Last updated: February 18, 2017
With its adorable good looks and the sweetest disposition, it is easy to see why the Exotic Shorthair is the number one breed in the US. An appealing alternative to people who would like a Persian but are put off by the breed’s long coat, the Exotic Shorthair has all of its other qualities but doesn’t require the same level of commitment to grooming.
The Exotic Shorthair is, quite simply, a Persian without the long coat. The standard is otherwise identical in every way.
As with the Persian, the overall impression of the Exotic should be that of a round cat. The eyes are large, round and set well apart on the head. The head is also round, with small, rounded ears set far apart. This structure should give the cat a ‘sweet’ expression.
Exotic Shorthairs are heavy boned, with short, thick legs. The coat is very dense. Due to its thick undercoat, it stands out from the body rather than lying flat. It should feel soft and plush to the touch. Like the Persian, the Exotic comes in a wide range of colors.
Exotics can still be crossed with Persians and any longhaired offspring can be shown in the Persian breed classes.
The Exotic Shorthair is a relatively new breed that was created in the 1960’s. Originally, breeders decided to cross the American Shorthair with the Persian. This was to breed the American Shorthair in the same beautiful silver color that is seen in the Persian. However, the offspring varied from the American Shorthair type and instead looked like shorthaired Persians with the same flat faces.
These good looks caught the eye of another breeder, Jane Martinke. Jane decided that instead of working to get the silver colored American Shorthairs, she would try and create a new breed; the Sterling as it was originally silver. After a time, however, they soon changed their name to the Exotic Shorthair as more colors appeared.
This cat quickly grew popular, as it had all the qualities of the Persian just without the high maintenance coat. It was soon nicknamed the ‘lazy man’s Persian’. Yet at the beginning, many Persian breeders were reluctant to work with Exotic breeders so they struggled to get good Persian cats to cross them with. This meant that it was hard to establish the type the Exotic breeders wanted. Early breeders occasionally outcrossed to the Burmese although this was stopped in 1975. At this stage, only crossing to Persians and American Shorthairs became permissible.
Gradually, over the years, the type was perfected until they became identical to the Persian in every way except for the coat length. Crossing to the American Shorthair was also stopped so now the only acceptable outcross is the Persian. Although this has helped massively with improving type, it can cause problems for Exotic breeders. Longhaired kittens will still be produced from time to time as the gene is recessive. They can be used in the breeding program, but cannot be shown. Breeding short haired exotic to short haired repeatedly results in the kittens losing the plush coat required in the breed, therefore, longhaired cat or Persian outcrosses are essential. Therefore, it can be a slow process when trying to breed a champion!
The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) was the first governing body to accept the breed, with The International Cat Association (TICA) giving them championship recognition in 1979. Today, the Exotic Shorthair is the most popular breed in the US.
Overall the Exotic Shorthair is a healthy breed of cat, although there are a few conditions that new owners should be aware of.
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) can be a problem in the breed as it is with the Persian too. This condition is hereditary, meaning it can be passed from parent cats to kittens. This disease causes cysts to grow on the kidneys. As they get larger in size, they start to inhibit the kidney function and cause kidney failure. Although the cysts are present from a young age, kidney failure usually develops later in life.
Luckily, there is a simple gene test that can be performed to see if cats are affected. This enables breeders to try and eradicate the disease from their cats and stop the problem being passed onto kittens. When purchasing an Exotic Shorthair, ask if the parents have tested negative for the disease.
The flat face of the Exotic can also cause problems. As a brachycephalic breed (short faced) they are prone to overheating. This is because they are unable to pant as efficiently as their longer faced counterparts. Their thick, dense coats do not help either. If the temperature gets very warm, try and keep them somewhere cool that is in the shade. Do not let them run around in the hot weather.
Obesity in cats is another problem to be aware of. The exotic shorthair is a stocky breed of cat, yet it is important that they are not allowed to get fat. If they do, they can be at risk of health problems. Additional weight can put extra strain on the joints, which can result in arthritis. The weight can also put extra pressure on important organs such as the heart and leave them more at risk of weight-related diseases such as diabetes. Remember, an obese cat will ultimately have a shorter life. Keep them nice and trim to help them stay healthy. If they are overweight, try to help them lose the excess. Look at switching to a light diet, increase playtime, and reduce the amount of treats.
The Exotic Shorthair has an exceptionally sweet disposition. They are docile, loving, and quiet around the house. If you are looking for a lap cat, then an Exotic may be the right choice for you. Sitting on their owners lap while being petted for hours is an Exotics idea of heaven!
Saying this, they will play and are curious about new things. As they are laid back, they will be fine if left alone while their owners are at work although they will be pleased to see you when you return.
Your Exotic Shorthair should be easy to train with normal tasks such as using a litter tray and coming when called. They can also be trained to accept a harness and leash, however, they are not very active cats and may be reluctant to learn other tricks. Instead, they would much rather have more fuss.
When you first bring your new kitten home, they should already be used to using a litter tray. Keep them in a small room to start with until they learn the position of the tray in their new home. Recall should be taught with the help of a few tasty treats to start with. Bribe them to come towards you with food, then as they do say their name. As they start to connect the two, you can start to increase the distance between you.
Buying and Caring cost analysis
Buying an Exotic Shorthair is an exciting time. However, it pays to be aware of the cost of your new pet before taking the plunge.
The first thing you will need to consider is the cost of your kitten. Expect to pay between $550 and $1000 for an Exotic kitten. If you wish to show your kitten, or breed from them in the future, then you will be paying at the higher end of the range; if not more. Pet quality kittens or those that cannot have their progeny registered (some breeders place restrictions on this) will be cheaper.
Your new kitten should be registered with an appropriate governing body such as the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) or The International Cat Association (TICA). When you purchase them, you should receive the paperwork to transfer them into your name. Although this registration does not guarantee quality, it does ensure that you are getting a pedigree kitten. Take your time when choosing a breeder and see if their cats are tested for PKD. A good breeder should ensure that you are ready to take on a new kitten and will ask you lots of questions. Do not be alarmed, this just shows that they care!
When you get your new kitten home, it should have already received its initial vaccinations. If you want to let them outside, check with your veterinarian to see if they need any additional jabs. This can vary depending on what area you live in.
The next expense to keep in mind is neutering. If you are not going to breed from your kitten, it is best to get them neutered as it can stop unwanted kittens and keep your cat healthier. Female cats can be at risk from infection (pyometra) when they have a season, which can be life-threatening and requires immediate veterinary attention. Male cats can get into fights as they argue over females, which can result in injury. In addition, they will spray urine to mark their territory; even in the house! This is a rather smelly habit that is easily stopped by getting them neutered at about 6 months of age. Budget around $50 to $150 for neutering, with females costing more than males as it is a more complicated and invasive procedure.
After this, your annual costs will include feeding, worming, and flea treatments. Choose a good-quality food for your cat, as this will contain a higher meat content. Avoid the cheaper brands if you can. They often contain carbohydrate ‘fillers’ which are used to bulk them out. Cats struggle to digest carbs and as such they have little nutritional value. For food, you should allow around $300 per year. Kittens will need a specialist kitten formula as they have different nutritional needs while they are growing.
Worming is important to prevent a build-up of these nasty parasites. Treatment is a simple tablet which can be purchased either online or obtained from your vet. If your cat goes outside, worm them every three months. If they are indoor cats, it can be done every six months as they are less at risk. Flea treatment should be done monthly. Use a treatment that targets all life stages, not just the adult fleas. It is normally a liquid that is placed directly onto the skin at the back of the neck so your cat can’t lick it off. This controls them much more effectively. For these two treatments, allow around $150 per year.
The final cost to bear in mind is pet insurance. While we all hope that our pets remain healthy, unexpected costs can occur. Having pet insurance can provide peace of mind, especially as although veterinary medicine is making amazing advances, these advances do come at a cost. When choosing pet insurance it pays to shop around. The amount of cover for veterinary treatment does vary, as does the cost of the excess you have to pay each time. Make sure the level of cover and the amount you pay doesn’t suddenly change when your pet reaches a certain age. Generally, budget about $200 a year for insurance.