There is no doubt that cat lovers love Persian cats. Those big sweet faces are irresistible! However, owning a Persian cat comes with a big grooming commitment to keep that gorgeous hair looking perfect. Enter the Exotic Shorthair cat, also known as “the lazy man’s Persian.” These cute kitties have many of the traits of their Persian relatives with less hair to groom.
One Happy Accident
In the early 1950’s, Carolyn Bussey, an American breeder of Persian cats was trying something new. Her goal was to create a Persian cat with a brown coat. To achieve this goal, she bred a Persian cat with a Burmese cat. The result was a litter of black short haired kittens with a Persian-like face and body. Bussey thought that the kittens were adorable and brought them into the show ring thinking that breeders would love the idea of a Persian with short hair.
There was a mixed reaction about the new mixed-breed cats in the cat fancier rings. Some American Shorthair cat breeders loved the idea and began mixing their American Shorthair cats with Persians to get shorthaired cats with silver coats and green eyes. They began showing these new cats as American Shorthair cats in the show ring and claiming that the changes to the breed were natural mutations rather than the result of outbreeding with Persians. The more purist American Shorthair cat breeders were very upset with the newcomers to the show ring because they were changing the standards for the breed.
To settle the feud between the American Shorthair breeders, CFA judge, Jane Martinke, suggested that a new breed category be created for the new cats. The CFA accepted the new breed in 1967. At first they were referred to as Sterling cats because of their silver color. However, the show rings preferred to call the breed the Exotic Shorthair cat breed.
The Exotic Shorthair cat breed started off more slowly than expected. Many of the American Shorthair cat breeders were not interested in moving their cats over to the new classification, so they went on with the traditional breeding of American Shorthair cats. Persian cat breeders were reluctant to have their cats used in the Exotic Shorthair cat breeding program. The Persian stock that was being used in the breeding program was outcrossed with American Shorthair cats, Burmese cats, and Russian Blue cats.
Eventually, the Exotic Shorthair cat breed began to be favored. It became large enough that the CFA stopped allowing outcrosses for Exotic Shorthair cats (with the exception of the Persian) in 1987. The Exotic Shorthair cat breed is still popular today!
Exotic Shorthair Cat vs. Persian Cat: Almost Twinning
The physical characteristics of the Exotic Shorthair cat breed have changed a little over time. In the earlier days of the breed, they were more distinctly different from the Persian cat breed, but as the breed has drawn in closer to the Persian cat breed they have looked more and more similar. Today, it would appear that an Exotic Shorthair cat has all of the characteristics of a Persian cat with the exception of the long coat.
An Exotic Shorthair cat’s coat is short, dense, plush, and soft. It can be found in any typical cat color or pattern including pointed, calico, and tortoiseshell. This coat does need occasional brushing but doesn’t mat and tangle the way a Persian cat’s coat does. The gene for short hair is dominant and the gene for long hair is recessive, so it is possible to end up with some long haired kittens even when breeding one Exotic Shorthair cat to another Exotic Shorthair cat if both parents have the recessive long hair gene. The CFA does not allow long haired Exotic Shorthair cats to be shown, but TICA will allow them to be shown as Persians.
The same adorable face that draws so many cat lovers to the Persian cat breed is also present in the Exotic Shorthair cat breed. The face is large and round, with big round eyes and small ears. Varying lengths of nose are seen in the Exotic Shorthair cat breed, but the very short, “pushed in,” nose is the most desirable. Also like Persian cats, Exotic Shorthair cats have short necks, thick, muscular bodies, and shorter legs.
There aren’t many health concerns related to the Exotic Shorthair cat breed. The short nose (called a brachycephalic nose) can cause tear stains, sinus problems, and difficulty breathing in high heat. If you notice these problems in your cat, talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to handle them.
A Delightful Purrrsonality
A good word to describe the personality of an Exotic Shorthair cat is sweet. They are very affectionate cats that love laps and shoulders, but wouldn’t be considered clingy. With such a thick, warm coat, cuddling is often varied with sitting on cool surfaces such as a tiled floor. They are super loyal and will love their favorite human(s) to pieces.The voice of an Exotic Shorthair cat is very quiet and sparsely used. Instead, an Exotic Shorthair cat would rather stare at you with that adorable wide-eyed stare until you do as they command.
Playful is another great word to describe an Exotic Shorthair cat. Known for their love of simple objects as toys (a wad of paper for example), these kitties have adopted their playful side from their American Shorthair relatives. They are great with children and with other pets (though they prefer humans). Overall, they are wonderful family pets!
If you are considering adding an Exotic Shorthair cat to your family, check out the adoptable ones on Petfinder!
Have you ever met an Exotic Shorthair cat?
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