Virginia Cobb and Dr. Clyde Keeler began an experimental breeding program in 1931 and produced the first Himalayan kitten named "Newton's Debutante" In the 1950's in Canada Ben Borrett began working on a similar breeding program to create a longhair colorpoint cat. In 1955 GCCF recognized the Himalayan as a Colorpoint Longhair. Marguerita Goforth received permission from a friend to use a longhaired cat with seal point coloring, named "Princess Himalayan Hope," to begin her breeding program to create a Persian type cat with Siamese markings. She was a major pioneer in getting the Himalayan recognized for Championship and American associations recognized the breed in 1957 as the Himalayan.
The Himalayan is a poised, loving and sweet breed. It is a sedate and affectionate cat, that prefers to cuddle with you rather than climb up your curtains. The Himalayan is responsive to your moods and emotions. They are very intelligent. Some breeders say Himalayans tend to talk more, but nothing like the Siamese. They love to be petted but do not demand attention like some breeds. But if they are not getting enough attention they will let you know with their quiet meows and meaningful looks from their big blue eyes. They also love to play with toys whether it is the most expensive toy or a balled up scrap of paper.
The Himalayan is a medium to large cat with a short cobby body that is equally massive across the shoulders and rump. The head is large, round, and smoothed domed with great breadth of skull that is set on a short, thick neck. They must have perfect tooth occlusion and a strong, well developed chin. The boning should be heavy. The eyes are large, round and set far apart, giving the cat a sweet expression. The nose is short, snub and broad with a break centered between the eyes. The ears are small and rounded at the tip and set far apart and low on the head. Tail should be short and thick, but in proportion to the body. The Himalayan is solid, but not fat, with an overall appearance of soft roundness. The coat is long and flowing and requires constant grooming because of the undercoat that will mat if not groomed. This is a cat that demands a serious time commitment to keep the coat looking lovely and it takes knowledge and practice to do it properly.
The points consisting of the ears, legs, feet, tail and face mask should show the basic color of the cat. The body color should be uniform in color, but subtle shading and darker shaded areas on the coats of older cats is allowed, but there still must be a definite contrast between body color and point color. The Himalayan is accepted in TICA in all colors and divisions.
Health Issues Common to Himalayan
All pedigreed cats have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Any breeder who claims that her breed or lines has no health or genetic problems is either lying or is not knowledgeable about the breed. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.
Himalayans have hereditary health issues that can be a concern, especially if you aren't cautious about who you buy from. They include polycystic kidney disease (PKD), progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), excessive tearing of the eyes and respiratory problems caused by restricted nasal passages. Responsible breeders take steps to avoid these problems. Himalayans should be healthy and vigorous, able to breathe normally and produce only normal amounts of tears.
Polycystic kidney disease is a hereditary condition causing enlarged kidneys and kidney dysfunction. It usually shows up between 7 and 10 years of age, although it can appear as early as 3 years of age. Reputable breeders are working to establish PKD-free breeding programs. Because PKD is linked to an autosomal dominant gene, it is easy to identify and eliminate. Ask the breeder for proof that both of a kitten's parents are free of kidney cysts, which can be detected on ultrasound. If one of the parents is PKD positive, which may be the case if the cat's bloodlines are otherwise valuable, confirm that the kitten you are purchasing has tested PKD negative.
A hereditary form of progressive retinal atrophy occurs in Persians, including Himalayans, although its prevalence is unknown. In Persians, PRA causes vision problems early in life, at 4 to 8 weeks of age, and progresses rapidly. Cats become completely blind by the time they are 15 weeks old. You may have heard that PRA in Persian cats is limited to those from chocolate or pointed (Himalayan) lines, but in a recent study, no such associations were found. That means that PRA may be more widespread in the breed than is currently believed. A study is under way to determine which gene causes the disease and develop a genetic test to identify cats that are carriers of this recessively inherited disease. Because many other breeds use Persians as outcrosses, health problems such as PRA can spread quickly and widely to other breeds.
Even if Persians/Himalayans do not have any overt breathing problems, such flat-faced breeds are sensitive to heat. They need to live in air-conditioned comfort, protected from hot weather. Keep in mind that many airlines will not transport them in the cargo bay (which isn't recommended for other reasons, as well) because of their potential for respiratory distress or even death in stressful conditions.
Pet Insurance for the Himalayan
Pet insurance for purebred cats costs more than for mixed breed cats. This is because a purebred cat is more likely than a mixed breed cat to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace cat insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which purebred cats are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your cat is when he's a healthy kitten. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.