9 Fun Facts About Flat-Faced Cats

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Photo by Emily Allen CC
Photo by Emily Allen CC

First off, what are some of the flattest-faced cat breeds?


1. Though Persians are the “classic” flat faced cat breed, other recognized breeds share the trait.

The flat face mutation probably originated on the Iranian plateau. “Traditional” or “doll face”; Some would describe their faces as “pug faces”.

Persians have a short, stubby muzzle. “Peke face” Persians are a recently recognized mutation with an even flatter face.

Photo by Andrey CC
Photo by Andrey CC

2. Even Persian cats are more Western European than Middle Eastern.

Documentation of cats with very long hair and flat faces began in the seventeenth century.

Grey Persians whose ancestry was traced to Khorasan in Iran were imported into Britain by way of Italy; white Angoras whose ancestry was traced to Ankara in Turkey were imported by way of France.

However, a 2008 Genomics research article reported that living “Persian” cats had more DNA in common with Western European cats than with Middle Eastern cats. [1] Other flat faced cat breeds were developed in North America by crossbreeding with those “Persians” and “Angoras,” whose British descendants were quickly lumped together in the category of “Longhairs.”

Photo by Nickolas Titkov CC
Photo by Nickolas Titkov CC

3. British Shorthairs have been bred to a different standard than American Shorthairs within the last hundred years or so.

The British Shorthair type is large, stocky, round faced, reminiscent of the British bulldog. Its ears and nose are more rounded than triangular, and it has a “doll face.”

Although its ancestors were rat hunters, this big-boned cat typically has a mellow temperament and can become fat and lazy.

Exotic Shorthairs are an American breed produced by a mix of Persian and American Shorthair genes. They have “doll faces,” sometimes even “peke faces,” and very soft, thick, yet short coats.

flat faced cats
Photo by BluebearsLair CC

4. Scottish Folds look cute to humans, but other cats think they look mean.

Scottish Folds and their long haired cousins, Highland Folds, have their ears permanently folded forward. As Peter Gethers mentioned in his books [2], most cats fold their ears forward only as a threat display, as it might be when they see another cat with folded ears.

Though Gethers’ cat Norton was unusually mellow and sociable, Gethers had to be careful about letting Norton meet other cats.


5. Munchkins are known for their habit of pouncing on shiny things.

That’s not all that makes this new breed unusual. This breed, recognized in the U.S. in the 1960’s and registered in 2003, is extremely small (some adults weigh only four pounds) and has abnormally short legs.

Like dachshunds, the animals seem to fit in with other cats and dogs about as well as most cats do. They’re a crossbreed including a mix of other types and can have long, short, or medium coats.

Photo by Nickolas Titkov CC
Photo by Nickolas Titkov CC


6. Selkirk Rex cats have woolly, tangled coats.

The Selkirk Rex breed was developed in the U.S. from a mix of breeds including Persian, British Shorthair, and Exotic Shorthair. Its most conspicuous feature is its woolly coat.

It should weigh ten or fifteen pounds and have that burly, “cobby” look its ancestors share.


7. Himalayans don’t actually come from the Himalayan Mountains.

This is another American breed first documented in the twentieth century. The name reflects their mix of Siamese and Persian ancestors.

  • They have typical Siamese coloring and Persian size, build, and coats. Some organizations accept them as a breed, while others classify them as a color variation.
  • The Cat Fancy Association classifies them as a variety of Persians. [3]


8. Chinchillas were named after a rodent.

Persian-type cats with long white coats and “doll faces” (rather than “peke faces”) are recognized as a separate breed, Chinchillas, only in South Africa. [4]

They were named after a rodent with a similar coat that may also be kept as a pet. [5]

  • Cat fanciers usually classify Chinchillas as a color category of Persians or Longhairs.
  • “Burmillas” are medium to short haired, slightly shaded “doll faces” with a mix of Burmese and Chinchilla ancestry.


9. Persian cats need DNA tests.

Despite their typically calm temperament, all Longhairs need maintenance–mostly grooming, and DNA screening to prevent breeding dysfunctional genes into the population.

Cats with “peke faces” need special food just to be able to eat dry kibble, and may have other medical problems. Cats with long hair and “doll faces” may show or carry other problem genes, or they may not.


SOURCES [8.30.15]

1. “Persian Cat,” Wikipedia

2. Gethers, P. The Cat Who Went to Paris et seq.

3. “Per-Him Article,” Cat Fancy Association

4. “Chinchilla cat,” Cats of Australia

5. “Difference Between Chinchilla Rodent and Chinchilla Cat,” Chinchilla Facts Site

1 Comment

  1. I feel like most people love dogs, but I’m a cat man! I always wondered why some cat breeds have flat faces, so this was interesting. It’s weird how Persian cats are more related to western European cats, than middle eastern cats. I’ve heard of munchkin cats, and I’ve always wanted one, because they’re short!

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