The Exotic Shorthair is the second most popular cat, trailing right behind the Persian cat. This is arguably so, since it is very much like the Persian breed with the exception of its short coat. The history of the Exotic Shorthair can be traced back to the late 1950s, where American Shorthair breeders included the Persian breed into their breeding programs. The objective was to introduce the impressive silver color of the Persia coat as well as to improve the body type of the American Shorthairs. Thus, the conformation of the American Shorthair went through a period change in the 1960s.
The result of the hybrid was widely accepted and the breed did well in many shows. However, it was not immediately recognized as an officially separate breed. In fact, there were some American Shorthair breeders who were against the new changes that were bring introduced into the American Shorthair. It was only when Ms Jane Martinke, judge of the Cat Fanciers Associations (CFA), suggested in 1966 that the hybrid be considered as a separate breed under a distinct category that the cat was registered as a new breed. The association later ruled that this breed should be named the Exotic Shorthair, and in about a year’s time it promoted the breed to the Championship status.
In order to establish the shorthair gene in this breed, breeders introduced Burmese and Russian Blues, in addition to the American Shorthair, to the breeding programs. Once the shorthair gene has been inculcated into the Exotic Shorthair, crossing it with the other shorthair breeds became unnecessary. The CFA finally banned any out-crosses for the Exotic Shorthair in 1987. This allows the Exotic Shorthair to make steady progress and in subsequent years to claim the position as one of the most popular cats.
Physical appearance and attributes
This is a medium to large sized cat that weighs between 7 -14 pounds for males and 6 – 10 pounds for females. It has a cobby type body with a rounded midsection as well as a level back; the shoulders and rump that are of the same width. It is heavily boned with good musculature. Similar to the Persian cat, Exotic Shorthair has short, thick legs that extend into large rounded paws with compact toes. Balancing the body is a short tail that is in proportion to the body length and is set at an angle lower than the rump.
Exotic Shorthair has a massive head supported by a short thick neck. The massiveness of the head is due in part to the great breadth of the skull with rounded contours. Its face is defined by a short snub nose, full prominent cheeks and a well-developed chin. Set atop the head is a pair of small ears with rounded tip. They are set wide apart and low on the head, fitting into the rounded contour of the head. Viewed in profile, the ears present a slight forward tilt and a nose break is distinctly evident between the prominent eyes. The forehead, nose and chin should also appear to be in a straight alignment. Exotic Shorthair has large round eyes that are set wide apart, giving the face a sweet expression. Eye color should complement its coat color.
Despite being named as Exotic Shorthair, its coat is unlike that of a typical shorthair cat. It wears a short to medium length coat that is dense and plush in texture. Due to the layer of undercoat, the hair actually stands out of the body and appear full of life. The coat length extends to the tail, forming the appearance of a full tail brush. Its dense coat, cobby type body and massive head have contributed the ‘the teddy bear look’ often described in this breed. The coat can come in a wide range of colors and patterns.
Personality and temperaments
Besides its appearance, the personality of the Exotic Shorthair is also very similar to that of the Persian breed. It is a dignified, quiet and sensitive cat that enjoys being pampered. Its calm and well-balanced temperament made it an ideal house pet. Despite the similarities, it is considered more fun-loving and athletic than the Persians. However, its playfulness and activeness never go beyond the line to become mischievous or hyper. Exotic Shorthair is considered smarter than the Persians due to the influence of the American Shorthair in its bloodline. This breed is especially sweet and loving towards its own people, but may be a little wary towards strangers. Games or toys such as puzzle toys, fishing-pole toy, chasing after a ball or even a piece of paper can keep it occupied for hours while your lap is not available for cuddle.
Care and health issues
The Exotic Shorthair has an average lifespan of 12 – 14 years. However, as charming and cute as the face is, it also comes potential health problems. The squashed face may cause the tear ducts to be blocked, resulting in discharge from the eyes. Excessive tearing may be another issue. Infection of the frontal sinuses can also occur due to respiratory infection. Finally, this breed is also prone to polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which causes kidney failure. Thus, it is necessary to obtain a written health guarantee from qualified breeders when purchasing the breed to ensure that it is healthy.
Grooming the Exotic Shorthair does require some effort. The short coat may tangle and mat easily, thus it needs to be combed once or twice a week with a stainless steel comb to keep it healthy and neat. To prevent tear stain and to remove discharge from the eyes and nose, clean the face daily with a cotton pad or damp cloth. This will keep the cat healthier and happier. Other basic grooming practices should include frequent teeth brushing with vet approved toothpaste as well as nail trimming and ear cleaning whenever necessary.
The ideal home
This breed can certainly adapt well to apartment living. While they do prefer the freedom that outdoor spaces provide, these spaces should be safe and escape-proof. Equip the play area with puzzle cat toys, cat trees and cat gym sets to encourage an active and hearty growth. It prefers a serene environment to a boisterous one. The Exotic Shorthair is child friendly provided that the child knows how to handle it with care. While it is able to get along well with other family pets, the Exotic Shorthair would prefer the companionship of its owner. It will thrive if companionship is given for the better part of the day. The Exotic Shorthair is suitable for most types of household, as long as the family is ready to set aside the time to give it the necessary care and attention. This exotic breed is sure to bring much joy and endearment to the home.