The cat that is known today as the Persian is a highly desirable and much sought after breed that is used in many cat shows and in breeding circles; they are often sold to people who treasure them as true gifts and can be valued in the thousands of euros/dollars.
Persians have very distinct features and are considered one of the domestic breeds that are considered true cat “royalty”.
While there is very little documentation as to when the Persian first appeared in what is now known as Iran (ancient Persia) and there is little to indicate when long haired cats appeared on the radar as there are simply no known records of long haired African wildcats, how and when the Persian breed came into being is a mystery.
The first Persians were introduced into Europe around the middle 1600s when Persians were brought into Italy from Persia by a man named Pietro della Valle. Around the same time frame another gentleman named Nicholas Claude Fabri de Peiresc was in the process of bringing them to France from the region known then as Angora which is what is now called Ankara, Turkey.
The main difference between the two “Persian” cats was the color. The cats that hailed from the Iranian region were grey in color while the Angora variety was white in color.
While the introduction into Europe of this species was no doubt accomplished at that time, the excessive breeding of the cats from then on has caused them to be distanced from the original Persian bloodlines.
Science has now shown that of the samples of the breed that are around today have very little to signify that they were originally from Persia at all, with the genetic code indicating that their bloodlines are actually from the European strain that was copiously bred after being introduced there in the 1600s.
Researchers have stated that because of this the cats have lost what is known as their “phylogeographical” signature.
That may be true but it means little to those who keep them as cherished pets.