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A Very Rare Hybrid Cross of the Silver Persian and the Graceful Somali

Alaskan Snow Cat

The Alaskan Snow Cat is an experimental hybrid crossing of two breeds of cat, the silver Persian and the Somali. Often confused with the Snowshoe Cat, development of the breed was first attempted in the US states of Florida and Minnesota in the 1990s. While no breed standard yet exists due to sporadic success, the goal is to create a breed with the heavier body and head of the Persian, while still attaining the grace and exquisite beauty of the Somali.

History
Beginning in the 1990s, breeders in the United States began to experiment with producing a cat that was heavier boned and more powerful than the Somali, but with a grace and beauty derived by crossing it with the silver Persian. Desired traits have been difficult to achieve consistently, resulting in a breed that is really still considered under development. The largest hurdle to success has been reproduction of the desired colors.

Appearance
While the optimal standard is to eventually produce a silver-gray cat with white underbelly and darker banding, as well as a ruff of white around the neck, colors today still exist in rust, brown and black, with darker banding on tail and legs.

In build, the Alaskan Snow Cat matches the Persian with a heavier-boned and more stable physique that can stand up to roughhousing with children or other animals. Even though Alaskan Snow Cats (and parent Persians) can't jump quite as high as other cats, they are able to climb very well.

About the parent breeds
• Persian
The Persian is a long-haired cat with a shorter muzzle and round face. As the most popular pedigreed cat in North America and perhaps the world, this breed first came into existence in the Victorian era, but was around a long time before that. It comes in a variety of colors, including parti-colored, bicolor, Himalayan, tabby, smoke, shaded, silver, golden and solid. Two truly defining characteristics of the Persian are its long, soft, luxurious fur and sweet expression. The Persian has a thick, stocky body with a large round head and small round ears. In adulthood, these cats weigh 7 to 10 pounds and stand 10 to 15 inches at the shoulder, with males larger.

• Somali
Somalis have semi-long hair, which is usually soft; however texture can vary with color. Colors come in fawn, lilac, blue, cinnamon, chocolate or "ruddy," or it can be a silver variation of these colors, with white coloration next to the skin on the hair shaft, and then ticking on the shaft itself. Medium in size, the Somali is long, muscular and lithe with slim, muscular legs and oval feet. The weight range is 8 to 12 pounds in adulthood.

Temperament
The Alaskan Snow Cat has a relaxed personality and readily accepts life with other cats, children, and even dogs. They are not particularly fond of loud noises, though, so young children should be taught to keep voices down. Very dependent on camaraderie, the Alaskan Snow Cat will not prosper well if isolated or ignored. It is best to provide a companion, including other cats or dogs, if the cat has been socialized to these options early on. Climbers rather than jumpers, these cats may scale your curtains or other fine fabrics in your home.

About the parent breeds
• Persian
Gentle and quiet, these cats like a serene environment and people who are kind. They're not athletic and prefer to lounge on the sofa rather than seek higher ground. These cats are so docile, in fact, that your children can use them in place of dolls with no problem whatsoever. As long as this cat is treated gently and with respect, everything should be fine. Although Persians do not generally vocalize, their gorgeous eyes serve as their prime means of expression.

• Somali
Unlike the Persian, the Somali is not a gentle and quiet lap cat; instead, it is curious, athletic, and active. Smart and quite inquisitive, this is a cat that loves to play and prefers human companionship.

Health
As a hybrid, the Alaskan Snow Cat will generally be hardier and less prone to disease, including genetically- induced illness, than either parent breed. There is little history on the health of the Alaskan Snow Cat, but the health profile of each pair breed is as follows:

About the parent breeds
• Persian
Persians can be prone to polycystic kidney disease and progressive retinal atrophy; the latter condition is shared with the Somali. Based on evidence, this may also be a problem with the Alaskan Snow Cat.

• Somali
Because of its genetic connection to the Abyssinian, these cats can develop a hereditary condition called pyruvate kinase deficiency. Cats that are deficient in PK manifest symptoms of anemia as early as six months, but signs of this disease can also develop in grown cats as old as twelve. This is caused by a recessive gene. Somali cats are also vulnerable to renal amyloidosis, myasthenia gravis, a muscular condition, and progressive retinal atrophy, an eye disorder. Again, these are less likely to occur in a hybrid produced by crossing two distinctly different parent breeds.

Grooming
Because of their long, thick fur, Alaskan Snow Cats have similar grooming needs to Persians. Bathe regularly, dry carefully, and brush every day. You can shave the coat, or just clip it short for easier upkeep if you wish.

References
Alaskan Snow Cat.
http://cat-chitchat.pictures-of-cats.org/2008/09/alaskan-snow-cat.html.
Retrieved October 5, 2014.

Alaskan Snow Cat.
http://www.critters360.com/index.php/alaskan-snow-cat-5078/.

Hybrid Cats: Alaskan Snow Cat.
http://ultimatecat.blogspot.com/2011/06/hybrid-cats-alaskan-snowcat.html.
Retrieved October 5, 2014.

Persian cat.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_cat.
Retrieved October 5, 2014.

Persian Cat Breed.
http://www.petwave.com/Cats/Breeds/Persian.aspx.
Retrieved October 5, 2014.

Somali.
http://www.vetstreet.com/cats/somali#upper-tabs.
Retrieved October 5, 2014.

Somali cat.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somali_cat.
Retrieved October 5, 2014.