Exotic Shorthairs

While many people use the term “exotic” to mean something that originates or has the characteristics of a foreign country, Exotic Shorthairs, also known as Exotics, is an official cat breed. 

This breed was developed in the 1950s by crossing Persians with American Shorthairs and other shorthair breeds. This resulted in the Exotic Shorthair, a breed that shares its features and personality with the Persian, yet sports a short, easy-to-care-for coat.

In addition to moderate care needs (weekly nail clipping and twice-weekly brushing), Exotics have medium exercise requirements and high attention needs. They do require companionship in the form of playtime and cuddles much of the time. They do not like to be left alone, so this should be avoided whenever possible. 

The Exotics make very suitable family pets, but it will be important to dedicate time to being at home with them. Your cat will vocalize to let you know when it needs more attention. They are calm, friendly and obedient as a rule, easily getting along with the family and other pets.

an Exotic Shorthair watching something intently

Exotic Shorthairs Information

  • Average Height: 10 to 12 inches
  • Average Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
  • Coat Type: Short 
  • Coat Appearance: They have a short and thick double-coat with a rich texture
  • Coat Colors: White, gray, black, orange, and chocolate
  • Grooming Needs: Moderate
  • Shedding: Medium shedding
  • Brushing Requirements: They need to be brushed 1 – 2 times a week
  • Sensitive to Touch: With family fine but not so much with strangers
  • Excessive Meow: Moderate
  • Good tolerance to Heat and Cold: Comfortable in cold, no in heat.
  • Good Pet: They are loving, gentle, and loyal cats, so yes!
  • Safe with Children: With training, yes!
  • Good with Other Cats: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: Yes
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Suitable for First-Time Cat Owners: Yes 
  • Exercise Needs: Medium need
  • Weight Gain: High
  • Health Concerns: Polycystic Kidney disease, Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), Dental malocclusions, Cherry eyes, entropion, excessive tearing, Seborrhea, and certain respiratory conditions. 
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 8 to 15 years
Exotic Shorthair kittens

Physical Appearance of Exotics

Exotics have a lot of similarities with the Persians when it comes to appearance. The only major difference is that these cats have a shorter coat. The plush coat of Exotics is the most fascinating feature of these cats. They have a short double-coat that is soft and thick. Unlike the Persians, their coat is not as fluffy.

They have a square-shaped, heavily boned body. Though they look bulky, it is not so. The bulky appearance is because of the heavy bones and a thick coat. Their legs are short, thick, and strong with large and round paws. The tail is short and proportionate to the length of the body.

They have a big and round head which is supported by a thick and short neck. Their snout is short and almost pressed against their face. The ears are large and rounded at the tips. The eyes are also big and round.

Like the Persians, they also come in a variety of colors. The most common colors are white, gray, black, orange, and chocolate. The color of the eyes is related to the color of the coat. 

White exotics have deep blue or copper eyes and other color Exotics have copper eyes. Some cats can also have a different color in each eye. For example white Exotics can have one blue and another copper color eye.

Temperament of the Exotics

Just like the Persians, Exotics are also sweet and obedient cats. They are calm, friendly, and medium energy cats. Exotics do tend to be more curious and active than the Persians. They are loyal to the family members and are very affectionate towards them. 

The love that you give them will always be appreciated and returned back with even more affection. They form strong bonds with family members and you will often find them sharing your bed or sofa with you.

They are also out-going and don’t mind interacting with other pets who treat them with respect. Exotics can easily get along with other pets in your home.

Training the Exotics

These cats are fairly easy to potty train. As long as you have a litter box that gives them some privacy, and is big enough for them to comfortably fit inside you should have no problems with them using it.  Just remember to keep it clean as this is the main reason why a cat may not use the litter box.

You may see a few accidents in the beginning but do not punish them. Give them praise and treats whenever they use the litter box. This will help them to understand what kind of behavior is expected of them. 

To take care of their scratching habits, set up scratching posts around the house. Whenever you see them scratching your furniture or any other object, pick them and take the cat to the nearest scratching post. This will take care of their scratching habits and also prevent damage to your furniture. It may take time for them to get used to it in the beginning but eventually, they will learn.

If you already have pets in your home then there are some basic steps to take to teach the new cat how to interact with the existing pets.  After you’ve introduced the new cat to each pet, observe their behavior.  If the new cat is doing things that the other pets don’t like, you should step in and tell them no.  You want to do this before an existing pet tells the new one for you.

Clicker training is becoming more popular now. Make a noise with the clicker when the cat does something which is considered good behavior. It will let them know that this is something that you like and hopefully will do it more frequently.

a super cute Exotic Shorthair reading a book

Their Compatibility with Children

Exotics are a great pet for families with children. They are super friendly and love to play with kids. Their sweet and quiet behavior makes them very forgiving of your kids. The cat enjoys playing games with children and doesn’t mind being cuddled or held by children. 

Like with all pets, teach your children how to interact with the cats.  Exotics have a dense coat and it could be tricky for the children to hold them. 

Though the cat is gentle and non-aggressive towards children, until you know how they play together it is best to have an adult keep an eye on them when they are playing together. This will prevent accidents from happening.

an Exotic Shorthair sleeping

Best Climate for Exotics

For these cats, a cool indoor environment is best. Just like the Persians, these cats also live in cold climates and their thick coat keeps them comfortable. They are not able to tolerate extreme cold like the Persians because of their shorter coats.

They have a short nose and air passages, so it is difficult for them to cool their body in hot or humid weather. This prevents them from breathing and panting efficiently making it difficult for them to cool down properly. 

To keep them cool during summers, it is best to keep them inside in a cool environment. If your home does get a little warm, make sure they have enough water to stay hydrated.  This will keep them happy in the summer months.

The Attention the Exotic Needs

Exotics love getting attention from their owners. Like the Persians, they like to play with children and other family members. Letting them sit on your lap and frequent cuddles are something this breed loves. They have medium energy and enjoy playing with all sorts of toys to stay active.

Try not to leave them alone for longer periods. They do not like staying alone and leaving them for many hours can develop separation anxiety in them.

Health Issues

The most common genetic condition in Exotics is Brachycephalic syndrome, a respiratory disease that is found mostly in cats with short noses. It is caused by constricted nostrils that can lead to difficulty in breathing. In certain cases, surgery may be required to correct it. 

Polycystic Kidney disease is another genetic condition that leads to the formation of cysts in the kidney. This can enlarge the kidneys of the cats, impacting the functioning of the kidney. 

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a urinary condition that can be found in some cats. FLUTD refers to a variety of conditions that can affect the urethra and bladder of the cats. 

The symptoms are pain while urinating, an increase in the frequency of urination, and blood in the urine. In most cases, antibiotics and dietary changes can help to deal with the condition. However, depending upon the severity sometimes the vet may also suggest surgery.

Exotics may also have certain eye conditions. The most common eye-related disease is teary eyes. 

Another eye condition they are known for is cherry eyes, a condition in which the third eyelid protrudes from the eyes. It is seen as a red-lump on the corner of the eyes. 

Entropion is also another eye disease that these cats can have. In this, the eyelids fold inward and can cause a lot of irritation.

Misalignment of the teeth (dental malocclusion) and certain skin conditions that lead to inflammation or infection (seborrhea) are also some other common health conditions that Exotics can have.

an Exotic Shorthair kitten
a cute Exotic Shorthair outside near a fence

Bathing, Coat, and Cleaning

Exotics don’t have high grooming needs. You should still brush their fur two times a week. This will help to remove the loose fur from their body and also to untangle any clumps of fur. You might have to brush them more frequently in spring because that is when they shed their undercoat more. 

Check and trim their nails once a week. Long nails can cause difficulty in walking. It gives them urges to use it on furniture to wear the nails down. 

As they are prone to dental conditions, brush their teeth once a week to keep good dental hygiene. If you see any signs of plaque or smell a bad odor, call your vet for a check-up.

Exotics’ eyes can tear excessively which can cause staining around the eyes. As needed, clean the area around the eyes using a soft cotton cloth. Similarly, check their ears for dirt or wax build-up. If there is any buildup, use a moist cotton cloth to clear only the visible part of the ears. 

Each week it is important to check their nose, paws, and other areas of the cat while brushing them for signs of redness or other infections. If you see any signs of infection, call your vet immediately.

Feeding the Exotics

An adult Exotic needs ¼ to ½ cups of high-quality cat food daily. This should be divided between two meals over the day. Avoid overfeeding or giving them table scraps as they can easily become obese. 

The food that you feed should contain taurine which is an essential nutrient that every cat needs. It is an amino acid that nourishes the brain, eyes, and also helps to improve the immune system of the cats. Consult your vet to find out if the food that you serve has the necessary nutrients. 

Provide an adequate amount of water for your cat to drink. Some cats may not drink water out of bowls. For them, you can get a recirculating water fountain. The cat will enjoy drinking water from it.

Related Questions:

How did Exotics originate?

Exotics are a relatively new breed and were developed during the 1950s. Carolyn Bussey, an American breeder, cross-bred a Persian with a brown Burmese to create a brown Persian cat. What resulted was a cat with similar features like Persian in terms of looks and personality, except that the crossbred cat had a shorthair. This interested other breeders as well, and they started working on developing shorthair versions of the Persians. The breed was officially recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) as ‘the Exotics’ in 1967.

a large pile of multi colored cat food

Do Exotics come in two different looks?

Yes. These cats come in two different looks – called the extreme and the traditional. The Extreme Exotics have a slightly flatter face and shorter snouts. They are prone to have breathing problems. As for the Traditional Exotics, the face is less flat and the snout is a little longer. This allows them to breathe better. Apart from this, everything else is the same for both Exotics.

Are Exotics Hypoallergenic?

No, they are not Hypoallergenic. Though their shorter coats make people think that they will not irritate someone’s allergies but this is not true. The allergies from cats is caused by a protein present in their saliva glands. The allergens from the oil secretion and saliva glands get attached to their dander. When this sheds from your cat, people with allergies can have an allergic reaction.

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