20 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About the Exotic Shorthair

The International Cat Association hints that the Exotic Shorthair is the Persian who prefers to lounge around in its pajamas. Many have called Exotic Shorthairs, the Persian for the lazy man, because they require so much less care than Persians do.

The Exotic Shorthair breed was originally developed by breeders who wanted to develop a cat with all the amazing qualities of a Persian, but without the long coat. Persian’s are high-maintenance cats. They need daily combing or brushing to keep all their long fur in great shape, and plenty of cat fanciers simply don’t have the time or don’t want to take the time required.

Exotic Shorthairs were bred from out-crossing Persians with Burmese and American or British Shorthair cats. What resulted was a highly affectionate, laid back cat breed with a laid-back manner and a dense, plush coat which doesn’t take as much time to groom. Some believe that Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat in “Alice in Wonderland” was inspired by a British Shorthair. It’s easy to see why crossing Shorthair cats with Persians was popular. The results around the world, have been chubby-cheeked, loving cats.

Exotics are gentle cats who adore their humans, and move through the world with curiosity, soft voices, and friendly ability to get along with other pets and children, while endearing themselves to their owners. Many who see Exotics for the first time are instantly curious about them. They almost look like Persians…but not quite. That’s only part of what makes them unique.  Here are 20 fun facts you didn’t know about exotic shorthairs.

1. One early name proposed for the breed was “Sterling”.

The original breed standard required that the newly emerging breed of cats were to have silver colored coats. Cat fanciers proposed the silvery name for the gray colored kitties. But, the color was also new and exciting within the range of colors available for the American Shorthairs, so “Exotic” was added to “Shorthair” and the newly paired adjectives became the new name. Though the silver coat color was the first goal for the newest kitties in the breed, additional crossings produced cats in many different patterns and colors. Eventually, the breed standard was expanded to include all the variations. While most breeders around the world refer to the established breed as Exotic Shorthair, the Cat Fancier Association calls it “the Exotic”

2. It’s not completely true that Exotic Shorthairs don’t need much grooming.

While it is true that Exotics have shorter coats than their parent Persians, they do have a thick undercoat and an overcoat of fur. The two layers give them their round and puffy shape which people really like. But, the undercoat sheds a lot seasonally. During that time, they drop the undercoat much like a dog. They need extra brushing to remove the extra shedding fur, and it can be messy. Of course, they don’t have to be brushed daily as Persians do. Twice a week grooming is okay during normal times. But when they lose that undercoat, expect a lot of extra work.

3. They’re not fat. They just look round because they have big bones.

While part of the roundness typical of Exotics is due to their very plush coats of fur, the other part is that they are a bit like small body builders. They have thick and wide, but strong bodies. Their necks are wide, and their heads are large and round, too. Some of the heftier ones often weigh as much as 15 pounds, which is getting up there for cats. Taking a close look at their adorable, wide and round faces will give prospective owners a good idea about their overall proportions. Just think round head, round body, round face, round eyes. All the roundness simply contributes to their cute factor, without really making them fat. Their round eyes and cheeks have won over many who think of them as cute, friendly round balls of fur.

4. Their eyes correspond to their coat color.

Since most Exotics have deep, pure copper colored eyes, it might be tempting to think that copper is the only eye color. But throughout the entire breed, there are three primary colors which coordinate with fairly specific coat colors. Copper or gold eyes are seen in most of the coat colors. However, chinchilla and golden varieties most often have green eyes. Most white and colorpoint varieties will have blue eyes. What makes them all recognizable as Exotic Shorthairs is their large, well-spaced, and definitely round eyes. Unfortunately, those endearing eyes can develop Epiphora, which is the medical name for excessive tearing in the eyes. When this occurs, owners must gently wipe their eyes each day, which keeps the tear ducts clear and also prevents the tears from making stains on their facial fur.

5. Exotics are very sensitive to heat.

One of the most common health issues for Exotics is their sensitivity to heat. Their flat faces include flat noses, and that makes it difficult for some of them to breath easily. They will search for the coolest spot in the house and spread out over it to help cool their bodies. Their flat noses cannot help them to easily expel extra heat, so they use cool places instead. Owners who live in warm places often will protect them from hot weather by running air conditioning during the hotter times of the year. Because Exotics have such thick double coats of fur, they do not cool down as easily as other cats. For this reason, they do better in colder climates.

6. They love to play with cat toys whether you play along or not.

While most Exotics really prefer to spend time on their favorite human’s lap, they do have a playful side. Their docile nature is the flip side of their active play ide. They do well as part of active families who can play with them. But, they also will bat at toys. When their human family is away, they are perfectly content to play with their toys. Favorites might include a feather teaser or a catnip mouse. They are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves until someone comes to be with them. Their curiosity makes them great play pals. Breeders who know them well often describe females as being aloof, and males as being more affectionate than their female counterparts. But both appreciate the attention they receive and will follow their favorite humans just to get a good pet or pat now and then.

7. Exotics are “purring monsters”.

Much is said about their soft and gentle voices. Many owners describe them as having quiet voices which they don’t use often. Exotics do meow, but usually only when necessary, and even then, they meow sparingly. What is quite distinctive about their voices, though, is that many of them are known to purr a lot. Not only do they like to purr, they like to be loud when they purr. Their owners know that it is because their Exotics are content, and enjoying themselves. They enjoy a gentle pet and a warm lap to cuddle on. They show their love this way. They show deep affection by purring loudly to let you know how they feel.

8. They are not hypoallergenic.

It would seem to make sense that the Exotic’s shorter coats would give the breed some measure of hypoallergenic qualities. But the opposite is true. Allergies to cats result from a specific protein found in their saliva and sebaceous glands. The allergens from their saliva and oil secretion glands usually are attached to their dander. Cats have tiny flakes of skin, like human dandruff, which falls off their body. Exotics are just as prone to having dander as any other cat. Their shorter coats do not mean freedom from allergens, though extra cleaning and grooming might reduce the amount of allergens present in the home. 

9. Exotics are prone to developing Polycystic Kidney Disease.

This inherited disease has long been a problem affecting Persians and cross breeds which have Persian parents. This makes Exotic Shorthairs inclined to inherit this kidney condition. It’s otherwise known as PKD. It is not reversible. Its primary symptoms include cysts developing inside the cat’s kidneys. The cysts multiply until they fill up all the space inside the kidneys. Once this happens, there is no healthy tissue inside the kidneys, and they are not capable of filtering out wastes from the blood. The kidneys ultimately fail. Some medications may control how quickly the kidneys degrade. It is also possible to have a kidney transplant, but these often fail or produce short post-surgery survivals. The transplant procedure is also highly expensive, within $10 to $15 thousand dollars.

10. Some Exotics may develop Separation Anxiety Syndrome.

This form of anxiety is the kind that happens when an Exotic is so completely attached to its owners that it has trouble being alone. Because of their famous tendency to be affectionate, owners may believe that their feline will be just fine when left alone. After all, they have plenty of attention all the time, and can demand it when they need it. But some will become very bored and this will lead to them asserting aggression by destroying household items. Some will shred paper, some will vocalize loudly, and others will forget to use their litter box properly. Some will be so very anxious that they do aggressive things just as their owners are ready to leave home. In these cases, owners must develop a daily routine which their Exotic can depend upon, and provide plenty of toys for company. Some veterinarians will prescribe anti-anxiety medications when the Exotic is overly worried and cannot relax. The majority of Exotics are still very capable of being alone while their owners are away, as long as there are plenty of things in the house to keep them occupied.

11. Exotic Shorthairs are not jumpers.

When so many kittens and cats have the reputation for jumping on or over just about anything, Exotics do not. They are truly amused with easy things. They like to play with rumpled paper balls or chase strings. They enjoy greeting their owners and like to curl up on laps. They like to be caressed. They are not often found knocking things off shelves or careening around the house. They are loyal and curious, preferring to play with special toys rather than running everywhere. True lap cats, they are excellent as companions for seniors and children. They do very well when living in city apartments because they are easily entertained while remaining calm. 

12. Only Persians are more popular than Exotic Shorthairs in America.

Persians have been popular for a long time. The breed usually has the largest number of new registrations with the Cat Fancier Association each year. It also has the largest number of cats in shows. But, because Persians do need a lot of care to keep their long, beautiful fur in top shape, many busy people cannot care for them properly. When these people discover that they can have a kind of cat which looks like a Persian, but doesn’t take the time, they fall in love with Exotic Shorthairs. The lure of the Exotic is simple. The breed must meet the same standards as the Persian breed. There is only one significant difference: The Exotic coat is shorter than the Persian coat. It is plush and dense, and contributes to the teddy bear shape that makes Exotics so darn cute. While Persians usually need daily combing, Exotics need it only once or twice a week. Exotics are easier to keep, and that has made them rise in popularity steadily since they first became a breed.

13. Exotics mature later than other cat breeds.

Since the breed tends to mature at a slower pace, but are spayed or neutered at the similar early age of other cats, they don’t tend to develop problems such as marking their territory by spraying or mating urges. They don’t reach puberty until they are about two years old. Male Exotics are not prone to aggression or spraying. For all their slowness to develop, they remain faster than Persians in many ways. There are breeders who compare Persian kittens with Exotic kittens by noting that the Exotics will do many activities before Persians do. Exotic kittens will be the first to open their eyes, to eat, to climb out of their first box, and be curious about new things. Adult Exotics are known for their ability to figure out how to get back the toys which were hidden from them, or to sit and watch water as it drips from a faucet. The breed is clean, easy going, peaceful, and not demanding.

14. Their eyes often require daily cleaning.

That’s because they can have very small tear ducts. Their faces can be a bit “pushed in”. Over the years, breeders took on the measuring technique of holding a pencil to their faces, and if it touched their chin, nose and forehead all at one time, their faces were considered ideal. This profile was quite exaggerated, and created generations of Exotics, and their cousin breed the Persian, to have protruding eyes within a generally pushed in face structure.

Unfortunately, the breeding practice created facial structures with the tiny tear ducts which can become blocked, discharge mucous or pus, and need daily cleaning. One main reason for keeping their eyes clean is that the corners of their eyes can stain from the discharge. Some breeders note that eye problems did not plague these breeds until after the 1970s. Before that time, these cats had reasonable cat-like faces. The breeding preference began with American breeders who specialized in Persians, and then was followed by Persian and Exotic breeders around the world.

15. Exotic Shorthairs are available in at least 140 coat colors.

Exotics are well-known for their soft, plush coats and beautiful array of colors. Their coat patterns can be spotted, color-pointed, tipped, shaded, smoke, tabby, bi-color, or tortie tabby. Their eyes are amber or blue.

16. Male Exotic Shorthairs can be more affectionate than females.

There are many owners of female Exotics who discover that their girl cats run away and hide whenever approached for a nice pet or a good cuddle. Some even run away howling in fear, though they have been part of a human family for years. There are extreme reports of female Exotics hiding closets for 70% of each day; to the sadness of owners who care deeply that they might have a cat who will allow them to show affection. Some breeders also mention that males make better show cats than females do.

17. Exotics don’t use their claws very often.

That’s because they tend to be docile and quiet. They are inquisitive, and train easily, so it’s much easier to tell them where than can and can’t go and they will obey. They like to have fun without destroying things, and that is particularly true with Exotic kittens. While many cats love to shred things with their claws, the gentle and outgoing Exotics really prefer to have a nice playmate and don’t spend a lot of time ripping things apart with their sharp, very capable claws.

18. Exotic Shorthairs have only been a breed for about 50 years.

They’re often called Shorthaired Persian because they were originally bred to be exactly that. Persians traditionally have very long coats, and they require plenty of brushing to keep it free of tangles and mats. But, Exotics have medium length coats, which are much easier to groom. The breed began late in the 1950s, with Carolyn Bussey, an American cat breeder.

She was able to cross a Burmese with a Persian. She hoped to design a Persian with a brown colored coat. But, the crossing resulted in black, very cute kittens. They were easy going, just like Persians, but their shorter coats seemed to something which could become popular. Bussey’s persistent focus on exacting breeding standards required that only Burmese and Persians be crossed to create Exotics. For that reason, the breed was able to retain its status as pedigreed.

Acknowledging Bussey’s lead, other breeders around the world began to cross Persians with American Shorthair, British Shorthair, and other short haired cat breeds. Not all breeders designed their versions within the sanctions of leading cat fancier associations. With so many breeders working to create these designer breeds, there are understandably many differing origin stories for the Exotic Shorthair.

19. Only a few hundred Exotic Shorthairs are born each year.

Would be owners often have to wait to find just the right color or coat pattern they prefer. Reputable breeders carefully plan for the best quality and are often looking ahead to show quality kittens. It takes time to select the right couples and time for the newly born kittens to be checked by a veterinarian, have all the appropriate vaccinations, and become registered. It’s also common for Exotic Shorthairs to stay with their mothers until they are at least 12 weeks old. Expect excellent breeders to provide health histories for a new kitten’s parents. These are some of the reasons for the shortages, and why this breed often costs quite a bit to purchase.

20. Exotic Shorthairs often behave more like dogs than cats.

These cats will follow their owners around the house. They enjoy being with their humans, and will follow to see when they can have a chance to get a pat on the head. They adore cuddling, and many owners mention that they are laid back. Just like dogs, they will lie upside down in your arms and stretch out happily when given the chance. They also adore their toys, and many owners indulge them with a wide assortment.

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