About Exotic Shorthair Cats (ESH)
Exotic Shorthair Cats, also known as the Shorthaired Persian, are a popular breed for the busy cat fancier who likes the look of a Persian but doesn’t have time for the daily grooming demands. This breed has its playful side, but it prefers to cuddle and relax for most of the day. The Exotic is plush and beautiful to look at, with the added benefit of being one of the more affectionate breeds. A Persian without pretension, the Exotic is also easy to care for, with a minimal shedding but still luxurious coat.
The face of the Exotic is identical to the Persian, with the same standards in place. There are two features which particularly cause the Exotic to stand out. This breed is categorized as brachycephalic, which means that the skull, and by extension, the face, is short and broad, with a flattened muzzle. The other natural characteristic this breed has, and which boosts its popularity, is its pedomorphic appearance, meaning that the face of the Exotic retains its kittenish expression, with large, round, widely set eyes, small ears, a short nose, and a large, round head. This “cuteness”, along with its ease of grooming, and its agreeable and playful nature, make the Exotic one of the top choices for companion animals.
- The Exotic Shorthair Cat meets every standard for the Persian breed, except for the coat.
- Head: Oval, massive. Very broad skull. Rounded forehead. Round, full cheeks. Short, broad, round muzzle. Short, broad nose with pronounced stop. Strong chin. Broad, powerful jaws.
- Ears: Small, rounded at the tip, not too open at the base. Widely spaced and well-furnished with hair on the inside.
- Eyes: Large and round. 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).
- Neck: Short and thick.
- Body: Medium-sized, cobby, low to the ground. Broad chest. Massive shoulders. Large-boned with powerful muscles. Weight: 7 – 15 pounds.
- Paw: Short, straight and large. Round, large paws. Tufts of hair between the toes.
- Tail: Short, thick, carried low. Rounded tip.
- Coat: Shorthaired but slightly longer than other shorthaired breeds. Dense, fluffy, erect hair. Exotics are acceptable in any color and in any coat pattern, including color point (like Siamese), white, striped, and calico.
Care and Grooming
- The Exotic Shorthair Cat does not require daily combing, nor does it shed heavily — in fact, it sheds so little as to be considered a “non-shedding” breed. Weekly combing is recommended simply for the purpose of beautifying the Exotic, and for keeping hairballs to a minimum. The fur on the Exotic is so thick, that this is one of those particular breeds of cats that looks much bigger than it truly is; needless to say, it is a big cat.
- As with other flat-faced animals, the Exotic’s tear ducts are prone to overflowing due to the nasolacrimal duct, which can dampen and stain the face. This 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 the purpose.
- This breed ages slowly, as it does not reach maturity until around two years of age and enters puberty fairly late.
- There may also be occasional sinus problems, or problems with tooth alignment due to the shortened jaw and the possibility of tooth crowding.
- Finally, the shorter nostrils make the Exotic more sensitive to heat. High temperatures may lead to breathing problems. Add that to the heavier coat, and you have a breed that will look for ways to stay cool.
Although the Exotic loves human contact, and will spend much of its time as a lap cat, it will also look for spots where it can cool down, such as uncarpeted floors, bricks, and tiles.
Personality and Temperament
Early Exotics were a bit more active than their Persian relatives because of outcrossings for the short hair gene, but over the last four decades, since the breed began, the Exotic has come to be more like the Persian in behavior as well as appearance. It is still more playful that its relative, and its easy going nature and calm attitude are ideal for families with children and without, and for both rural and urban homes. The Exotic gets along well with other animals, but it tends toward people. Quietly, with a soft voice when it does have a need to speak, the Exotic will greet you when you arrive, and make you feel welcome, contentedly curling up on your lap.
This breed is amused by the simple pleasures of life. A string or a paper ball are enough to keep your Exotic pleased. They are not jumpers, nor do they dash around the house or make trouble on shelves. Their preference leans more toward lounging around and being caressed. They are amongst the most affectionate and loyal of cats breeds, a true companion pet.
Exotic Shorthairs have a gentle and calm personality reminiscent of the Persian, but are generally livelier than their longhaired ancestors. Curious and playful, they are friendly to other cats and dogs, but they don’t like being left alone and need the presence of their owner. They tend to show more affection and loyalty than most breeds and make excellent lap cats. Their calm, steady nature makes them ideal apartment cats for city dwellers. Nonetheless, Exotics retain some of the energetic spark of the American Shorthair, and they are often capable mouse hunters.
History and Background
The birth of the Exotic Shorthair began in earnest in the late 1950s, when American cat breeder Carolyn Bussey crossed a Persian with a brown Burmese, in the hopes of desigining a brown colored Persian. She ended up with black kittens, but she had made the serendipitous discovery that the resulting kittens were strikingly cute. She believed that cat fanciers might take to the idea of a shorter haired Persian, one especially that would be easier to groom, but that retained the same beauty and easy nature of the Persian.
At this point, the short-haired breeds had been pretty well weeded out of the cat fancy because of the surreptitious crossings that had been conducted by less than honest breeders. While American Shorthairs were being crossed with Persians to produce better coats and to recreate the appearance of the Shorthair, the Shorthair breed itself was losing most of the qualities that made it a distinct breed.
The breeders of these cats fudged their papers to make it appear as though these new physical characteristics were naturally occurring, and cat fancy associations had no option except to all but end the registration of the Shorthair.
Ms. Bussey’s exacting standards on breeding brought a more ethical approach to the cross breeding, and the result of her campaign to engineer this new breed was its registration as the Exotic Shorthair. Beyond the initial outcrosses between the Burmese and the Persian with the American Shorthair, the Exotic has been limited to crosses with the Persian, so that the breed can maintain its pedigreed status.
Outcrosses have not been a part of the Exotic breeding program since 1975, when the gene pool was deemed large enough to reliably produce both vigorous and attractive cats that met the standard.
This breed was granted Championship Status in 1967 by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA). The Exotic made rapid progress from there, and was soon in demand. In 1971, the first Exotic Shorthair achieved the status of Grand Champion, and in 1991, an Exotic was the CFA’s Cat of the Year.
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