If you’ve ever seen a flat-nosed kitty, you know how incredibly cute they are. They might look as if they are wrinkling their noses at you, but that's not usually true. The flat-nosed breeds are typically gloriously exotic, good-natured cats that are a delight to cuddle.
Persian cats are the best known of the flat-nosed breeds and have been around for hundreds of years. Their heads and faces are broad and large for their body size, and they have powerful jaws and flat, snub noses. Cat lovers adore Persians for their big, expressive round eyes. Their long, cuddle-soft, glossy coats stand out from their bodies and make them appear twice their size, and they have a thick ruff that grows around the neck and down the chest. Persian cats come in a whole range of colors, including silver-grey, black, white, gold and blue. An interesting color is chinchilla, which has graduated shading.
Bred from the Persians and recognized as a separate breed in the early 1950s, exotic shorthairs are close cousins of the Persian, although they have shorter fur. The cats are stocky and well-built, with round heads and eyes and a snub nose just like that of their Persian cousins. Although they have a similar gentle nature, exotic shorthairs are livelier and more interactive than the Persians and will keep their humans on their toes, thanks to the genes they got from other cat breeds.
Himalayan cats were developed by intrepid breeders by crossing Persians and Siamese cats in the 1930s. They inherited the short, flat noses of their Persian cousins as well as their loving nature and long, luxurious fur. Himalayans are playful by nature and love spending time with their humans. Kittens are usually born white and develop their colors of seal, red, blue, cream and lilac later. They carry a gene that is heat-sensitive, so the cooler the cat’s body, the stronger its color shows up.
As cute as they are, cats with short, broad heads and flat noses are referred to as "bracycephalic" by veterinarians. They often suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome, which causes breathing difficulties, problems eating and drinking, panting and even occasional collapse, especially during hot weather. The problems are caused by narrow nostrils, a long, soft palate or an abnormally small trachea resulting from the shape of the cat's head, so if your kitty snores up a storm, she could be having symptoms of this condition. All three of the flat-nosed breeds are considered bracycephalic, although not all flat-nosed cats develop the airway syndrome.
Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.