Exotic Shorthair: Soft-Spoken, Amiable, and Patient

brown exotic shorthair cat, focusing in the foreground while is sitting near the window
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

Cat lovers make no qualms about telling you that the Persian is the most popular cat breed in the United States. Understandably, these cats are beautiful, accommodating, and affectionate, so it’s only natural that they would be popular. But the Persian is also a very high-maintenance breed. It takes quite a lot of effort to look that good; the Persian’s long, luxurious hair is often a source of endless frustration for their owner. If you’re not prepared to deal with that, the Exotic Shorthair—the short-haired cousin of the Persian—might be a better fit for you.

The Exotic is just like the Persian, but instead of the long coat, they have a thick, low-maintenance short coat. With their small, flat nose, a short and broad face, big eyes, and a somewhat flat face, many children believe that the Exotic Shorthair is the fictional, comic-strip Garfield come to life. Speaking of children, the easy-going Exotic is an ideal pet for children without the same grooming demands of a Persian.

Exotic Shorthair Cat sitting on the couch

Everyone who has owned an Exotic Shorthair will agree that this isn’t the most active of cats. Yes, the breed certainly has a playful side, but the cat is more than happy just to curl up in your lap and purr away all day. If you’re thinking of adding this beautiful, gentle, relaxed feline to your family, we’re not going to be writing a comic strip about them, but we’re going to be providing you with plenty of useful information to guide you on your excellent choice. Care features, potential health issues, and Exotic Shorthair temperament are just some of the many aspects we will be discussing about this cat breed.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High
  • Grooming: Average; has an undercoat
  • Health: Average; prone to some hereditary illnesses
  • All Around Friendliness: Very Good
  • Exercise Needs: Moderate; not particularly active but still requires some exercise
Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired / Semi Long-Haired, Crossbreed
Weight7 - 14 pounds
Lifespan8 - 15 years

The Exotic Shorthair, although they can grow up to weigh about 15 pounds, appear smaller as the cat carries themselves close to the ground. The cat has a round, muscular physique; their legs are short and strong. You can also say that the weight of the cat can be attributed to the density of their bones and the strong, large head.

The face of the Exotic is similar to that of the Persian. They have the same blunt features which make these breeds so recognizable. We’re going to use a big word to describe the Exotic—brachycephalic. This simply means that the skull and face are short, broad, and flattened. With large round eyes, small, round ears, and a round head, the Exotic manages to maintain an innocent, gentle, kitten-like facial expression throughout their adult life.

Close-up of an Exotic Shorthair kitten

Exotic Shorthair lovers will be glad to discover that the Exotic isn’t particularly prone to any genetic abnormalities or unusual diseases. Perhaps it is a good idea to mention though, that because the breed is brachycephalous, with the nose and eyes being close to each other, the shortened nasal passages of the cat contribute to the feline developing breathing problems.

Their tear ducts also tend to overflow, leaving trickle marks around the eyes. But this can simply be solved by wiping the area gently with a damp cloth. The playful, calm, and easy-going nature of the Exotic Shorthair makes this amicable cat a wonderful friend for both children and adults. The Exotic also gets along with other pets in the house, but they definitely gravitate more towards their human family.

Exotic Shorthair cat lying on the floor

The cat has a gentle voice. These aren’t boisterous cats, and you won’t find your Exotic darting around and leaping up onto your furniture. They love to be where you are, quietly lapping up the sunshine while lounging around indoors.

The Exotic Shorthair has a medium length coat that is thick, luxurious, and plush. They also have a thick undercoat. The cat isn’t a heavy shedder, but you will still need to brush your Exotic every other day to keep their undercoat from matting and tangling. Your furry friend will also appreciate this as these cats lap up human companionship. The brushing will also keep hairballs to a minimum and maintain the cat’s lustrous coat.

Main Highlights

  • The Exotic Shorthair is a super easy cat to get along with. The cat seeks out human companionship and may even follow you around.
  • They’re not difficult to please; pawing away at a dripping faucet is usually enough to keep them amused.
  • The Exotic Shorthair originally came about as a result of a crossbreeding between Persians, Burmese cats, and Russian Blues. This brought about a silverish tone.
  • Today, while some Exotics do have that beautiful silver color, they come in other beautiful colors too such as white, black, cream, red, chocolate, or even tortoiseshell.
  • If you do decide to choose an Exotic Shorthair as your feline companion, do your homework and choose a reputable breeder. You’ll want to know about the health of the parents so as to avoid Polycystic Kidney Disease. This is a disease common to Persians which has been diagnosed in Exotics too.
  • Exotics mature fairly slowly, and it may not even be necessary to have your male neutered when he is 6 months old as Exotics become sexually mature far later than other cats. If a cat is neutered by 6 months of age, he will almost never spray. 

Breed History

The Exotic Shorthair is a fairly recent breed—developed by breeders of the American Shorthair. The breeders aimed to get the same coat texture as that of the Persian but to have it shorter so that the coat wouldn’t have the same high maintenance requirements as the Persian’s long, silky coat.

The birth of the Exotic Shorthair took on serious efforts in the late 1950s when cat breeders started a crossbreeding program. Different breeders used different crosses, striving to get a particular look.

Exotic_shorthair sitting on a table

It wasn’t until 1979 that the International Cat Association (TICA) granted the Exotic Shorthair championship-status. Today, their coat is short and thick and available in lots of beautiful colors and patterns.

This breed was granted Championship Status in 1967 by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), and in 1971, the first Exotic Shorthair achieved the status of Grand Champion. Not surprisingly, in 1991, an Exotic was the CFA’s Cat of the Year.


Standing at a height of 10 to 12 inches and with a weight of up to 14 pounds, the Exotic Shorthair has a large, round head and a short, broad nose. The cat has a stocky, muscular build, and is a medium-sized cat, although some people will say that this is a large cat. The Exotic Shorthair certainly is a heavily-boned cat, and with their short, stout legs, they give off the impression of being larger, heavier cats than they really are.

Personality and Character

The wonderful and amicable Exotic Shorthair is a gentle but playful cat. If you provide your Exotic with toys, you’ll be amused and entertained watching their antics. These gorgeous cats aren’t quite as active as other breeds, but that’s because they would rather spend time with you. If you’re looking for a loyal companion, the Exotic won’t disappoint. This laidback cat loves nothing more than to be curled up in your lap.

Portrait of a Exotic Shorthair cat lying on the windowsill

What is noticeable about Exotic Shorthair personality is that while this breed is very affectionate, they don’t demand anything from you. You won’t find your Exotic ‘talking’ loudly to you, and when you know them well, they ‘communicate’ with their expressive eyes. Your Exotic has a soft voice, and with their gentle ways, this is one cat that is never going to get on your nerves.

Health and Potential Problems

These cats were bred as an outcross, which means you won’t have to contend with problems that come from inbreeding. The Exotic Shorthair is a healthy cat, but you still need to be aware of health problems that are commonly associated with the breed.

Certainly, as a brachycephalic breed, you may see your cat battling with sinus and other respiratory problems. In fact, Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is the name given to the airway problems found in this breed.

Exotic_Shorthair cat lying in bed

On the topic of common concerns with flat-faced cats, be watchful of eye-leakages. Although not a threat to your pet’s health, these can look unattractive, so it’s a good idea to check out your pet’s beautiful eyes regularly. Other health issues to look out for include:

  • Dental Malocclusions or misalignment of a cat’s teeth. This issue occurs because the top and bottom jaws don’t fit together properly. Periodontal diseases, wear on the teeth, injuries, and soft tissue defects can result in your cat’s teeth being misaligned. Persian cats are prone to teeth and jaw problems as are Exotic Shorthairs. They can have crooked teeth, or the lower jaw can protrude.
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is also a common ailment found with Exotic Shorthair cats. It’s a genetic disease where you’ll find your pet wanting to drink more water. They won’t want to eat, their coat won’t be lustrous, and they may lose weight. Cysts develop inside the kidneys, resulting in kidney failure. This is why it is so important to get your Exotic Shorthair kitten from a trustworthy breeder that can give you the assurance that the kittens are PKD-negative.
  • Seborrhea Oleosa is an inherited disease often seen in Persian cats, but it can affect other breeds too. The disease leads to an overproduction of a waxy substance by the skin glands. It has a bad odor and clumps in the fur; your pet’s skin will become red, irritated, and itchy. The cause of seborrhea in cats can be anything from allergies to parasites to fungal infections and obesity.

Your Exotic is a fairly healthy cat, and the ailments we’ve mentioned above aren’t likely to affect your pet, but still, you need to be aware of them. If you’ve paid a lot of money for your Exotic kitten, you may want to think of pet health insurance which can help you with medical costs. Otherwise, treat your Exotic Shorthair with love and kindness and they’ll thrive under your loving care. If you buy your Exotic from excellent breeders and you give them a safe, warm, loving home, they can live to see their 15th birthday and beyond.

Care Features

Your Exotic Shorthair has shorter fur than a Persian, so they will only need that occasional brushing and combing to keep their coat in tip-top shape. Turn this grooming time into a special bonding time with your affectionate pet. Your furry family member will thrive on the attention, and combing them during their shedding time will ensure you get rid of that excess hair that you don’t want them to ingest with their own grooming habits.

Your Exotic Shorthair is generally a healthy cat, but that doesn’t mean there will be no veterinary visits. When your new Exotic kitten arrives as a new family member, have them checked out by a veterinarian right away—more so if you detect any illness. There are preventative vaccinations that your kitty cat will require as standard, but there will also be other vaccinations that will be required on a more regular basis.

Beautiful white Exotic Shorthair cat sitting

If you don’t want kittens from your Exotic, get your pet either spayed or neutered when they get to be about 7 months of age. Apart from preventing unwanted kittens, there are health and behavioral benefits that make de-sexing your cat a worthwhile effort.

Apart from providing your Exotic with a warm, welcoming home with good food, regular health checks, trimming their nails, and providing them with a clean litter-box, remember to provide a scratching surfaceIt is completely natural for cats to want to scratch; it is part of who they are. Having a scratching post will prevent your pet from making use of other surfaces to scratch, such as your couch.

Feeding Schedule

Your Exotic is a gentle cat who enjoys a peaceful, undisturbed existence in your home. Your furry family member likes to know what they are getting for dinner and they don’t like to have their diet chopped or changed.

If you do want to introduce a treat to your cat’s diet—something that they aren’t accustomed to—introduce the food gradually. Your Exotic is such an easily-pleased cat; you don’t want to rock their boat by insisting that they eat foods they are not accustomed to.

Orange and white Exotic Shorthair Kitten resting in a shoe

Avoid most of the commercial cat foods found in your supermarket. These can be loaded with preservatives and artificial colorants. Speak to your vet about quality cat good which contains animal-based proteins and fats. Do research if needs be on cat food. Steer clear of those brands that appear to be wholesome but have records of having their foods recalled because they contain toxic substances.

Your vet will advise you on wet or dry food for your Exotic Shorthair as they know how cat breeds, weight, and age can play a role in dietary requirements. Generally, however, a mix of the two is recommended.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

This beautiful feline may well be all but identical to the Persian, but it’s the short, luxurious coat of the Exotic that makes this cat such a popular breed of choice. Thick and plush, the coat—available in a variety of beautiful colors—doesn’t require any intense grooming. Twice or thrice-weekly brushings will more than suffice. They do come with a layer of undercoat, so make sure you detangle any mats you find while grooming them.

Exotic Shorthair male cat relaxing

Cats don’t like to be bathed, and you don’t want to be bathing your pet too often as it strips the skin and coat of natural oils. Sometimes, however, it may become necessary. Use warm water and then massage a special cat shampoo gently into their thick coat and rinse off.  Use a hairdryer on a low-heat-setting to dry the fur, but only if your cat isn’t afraid of the dryer. You’ll just adore your teddy-bear looking Exotic with their fresh, shiny coat.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

The Exotic Shorthair is such an undemanding companion. At the end of the day, they will welcome you with their purrs. These cats get on amicably with children and other pets in your home.

However, compared to dogs, your Exotic Shorthair gets along better with other cats. This is a sociable breed, so if you’re going to be away all day, it might be a good idea to look at having another cat to keep your furry friend company.

Exotic Shorthair kitten sitting on the floor

Quiet, good with children and pets, loyal, and interactive, the Exotic Shorthair doesn’t have to do anything to make a good impression; these cats are simply born to be a winner—the kind of cat that doesn’t want to cause you any trouble.

Wrap Up

Would the Exotic Shorthair make a good pet? A resounding yes! If you take the cat’s good qualities, it’s small wonder that people want to own this wonderful pet and to give the cat their full support and co-operation. After all, the Exotic wants to please, and when you take stock of the cat’s physical appearance, their gestures, their expressive eyes, and their ability to hold your interest, they’re a winning breed.

Exotic Shorthair kitten sitting in her owners hands

When Exotic Shorthair lovers stand before a litter of kittens from a reputable breeder, they have an air of certainty about them. They’re calm and deliberate about their choice, not cautious or tentative. For them, this is a cat that makes a good first impression, and no other cat does ‘feline companion’ as well as they do.

Do you think the calm, affectionate, and undemanding Exotic Shorthair is for you? Or perhaps you already live in a very quiet household, and you miss the cheerful sounds of laughter and easy conversations that used to fill those now-empty hallways. If so, this chatty breed may be able to cure your loneliness. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. If you’re already living with an Exotic Shorthair, we’d love to hear about your encounters with them too!

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.