The Persian cat is a long-haired breed of cat characterized by its round face and short muzzle. It is also known as the "Persian Longhair" in English-speaking countries. The first documented ancestors of Persian cats were imported into Italy from Persia around 1620. Widely recognized by cat fancy since the late 19th century, Persian cats were first adopted by the English, and then mainly by American breeders after World War II. Some cat fancier organizations' breed standards subsume the Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair as variants of this breed, while others treat them as separate breeds.
The selective breeding carried out by breeders has allowed the development of a wide variety of coat colors, but has also led to the creation of increasingly flat-faced Persian cats. Favored by fanciers, this head structure can bring with it a number of health problems. As is the case with the Siamese breed, there have been efforts by some breeders to preserve the older type of cat, the traditional breed, having a more pronounced muzzle, which is more popular with the general public. Hereditary polycystic kidney disease is prevalent in the breed, affecting almost half of the population in some countries.
In 2021, Persian cats were ranked as the fourth-most popular cat breed in the world according to the Cat Fanciers' Association, an American non-profit cat registry.