About White Persians
White long-haired cats are within the Persian Breed Group. They are amongst the most beautiful of cats with that beauty coming from the length and fullness as well as the quality of the coat.
There are two distinct varieties of the White Persian Cat, one has blue eyes and the other has eyes of deep orange or copper. As a result of interbreeding, there is also a unique variety that has odd eyes - that is one of blue and the other orange/copper coloured.
There are stories that the blue-eyed white was first produced in the Middle East. There are a number of historic references of white cats with long hair from that part of the world. White long-haired cats arrived in France some two hundred years ago and it is more than probable that this was the source of these cats in England during the early part of the 1800's. White cats were originally called "Angora" - but this was later changed to Persian.
Long-haired cats with other coat colours were used in early breeding programmes. One result of this crossing resulted in the orange-eyed variety. Over many years, breeding whites with other solid colours has taken place to improve both the coat (for length, density and quality) and type. The type of the White Persian is similar to other Self Persian cats. Bone should be massive and cobby (short-backed). The head should be large and round with small ears set wide apart. Eyes should be large, round and bold with intense eye colour. The nose should be short and wide with good nostrils. The breed standard describes the ideal that all breeders and exhibitors are striving for.
Over the years the orange-eyed variety has become the more popular with some excellent cats being put onto the Show bench, There have been significantly fewer blue-eyed cats shown. There is great difficulty achieving the desirable deep blue eye colour as out crosses to develop this feature are not possible. Even fewer odd-eyed cats have been seen although again some excellent examples have been shown.
Breeding and showing the White Persian Cat is a challenge. Genetically the white gene acts as a masking gene or "overcoat". Only one gene from one parent is required to produce the white coat. Thus for a mating of a white cat to another coloured cat, on average 50% of the progeny will be white. The colour of remaining kittens will be dependant on both the colour cat and the underlying colour of the white cat. Many breeders thus restrict the colours found in their cat's pedigree to eliminate surprises. The white gene seems to be different to the white spotting gene found in bi colour cats and the blue eye gene appears also to be different that found in the colour point cat. Hence these breeds do not help in breeding programmes.
In addition, there are undoubtedly different shades of white! These range from the dazzling sparkling white to the dingy almost yellowy tinged white with textures varying from the silky to the woolly. So to think that a single colour - WHITE - is easy - forget it.
One of the greatest challenges is the difficulty of maintaining the purity of the colour of the coat. For showing, the purity of colour is of the greatest importance for it to be without marks, shading or staining of any kind. Even when kittens have been bred which show this purity of colour, a good deal of attention has to be paid to grooming of the coat to retain its natural but attractive colour. Many are put off by the heavy demands on spare time and the discipline necessary. If you can keep a white in show condition, all other Persian colours are easy!
The breed is both hardy and vigorous like other Persians. There may be deafness in a small minority of cats despite sterling work by breeders over many years to eliminate this tendency. As with all long-haired cats, the coat requires continuous care to ensure it is free from tangles and matting does not occur. The coat will at times assume a yellowish tinge due to grease from the skin. The tail of a white cat is definitely inclined to suffer from discolouration and washing may be necessary. Cat food can sometimes be a problem for the exhibitor as this often stains the bib - especially by the messy eaters.
When clean and in full coat, the White Persian cat (especially in the hands of an expert) is probably the most beautiful and elegant of all the Persian cats. This is clearly demonstrated by the number of White Persian cats that have been awarded Best in Show at so many or our prestigious Championship Shows