Though not as common as their short-haired companions, many long-haired cat breeds have gained popularity through rescue organizations and are well known by cat fanciers world-wide. We take a look at some of the better-known breeds and a few you may not recognize.
Known for their striking blue eyes and white socks on its paws, the Birman is gentle, playful and makes an excellent companion.
The breed is sacred in Burma, and its story there is legendary. Pure white cats lived in temples dedicated to Buddha and were considered carriers of priests’ souls. The deity who watched over the temple was symbolized by a golden statue with bright sapphire eyes. When one of the priests was killed at the foot of the statue, his feline companion was there to take his spirit and miraculously was transformed into a golden-colored cat with sapphire blue eyes and white paws—the coloration of the modern day Birman.
The breed is gentle, affectionate and easy to handle. According to Petside, most breeders insist that their Birman’s be kept indoors because of their clumsiness and poor sense of direction. Though they are long-haired cats, their coats don’t mat, making their upkeep less intensive than other long-haired breeds.
Named after the Himalayan rabbit with the same coloring, this breed is most similar to the Persian with the exception of its blue eyes and dark coat. The most well-known modern day Himalayan is Mr. Jinx, from the film Meet the Parents.
The origins of the Himalayan can be traced to the 1920’s and ‘30s, when breeders began mating Persian and Siamese cats to create a breed with the body of the former but the markings of the latter.
Known for being gentle and peaceful, Himalayans are more active and communicative that Persians but are quieter than the Siamese. They can become very attached to their owners, however, requiring constant attention and pampering, according to PetMD. Because of their thick, glossy coats, they do require regular grooming and brushing to keep their hair tangle-free.
Persians have been one of the most popular breed of cat for centuries, competing in the first modern cat show in London in 1871. Its history dates back to the 16th century in Europe, Persia and Turkey. Some also believe that the recessive gene for long hair appeared naturally for cats living in these mountainous regions, according to PetMD.
The breed is sweet-tempered and not quite as active or as inquisitive as other cat breeds. They’re devoted to their owners, but can be selective in who they give attention to. Once they’ve given over their trust, they love to be at the center of your attention.
Because of its long hair, Persians require substantial and regular grooming sessions. To keep their coat silky smooth and free of any matting, they need daily brushing and should only be kept indoors.
Developed by breeders looking for the personality of a Siamese with a variety of colors, the Javanese take after both their Siamese and Balinese relatives with a loyal, playful and intelligent personality.
The Javanese were named after the island of Java because of its proximity to the island of Bali and the breeds similar body shape, personality and coat as the Balinese. Ironically, the cat has nothing to do with the island of Java itself and did not originate there, according to petMD.
The breed is known for being easy to train, extremely devoted and quite the talker with excellent communication skills, according to petfinder.com. They also have a fascination with food, so their weight should be monitored if they’re not very active.
Its hair, which comes in a variety of colors including red, cream, tortoise and seal, is easy to maintain and doesn’t tangle easy, according to PetMD. Unlike other long-haired cat breeds, it requires only occasional brushing and upkeep.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Magnus Bravth