Exotic Shorthair

  • Original breeders of the Exotic Shorthair cat wanted to name the breed the “Sterling,” as they intended the coat to be a shiny silver color. However, the American Shorthair colors kept popping up in kittens and were very popular, so the term “Exotic” was used instead.
  • Known as the “Lazy Man’s Persian,” this breed was developed to be lower maintenance, grooming-wise, but still have the easy-going temperament and distinguishable features of the Persian.
  • As a flat-faced, or brachycephalic, breed of cat, the Exotic has a harder time keeping itself cool due to those cute flat noses. For this reason, they are prone to overheating and owners should take care to keep their coat brushed out and provide plenty of cool spots to rest.
  • The Exotic Shorthair cat is a relatively new breed on the scene, developed in the 1950s. But its Persian lineage can be definitively traced back to 1620 when they were imported to Italy from Iran. And they’re believed to have been around for hundreds of years before that, in Mesopotamia.
  • According to many breeders and owners of Exotic Shorthairs, the males of this breed tend to be more affectionate, while the females act a bit more aloof.

Breed Summary



12 to 15+ years



7 - 15 pounds

Energy level

Energy level

Mellow fellow

About the Exotic Shorthair cat

Exotic shorthair cat with gray brown fur and yellow eyes.


Unique physical features

  • Round everything. Exotics have round eyes, face, and body.
  • Flat face (also called brachycephalic)
  • Thick neck — often described as having a “linebacker” body, the Exotic Shorthair cat is thick and big-boned. So, while they might look a bit chunky, it’s just the way they’re built.

Exotic shorthair personality

An Exotic Shorthair is sweet and affectionate, with a playful side too. Often you find them entertaining themselves with anything they can find, like a balled-up piece of paper. But they’ll happily engage in playtime with their people, especially if you have something they can chase.

The American Shorthair parentage makes them a bit more outgoing and active, while the Persian in them means they’re quite content cuddling on the couch all day. The Exotic might be a bit reserved when meeting new people and may hide when there’s lots of activity in the home but will warm up if given a bit of time and space to check things out on their own terms.

Exotic Shorthair cats have a low activity level and are extremely docile but can be very playful and affectionate with their guardians. They also need a fair amount of attention from their favorite people, so expect to be followed around your home by this breed.

These kitties bring a calm and relaxed attitude into the household and enjoy plenty of cuddles and lap-time. They have a dense coat that traps heat close to the body, so Exotic Shorthair cats enjoy finding cool places to “chill out”, including tile and brick floors.

These kitties and cats may do well with people who enjoy having an affectionate cat to spend time with, and those who may not have the patience for grooming or providing constant mental stimulation or exercise that more active breeds require. However, because these cats prefer to be around people, they are best in a home where their guardians are not frequently away for long periods of time.

Similar Breeds

History of the Exotic Shorthair

The Exotic Shorthair made its debut on the cat scene in the mid-20th century. American Shorthair breeders wanted to cross the breed with Persians, in an effort to create a “Sterling” Shorthair with a silver coat, emerald eyes, and blockier body type. The silver coat didn’t come through as planned. But the resulting mix of coat colors was too much to resist, especially when paired with the new breed’s overall roundness and more manageable coat. The American Shorthair Breeders also used Russian Blues and Burmese crossed with Persians in the early stages of the Exotic’s development to keep the coat length shorter.

The new breed was officially recognized in 1966 by the Cat Fanciers’ Association and the Exotic Shorthair quickly gained popularity throughout the world. Outcrossing the breed with Russian Blues and Burmese was allowed until 1987 when the CFA decided to only allow crossing with Persians. The Exotic Shorthair is regularly crossed with Persians in breeding programs. For this reason, the longhaired gene still makes its presence known every so often. Exotic kittens with a long coat are known as Exotic Longhairs but are also recognized by many registries as Persians.

Behavior and training

Does the Exotic Shorthair cat get along with others?

Exotic Shorthair cats are laid-back and easy-going and are tolerant of children and other pets. If younger children are taught how to gently handle cats, and other pets don’t play too roughly with them, this breed should get along with everyone just fine, especially when socialized as a kitten.

Exercise needs

The Exotic Shorthair cat needs exercise to keep their blocky body from getting pudgy, and their love of play makes it easy. They especially like chasing toys, so using a fishing-pole style toy to entice them to run and pounce will do wonders to keep them in shape.

Mental enrichment

Exotic Shorthair cats enjoy their lap-time and naps, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a need for entertainment to keep their minds active and healthy. It doesn’t take much to serve as enrichment for this breed, who can be kept busy with catnip mice and other small toys. They have retained the hunting instinct from the American Shorthair so play sessions with a wand toy and prey-like lures will be fun and appreciated by these cats.

This breed likes to be around their human guardians and watch what they are doing, so be sure to provide them with plenty of spots so they can keep an eye on you, like a stool or shelves.

Activities for the Exotic Shorthair

The Exotic Shorthair is calm like the Persian, but slightly more active and playful. They also have a hunting instinct from their American Shorthair ancestors. Give these activities a try:

  • This breed gets hot quickly; a cooling mat will be appreciated on hot days.
  • Try putting a few ice cubes in a bowl of water for cats to bat at for a fun game. For a treat, try freezing chicken broth or tuna water in ice cube trays.
  • A long wand toy with feathers or mouse/rat lures to “hunt” will satisfy that prey drive. Alternatively, use a long ribbon or fleece string to stand in for a snakey prey item.
  • Grow a cat-friendly indoor garden with cat grass and catnip.
  • Make an easy tent from a blanket draped over a chair, or put paper bags and boxes on the floor to create private napping spots.
  • Sprinkle catnip on open phone books or on packing paper and watch your cat go crazy!
  • Easy food puzzles that your kitten must manipulate with his paws to get a treat item from will be appreciated.
  • Provide window perches and beds from which your cat can watch wildlife outside. You can also try playing wildlife videos on your TV for kitty to enjoy.


Grooming and care

This cat breed has a short to medium-length coat that is thick and dense.

The Exotic’s coat might be shorter than their Persian cousin’s coat, but it’s still thick and multi-layered. Weekly brushing at minimum is recommended to keep the fur and skin healthy and to prevent matting and furballs. The Exotic also tends to shed more during seasonal shedding periods and will benefit from more frequent brushing during these times.

As with all cat breeds, Exotics also need twice-monthly nail trimming and regular teeth brushing to stay happy and healthy. Introduce your kitten to these experiences at a young age, keeping the experience calm and positive.

Health concerns of the Exotic Shorthair cat

The flat face of the Exotic shorthair cat is prone to yeast and bacteria buildup. As a result, these cats require frequent cleaning to prevent infections from developing in the skin folds and keep them comfortable.

Brachycephalic cats are less tolerant of upper respiratory infections, in that their respiratory system is already compromised and infection/inflammation worsens it. Be very observant and proactive with keeping your cat's nostrils clear of any discharge should a respiratory infection set in. 


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