Except for the point coloration and blue eyes, the Himalayan is quite similar to the Persian. In fact, it is sometimes referred to as a "Colorpoint Persian." It derives its name from the Himalayan rabbit, which possesses the same colorpoint. The most recognizable Himalayan, at least recently, has been "Mr. Jinx," the toilet-flushing cat in the comedy film Meet the Parents.
This is a medium- to large-sized cat with heavy bones, a well-knit body, and a short tail. It possesses short legs and a long, thick, glossy coat. The Himalayan's most striking features, however, are its broad head and large, round, vivid-blue eyes.
There are two facial types for the Himalayan: extreme and traditional. Although the current show trend is toward a more extreme facial type, cats of this type are more prone to health problems. As such, the TCA (Traditional Cat Association) advises pet owners to only acquire traditional or "Doll-faced" Himalayan cats.
The Himalayan is an ideal indoor companion; it speaks more and is more active than the Persian, but is quieter than the Siamese. Though gentle and peace-loving, the Himalayan loves playing games such as fetch and getting into mischief, though it can be kept amused by simplest toy or even a piece of paper. In addition, a Himalayan can become extremely attached to its owner, demanding constant attention and pampering.
The origin of the Himalayan can be traced to the 1920s and '30s, when breeders in several countries attempted to produce a cat with a typical Persian body, but with Siamese markings. The first signs of success were seen in the U.S. in 1924, when White Persians were crossed with Siamese, resulting in "Malayan Persians"; and in Sweden, when Dr. T. Tjebbes, a geneticist, produced Persian/Siamese crosses.
In 1930, Dr. Clyde Keeler of Harvard University and Virginia Cobb also began a breeding program in order to ascertain how certain traits could be inherited. The first litter of black, short-haired kittens was produced by crossing a Siamese fem ale with a black Persian male. A black Persian female mated with a Siamese male produced a similar result. Encouraged their experiments, Dr. Keeler and Cobb crossed a female of the second litter with a male from the first. The end product was "Debutante," the first true Himalayan kitten (however, it bore more resemblance to the modern Balinese cat than the Himalayan we see today).
After World War II, an American breeder by the name of Marguerita Goforth succeeded in creating the long-awaited Persian-like colorpoint. It was officially recognized as a new breed by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) and American Cat Fanciers' Association in 1957.
In 1984, in a move that surprised many breeders, the CFA united the Persian and Himalayan breed, claiming they had similar body types. Even today, some cat organizations do not give this breed its own separate name.
However, the breed now has Championship status in all associations (as the Himalayan or Persian) and was the most popular breed in 1996, according to CFA statistics (which include Persians).