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Cattitude on PetLifeRadio.comThomas Dock, host of Cattitude

Tom Dock
Cat Reporter
Veterinary News Network

Persians



The most popular purebred cat in North America is also the cat that many people would consider to be the embodiment of pedigreed cats. With an aristocratic nature and an unassuming elegance, the Persian cat continues to win the hearts of cat lovers across the world. These gentle cats are ideal housemates, happiest when indoors near their humans. And the colors....absolutely stunning!! From striking shaded silvers to stylish calicos and classy basic black, Persians are truly an artist's inspiration!

And, again, from the newsroom at www.MyVNN.com, we take a look at keeping our cat's smile pretty and their breath fresh...dental care tips for your kitties! Dental disease is the most common diagnosis in cats of any age and more than 80% of cats over the age of 3 years have some sort of dental disease.

Questions or Comments? Email Tom at: tom@petliferadio.com

 

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Announcer: Hello kitties and welcome to my world. I would come over and say hello to you but it is just as easy for you to come to me. Yes, yes, come in. You have come to the right place. This is where you’ll learn everything there is to know about your furry feline friends. I am talking about cats. Yes, I know, we are positively purr-fect pets. What do you mean I have attitude? Why of course I do. I am a cat. It is called Cattitude?  As I was saying, this show is all about cats, cats, and, oh yes, cats. So let me introduce you to my accomplice, I mean assistant, and host of Cattitude Tom Dock. Okay, Tom tell them how wonderful we cats are. It’s okay you have my permission.

Tom Dock: Welcome to the Cattitude channel on Pet Life Radio. I am your host Tom Dock. Thanks for joining us again and thanks for everyone who listened to our Siamese show. I was very happy to get several emails from people who said that they learned a lot about the show.

 Special thanks to Kristen in Indianapolis; she wrote in and said that she had always thought that Siamese were mean, like Si and Am in  “The Lady and The Tramp” that they were mean, conniving, and always getting into things and now she knows a lot better.

And those of you who love Siamese already knew that; but now we have taught Kristen something and that is really what this show is all about. Learning about our feline friends, how we can make their life better so that they in turn will help make our life better.

All right, so we are going to focus in on Persian cats today. Persians are the most popular pedigreed cat  in America at this point in time and for many people they really epitomize what a pure bred cat is all about. They epitomize the pedigreed nature and the elegance and sophistication of pure bred cats. These are truly the aristocrats of the cat world.

The Cat Fanciers Association web site says that “Persians are playful but never demanding. They love to pose and will drape themselves in a favorite window or chair enhancing the décor in much the same way as a treasured painting.”

Now How much more elegant than that can you get, enhancing the décor. Now I don’t think of my cats as enhancing the décor or being part of the furnishings, but I certainly could see where somebody could see one of these Persian cats laying across the back of the couch and just imagining that it becomes the entire room. Certainly the Persians love that as well.

So we will talk about the history of the Persians today. They do have some pretty specific breed issues that we have to deal with. Then when we take our break halfway through the show and we will talk about pet dental health.

February is coming up and that is Pet Dental Health Month. Now I am recording this is January. You may be listening to it at any point in time during the Year but Pet Dental Health Month is in February. It is when we focus on the dental needs of our pets but this is something that is good information to have at any time during the year.

So we need to get ready to hear from our sponsors. But as is my tradition; I want to give you guys a trivia question prior to going to break. This trivia question is going to focus in on Persian cats. For those of you who are James Bond fans out there: James Bond had an arch enemy, actually, the whole British Secret Service had this arch enemy and they very rarely ever showed this characters face. They always showed him petting a chinchilla Persian.  This cat showed up in about six different films including: “From Russia With Love” , “Thunder Ball”, and  “You only Live Twice”. My question to you is, “What was the name of that character who was the super villain from the James Bond Universe?”

I will have that answer for you when we come back right after we here from our sponsors.

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Announcer: Oooh, do I hear a can being opened? I believe I smell tuna!  Cattitude will return after these messages. That should give me enough time to investigate what is going on in the kitchen. Don’t have a hissy fit. We will be right back.

Announcer: Let’s talk pets on PetLifeRadio.com.

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Announcer: How dare they open a can of tuna and make a sandwich out of it. I can see why some of my celebrity pals prefer lasagna. Well, anyway, I did manage to grab myself the canary while I was in there. [Bird chirping] Quiet bird, we are going to hear the rest of my show “Cattitude”. If you be behave; I may not eat you, until later. Okay, Tom you may continue.

Tom Dock: Okay, we’re back to the “Cattitude” channel. Again, my name is Tom and we are talking about Persian cats today.

Thanks to “Pet Life Radio” and all of our sponsors for allowing these shows to go on so that we can inform you all about the wonders of the animal kingdom and of course my favorite the felines.

I had a trivia question for you before we went to break. How did you do with that? We wanted to know, “Who is the evil genius that is the arch enemy of James Bond?” He was the man who always had a Chinchilla Persian in his lap. That characters name was Ernst Stavro Blofeld was the characters name that I was looking for. He did he always had a Chinchilla Persian with him. Interestingly enough, we almost never saw Blofeld’s face. We always saw him with his hand petting the cat. 

There were three or four different actors that actually portrayed Blofeld but really there was only one cat. That was a Chinchilla Persian a little male and his name was Solomon. So he actually out lasted the actors. I don’t know if that is a good thing or not.

He was in film and of course there are several cartoons that use Persian cats. Even in “Austin Powers International Man Of Mystery” Mike Myers had a Persian cat at the very beginning for Dr. Evil. Then, of course, he went  into space and he got cryogenically frozen and he came out a Sphinx instead of a Persian. Anyway enough about James Bond.

Let’s go right into talking about our Persians. As I mentioned earlier Persians are the most popular pedigreed cats in the United Stated. It’s actually been that way almost since the day that they got here. Persians have been the number one, as far as registrations go, since the 1870’s. That is more than 130 years of being number one. Honestly, if you’ll look at the numbers it doesn’t look like they are going to fall off number one any time soon.

There were more than 18,000 Persians registered last year in the United States and the closest competitor I believe was the Maincoon with about 14,000. You know they are sitting up and sitting pretty right there; which, of course, is what Persians do very wel.

Let’s go into the history of Persians. Imagine taking yourself back in time and you are part of a caravan. You are winding your way through the dusty dessert coming into Europe from Iran. You’ve got rare spices with you and you’ve got jewels. Of course, on all these camels you’ve got all this treasure but there is probably even one more precious cargo that you are bringing with you and that was an occasional long haired cat. Now long haired cats are unique. You do not see longed haired cats in the wild.

When these first arrived in Europe, which was probably in Italy around the 1500’s, these cats were called Persians because of their country of origin. There are hieroglyphic references though dating back as far as 1600 B.C., more than 2000 years ago actually I more than 3000 years ago, that depicted a Persian type of cat. Now we don’t have any proof that these were actually Persians; but we do know that this is one of the oldest breeds.

I talked with you all about breeds in cats last week with Siamese and it bares reiterating right here. In that, we have been breeding dogs for specific purposes for many thousands of years, but nobody ever really bred cats for a specific purpose. They just, kind of, were there until the last several hundred years. Especially in the late 19th century and all the way through the 20th century, it was really the hey day of most of the development of the breeds that we see, the 41 different breeds that the CFA recognizes.

But Persians like Siamese are probably a very old breed, even ancient breed.  Of course, you don’t see long hairs on wild cats because it is a recessive gene. So it is going to be bred out and when that mutation shows up people will go crazy for it. That is exactly what happened back in the 17th and 18th centuries when these cats came from Asia into Italy, then France, and then finally into Great Britain.

Some of these cats were originally called Angora cats because of a similar cat from Turkey that they looked like and their original body type was much more similar to the Angora’s that we see today. You had a cat that was a little bit leaner, little slimmer, not got that heavy body type that is typical of the Persian today. In fact, Angoras and Persians are probably cousins and a lot of  Angoras were used I the early breeding programs of Persians. 

Now these cats had a much more course coat, a shorter coat than what we see today; but the breeders with their selective breeding patterns decided to choose a longer more fuller coat with a longer undercoat.

Now the long hairs that you see are normally a guard hair. They’re the coarse hair on the outside of the cat facing the exterior. Then you have a shorter undercoat.  What these breeders did was they selected cats that had longer undercoats. So now the undercoat is as long as the guard hairs.  It’s nice and silky and that is the choose a longer more fuller coat with a longer undercoat.

Now the long hairs that you see are normally a guard hair. They’re the coarse hair on the outside of the cat facing the exterior. Then you have a shorter undercoat.  What these breeders did was they selected cats that had longer undercoats. So now the undercoat is as long as the guard hairs.  It’s nice and silky and that is the Persians that we see today.
Also the body type won out and you see less of an Angora look and much more of a copied body.

Persians also got a helping hand because Queen Victoria, as with so many pets, decided that these Persians needed to have royal patronage. She kept some blue Persians and her son King Edward VII also donated Persians to many of the cat shows during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Now Persians are going to be, probably, the polar opposite of Siamese. We talked about Siamese being lean, slim, angular, long, and live. Persians are cobby. When we compare these cats we say they are foreign type; which is like the Siamese or Aussie cats or things like that, compared to the cobby type; which are the Persians and the short hairs. These animals are stocky. They are solid. Some people will describe them as heavy, not meaning they are fat but they are solid cats.  They have shorter legs, a shorter neck, and some people have described them, actually, as being massive, almost with a mane of hair. The males especially will get a big beautiful mane around their face which is absolutely gorgeous.

Probably the reason people love Persians so much is simply the number of colors. There is just a profusion of colors that you are going to find with the Persian breed. CFA (the Cat Fanciers Association) – and by the way I use their information more than anybody else’s because they’re the largest registry in the United States and it is the easiest one to get information from. –They say that there’s more than 90 different colors that you that you can show a Persian cat in.

In the United States they break those colors down into seven different colors for the Persian breed. Now If you go to Europe, if you go to Britain, each variety of color is shown as a separate breed. So you have Chinchilla Persians. You have solid color Persians. You have the Himalayans. They all get “the best of show” as a different breed. Here in the United States there are divisions within the Persian breed and then one cat is chosen out of all seven divisions.

Those divisions can be broken down as solid colors and most of the time that is what you think of when you think of a Persian cat: the solid white, the solid black, the solid blue, or even solid red. It may seem to you that it would be pretty easy to produce a solid colored cat but really it is not. All cats are genetically Tabby’s and so you are going to have Tabby markings somewhere on the cat. If you get it in a strong enough light, especially, when they’re kittens, you are going to see the Tabby markings.

Producing a solid colored cat without any patterning, shading, or ticking is  a very difficult thing to do. So solid colors, when you do get a good quality one, are just absolutely gorgeous animals and animals that you just fall in love with immediately.

Reds especially are somewhat difficult to get this because of the way the gene that colors for the orange color is connected with the Tabby.  It is a very difficult thing to get a red that does not have any markings to it at all.

May favorite Persians, the two divisions that I like, are the silvers and the smokes. I actually, used to breed shade of silver Persians and just really loved them. They are very mellow cats and just outstandingly gorgeous. If you think about, I’m pretty sure, the cat that’s on the “Fancy Feast” commercial that runs up to the crystal bowl.  That’s the type of silver or smoke pattern. It is actually known as a Chinchilla. I think once or twice they have used a silver shaded Persian in the commercials.

But we get the smokes and the shades and the silvers from a gene that inhibits color in the hair. Normally you’ve got color throughout the whole hair shaft. This inhibitor gene actually will keep the color just to a certain point, the tip actually of the hair, and depending on how much this gene is expressed you can have very little color expressed at the tip or a lot more color. That is the difference between the chinchillas that are very light and the black smoke or the silver smokes that are much darker and have almost a white undercoat but a very dark outer coat..

Also popular are the Tabby cats, party colors like the tortoise shell and the calicos are very popular. There is probably nothing more gorgeous then a full calico Persian cat, the long hair, the striking colors, the orange and black on the white, just very pretty cats.

Bi color cats are actually very popular in Persian breeds right now. These are your colors that are a blue and white, black and white. So they are just kind of a white pattern but they don’t have the party color, they don’t have the red in it as well.

Finally the 7th division is the Himalayans. These are pointed Persians. So they are Persians that look like Siamese as far as their coloration. We are going to talk about them in a whole different show because they really deserve their own show. Himis are wonderful cats an I think that we need to give them their due.

Persians also have probably wonderful personalities. Breeders and people who one Persians always talk about their very placid temperament, how gentle they are, and how they’re happy to be indoors. We talked about our Siamese last week and how they are so inquisitive and they like to be into things. Well Persians just like to be next to you. They like to be on your lap. They like to be behind you. They like to just be near you.

They are very quite cats, some what undemonstrative, and compared with the talkative Siamese they have more of a melodious voice. More of a “chirp” I would call it.

These animals are just super responsive to their owners. A lot of breeder that I talked with will also say that they enjoy having them while working on the computer or reading the newspaper, just being part of their lives.

Persians are pretty healthy cats all in all. If you get a Persian kitten from a reputable breeder you are probably not going to run into any problems. However, there is a little bit of a controversy going on with Persian breeder’s right now just like with any pedigreed animal. That is that you look at the doll face of the Persians, which is the normal round head, and compare these doll faces to the real pug faces that you see. A lot of reds and a lot of blacks now have a very smushed in face. In fact, I am looking at a “best of breed” picture from the CFA website of a white Persian, and extremely smushed in face like a bulldog.

Now obviously when you have that shortened nose there is going to be potential health problems. One thing we see in the veterinary field is cats that have very small nostrils. We call this constrictive airways and it’s very difficult for these cats to breathe. But luckily there is surgery that can be done to open up those nostrils a little bit more and let air flow a little bit better.

With these big eyes and smushed faces you are obviously going to have some tearing problems as well. But a good part of the grooming should be to wash your Persians face with a damp washcloth every day. Get in those folds and clean out any of the staining that is going on.

Of course, daily grooming needs to be part of owning a Persian. You need to brush these cats every day because they will get matted very very easily at the slightest irritation of the coat whether it is getting wet, getting just ruffled too much, they are going to mat and that is going to be a problem. To me personally there is nothing sadder than a shaved down Persian. Some people love to shave them down, especially during the summer time because they give them a lion cut and they think they look cute. Personally if I have a Persian I want to see that coat. I don’t like to see these cats shaved down.

So if you are out looking for a Persian kitten look for one with clear eyes, clear nose. We don’t like to see that smushed in face. I know that some breeders prefer that.  I myself I prefer the shaded silvers and the chinchilla’s that have the longer face. You don’t see as much of the pugged faces in that variety.

One very big concern with Persian cats is the disease called polycystic kidney disease. Now this is a disease that people get but cats get it also. It is a genetic disease, meaning that it is inherited from mom and dad. It is a slowly progressing disease where cysts form on the kidneys and these cysts take up space which normally is normal kidney tissue.

As you lose the normal kidney tissue you lose the ability to filter through the blood and so the animal starts building up kind of toxins in their blood streams of course.  You get larger kidneys with less filtering capability. Of course, that is a problem that is going to lead to kidney failure.

Now what is interesting is that this disease is inherited through a dominant gene. You would normally think that if it is a dominant gene it should be easy to see and you can select them out of your breeding program. But because this is a slowly progressing disease what happens is a lot of times you have allowed these animals to breed before you even know they have the disease. The average age of onset is about 7 years actually. So a lot of times you have been breeding this cat for 4 or 5 years and you don’t even know what is going on.

Prior to recent years the only way that we really knew that a cat had polycystic kidney disease was that we could ultrasound it and see the cysts on the kidney. Now a days we actually have genetic testing that is available. This is hugely important for people who breed Persian cats or are thinking about getting a Persian cat.

It has been estimated that about 37% of Persians carry this gene. Again this is a dominant gene so if you get a copy from either parent, from mom or dad, you are going to develop this disease. You may not develop it as severe but there is an equal likelihood that you could develop a more severe disease if you are a cat. If you get a copy from mama and dad, that is what is called a lethal homozygous and what it means basically is that the two dominant genes basically kill the kitten. These animals won’t survive.

So what we want to look for are cats that do not have this gene, that have the recessive version of the gene so that they don’t have polycystic kidney disease. Those are the ones that we want to breed. And luckily testing is available now through the University of California at Davis. The veterinary hospital out there has a genetic center and you can actually send a little cheek swab in, just like you would do with CSI. You know how they take the DNA of all the murder suspects, the same thing with your kitty. Get a little Q-tip and get the cheek cells off of there and send that in and you can find out whether or not your cat is carrying this disease. Then find out whether or not it is going to be possible for you to breed that cat or not.So again polycystic kidney disease gentic testing is available.

Persian are related to several different breeds. We have already talked about the Himalayans which are simply pointed Persians. They have the color of the Siamese. But there is another Himalayan which interestingly enough we thought we could develop early in the 20th century but hasn’t shown up until just recently. It is a solid colored Himalayan. Imagine a Himalayan that has got chocolate points on it and then spread that chocolate out through out the whole body. There had never been chocolate Persians before.

Some breed associations will call these breeds cashmeres. So they are solid Himalayans; but Himalayans are pointed Persians. So I guess cashmeres are really solid pointed Persians. I don’t know if that makes sense to you or not but they are all Persians. It is taking those lilacs and those chocolates that aren’t seen in the Persian coloration and making them solid through out the whole body.

That about does it for our Persian run down. I hope you learned a little bit about that breed of cat today. They are like I said aristocrats. They really epitomize the elegance of pure bred cats.

We need to take a break and hear from our sponsors. When we come back I want to talk about pet dental health.

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Announcer: Oooh... Do I hear a can being opened I believe I smell tuna!  “Cattitude” will return after these messages. That should give me enough time to investigate what is going on in the kitchen. Don’t have a hissy fit. We will be right back.

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Announcer: Let’s talk pets on PetLifeRadio.com

Announcer: How dare they open a can of tuna and make a sandwich out of it. I can see why some of my celebrity pals prefer lasagna. Well anyway I did manage to grab myself the canary while I was in there. [Bird chirping] Quiet Bird!  We are going to hear the rest of my show “Cattitude”. If you behave, I may not eat you until later. Okay Tom you may continue.

Tom Dock: We are back to the Cattitude channel. Thanks again for listening to us and thanks for listening to Pet Life Radio.

I am going to talk a little bit about pet dentistry. Now it is the end of January when I am recording this and I may realize that you guys are probably listening to this at any point in time; that you may be listening to this in the middle of summer. But February is pet dental health month and so this is a good time for me to talk about how you can help keep your cat’s mouth healthy and happy and make sure everything is going to go right in their mouth and keep the teeth around for the life of the cat.

The most common or at least one of the most common diagnoses of cats across the United States is the presence of dental disease. This is a disease that not only affects the health of the pet but also effects your interaction with that pet.

We all know how much we love our animals and we will allow them to nuzzle with us and even kiss us. But if your cat has very bad dental disease they are going to have bad breath. They are going to have halitosis. You are not going to want to nuzzle with them or kiss them and you are going to start pushing them away. That really breaks the human/animal bond; which is not what we want. So we need to take a look at this.

Banfield, the pet hospital, their data service, which is called data savant, did a survey. This is dogs but it pertains to cats as well. They looked  more than 90,000 dogs across the United States and when they compared dogs with bad dental disease to a similar age dog without any dental disease, the dogs with bad teeth were eight times more likely to have an infection of the lining of the hear and five times more likely to have a heart murmur. In people hospitals that do surgeries on the heart the most common reason that somebody comes in to have the valves of their hear operated on is because  they’ve got bad teeth. So we certainly know that there is a correlation between the teeth in your mouth and hear problems.

Dental care is one of the most overlooked areas of pet care. The American Association of Animal Care did a study and less than 35% of pets who need dental care ever have a dental cleaning performed.

Now let’s back up just a little bit and talk about, “Why do we need to take care of our cat’s teeth?’ After all, there is a lot of wild cats out there. They don’t get their teeth taken car of and they are fine. Right?

 Well think about those wild cats; whether it is those big cats like the leopard and the lions or the little feral cats that are running around our neighborhood. These animals don’t have near the life span that our indoor house kitties do. Persians often 15 to 20 years, I have seen Siamese live close to 25 years. A feral cat outdoors is lucky to make it five or six years.  Obviously, there is a lot of other things out there like cars and trucks that could smush the feral kitty; but because of their diets, because they get things like dental disease they are not as healthy as indoor pets.

Now some of you are going to disagree with me and you are going to say well raw food and the bones will help to clean feral cats teeth. There were studies done about 10 years ago, one in Germany and one in Australia. They looked at populations of feral cats and their diets. They looked at these cat’s teeth. I think there were about 60 cats in Germany and about 100 in Australia. When they finally looked at all these cats they found out that they had a huge preponderance of dental diseases, and fractured teeth, and feline adontoclastic resorbtive [sp] lesions which is a special problem in cats. These cats were eating lizard, bug, bird, and rodents, so natural diets for cats.

This is a really big problem . Like I said 85% of our pets have some sort of dental disease by the time they are three years old. The other thing that you have to think about is that 60% of your cat’s tooth is below the gum line, so almost two-thirds of the tooth can’t be seen. And other studies have shown that 42% of cats who have mouths that appear normal, they have some sort of disease process or some sort of pathology going on under the gum line.

So here is the important thing we need to take care of our cats teeth. It would be ideal if we could brush our cats teeth every day. Now you and I out there know that our cats aren’t always going to allow that. So there are other options that you can do.  There are certain diets that you can buy. Hills makes a great diet called Hills TD. It is a kibble that is designed to stay together when the cat chews and it scrubs the teeth. Iams and Frisky’s both have dental diets. What they have done is add certain chemicals or abrasives to the food that actually scrubs the cat’s teeth. So that is another option that you could go with.
There is a company called Greenies that makes a little sprinkle that you can put on your cats food that will help to scrub the teeth. There are rinses that you can put in the water.

My favorite thing is a barrier sealant that you can apply.  It is really easy to do and once your veterinarian cleans your cat’s teeth, once a week you put a little of this barrier sealant on a Q-tip like device and rub it up and down on the side of the cats teeth on both sides for about thirty seconds and you are done for the week. That will actually electrostatically repel material and the bacteria are what make up plaque and plaque makes up tartar. So if we can repel that bacteria, we are going to be doing okay and we are going to keep our cat’s teeth a lot healthy. That means our whole cat is going to be a lot healthier.

See your veterinarian for routine dental care check-ups. Like I said 60% of the tooth lies below the gum line, if your veterinarian offers dental x-rays take them up on it. It is a good way of knowing how healthy your cat’s mouth is. Cats are very prone to a condition called feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion or FORL’s for short. These lesions, basically, the enamel wears away and the pulp cavity of the cat’s tooth gets exposed to the air. If you have ever had a broken tooth you can imagine how painful this is. As a veterinary technician we would do dental cleanings on these cats and even under anesthetic when you touch one of these cats its mouth would chatter. So that is a very painful condition. So you want to make sure that your cat doesn’t have that. Talk with your veterinarian. Often times they’ve got to extract the tooth but that would be a lot better than letting your cat suffer every time they go down to chew their kibble.

So that is it for our show today.  I hope that I taught you a little bit about cats, a little bit about Persians, and a little bit about dentistry. Make sure you see your veterinarian. Stop by myVNN.com that is the Veterinarian News Network. You can see a video on dental care in pets.

And of course as always if you have any questions at all, any comments or anything email me at tom@PetLifeRadio.com... tom@PetLifeRadio.com . Thanks again to our sponsors for sponsoring our show and I look forward to hearing from you all via email. Next week  we will start looking at the Maincoon and Norwegian Forest cats. So you all have a perfectly great day. Let your curiosity run and go love those cats. Bye bye for now.

Announcer: Do you want to know what cats like for breakfast?  Mice Krispies, of course. Learn everything there is to know about cats on “Cattitude” with your host Tom Dock each week we will spotlight a cool cat breed , get up today advice on cat health, and  check out spiffy new cat products. So curl up on the couch every week for a purr-fectly enjoyable time on “Cattitude” every week on Demand only on PetLifeRadio.com
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