According to some organizations, this controversial breed isn't even a distinct breed. To some, the Himalayan cat, or the Colorpoint Persian, is like a Persian cat wearing Siamese cat clothes.
Regardless, this gentle, sweet, and adorable breed is hard to ignore.
Himalayan Cat Characteristics
Himalayan size. Himalayans are medium-sized cats with a lot of fur that makes them look bigger. They tend to weigh between 8 and 15 pounds, with males typically being heavier.
Coat characteristics. The Himalayan's coat is long, dense, and thick. The colors and patterns are pointed, meaning the "points" of the body (nose, ears, tail, etc.) are darker, and the rest of their body is lighter.
Some of the colors you find on a Himalayan include:
Distinct physical features. The Himalayan cat is a Persian breed, so its eyes are a bright blue.
The breed's most notable feature is its squashed face. The short snout, round eyes, and chubby cheeks give the breed an adorably sweet face.
Himalayan cat lifespan. As with most cats, a Himalayan cat can live around 15 years. Genetics, lifestyle, and environment play significant parts in your cat's lifespan.
Himalayan cat personality. Himalayan cats are gentle and loving. They prefer sitting on the sofa and being pet by their loved ones instead of playing and exploring.
Caring for a Himalayan Cat
Coat care. The Himalayan's coat is high maintenance, needing daily care. You'll need to comb their fur frequently to remove tangles and brush their fur to remove loose hairs.
Dental hygiene. Dental problems affect most cats at some point in their life. Over 50% of adult cats have a dental disease.
A lack of dental hygiene causes such dental problems. Teeth brushing is the best way to clean your Himalayan's mouth.
You'll need to train your Himalayan from an early age to be okay with teeth brushing. If you can't brush their teeth, though, you can try:
- Professional cleanings from your vet
- Dental chews, food, and treats
- Feline oral rinses
Claw care. Trim your Himalayans claws every 2 to 3 weeks to keep your cat comfortable and to prevent injuries. You can trim your cat's claws with appropriate clippers or have your vet or groomer do it.
Feeding and nutrition. All cats need continuous access to clean, fresh water.
Good-quality cat foods from your local pet store typically have enough nutrients for your Himalayan. Feed your cat an appropriate amount for their size, exercise level, and age.
The cat food label will suggest how much to feed your Himalayan daily. Divide that amount into two meals served about 8 to 12 hours apart.
Some cats like free-feeding, but having constant access to food can sometimes lead to overeating. Dry food is better for free-feeding. If left out, wet food can attract bacteria and pests.
Your Himalayan's needs and preferences will determine whether you give them wet food, dry food, or a mixed diet.
Wet food has many flavors and high moisture content. It can be a good choice for picky Himalayans.
Dry food is affordable and stays fresh longer. For some cats, though, the crunchy kibble can get boring after a while.
Talk to your vet to figure out your Himalayan's ideal diet. Their nutritional needs may change as they age, so talk to your vet if you're concerned about your cat's diet.
Exercise and activity needs. Himalayans don't need much exercise. If they get bored, they may want to play, so having a few toys on standby can help.
Indoor vs. outdoor lifestyles. Most cats love watching birds and squirrels through the window. Always use a harness or leash if you take your Himalayan outside.
Cats can hunt small animals like rodents or birds. This type of hunting, though, can harm local ecosystems and cause widespread problems.
The outdoors can also expose your Himalayan to parasites, diseases, and larger predators. Don't let your cat out of sight outside.
Vet visits. Your Himalayan needs to visit the vet regularly. Of course, if your cat starts showing strange symptoms, take them to the vet right away.
Your Himalayan kitten needs multiple vet visits for the first few months to show their development, get vaccinations, and be spayed or neutered. Your vet will determine the schedule of the checkups.
Adult Himalayans should see the vet yearly. They'll update their vaccines, do blood work, and do other routine checkups during these visits.
Senior Himalayan cats typically need two visits yearly, about every 6 months or as your vet recommends. Your vet will check things like:
- Eyesight, hearing, and other signs of age
- Blood work
- Weight management
Flea, tick, and worm care. It doesn't matter if your Himalayan cat is inside all day. All cats need protection from fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
Fleas ride into your home on people or other pets. Once inside, they're just a leap away from your Himalayan.
Plenty of preventative options are available to fit your cat's needs, like medications or collars. Talk to your vet about which one is best for your Himalayan.
Ticks don't travel like fleas. They wait in the grass for animals to come to them and latch on as your pet moves by.
If your Himilayan spends time outdoors, consider using a tick preventative.
Heartworm disease can be deadly. They're transmitted whenever a mosquito infected with heartworm larvae bites your cat.
Heartworm disease in cats isn't fully understood, so diagnosis is tough. This disease is untreatable in cats, so treatment aims to relieve symptoms if any are apparent.
With the possibly fatal results of heartworm disease, prevention is best for your Himalayan. Talk to your vet about which heartworm prevention is ideal for your cat.
Health Problems in Himalayan Cats
Brachycephalic conditions. Himalayan cats are a brachycephalic breed, meaning that they have smushed faces and airways. Even though it's one of their signature traits, their flat faces can cause problems.
It's not uncommon for Himalayans to have trouble breathing because of their facial structure. They may also have trouble swallowing or being physically active.
Brachycephalic abnormalities can get worse over time and can be life-threatening. Severe symptoms may need surgical correction of the soft palate, nose, and other parts of the airway.
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD). PKD is an inherited kidney disease that commonly affects Persian cats, the parent breed of Himalayans. It's genetic, so the only way to prevent it is through responsible breeding.
PKD causes cysts to form on the kidneys, gradually leading to kidney failure. Your vet can determine if symptoms are the cause of PKD through an ultrasound.
The primary symptom that suggests a kidney problem is that your cat drinks more water than usual and urinates more. Other symptoms to be mindful of if you suspect your Himalayan has PKD include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
There's no cure for PKD. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms, and treatment options include:
- Pain relievers
- Appetite stimulants
- Fluid therapy
- Specialized diet
Ringworm. Ringworm is a fungal infection that creates raised, red rings on your Himalayan's skin. It's caused by contact with the fungus from a contaminated person, animal, or object.
Ringworm can be contagious on surfaces for up to 18 months. If you, someone, or something in your home was infected with ringworm, deep cleaning carpets and surfaces could help prevent future infections.
If your Himalayan cat has a ringworm infection, you'll notice the red rings on their skin. The areas where the fungi are feeding on the skin may cause small patches of hair to fall out.
Since Himalayans have long hair, it's much more difficult to notice any hair loss and eliminate the infection. This makes the breed particularly contagious since it may take longer to notice the infection.
Ringworm infections are treatable, though it is hard to prevent future re-infections. Topical and oral antifungal medications treat ringworm infections.
Your Himalayan can transfer the fungal spores when they shed their fur. You'll likely need to isolate your cat in an easy-to-clean room during the treatment process.
Other Considerations for Himalayan Cats
Are they good with children and other animals? Himalayan cats don't mind children or other animals, but they do prefer a quiet household. As long as no one is nipping at their tail or tugging their ears, they'll be happy.
Are they hypoallergenic? Himalayan cats are heavy shedders and not hypoallergenic.
Himalayan Cat History
Himalayan history started in the 1950s when the western world started getting creative. North American and British breeders had a goal: a Persian cat with the Siamese pointed pattern.
It took almost a decade of trial and error, but the breeders were successful.
British breeders called it the Colorpoint Persian, a variation of the Persian breed. North American breeders preferred the name Himalayan, and the rest is history.