Exotic Shorthair

Exotic Shorthair Cat.

Basically a Persian cat with less fur, the Exotic Shorthair cat is anything but basic. Without the long fur of the Persian, the facial features are all the more striking. The mouth looks drawn onto the flat face as an upside-down V, and the nose looks like a little button that someone has pushed with a finger firmly into the middle of the face. Nonetheless, the Exotic Shorthair cat’s sweet demeanor is only one of many reasons that these round cats have been rolling into cat lovers’ hearts for the past 50-plus years.

History of Exotic Shorthair Cat

The breeding trends between Persian and American exotic shorthairShorthair cats that eventually led to the Exotic Shorthair cat began in the mid-1950s. In an attempt to produce a brown version of the Persian cat, breeder Carolyn Bussey paired a Burmese cat with a Persian cat that had a red tabby coat. Although the hope was that the long red fur would blend together with the sable from the shorthaired Burmese to result in long brown fur, the litter came out black instead. That happy accident, combined with many other breeders’ adventures, eventually became the Exotic Shorthair cat breed.

Those first hybrid kittens technically did not qualify as Exotic Shorthair cats, but they inspired further crossbreeding besides just between American Shorthair and Persian cats. Such a breed did not even exist until 1966, when a judge for the Cat Fanciers’ Association, or CFA, decided that it would be a waste not to acknowledge this particular version of the shorthaired cat. That judge was Jane Martinke, who knew from her own expertise as an American Shorthair breeder that this hybrid would never quite fit into any of the breed standards at that time. From then, it took more than 20 years for the CFA to finalize its standard for the new breed.

Even the Russian Blue cat breed was swept up in the crossbreeding frenzy until 1987, when the Persian cat became the exclusive allowable crossbreeding choice for subsequent generations of the Exotic Shorthair cat. What started out as pretty much a grayscale cat eventually acquired the wide spectrum of colors and patterns that it has today. Nowadays, the coat has become the main focus, and the rest of the breed’s standards, via CFA and all the other major cat associations, have come to align exactly with those of the Persian cat.

Size of the Exotic Shorthair Cat

exotic shorthairWhile the males can weigh up to 14 pounds, the Exotic Shorthair cat mostly qualifies as medium in size. This cat’s stubby legs hold up its barrel-shaped, muscular chest and core. Likewise, an exceptionally short, thick neck supports an enormous head, which often causes Exotic Shorthair kittens to totter a bit until they grow into it.

Speaking of proportions, this cat bears a striking resemblance to a certain famous little green sci-fi character due to the tiny nose, large cheeks and the wide spacing of the eyes and ears. However, the only special power that the Exotic Shorthair cat will be using is its overwhelming cuteness.

Exotic Shorthair Personality

Most Exotic Shorthair cat owners describe these exotic shorthairpets as calm and quiet. These cats tend to be skittish around guests, but they are friendlier and more outgoing than their Persian relatives. Prone to favoritism, this cuddly ball of cuteness can often be found curled up in the lap of its chosen person.

Jokingly referred to as “the lazy man’s Persian,” the Exotic Shorthair cat indeed enjoys being lazy together with its owner, though it also hates being left alone. Of course, this silly title refers more to the reduced maintenance necessary for this cat’s fur than to its temperament. That fact becomes abundantly obvious once one witnesses this breed’s more playful side, which it likely inherited from its American Shorthair ancestors.

An Exotic Shorthair cat can be a great companion for a sick human, but it may not wish to share the bed otherwise due to the heavy insulation from its dense, plush fur. Despite this nurturing, laidback personality, this cat has no problem tirelessly hunting down the red dot from a laser pointer or even a live mouse.

Exotic Shorthair Kittens

exotic shorthairThe Exotic Shorthair cat is anything but a “budget breed”; cat enthusiasts often find that higher breeders’ fees signify fewer future health-related expenses. Of course, prospective owners should not assume that a high upfront price automatically equates to better health. Everyone should do appropriate research, reviewing breeders’ practices and pedigrees for any Exotic Shorthair kittens being considered.

Typically, Exotic Shorthair kittens become available for adoption at 12 weeks of age. By then, the kittens should have received the first round of shots, but they will still require additional immunizations at regular intervals throughout their lives.

Traditional vs. Extreme

Some breeders still sell Exotic Shorthair kittens as pets that match more traditional standards. More alike to the American Shorthair in its facial features, this type tends to have few breathing problems. However, the “extreme” version is the only one that fits the Persian-based standards, which require a definitive nose break, so anyone wanting to take this cat to the show ring will want to avoid the traditional aesthetic.

Exotic Shorthair Health

Buying from a reputable breeder can help mitigate exotic shorthairmany of this breed’s most common defects. A good breeder pays attention to such features as large nasal passages, for example, to compensate for the snub nose, ensuring only the best traits are passed down to the kittens. The particular health conditions with which this breed may struggle include:

Brachycephalic airway syndrome: This fancy medical jargon basically means that cats with flat faces tend to have obstructed and overly narrow airways, including their nostrils, tracheas and larynxes, which make breathing difficult. On the other hand, smaller larynxes, or voice boxes, are responsible for that precious, high-pitched meow that emanates so rarely from an Exotic Shorthair cat.

Polycystic kidney disease: This deadly illness occurs more frequently in Persian-related breeds, but genetic tests can usually rule it out.

Progressive retinal atrophy: Unfortunately undetectable without its symptoms, this eye disease usually ends in total blindness within a few years from the onset.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Genetic testing prior to breeding can also save the day against this heart condition, which can be fatal when combined with otherwise troubled breathing.

Obstructed labor: Exotic Shorthair kittens’ big heads and necks sometimes become stuck in the birth canal, so it may be a good idea to have a veterinarian on hand during birthing.

Care of the Exotic Shorthair Breed

This breed should be kept indoors to avoid allergens and dangerous animals. Most Exotic Shorthair cats need help keeping their eyes clean; the overactive tears ducts in their smooshed faces tend to produce eye gunk, which needs to be wiped away daily with a warm, damp washcloth.

Litter Box Training

While the short coat means there is less fur ending up in contact with the litter, the soft texture can still mat easily if any soiled material does get to it. Thus, owners should keep the cat comfortable by cleaning up any messes in the litter as frequently as is feasible. As long as kitty is happy with its environment, litter box training should be easy enough.

Exotic Shorthair Cat Nutrition

Overly sympathetic owners may be tempted to overfeed these sweet-looking kitties after seeing them looking up at them with those big, doleful eyes. Exotic Shorthair cats can also be messy at meal time due to having to put the whole flat face into the food or water dish to eat or drink. Wet cat food often works best to prevent choking, and it tends to keep the thick fur healthier due to the higher moisture versus kibble.

Coat Color and Grooming

This breed used to be one color, a silver hue that CFA’s Jane Martinke called “Sterling.” However, the colors and patterns for Exotic Shorthair cats have since widened to include all variations; the only limiting factors come from certain championship standards.

Eye and Coat Colors

The Exotic Shorthair cat’s eyes coordinate with its coat color, but only according to CFA and the American Cat Fanciers Association. Other organizations, such as The International Cat Association, have less stringent standards, allowing any coat colors and patterns with any eye colors. For the CFA, the main two eye color categories for the Exotic Shorthair cat are “brilliant” copper and some variant between green and blue.

Green and Blue-green Eyes

The CFA only ever accepts deep blue eyes with a pure white coat. Otherwise, the following coat colors go with green and bluish-green eyes:

  • Chinchilla silver

  • Blue chinchilla silver

  • Shaded silver

  • Blue shaded silver

  • Brilliant Copper Eyes

Also allowed for white-coated specimens per the CFA standard, the bright copper eye color fits well with these coat colors:

  • Black

  • Chocolate

  • Cream

  • Blue

  • Red

  • Lilac

  • Grooming

When absentmindedly petting this cat, owners could easily imagine that they are touching the short, plush upholstery from a teddy bear but for the warmth; however, this coat still needs some grooming. Moderate brushing, perhaps once a week, should be enough to prevent matting and help remove loose hairs from the undercoat.

Children and Other Pets

Exotic Shorthair cats do not get into the rough-and-tumble type of play that some kids and other pets might enjoy, and their flat faces mean that they may get winded easily. Nevertheless, these kitties adore their humans, no matter what their ages and sizes are, and will follow them all around the house just to stay close. Exotic Shorthair kittens have no trouble fitting in with other household pets as well.

With such an inspired look, the Exotic Shorthair cat has come a long way from its bold beginnings. Now recognized all over the world for their huge, bright eyes and luxurious yet manageable fur, these roly-poly felines have solidified their place in the cat community and in the homes of their many appreciative owners.


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