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Exotic Shorthair

Exotic Shorthair

Place of origin

United States

History

An early breeder described the origins of the Exotic Shorthair breed in the United States as "making saints out of sinners." Although not strictly in accordance with the rules of American cat registries at the time, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, American Shorthair breeders would introduce new colors into their breed to create more successful, winning show cats by breeding their shorthairs to Persians, British Shorthairs, and Russian Blues. In a similarly controversial practice, breeders crossed Burmese with American Shorthairs, resulting in a cat distinctly different from the "common" American Shorthair. To accommodate the popular Persian and Burmese crossbreeds, without endangering the original American Shorthair type, a new breed was born, the Exotic Shorthair. American Shorthair breeders had the choice of registering their kittens as either American Shorthairs or as Exotic Shorthairs. Once registered as Exotics they, and their progeny, could not change back to being American Shorthairs. Since the late 1980s, the only permitted outcross for the Exotic is to the Persian, in order to maintain the Exotic Shorthair's conformation.

The initial standard was identical to the standard for the Persian standard, with the exception of coat length and the description of the nose break. That was removed to prevent some of the health issues associated with extreme brachycephaly (short-face) that began appearing in the Persian breed. However, despite these initial intentions, breeders selectively bred cats to be closer and closer in type to the Persian so the nose break was later incorporated into the standard. Thus, Exotic Shorthair became "the lazy man's Persian."

Across the Atlantic, cat fanciers had been crossing British Shorthairs with Persians for decades. This added new colors to the Persian breed and "improved" the British Shorthair conformation by making it a cobbier, denser-furred cat than the original Shorthairs. Those matings produced kittens who were too close to the Persian in type, or whose coat was too long and soft for them to be exhibited as British Shorthairs. Some breeders found these different-looking cats attractive enough to be developed in their own right and pursued an Exotic Shorthair breeding program in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, Australian breeders had become aware of the Exotic Shorthair in the United States and they also began to develop Exotic Shorthairs, crossing Persians with domestic shorthairs, British Shorthairs, and Scottish Folds.

Despite the different foundation cats used in different countries, the end result was a shorthaired cat with the conformation, temperament, and color palette of the Persian. The Exotic Shorthair was recognized in the United States in the late 1960s and in Britain and Continental Europe in 1986.

Physical appearance

The Exotic Shorthair has a compact, rounded, and powerfully built body with a wide chest, relatively short legs, and a short, thick neck. A large head, large round eyes, small ears, and a short snub nose give this cat a sweet facial expression. This breed is slow to mature, not reaching full physical maturity until around two years of age. Although a shorthaired breed, this cat has fur that is denser and slightly longer than that of other shorthaired breeds. The look differs slightly around the world, with Exotic Shorthairs (and Persians) in the United States tending to have more extreme facial conformation.

Colors and varieties

The Exotic Shorthair is recognized in all colors found in the Persian, including colorpoints. In North America, where the Burmese was used in the breed's development, it is also recognized in the sepia (Burmese) and mink colors.

Temperament

The Exotic Shorthair has inherited the calm personality of the Persian but is a more active cat. The Exotic Shorthairs have also inherited the inquisitive and playful nature of their American and British Shorthair ancestors, including a hunting instinct, although that is more often exercised on toys than on real prey. They are affectionate and loyal pets who like to be with their owners, enjoy attention, and are suited to being lap cats. If you are attracted to the Persian's personality, but are deterred by their high-maintenance coat, this "Persian in petticoats" may be the cat for you.

Activity level

Low

Vocal level

Low

Special needs

Although not as high maintenance as the Persian, the Exotic Shorthair has a soft, dense coat that is prone to matting. Combing or brushing will remove shed hair and prevent mats. Due to the flattened face and the folds of skin around the muzzle, the Exotic's tears are prone to overflow and stain the cheeks. This should be wiped away with a moistened cloth.

Exotic Shorthairs, along with Persians, are at increased risk of inheriting polycystic kidney disease (PKD). DNA screening is advised if you intend breeding Exotic Shorthairs; cats carrying the PKD gene should not be bred.

Variations

Some breeding programs have maintained a less extreme skull structure, with a longer muzzle, and refer to their cats as "traditional" or "old style." Because Exotic Shorthairs were developed using Persians and are still outcrossed to Persians, some of them carry the recessive longhair gene. When two carriers are bred together, they can produce longhaired offspring. Most registries allow these to be registered as Persians. Some, such as the CFA, register them as Exotic Longhairs based on their shorthaired parentage. In Australia, the longhaired progeny of Exotic Shorthairs may be registered as Persian Variants. The Exotic Longhair meets the standard for the Exotic Shorthair except for coat length. The Exotic Longhair's coat tends to be less long and full than that of a Persian.

Exotic Shorthair

From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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