Exotic Shorthair Cat Breed [Complete Guide & Information]

Exotic Shorthair Cat Breed [Complete Guide & Information]
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Have you always been drawn to Persian cats but don't want to deal with long coats and excessive shedding? The Exotic Shorthair Cat is probably the cat breed for you!


Exotic Shorthair cats are essentially the same as Persian cats, except one breed has short fur — can you guess which? Despite its lack of fluff, the Exotic Shorthair makes up for it with a loving personality, calm demeanor, and a surprisingly playful side that the Persian sometimes lacks. Find out why so many people love Exotics and why you should consider getting one today!



Exotic Shorthair Cat Breed Origin & History

The Exotic Shorthair is a relatively new breed. Their parent breed, the Persian, is far more ancient, dating back to around 1684 B.C. Over time, Persian cats spread throughout Europe in the 1800s, becoming favorites amongst the royalty and wealthy.


The Exotic Shorthair started as a secret experiment. Breeders decided to start mixing Persians with American Shorthairs in the late 1950s, giving American Shorthairs a heavier, rounder appearance with the Persian's signature short nose.


Breeder and Cat Fanciers' Association judge Jane Martinke is often credited with continuing the breeder's efforts, helping the breed become recognized by the CFA in 1967.


Once considered a hybrid between the Persian and American Shorthair, the Exotic Shorthair has now been deemed a breed all its own. For a while, breeders wanted to call Exotic Shorthairs "Sterlings" in hopes they would all be a shiny, silver color. However, kittens kept popping up with American Shorthair colors, and the silver-only dream was thwarted.


Within just a few years, an Exotic Shorthair achieved grand champion status in 1971. By this time, the breed had gained quite a following already. Today, they are considered one of the most popular short-haired cat breeds.


By 1987, the CFA didn't allow any outcrosses or outbreeding to the Exotic Shorthair except for Persians to keep the breed pure.



striped flat face cat with white chest



Exotic Shorthair Breed Personality

Many people automatically assume the Exotic Shorthair is just a short-haired Persian. However, because of their American Shorthair heritage, Exotic Shorthairs have more differences beyond the lack of fluff. While the Exotic Shorthair is calm and laid-back like the Persian, this breed has a more energetic side thanks to their American Shorthair influence.


While Exotic Shorthair fans debate which breeds their personality more resembles, there's no denying that this is one social cat. Exotics love being around their family, especially whichever human they deem their favorite. They'll quietly follow them from room to room, piquing their curiosity about whatever activity is going on.


Exotic Shorthairs also love cuddles! They are a breed that will curl up on your lap, lick you, and ask to be carried — anything to be with you!


Despite being very social, Exotics aren't too demanding. They'll cuddle and hang out with you when called, but they won't be too clingy or in-your-face about needing attention.


The Exotic Shorthair is also known for being very quiet. They're not a vocal cat, and the CFA states that their voices are "seldom heard."


While the Exotic is more playful than the Persian, they're still a bit of a lug. During random bursts of energy, the Exotic will show off, chasing after a toy or jumping after a ribbon until they're exhausted. Sometimes they'll even dig around for the toy after you put it away, hoping to continue their play session.


Related: Cat Exercise: Different Ways to Play with Your Cat


Other times, they prefer to sit back and watch the toy move, swatting at it here and there. They love a good playtime, but you won't find the Exotic Shorthair energetically zooming around the house, looking for things to get into like more active breeds.



Exotic Shorthair Cat Breed Characteristics (Physical)

Like the Persian, the Exotic Shorthair is a medium-sized breed with an uncharacteristically large head. In fact, their head may appear even larger since they don't have the excessive fluff to fill out the rest of their body. The Exotic's facial features are like their long-haired counterparts with a flat, snubbed nose and big, friendly eyes.


Exotic Shorthair Cat Size

The Exotic Shorthair weighs around 12 pounds and can reach up to 15 inches tall. Even without the fur, the Exotic Shorthair's body is round and heavily boned with a broad, deep chest, big shoulders, and a good-sized rump.



Their "round and massive" head is known around the world for its prominent eyes and flat nose. Their chunky head sits atop a short, thick neck.


Eye Color

The Exotic Shorthair's eyes are described as "brilliant in color" by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA). Just like the Persian cat, their eye color will often correlate with their coat pattern. White Exotic Shorthairs will have dark blue eyes, and other patterns will have a brilliant copper color.


Legs & Paws

The Exotic Shorthair has short legs that are thick and strong in appearance. Their paws are large and round to match, five toes carried close in the front and four on the back legs.



Much like the Persian, the Exotic Shorthair can come in a large assortment of colors and coat patterns. Here's a closer look at some of the divisions recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association.


  • Solid Color Division: Exotics in the solid color division come in white, blue, black, red, cream, chocolate, and lilac. They all have specific required colors for their eyes, paw pads, and "nose leather." For example, chocolate (brown) Exotic Shorthairs have a brown nose, cinnamon-pink paw pads, and copper eyes.
  • Silver and Golden Color Division: Silver Exotic Shorthairs can come in several different varieties, including chinchilla silver and shaded silver. The same goes for the golden division. Each color in this division has specific requirements for eye color, paw pad color, and nose leather color as well.
  • Shaded and Smoke Color Division: Exotics in this division include shaded cameo, shell tortoiseshell, shaded black, shaded blue, red smoke, and chocolate tortoiseshell smoke. Each of the colors in this division has requirements for the eyes, paw pads, and nose leather.
  • Tabby Color Division: There's a vast amount of tabby patterns in the Exotic's tabby division. Some include the lilac patch tabby, cameo tabby, mackerel tabby, etc. In a cat show, Exotics' have their tabby patterns judged while they are standing.
  • Calico Color Division: Exotics in this class have classic, tri-colored coats. The coats are 25-75% white and often have large patches of black and orange overlaying, but other colors may occur.
  • Parti-Color Division: Parti-color includes tortoiseshell, blue-cream, chocolate tortoiseshell, and lilac-cream colors.
  • Himalayan Color Division: For Persians, a Himalayan coat pattern is a sub-breed. These are cats with color points, meaning their body is one solid color, and their ears, legs, feet, tail, and mask are contrasting colors. Himalayan patterns include chocolate point, flame point, and tortie lynx point.



Exotic Shorthair Lifespan

With proper care and a trusted veterinarian, Exotic Shorthairs can typically live around 15 years old.


Related: Longest Living Cat Breeds: A Guide to Felines with 9 Lives



Exotic Shorthair Cat Breed Care

The main difference between Persians and Exotic Shorthairs is the coat length. Families often choose the Exotic because they still have the distinct facial characteristics and lovable personality of a Persian without the need for extensive daily brushing.


Some people call Exotics the "Lazy Man's Persian" because they require far less brushing, at around once a week. Still, regular grooming helps avoid excessive shedding and hairballs.


What hasn't changed, though, is their unique face. Their flat nose and big eyes bring on some challenges of their own, even without fur. Exotic Shorthairs will often get a discharge in the folds of their face, making them appear dirty. You can use vet-approved wipes or warm, soft cloths to wipe the tears and dirt away.


You should usually keep Exotic Shorthair indoors. Since their snubbed nose makes it harder to breathe, they cannot run as long or as fast as most cats. This makes them susceptible to predators, strays, dogs, and cars. Make sure your Exotic also has a shallow cat bowl to accommodate for their facial structure as well.



orange exotic feline brown eyes



Health Problems

Although most Exotic Shorthairs are pretty healthy, these adorable felines don't come without a few hereditary health issues. Remember always to take your cat to the vet for regular checkups! Here are some conditions owners should be aware of:


Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

Because of their flat faces, Exotics can suffer from BOAS. This condition means that their nose and teeth are displaced due to their extreme look.


This issue leads to difficulty breathing, cat dental care problems, and poor sinus drainage. Weight loss and surgery can help ease their suffering, as well as keeping them indoors and away from humid weather.


Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

Another common illness for Exotic Shorthairs is feline polycystic kidney disease. PKD is a life-altering, inherited condition that can lead to kidney failure.


Kittens affected by PKD start to develop cysts on their kidneys at just a few weeks of age. Symptoms will often appear before six months of age. It's imperative to only buy an Exotic Shorthair from a trusted, responsible breeder who knows the litter's health history.




Exotic Shorthairs also love to eat. However, their love for food can often lead to obesity, which can cause many health problems for a stockier breed like the Exotic Shorthair. It's essential to make sure that you aren't overfeeding your big-eyed beggar.


You can implement an automatic feeder that gives your cat the exact recommended amount over time. This way, your Exotic stays fed all day long without running the risk of overfeeding.


You should also consider the ingredients of the food you provide your kitty with. Look for foods with a named protein source as the first ingredient and as few carbohydrate fillers as possible. You can also feed them wet food, which is often considered healthier and provides more water for your cat.


Related: Wet Vs Dry Cat Food - Why It Matters & What to Look For



Children & Other Pets

Exotic Shorthairs are peaceful companions. They are very tolerant of other pets and children, usually not showing any aggression or hostility. Laidback Exotics can learn to live with other cats or dogs with almost no problems.


Children also love to play with Exotic Shorthairs since they are playful yet very gentle and easygoing. You can supervise your cat's interactions with younger children to teach kids how to be gentle and kind to pets.


Like most cats, Exotic Shorthairs still love their alone time. Ensure your Exotic Shorthair has its own space at home, like a cat tree or cat shelf. Having a refuge will let an older Exotic relax, away from kittens and kids when needed.



More About The Exotic Shorthair Cat Breed

Exotic Shorthair kittens can be quite expensive, ranging from about $1,500 to $2,500. According to the Cat Fanciers' Association, many breeders get requests for female kittens because they believe they're sweeter and more loving.


However, this isn't true at all! The CFA actually says that male kittens are often more affectionate than females, while females are considered more aloof.


Still, Exotic Shorthairs, both male and female, are loving and adorable. Their unique look and personality have made them popular within pop culture.


An Exotic Shorthair named Calico plays the evil villain's sidekick in Cats & Dogs and its sequel. Winston on the sitcom New Girl also owns an Exotic Shorthair named Ferguson, a prevalent character on the show. Pudge the Cat and Snoopy are two other famous cats of this breed who have made a name for themselves on social media.


Exotic Shorthairs are popular with everyday families as well. They're low maintenance, loving, playful, and laidback. For that reason, they're the perfect addition to most families of any size!



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