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Exotic Shorthair Cat

Exotic Shorthair Cat sitting by the window

The Exotic Shorthair is a somewhat newer breed of cat. They were bred in the late 1950s to be a short-haired version of the Persian. This breed was accomplished by introducing American Shorthair genetics into the Persian bloodline.

Originally, these cats were considered to be mixed breeds. However, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) then began recognizing the Exotic Shorthair as its own breed in 1966. Today, these cats are bred by mating two Exotic Shorthair cats. “Outcrossing,” or breeding the cat back into foundation stock, is no longer allowed under CFA guidelines.

While these cats are usually shorthaired, they can be long-haired as well. The long-haired gene is recessive, so it can be carried through the generations before randomly showing up in a kitten. These long-haired kittens are not considered Persians or Exotic Shorthairs. Sometimes, they can be registered as Exotic Longhair cats.

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Origins & History

The history of the Exotic Shorthair starts in the 1950s. During this period, the Persian was extremely popular. It was the breed to have. To combat their exceedingly high popularity, breeders of other cat breeds began to introduce Persian blood into their lines. This was an attempt to make their breeds look more like Persians and hopefully increase their popularity in turn.

Some American Shorthair bloodlines ended up with Persian genetics because of this. This led to the American Shorthair’s head becoming rounder and their nose shorter. Some bloodlines also ended up with the silver Persian coloration, which was very popular at the time.

However, some American Shorthair breeders rejected these hybrid bloodlines, which led to them being disallowed for showing. They no longer counted as “American Shorthairs,” in other words.

The mixed-breed fell out of popularity for a time. But the CFA then allowed the breed to be recognized and shown as the Exotic Shorthair in 1967. This allowed the breed to resurge. After some time, the CFA disallowed outcrossing to shorthairs. Therefore, the only Exotic Shorthairs allowed to be registered today are those that are bred from other Exotic Shorthairs (and the occasional Persian parent).

Today, this breed is considered a “purebred,” though they are relatively new.

3 Facts About the Exotic Shorthair

1. They are not a variant of the American Shorthair.

These cats are sometimes roped in as a variant of the American Shorthair. This was likely a holdover from the 1950s when they were considered to be the same breed. However, Exotic Shorthairs have been considered their own breed since 1967—nearly 50 years.

2. They aren’t always shorthaired.

While the word “shorthair” is in the name, these cats aren’t always shorthaired. Because they have Persians in their bloodline, some cats may carry the recessive long-haired trait. When two of these cats breed, about one-quarter of the litter ends up being long-haired. However, these cats are not considered to be Exotic Shorthairs and cannot be registered as such.

3. Exotic Shorthairs are prone to separation anxiety.

These cats are known for being very curious and playful. They are also extremely friendly and tend to be a bit more affectionate than most other breeds. Due to their highly devoted nature, they can also be prone to separation anxiety. Most of them do not like being left alone. They are not suitable for extremely busy families, therefore.


In general, these cats look exactly like Persians—except they have a much smaller coat. Their head is quite large and rounded. They are often considered very broad. In other words, they are usually the opposite of sleek cats like the Sphinx.

Their ears are small, especially when compared to their giant heads. They have rounded ear-tips, and the base of their ears tends to be very small. Their eyes are extremely large and round. They are often akin to an owl in this way. Gold and copper eyes are the most common colors and fitting for most coat colors. In chinchilla and golden coats, green eyes are accepted. Blue is only allowed in white and colorpoint coats.

Their neck is short and thick. In many cases, they don’t really look like they have much of a neck at all.

Overall, their bodies are extremely broad and sturdy. They were obviously bred to have some heft behind them. Their bones are rather large, and they are often very muscled. This high level of muscle is partially due to their active nature and partially because of genetics.

Their coat is where this breed often really shines. They are shorthaired, but their fur is generally slightly longer than your average shorthaired breed. It is very dense and fluffy. All Persian colors are recognized, which means that they come in many different patterns and colors.

Where to Buy

There are many Exotic Shorthair breeders out there. Often, these cats cost about $1,500 to $2,500. They are a bit rarer than other breeds, which is largely why they are a bit more expensive. This breed is quite new in comparison to others, so most of their bloodlines are not that old.

When you consider that they have only been around for about 50 years, the number of breeders that specialize in Exotic Shorthairs is surprisingly high. Most people will have no problem finding one.

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Many people are a bit confused about where exactly this cat falls. It was once simply considered a variant of the American Shorthair. However, after diverging so much from the original American Shorthair line, the breed was no longer counted as such and was disallowed from the show ring.

Luckily, the breed was quickly recognized as a breed in its own right under the name Exotic Shorthair. Today, they are considered purebred cats. While the breed was originally created as a mixed breed, it is no longer considered as such.

Related Read: 8 Domestic Shorthair Cat Colors (With Pictures)

Featured Image Credit: Wutlufaipy, Shutterstock

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