LOST BREEDS - PEKE-FACED CAT
PEKE-FACED CATSIn his "Book of Cats" (1867), C H Ross wrote of a litter of Peke-faced kittens which he attributed to maternal impression (a prevailing theory of the time): "I once had in my possession a very life-like picture of a remarkably ugly bulldog, which hung in a frame over a piano in the drawing-room. With some surprise I noticed that a favourite cat would climb upon the piano and sitting close under the picture fix its eyes on the dog's face, and putting back its ears, remain thus with a wild and terrified expression for as long as an hour at a time. [...] During the time that we noted this conduct on the cat's part, she was with kitten, and when the four kittens were born they were dead, and one of them, strange to say, had a bulldog shaped head, marked almost exactly like the picture."
This was described by H C Brooke in 1926: "The 'Peke-faced cat,' which some of our breeders produce now and then, is not confined to this country. My friend Herr Joe Lesti of Vienna recently obtained a short-haired kitten, with protruding underjaw, nose pushed well back, bandy forelegs and slight cowhocked hind legs. He thinks, as do I, that this is a ricketty formation and nothing else, but said of his specimen that did none not know such a cross to be impossible, one might imagine the presence of Bulldog blood." Brooke suggested that one of the Peke-faced cats would only develop drooping ears then the mystery of the Chinese Lop would be solved!
This type is no longer represented on the show-bench although the flat-faced ultra-typed Persians and Exotics are coming close.
Peke-face Persians (solid red and red tabby) generally conformed to the red Persian standard. However, they had slightly higher ears and a very different head due to the skull structure differing greatly from the standard Persian. The bone structure created a very round head with a very strong chin. Eyes were large, round and very wide-set. The nose was depressed and indented between the eyes. The muzzle was wrinkled and there was a horizontal break located between the usual nose break and the top dome of the head. This second break created half-moon boning above the eyes and an additional horizontal indentation in the center of the forehead. The Standard for the Peke-Face called for a brow ridge, dimple, and a double dome. The term peke-face is often incorrectly used to describe extreme-typed Persians, some of which are certainly flat-faced, but do not have the forehead indentation or brow ridge of the true Peke-face Persian. Peke-face reds appeared in litters of normal reds, but mating two Peke-face Persians together was not guarantee of getting Peke-face kittens in the resultant litter.
According the the CFA, true Peke-face red Persians are not seen in exhibition today and few CFA judges can remember handling one. Only one (a male) was registered with the CFA in 1993 and a total of only 98 had been registered since 1958. In November 2003. the CFA's Persian Breed Council discussed eliminating the Peke-Face red and red tabby Persian. Only one such cat was registered as a Peke-face in 2002 and there were only 3 Peke-face Persians registered in 2000 and 2001. It was not even certain that those cats were genuine Peke-faced Persians or were extreme-type Persians erroneously registered as Peke-faces. No CFA breeder was known to be working with Peke-face Persians. It is unlikely that any geneuine Peke-face Persians survive in 2010.
However, the Peke-face may have left its legacy in the increasingly brachycephalic modern Persians in the USA. During the mid 1970s and early 1980s, American Persians changed dramatically. The pre-1980s look had heavy brows, flat-topped heads rather than domed heads. During this period, the "sweet, open-expression" was lost as fanciers pursued an extreme head type (ultra-type). These Persians were dubbed "pigs" or described as having a "piggy expression." The nose became narrow and ultra-high; the breaks above the eyes were moving towards the forehead; the eyes were tiny and the jaws often misaligned to produce a frowning mouth. It is suggested that Peke-Face red Persians were bred to other solid colour Persians to produce this piggy look. The teardrop-shaped eye of modern ultras is attribited to the legacy of Peke-face cats. The new look was deemed an exciting development and open-ended standards favoured this look on the showbench. During the 1990s, both open-face and Persian pigs were advertised, but the trend later moved back towards the healthier open-face cats. Besides which, the piggy Persians were just plain ugly.
While "peke-faced" cats are no longer described as such, the words of the Persian/Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair standards may soon need to state the upper edge of the nose leather must be below the lower edge of the eyes.