How to take care of a Persian cat with a flat face
Beautiful, friendly, and affectionate, flat-faced Persian kitties are famous and adored for their unique appearance and cartoon-like eyes.
All felines with this distinct facial structure, including Persians, Exotic Shorthairs, and Himalayans, are brachycephalic, which means they have broad, short skulls. Taking care of a Persian cat with a flat face can be challenging because this feature makes them susceptible to specific health problems. Untamed explains how to ensure your Persian’s health and longevity with an adequate diet despite such an unfavourable albeit adorable trait.
Origins of the flat-faced Persian cat
Persian cats originated in Iran, previously known as Persia (until 1935), which explains the breed’s name.
Before the Second World War, England was the only western country that bred Persian cats. It was also the time when Americans discovered the breed. The original Persian had a round face with a short muzzle and was called a doll-faced Persian. In the late 1950s, a natural mutation in red and red tabby Persians led to the growing popularity of the peke-faced look (named after the Pekinese dog with whom they share the distinct feature).
Their popularity resulted in selective breeding (choosing felines that share distinct traits and mating them to get the desired outcome). These Persians had extremely flat faces, making them susceptible to numerous health problems.
In the 1990s, their popularity dwindled due to various serious health issues. However, the breed was still sought-after, and breeders continued to aim for the peke-faced appearance. Selective breeding also produced various coat colours we know today.
I most certainly look nothing like a dog!
Source: Rodrigo dos Reis
Common health problems in flat face Persian cats
Brachycephalic Persians experience many issues because of their facial structure. You can check them out in the following table:
Potential health problems
Facial bones develop abnormally
Small and narrow nasal passage
A soft palate (roof of the mouth)
Trouble with breathing and swallowing
Narrow tear duct
Eye and skin issues
Large, protruding eyeballs
Entropion eyelids (turned inwards)
Eye problems, including ulcers, perforations, and infections
A raised and rotated upper jaw
Dental and tear duct issues
Flat-faced Persians often experience the brachycephalic obstructive airways syndrome (BOAS), aka breathing issues. Research shows that the size of cats’ noses affects the severity of this condition.
Because of their thin nostrils, small internal nasal chambers, and elongated soft palates, these Persians don’t get enough airflow. The symptoms include:
- Heavy breathing
- Low oxygen levels
- Swelling of the airways
The BOAS entails anxiety, lethargy, and insomnia.
Besides breathing problems, flat-faced Persian cats are susceptible to common respiratory diseases, such as:
- Sinus infections
- Contagious feline viruses
This tiny nose might be attractive, but it makes breathing a challenge.
Source: Sergey Semin
Persians are inactive lap cats, but flat-faced kitties also have trouble exercising because of the restricted airflow. They quickly get tired and struggle to catch their breath. Their long coats don’t help, especially during the summer when a heat stroke is a real possibility.
Skin and coat issues
Aggravated and watery eyes can cause facial dermatitis, which often leads to:
- Black spots on the fur
- Bleeding and scabbing
Persians are generally prone to various skin problems caused by:
- Dirty fur—Since they tire easily, flat-faced cats often spend their outdoor playtime rolling in the grass, which can turn grooming into a challenge
- Fleas and mites—Long-haired cats often catch fleas and mites, mainly while socialising with other animals and during outdoor play
- Fungal skin infections—Persians are prone to Microsporum canis fungi, which causes itchiness, bleeding, and skin damage
Flat-faced cats’ rotated upper jaws cause their teeth to grow at strange angles. Food often gets stuck between them, potentially leading to periodontal diseases, so thorough dental care is essential.
These felines are notoriously fussy eaters. Their fragile and weirdly-shaped jaw makes chewing (cat kibble is highly problematic) and drinking problematic.
Persians’ large eyes are beautiful but susceptible to:
- Exposure keratopathy—Flat-faced Persians’ protruding eyes are usually either too sensitive or have decreased sensitivity. Both issues can lead to eye damage and ulcers
- Entropion—A nasty condition causing a cat’s eyelid to turn inwards with eyelashes scratching the corneas, causing itchiness and pain
- Corneal sequestra—If the cornea is injured due to continual irritation, a piece of it can die and appear as black or brown discolouration
Eye problems typically entail the following symptoms:
- Rubbing face and eyes excessively
- Sensitivity to light
- Blinking but not fully closing their eyes
- Eye discharge
- Pigmentation of the corneas
Persians with flat faces have abnormal facial anatomy, including a raised and rotated upper jaw that places pressure on their tear ducts. As a result, their tears could drain into the nasal cavity or pour down their faces, possibly causing itchiness, blurred vision, and eye infections. For this reason, you need to clean their eyes regularly.
Caring for a flat-faced Persian cat
To raise a happy and healthy flat-faced cat, you must:
- Keep them cool
- Create a peaceful environment
- Prevent respiratory issues
- Set a regular grooming routine
- Make feeding easier
Keep your Persian cool
Persians’ long coats and breathing problems often lead to overheating. Keep them cool by:
- Getting a cooling pad
- Designating the coldest parts of the house for them
- Placing an ice cube in your cat’s water bowl
- Getting a granite or marble block where they can rest and sleep
Create a peaceful environment
Flat-faced kitties experience a lot of physical distress, which can lead to anxiety and worsen their breathing problems. The best option is to make your furry companion feel comfortable by creating a calm environment with a safe spot they can retreat to when they need rest and solitude.
Prevent respiratory issues
Try to prevent respiratory problems by:
- Removing common allergens, including dust, pollen, and cat food with grains and vegetables
- Vaccinating your cat against common viral infections
- Visiting the vet regularly
I guess we’re going to the man in the white coat again…
Source: Daniel Fernandez
Set a regular grooming routine
Long-haired Persians require daily grooming because their coats knot and mat easily. A dirty and tangled coat often leads to skin irritation and infections.
A thorough grooming routine is essential, especially for allergic cat parents, since this breed isn’t hypoallergenic. Grooming sessions include brushing your kitty with a wide-toothed comb to remove dirt and knots, cleaning their eyes and ears regularly, clipping their nails, and maintaining impeccable oral hygiene.
Persian cats don’t like water, which makes bathing difficult. The good news is that they don’t often get dirty, which means that you should bathe your Persian no more than once every two months (unless they get too dirty while playing outside in the meantime).
Make feeding easier
Flat-faced cats can be picky and messy eaters, so you should:
- Provide them with a shallow water dish or a water fountain for easy access
- Get them wet food rather than dry (it promotes healthy digestion and a glossy coat, and it’s easier on felines’ teeth)
- Pay attention to the ingredients in their food because Persians are prone to allergies
Improve your Persian cat’s quality of life with healthy nutrition
Your flat-faced kitty’s health and comfort should be your priority. It’s crucial to understand what they should and shouldn’t eat. Adequate portions of well-balanced and nutritious food will help prevent or alleviate the symptoms of many diseases.
Persian cats will thrive on a diet rich in:
- Animal protein—As the primary energy source for felines, animal protein should make up more than 50% of your Persian's meals. It contains essential amino acids, including taurine and arginine, that promote muscle growth and proper organ function. Plant-based protein derived from veggies (carrots, peas, sweetcorn, soya) isn’t a good substitute since cats cannot metabolise it efficiently, and it can cause indigestion
- Animal fat—It’s a secondary energy source that contains essential fatty acids responsible for a shiny coat and an efficient immune system. Animal fat is packed with flavour, so moderate amounts (under 20%) will make even the pickiest Persians who don’t like wet food run to their bowls
- Vitamins and minerals—These micronutrients enable oxygen transportation, nutrient metabolisation, and enzyme formation. Felines can get all the necessary vitamins and minerals from lean meat and fish, so there’s no need for dietary supplements
Wet food vs dry food—choose the right type for your Persian kitty!
Dry food is cheap, easy to store, and clean, which is why many cat parents opt for it, but it cannot meet your feline’s dietary needs. It usually contains grains, cereals, and sugar to make up for the lack of meat and fish. These subpar ingredients often lead to weight gain because of the high-carb content. Kibble doesn't contain enough moisture, and continual underhydration can cause UTIs and kidney problems.
Canned food has over 70% moisture. Since cats mainly get their water from their meals, you should feed them wet food because it resembles their natural diet. It typically contains high-quality animal protein, animal fat, and the required vitamins and minerals.
Regardless of the food type, your cat’s meals should be based on:
Untamed—everything your Persian needs
Every meal your Persian gets will be:
- Rich in protein—Our products contain twice as much protein as the industry standard, and we use only human-grade whole meat since it’s the best for your cat
- Low in carbs and unhealthy calories—Your Persian’s diet should contain less than 3% carbs since they are useless for cats, and Untamed is super low in carbohydrates
All Untamed products are made with ethically sourced meat and fish because we aim to make our planet a safe and happy place for all felines and their parents. Our packaging is 100% recyclable, and we run carbon footprint neutral operations.
Vets have helped us create healthy and delicious recipes to make sure cats’ nutritional needs are met. Our meat is gently steamed to keep the natural aroma and nutrients intact and eliminate pathogens.
Order Untamed to treat your flat-faced beauty to a delicious feast.
What to expect once you switch your Persian to Untamed
Cat parents who have switched their felines to Untamed reported the following positive changes:
The Untamed effect
In one week
After two months
After four months
Let your Persian go Untamed
Is this for me? My mouth is watering… Thank you, hooman!
Image (c) Untamed
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