Persian cats are known to be calm, peaceful, and easy-going. The breeder couple Anne-Louise and Kurt Kohl care for the animals with a lot of expertise and dedication.
Her cats are part of the family, says Anne-Louise Köhl. Together with the four-legged friends and her husband Kurt, she lives in a terraced house with a garden in Lachen SZ. Her breeding is rather small with about 15 animals, she says. “But the house and garden belong to our cats.” However, the animals would not have belonged on the dining table or on the kitchen counter.
“When we were living with the family in France, a neighbor introduced me to cat breeding,” says Köhl. For more than 40 years, the native Canadian and her husband have been caring for fluffy Persian cats and their no less attractive counterparts called Exotic Shorthair. “This breed was created by mating a Persian with a British or American Shorthair cat,” she explains. “They have all the positive characteristics of the Persians, but are easier to care for and sometimes more playful because of their short fur.” At cat shows, they share breed standards with the Persians. Joining us at the table is Caballero, an impressive specimen weighing in at five and a half kilos. Anyone who likes Garfield will love this shorthair breed.
“I love the roundness of the animals,” says Köhl. The spherical eyes, the massive, round head with low-set, small, round ears, and the small, flat nose in the round face are characteristic of the animals. Their bodies are compact, their legs rather short but strong, ending in large, round paws. “Your physiognomy reminds me of a rugby player,” says Köhl with a laugh. This breed can wear all coat colors from white to black to gray or red. They are often also mackerel, brindle, ticked, or spotted.
Even if they sometimes seem to look a little grim at the world due to their typical face shape and flat nose, Persians and Exotic Shorthairs are friendly and sociable contemporaries. “That makes them ideal family and house cats,” says Köhl. “But they need company.” That’s why she usually doesn’t give away an animal alone. While lovers pay between 950 and 1200 francs for an animal, the value for a breeding animal is between 2500 and 3000 francs. Kurt Köhl puts the price into perspective: “Breeding cats involves a lot of effort. For us, it’s not a business, it’s a passion.”
We have now been joined by Francey, a lively and playful Exotic Shorthair. In mid-October, she gave birth to boys for the first time. “Three kittens are fine, we lost two,” says Anne-Louise Köhl. Good timing is everything when it comes to births. “The line between life and death is very narrow.” Sometimes she accelerates the process with homeopathic medicines.
Persians live up to 12 to 14 years, exceptionally up to 18 years, if they are kept and cared for well. “Cats need a safe home and their territory,” says Anne-Louise Köhl. “We also attach great importance to high-quality nutrition.” The food for this breed should be more of a mushy consistency, as it absorbs it through the tongue. The four-legged friends receive finely chopped beef and poultry twice a day, occasionally tuna. To ensure good health and a beautiful coat, the Köhls give their protégés food supplements.
Grooming the Persian’s long, silky coat takes time and care. Anne-Louise Köhl is pursuing a time-saving strategy. “I bathe the animals three times a year and clean their fur thoroughly with degreasing and care soap.” In the spring, she also combs out the undercoat while blow-drying. “After that, combing twice a week and occasional clipping of the claws is enough.”
Successful Cat Breeding
Anne-Louise and Kurt Köhl are proud of the many awards they have won with their animals at exhibitions. Ayla, a white Persian cat, was voted the most beautiful Swiss cat in 2015. “At cat shows you enter another world,” says Kurt Köhl. But the cats felt comfortable there.
However, there are breeders who attach more importance to an extreme appearance than to the health of the animals. The flatter and shorter the nose, the greater the likelihood that cats will have trouble breathing and eating. “Our cat breeding is based on the official breed standards,” says Anne-Louise Köhl. “The animals can breathe, eat and play without any problems.” You have to make sure that breeding cats neither deviate from the breed standards nor are genetic carriers of hereditary diseases. Most breeders respected official breed standards. “One should be grateful anyway that there are cat breeders,” says Anne-Louise Köhl in conclusion. “Because without them, many races would no longer exist.”