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The Exotic Shorthair is a breed of cat developed to resemble a shorthaired version of the Persian. This cat appeals to people who love the personality of the Persian, but do not want the burden of constantly grooming a longhaired cat with a very dense coat. Because of its easy-to-manage coat, some call the Exotic Shorthair, the “lazy man’s Persian.” The Exotic Shorthair is similar to the Persian in many ways, including temperament and conformation, but the coat is significantly shorter.
Exotic Shorthairs have the same sweet pansy-like face and short nose with big eyes, and the same short, square body, giving them the look of a cuddly teddy bear. These affectionate cats have the quiet manners of the Persian but are livelier and more inquisitive thanks to the genetic contributions from their shorthaired ancestry.
The Persian was first used as an outcross secretly by some American Shorthair breeders in the late 1950s, to try to "improve" their breed. The hybrid look gained recognition in the show ring, but other breeders who were unhappy with the changes successfully pushed for new breed standards that would disqualify American Shorthairs that showed any signs of hybridization. One American Shorthair breeder who saw the potential of the Persian/American Shorthair cross eventually managed to get the Cat Fanciers' Association to recognize them as a new breed in 1966, under the name Exotic Shorthair.
During the breeding program, crosses were also made with the Russian Blue and the Burmese. But since 1987, the only allowable outcross breed has been the Persian. Because of the regular use of Persians as outcrosses, some Exotics may carry a copy of the recessive longhair gene. When two such cats mate, there is a one-in-four chance of each kitten being longhaired. Ironically, longhaired Exotics are not considered Persians by CFA, although The International Cat Association (TICA) accepts them as Persians. Other associations register them as a separate Exotic Longhair breed.
The Exotic Shorthair has a compact, rounded, powerfully built, medium-sized body with a short, thick "linebacker-style" neck. Its large rounded eyes, short snub nose, sweet facial expression, and small ears give it an eternally youthful appearance that some people find to be very appealing. Exotic Shorthairs are heavily-boned, sturdy cats with lines softened by the thick dense coat. They have broad, round, massive heads with low-set ears, and full, rounded cheeks. The head is set on a robust, short, square body, with short but stocky legs balanced by an abbreviated thick tail with a rounded tip, that is carried low.
All Persian coat colors are recognized, which embraces the full array of the rainbow plus a multitude of patterns including pointed coloration (lighter body with darker extremities), creating a shorthaired version of the Himalayan. The eyes are a pure, deep color corresponding to that of the coat (gold to copper in most varieties; green in the chinchilla and the golden; blue in the white and the colorpoint). The breed does not reach full maturity until around the age of two.
The easy-going Exotic Shorthair is an affectionate, gentle cat with the quiet manners of the Persian. Exotic Shorthairs will request your attention with an irresistible gaze, and then hug you when you pick them up. They will follow you from room to room to be near you, and then jump in your lap for a nap when you settle down to read a book. Their shorthaired ancestors have given them a love of play, and they will jump to catch a toy or sit studying how to get a toy that is out of reach. Simple things amuse them, such as chasing paper balls around the house, or watching the water drip out of the tap.
While seen but rarely heard, the Exotic has a soft voice and a vocabulary of chirping sounds. Although sweet and peaceful, Exotics still have an intelligent curiosity that makes them a joy to be around – and since they are so easy-going, they get on well with children and other pets – dogs and cats alike.
The Exotic prefers not to be left alone, and needs the presence of its owner (or voices or smells reminiscent of its people – such as a radio left on for company). Having two cats instead of just one can go a long way towards quelling the Exotic’s feelings of loneliness. They tend to show more affection and loyalty than most breeds and make excellent lap cats. Their calm and steady nature makes them ideal cats for dwellers of city apartments. Since Exotics retain some of the energetic spark of their American Shorthair ancestors, they are often capable mouse hunters, as well.
Unlike many other breeds, Exotics are not great jumpers, and prefer to remain fairly close to the ground, although they are capable, for example, of jumping up on a kitchen stool and hanging out, watching their people cooking. However, they are not rowdy, and do not have the tendency to climb the curtains (or the walls— for which some Bengals are famous!) Thus, they are likely to create very little damage in your house.
To influence the final desired outcome of your mature cat, it is recommended that you begin to shape a new kitten at a very early age. Since each kitten is an individual, of course, and some personality traits are probably “set in stone” at birth, Exotic Shorthairs are fairly malleable, and can definitely be affected by the quality and direction of their nurturing.
Care for it well, and give it lots of love and attention, and your Exotic Shorthair will live a long and happy life as your friend and soulmate!
Unlike the high-maintenance Persian, the Exotic is able to keep its own fur tidy with little human assistance, though weekly brushing and combing is recommended to remove loose hair and reduce shedding and hairballs. As with other flat-faced animals, the Exotic's tears are prone to overflowing the nasolacrimal ducts, thus dampening and staining the face. This problem can be relieved by periodically wiping the cat's face with a cloth moistened with water or one of the commercial preparations made expressly for this purpose.
Exotic Shorthairs, like Persians and other Persian-derived cats, have a high chance of inheriting PKD, (Polycystic Kidney Disease), a medical problem that can lead to kidney failure. Several studies have shown that the prevalence of PKD in Exotics is as high as between forty and fifty percent in developed nations. DNA screening for PKD is recommended for all Exotic Shorthair cats used in breeding programs, to reduce the incidence of kidney disease by spaying and neutering PKD-positive cats.
Barron’s Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds