There are more than 40 cat breeds with many fuzzy varieties, but when it comes to truly fluffy fur, only three take the cake.
With coats up to 8 inches long, Persian cats are synonymous with fluffy. They may also be the oldest cat breed. They entered Europe 400 years ago, but cat fanciers insist they existed at least 1,000 years earlier. Everything about Persian cats is round, from their fluffy, stocky bodies, to their flat faces, enormous eyes and tiny ears. Their legs and tails are short and thick, and their fur comes in a variety of colors and patterns, with a variety of eye colors. Owning a Persian cat means committing to daily combing and brushing, sometimes for several hours per sitting.
Himalayan cats were developed independently in the U.S. and Britain by crossing Persians and Siamese, and they were recognized as a breed in 1955. Today, some cat associations still consider the Himalayan a breed, while others consider it a color variation of the Persian, called a colorpoint Persian. The only distinctions between Himalayans and Persians (or other Persians) is that Himalayans are always patterned with face, ears, tail, legs and feet darker than the body, and with blue eyes. Since Himalayan is a mix of Persian and Siamese, you might wonder why it's considered a pointed Persian rather than a long-haired Siamese. It's because breeders have to occasionally add a Persian cat to Himalayan bloodlines to keep the right look in their kittens, but Siamese cats are no longer added. Like their Persian parents, Himalayan kitties need their long, luxurious locks groomed daily.
The LaPerm is a fluffy cat like no other. This unique breed randomly developed in the U.S. in 1982. Their fur can be any length, but what makes their extremely soft coats distinct is that they're curly. Most LaPerm kittens are born bald, while others have a baby coat that molts at adolescence. LaPerm adults sport locks from wavy to tight ringlets, and you'll only know which type of coat they have after their baby fur falls out, so breeders recommend you don't get too attached to a particular style unless you are getting a cat who is at least 1 year old. Though comparably fluffy, the LaPerm's curls are lower maintenance than straight Persian and Himalayan dos, and they only need to be groomed about once a week.
Potential Health Issues
The LaPerm is a newer breed and considered hardy with no known issues. The Persian and Himalayan are much older, and with age comes health problems. Their extremely flat faces cause some Persians and Himalayans to have runny eyes and breathing trouble. They are also more prone to progressive retinal atrophy (a condition that causes blindness early in life) and periodontal disease than other breeds. Some bloodlines carry polycystic kidney disease (there is a test for this) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, both of which can be deadly. If you are getting a cat from a breeder, ask whether there's a family history of these diseases.
- persian cat image by FotoWorx from Fotolia.com