Why Do Persian Cats Look Angry?
There are a few different kinds of Persian cats, so not all of them necessarily look angry. It is commonly known that some types of Persian cats are often called Doll-face, because of their big, beautiful eyes and round little faces. They look almost cherubic sometimes, and the illusion is completed by their soft meows and sweet temperament.
But Peke-face Persian cats look permanently angry, because of the way their mouths sit, in what could be called a frown. In fact, the internet famous “Grumpy Cat,” who is featured in many memes and gifs as hating everything and being angry with the world, is thought to have some Persian in his blood. The shape of a Persian’s face is bred to be flat, with the features of the face all being in line with each other. This is called brachycephalic.
What Makes A Persian Look So Angry?
Through the standards of breeding, Peke-face Persian cat facial features are all supposed to be in alignment with each other, meaning that they get all scrunched up together. This causes their foreheads to kind of pull down in the middle, giving them “angry eyes” and it causes their chins to scrunch upwards, making their mouths look like they are in a little frown, thus creating the grumpy look. Of course, not everyone thinks that these cats look angry. Some people think that they look more sad than anything else. Either way, this is all just how humans perceive emotions with their pets. If you have a Peke-faced Persian that you think has a grumpy face, you can probably tell when your cat is actually upset and when they are truly pleased, through their behavior, and hopefully, your cat is not really upset with you all the time.
What Is Brachycephalic?
The term brachycephalic means, in Latin, shortened head. Even if you have never heard the term brachycephalic, you know what a brachycephalic cat looks like. Cats who have faces that look flat, or like they have been pushed in, are brachycephalic cats. The bones that are in the skulls and faces of these kinds of cats have been shortened over time through selective breeding. This causes the softer tissues in their faces to also become shorter, and leads to the flat appearance that can be so popular with purebred cats. Because this quality was intentionally bred into cats more and more over time, there are some purebreds which may have such a flat, overbred face, that they may have trouble breathing. One of the most common breeds of cat that has this quality is the Peke-faced Persian.
Because of the overbreeding of the flat face quality in these cats, there are some deformities that have become quite common. Things like nostrils that are much too small, and a natural blocking of the airways make it hard for the cat to breathe, and can create other health problems in brachycephalic cats. It also means that some of these cats have a permanently angry look about them, even if they are actually very sweet tempered.
Why Were They Bred To Look This Way?
Before the 1950’s, Persian cats were not commonly bred to have flat faces. The flat face was originally a random genetic mutation that started to occur on its own towards the end of that decade. When a few of the flat faced Persians were born, the breed was given its own specific category, and the Peke-faced Persian was born. The Peke-face term derived from the Pekingese dog breed, which has a similar facial structure to the Persian cat. It took awhile for the breed to become very popular, because the short face created so many concerns about the cats’ health. However, some breeders still liked the look and began breeding it more and more into their cats.
Breed standards were eventually changed in the 1980’s to set limits on how extreme the facial structures of the cats should be. They have since changed twice in the early 2000’s, and now breed standards state that “the forehead, nose, and chin should be in vertical alignment.” You can read more about the evolution of the breed here.
Health Problems Related To The Flat Face
There are many health problems that are related to having a flat face. The eyes of the flat-faced Persian often have deformed tear ducts, meaning that their eyes cannot drain properly. They are also often unable to close their eyes all the way, which means that parts of their eyes can be subject to overexposure and infections.
The jaws of flat faced cats are also formed in a way that is very problematic for the cats. Their teeth and jawlines don’t always align properly, so that they are unable to chew their food easily. This can lead to serious dental problems for these cats. Their misaligned jaws also help to create folds in the skin of their faces which can be easily infected, and cause dermatitis if they are not properly cleaned and cared for.
Breathing problems are obviously the number one health concern for brachycephalic cats. Narrow nostrils, narrow nasal passages, and elongated soft palates, constrict the breathing of these cats significantly. These cats are more likely to get respiratory infections, which only makes breathing harder for them, and causes them pretty obvious discomfort. Here is more information about brachycephalic health effects.
Grumpy looking Persian cats are so cute and fun. As long as you are responsible with your pet, and you take proper care of them, they should be able to lead comfortable, happy lives. Not all breeders accentuate the flat facial features of the cat to the point that it causes problems, so keep this in mind when you are looking at purchasing a Persian. You can find a cat that has been bred responsibly so that they are not miserable or deformed, but still has that adorably grumpy face.