Depending on whose standard you go by, the Himalayan is either her own breed of cat or she's a type of Persian cat. Regardless of whose standard you adhere to, there are two types of Himalayan cats: extreme and traditional. The difference in the two types is in the structure of the face.
History of the Himalayan
As a breed -- or type -- the Himalayan is a senior citizen, first produced in 1931. The original breeders' goal was to create a cat that was a Persian cat with Siamese markings, or points, while a later breeder wanted to produce color points on a long-haired cat. The Cat Fanciers' Association recognizes the Himalayan as a division of the Persian breed type because the Himalayan's head, body and coat type are identical to the Persian's; the only trace of Siamese in the Himalayan's looks are the points and colors. The International Cat Association recognizes the Himalayan as a separate breed.
The Himalayan may be one of two facial types: extreme and traditional, also known as "doll face." The extreme Himalayan is preferred in show circles and has a flat face on a round head with a short snub-nose that's almost even with her eyes. The traditional version's nose is set lower on her face and her face isn't as flat as the extreme's; her mouth has a slight smile, or upward curve, giving her an appealing look.
Aside from the minor differences in their facial structure, extreme and traditional Himalayans basically look the same. She's a short-legged, heavy-boned, medium-to-large sized cat, presenting a stout appearance. Her large, round head is topped with small ears; her eyes are round and wide and her cheeks are full. Her coat is long and thick and comes in the typical Siamese point colors, including chocolate, seal, flame, lilac and blue.
Himalayans are prone to health conditions, such as the hereditary kidney condition called polycystic kidney disease, which causes enlarged kidneys and potential breeding problems. Extreme Himalayans are more prone to breathing challenges and complications such as eye tearing, tooth misalignment and breathing distress, while the traditional type experiences fewer respiratory problems. All flat-faced cats such as both Himalayan types are sensitive to high temperatures.