so laid back, they usually get along with kids and other pets but aren’t fond of rough handling.

The most high-maintenance part of caring for a black Persian is keeping their coat in good shape. They require regular brushing to prevent their fur from becoming matted and tangled. Some owners give their cats a “lion cut,” especially in the warmer months.

Black Persians are easy to share a house with because they are so mellow. They love hanging out with their people and are perfectly content to nap most of the day away. It’s always safest for any cat to live indoors, but that is especially true for black Persians because they are so laid back.

One thing to be aware of with black Persian cats is that they are prone to several health conditions, some of them serious. Unfortunately, the popularity of the cats has led to an explosion of breeding, not all of which has been done responsibly. Choose your breeder carefully when buying a Black Persian cat.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve learned, we may not know exactly where the black Persian cat came from, but it’s easy to see how they got where they are today. Their winning mix of looks and personality took some time to develop, but the effort was worth it. Black Persian cats may have a place in history, but all they really want is a place in your lap!

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Featured Image Credit: Spike Summers, Pixabay

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