Exotic Shorthair: Cat Breed Profile

Best-known for their distinctive appearance, the Exotic Shorthair is a close relative to the widely loved Persian cat. In fact, the Exotic Shorthair was originally bred as an easy-to-groom alternative to the higher maintenance Persian; while the Persian requires daily grooming, the Exotic Shorthair’s short, dense, and plush coat is extremely easy to care for. Aside from their drastically different coats, the Exotic Shorthair and Persian are bred to the same standards.

Sometimes referred to as “the lazy man’s Persian,” the Exotic Shorthair is a soft, medium-to-large bodied cat that can develop strong, affectionate bonds with their owners, get along with other pets and kids, and has a sweet, lively personality. Although the Exotic Shorthair has lower energy levels and lower exercise needs, they’ll happily play with cat toys or fishing pole toys for hours.

Because the Exotic Shorthair has lower energy levels, they can thrive in a variety of home types. However, like all cat breeds, it’s important to keep your Exotic Shorthair indoors at all times. Giving them access to the outdoors puts them in danger of cars, animals, and other hazards.

The Exotic Shorthair’s sweet, relaxed, and playful personality, as well as her low-maintenance grooming and exercise needs, make her the perfect pick for first-time cat owners, or families with children or other pets.

Breed Overview

WEIGHT: Between 6 and 13 pounds

LENGTH: Between 1 and 1.5 feet in length

COAT: Short, dense, and very plush, coming in a variety of patterns like pointed, tabby, and tortoiseshell, among others

COAT COLOR: Solid black or white, golden, silver, smoke, bicolor, and Himalayan

EYE COLOR: Mostly gold or copper, green, or blue

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 15 years or longer

Characteristics of the Exotic Shorthair

Affection LevelHigh
Exercise NeedsLow
Energy LevelLow
Tendency to VocalizeLow
Amount of SheddingLow to Medium
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History of the Exotic Shorthair

Persian cats have been and still are some of the most coveted cats in history. Motivated by the popularity of the breed, American Shorthair breeders began to mix Persians, Burmese, and Russian Blues into their American Shorthair lines sometime during the 1950s. They hoped to recreate the beautiful looks of the Persian in American Shorthairs.

Although the first litters of Persian-American Shorthair kittens didn’t look exactly like Persians, they retained some of the key characteristics like round faces, short noses, and large, round eyes and had shorter, more plush coats. Many breeders then bred these crossed kittens with Persians to develop the Exotic Shorthair breed.

As the breed grew in popularity and the gene pool broadened fewer breeds incorporated Burmese and Russian Blues into their breeding programs to achieve shorter, plusher coats. Eventually, the Cat Fanciers Association began to limit the number of outcrosses allowed in purebred Exotic Shorthairs. In 1987, they banned Exotic Shorthairs to outcross completely, allowing them only to be bred with Persians.

Today, the Exotic Shorthair is one of the most popular, purebred shorthair cats coming second only to the Persian, according to the Cat Fanciers Association.

An exotic shorthair kitten

olegmj / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

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Exotic Shorthair Care

Unlike Persians, Exotic Shorthairs are extremely easy to groom. While the Persian requires daily brushing and combing, you can expect to comb your Exotic Shorthair’s coat once or twice per week with a steel comb. Mats, knots, and tangles are uncommon in the Exotic Shorthair. It’s important to note that the Exotic Shorthair sheds seasonally, so she’ll need additional grooming and bathing to remove dead hair and skin cells during this time. You after bathing, gently pat her dry with a soft towel and use a hairdryer on its lowest setting to finish drying her off.

Because Exotic Shorthairs have flatter faces, their eyes tend to tear. You can prevent staining from tears by washing your Exotic’s face daily. If your cat has excessive discharge around the eyes, carefully clean it with a soft, dry cloth. Be sure to use different sections of the cloth to clean each eye—it can help prevent the spread of infection. If your cat’s eyes are red, crusty, or have excessive discharge, make an appointment with your veterinarian ASAP.

As with every breed, you should examine your cat’s ears weekly for signs of injury or infection. You can clean away waxy build-up and debris with a soft, cotton cloth. Avoid using a cotton swab, as they can damage the delicate, inner-ear structures. If your cat’s ears are red, inflamed, or smell funny, see your veterinarian. These may be signs of infection.

The Exotic Shorthair has lower energy levels and is content to lounge or cuddle with his owners. They are playful, however, and enjoy playing with cat toys.

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Common Health Problems

Ethical breeders take steps to ensure they’re producing healthy cats, but there’s no guarantee that your Exotic Shorthair will (or won’t) develop a health condition at some point in her life. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of health conditions that are common in Exotic Shorthairs, should they arise in your cat.

Some health problems that are common among Exotic Shorthairs include:

Polycystic kidney disease: Otherwise known as PKD, this condition is characterized by enlarged kidneys and improper kidney function. Cysts are typically seen in affected cats by 12 months of age, but kidney failure can occur years later. There are DNA tests that can identify PKD, so ask your cat’s breeder for proof that the mother and father have been cleared.

Respiratory issues: Because Exotic Shorthairs have flattened faces, they can have difficulty breathing—especially in hot, humid weather. Your Exotic Shorthair should always be kept in a climate-controlled, air conditioned environment.

If you’re concerned about your Exotic Shorthair’s health, talk to your veterinarian about ways you can help your cat live a long, happy, healthy life.

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Diet and Nutrition

Your cat’s diet and nutrition will depend largely on its age, sex, size, and activity levels. If you’re unsure how much or how often to feed your Exotic Shorthair, your veterinarian can help you develop a healthy, balanced diet for him. You can also consult the feeding guides developed by your preferred cat food brand.

Overfeeding your cat can lead to obesity, which causes a whole host of health issues. Be sure to feed your cat a healthy, balanced diet and give treats in moderation.

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Where to Adopt or Buy an Exotic Shorthair

Although it may be extremely difficult to find an Exotic Shorthair kitten at your local shelter or rescue group, you may be able to find an adult Exotic. Reach out to your local shelter, rescue groups, or even your veterinarian to see if there are any adoptable Exotic Shorthairs in your area.

If you choose to work with a breeder, do your research to ensure they’re ethical, reputable, and moral. Look for a breeder that has performed—and has proof of—all health certifications. Avoid breeders that always have litters available, have multiple litters on the premises, or allow you to pay for your cat over the internet. These are all signs of an unethical breeder.

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More Cat Breeds and Further Research

Like any pet, it’s important to do your research and ensure an Exotic Shorthair is the right pick for your family’s lifestyle. Because the Exotic Shorthair is extremely low-maintenance in terms of grooming and exercise needs, and has a loving, loyal, and calm personality, they would make a great choice for first-time cat owners or families with children or other pets.

If you’re interested in breeds similar to the Exotic Shorthair, check out:

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