The Breed History
In the 1920s in Europe and in the 1930s in Britain, Siamese and Persian cats were crossed to obtain coloring of the points (called Himalayan pointing). As Colorpoint Longhair, first registry was in the GCCF in 1957. This cat was then further developed in the US and Canada and by the late 1950s they were accepted by the ACFA, and as part of the Persian standard by CFA in 1984. Note that the CFA and many other registries consider these cats part of the Persian breed, to be shown in different color classes called the Himalayan Division. The name Himalayan is derived from their similarity to rabbits by that name, with a similar pointed pattern. These cats resulted from crosses of two Persian/Siamese crossbreds to give the desired Himalayan (colorpoint) type in the offspring. Overall, genetically this breed has more Persian than Siamese; outcross to Persians is allowed.
Weight: 8-15 lb (3.5-7 kg)
Coat: This coat is the same as a Persian coat, just with Siamese ts-colored points. All colors of pointing are accepted. Note that the transition between point and body color is less distinct in the Himalayan because of the longer hairs, so the transition zone is softened. Also, the points take longer to evolve than in a shorthair and dilute points take a very long time to mature in appearance. The ruff is very full and extends between legs; coat standard is as for Persian in length, texture, density. Possess a thick and silky haircoat, very plush without being wooly.
Eyes: Blue, though a softer blue than Siamese sapphire. More intense color is preferred. In CFA, any other color is a disqualification. Eyes large, round and wide set.
Points of Conformation: Structurally, they are very close in type to Persian. With a round large head,the nose is very short and upturned so as to view the leather straight on, stop up between the eyes, and solid body conformation. The small ears are round tipped. Tail is short and bushy, and legs short. Paws are round, large, with tufts of long fur between the toes.
Grooming: Has high grooming needs. The Himalayan needs a daily brush, or even twice daily especially during shedding season. Tears need to be cleansed from the medial canthus regularly to prevent dermatitis and tear staining.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Calm, outgoing and friendly cat, quiet voiced like Persian. Adaptable, and gets along well with children and other pets.
Normal Breed Variations
B Blood Type: Reported frequency of type B cats in one study was 20%. A prevalence of 6% type B was reported elsewhere.
Brachycephalic syndrome: Narrow nares, elongated soft palate, possible narrow trachea, tear duct overflow.
None reported in the literature
Himalayan/Siamese Pointing Gene: see the Siamese cat chapter for a summary of the effects of this gene on coat and vision (imperfect albinism trait; temperature sensitive tyrosinase enzyme mutation).
Polycystic Renal Disease (PKD): PKD is most common in Persian breeds, and those breeds having out-crossed to Persians in their breeding programs.3 See the Persian cat chapter for details and references regarding this condition.
Hereditary Cataracts: Bilateral lesions have been reported as early as 12 weeks of age in Himalayan kittens. Two types occur: congenital or juvenile cataracts. Cataracts were of apparent autosomal recessive inheritance with variable expression in a line of Himalayan cats. By 12 weeks of age, complete lenticular opacity had developed. A littermate had bilateral posterior subcapsular triangular cataracts, and the tom had similar lesions.
Corneal Sequestration (Synonyms: black body, cornea nigrum): In early phases, an amber colored corneal stromal opacity is noted. Surrounding cornea is cloudy with neovascularization; chemosis, blepharospasm, mucopurulent ocular discharge, and hyperemic conjunctivae may be noted. The surface of the sequestrum does not stain with fluorescein dye but does retain rose bengal stain. The exophthalmic conformation is thought to play a role in susceptibility.7 Often unilateral, Persian type cats are over-represented. Usually in central or para-central cornea; brown to black pigmented lesion; often surrounded by a loose collarette of poorly adherent corneal epithelium. The lesion may extend into the shallow or deep stroma, or even to Descemet's membrane. Sloughing and corneal healing may take 2-6 months; surgical debridement is another option. It is a corneal stromal necrosis and topical glucocorticoids are contraindicated; some cases may be linked to feline herpesvirus infection; if suspected, do PCR on excised black body tissue. Recurrences or involvement of the second eye in previously unilateral cases may occur.
Feline Bronchial Asthma: (Synonyms: allergic bronchitis, chronic bronchitis, feline lower airway disease). Himalayan cats are overrepresented in studies of asthmatic cats. Cough does not always occur. Radiographs may be normal (normal in 23% of affected cats in multi-breed study). Earlier studies indicate Siamese and Himalayan cats are at higher risk, perhaps due to genetic susceptibility.
Non-healing Corneal Ulcers: In a retrospective study this breed was found to be overrepresented in cases of refractory ulcers. These indolent ulcers involved only the superficial epithelium and unless complicated, did not extend into stroma. During extended treatment regimens averaging 5 weeks, these same cats were also predisposed to corneal sequestration.
Urolithiasis: Retrospective case control study of 3,498 urolithiasis cases (1982-1992) indicated that Himalayan cats were at higher risk for calcium oxalate uroliths and at reduced risk for magnesium ammonium phosphate (MAP, struvite) crystals. In another retrospective analysis of 22,908 lower urinary tract disease cases (1980-1997), Himalayan cats were reported to be at increased risk of urocystolithiasis. In yet another study, Himalayan cats were found to be 5.8 times more likely to develop calcium oxalate stones, and 1.8 times as likely to develop MAP.
Hip Dysplasia (HD): A University of Missouri-Columbia Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital study (1991-1995) found that based on VD hip radiographs, (684 cats, 12 breeds); prevalence was 5.8% in unregistered versus 12.3% in purebred cats. Classic radiographic signs were found to be different than in dogs, with minimal remodeling of femoral neck and shallow acetabulum and remodeling of cranio-dorsal acetabular rim being the most common finding. Himalayan cats were reported to have a rate of 25% (4/16) HD.
Rare and Isolated Reports
Primary Hereditary Seborrhea Oleosa: First signs at only 2-3 days old. It is severe, progressive, with no coat color predilection. Orthokeratotic hyperkeratosis is seen on biopsy. It is a primary keratinization defect without good treatment options.
Congenital Portosystemic Vascular Shunts: In one report, Persian and Himalayan together accounted for 16% of cases out of 98 cats. Signs were noted by 6 months of age, and single extrahepatic portocaval anomaly was the most common type of defect.
Hyperchylomicronemia: An autosomal recessive condition; in one report; it occurred in two siblings. Onset at 3 weeks of age, reported changes included poor growth, lipemia retinalis, hyperlipidemia (hypertriglyceridemia), anemia, peripheral neuropathy, xanthomata.
Neonatal Isoerythrolysis (NI): Death usually at 12-24 hours of age; it was noted that queens were all primiparous, with retro-placental hemorrhage in late pregnancy being the proposed immune stimulator. One report gives the proportion of matings at risk for NI at 0.06 in this breed.
Multiple Eyelid Cysts: In a very small study group of Persian and Himalayan cats, histology indicated a similar lesion to apocrine hidrocystomas; multilocular cysts. The PAS+, diastase resistant granules were seen in the cytoplasm of affected cells. Blepharospasm, epiphora and masses or color changes of eyelids were chief complaints.
Von-Willebrand's Disease: A case of a 9 year old cat experiencing severe hemorrhage after dental extraction was reported; and had concurrent bladder hemorrhage and axilla hematoma. Iron deficiency anemia persisted during recovery; aPTT was abnormal, indicating decreased F VIII:C activity.
Dermatosparaxis (Synonym: Cutaneous asthenia, dermal fragility syndrome): A case report of this genetic disease (mutated amino terminal of procollagen peptidase enzyme) described onset of signs beginning at 6 months old. Fragile and hyper-extensible thin skin with an abnormal feeling texture was palpated.22 There was a marked tendency for abnormal skin to tear easily with minimal bleeding when wounded, healing quickly with major scar formation. Skin was only 1/3rd of the normal thickness, and attachment to underlying tissues minimal. By 9 months of age, this kitten would experience gaping holes in the skin due to routine self grooming behavior. In sheep, calves and man it is an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern. In man, termed Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type VII. In one report of this condition in a domestic shorthair cat, authors describe a way to ascribe numerical value to define the severity in an individual which could be used to document severity in this breed too: - Extensibility index=height of skin fold over lumbar area (cm) divided by # of cm from occiput to tail base, then multiply by 100. Affected cats are expected to have index greater than 19%.
Fibrodysplasia Ossificans: Case report of multifocal, non-symmetrical lesions started at the elbow joint as an apparent soft tissue swelling, not related to trauma, and progressing to ossification in 7 days. Heterotopic trilaminar or zonal pattern of ossification around the humerus, tibia and fibula was subsequently noted.
Primary Hypoparathyroidism: A 6 month-old kitten with lethargy, tremors, loss of appetite, and seizures was reported. Stunted growth, thin body condition, and bilateral punctuate to linear cataracts were seen. Clinical signs began at 8 weeks of age.
FIP Susceptibility: An American study found that Himalayan cats were significantly over-represented for a diagnosis of FIP when they analyzed data for a 16 year period at a veterinary teaching hospital.
Polycystic kidney disease. Genetic test available from UC-Davis VGL. Blood type prior to breeding or transfusion. Radiographs hips to screen for hip dysplasia.
- Breed name synonyms: Colorpoint Longhair (Britain), Pointed Persian, Himmy, Persian Colorpoint, Persian-Himalayan, Khmer (historical)
- Registries: FIFe (within Persian), TICA (separate breed), AACE (separate breed) CFA (division within Persian), ACFA (separate breed), CFF, (division of Persian), GCCF (Colorpoint Longhair, subset of Persian), ACF (in Persian), WCF (provisional Persian/ Himalayan), NZCF (within Persian), CCA (separate breed from Persian)
- Breed resources: Atlantic Himalayan Club: www.himalayan.org/links.htm
Colorpoint Cat Club (GCCF): http://www.thecolourpointcatclub.co.uk/
Colorpoint Society of Great Britain (GCCF): http://www.colourpointsocietygreatbritain.co.uk/
Persian Cat CFA Breed Council: www.persianbc.org
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