Exotic Shorthair cat breed: a peaceful cat, dressed in Persian pyjamas

László Enikő

2023. October 31 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Good-natured, friendly and adorable, it's no wonder the Exotic Shorthair is one of the most popular cat breeds. It is sweet, obedient and quiet, but don't think that it is just a decoration of the home! It loves to play when it is not sitting on someone's lap waiting to be petted.


The main point of breeding the Exotic Shorthair was that it resembled the Persian cat in almost everything, with the exception that it had shorter hair. It is precisely for this reason that the breed is often referred to as the Persian in pyjamas.

Exotic Shorthair kitten.


As far as cat breeds go, the Exotic Shorthair is fairly new, especially compared to breeds that have been around for hundreds or thousands of years. Around the 1950s, American Shorthair cat breeders began crossing their kittens with Persian cats in the hope that the Persian’s silvery fur and green eyes would be replicated in the American Shorthair. To their surprise, they ended up with short-haired Persian kittens instead. This new type of cat was further bred with Russian Blue and Burmese cats to obtain the short coat gene. The offspring of these kittens were then bred back with Persian cats, creating a new breed, the Exotic Shorthair. So the end result is a cat that has the same features and personality as the Persian, but wrapped in a short, easy-to-manage coat.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association recognized the breed in 1967 and named it Exotic. In some other associations, they are called Exotic Shorthairs to distinguish them from Exotic Longhairs. They sometimes appear in Exotic litters and are considered by some associations as their own breed. The International Cat Association recognized the breed as Exotic Shorthair in 1979. Today, the breed is recognized by all cat registries.

Breed standard

The appearance of the Exotic Shorthair should match that of the Persian, only their coat may differ. Its body is medium-sized and stocky. The chest is broad and deep, the neck is short and strong. The head is large, round, massive and proportionate, the skull is wide. Its cheek pouches are full. Its eyes are large, round, brightly colored and set far apart. The nose is short, wide and small. A nose that is too short can cause health problems. Its ears are small, spaced apart and have rounded ends. The tail is somewhat short, covered with soft, dense hair. Its limbs are stocky, its paws are large, short and thick. The fur is soft, dense and short. Its undercoat is thick, so its coat hangs slightly away from its body. The Exotic Shorthair’s color can be very diverse, from white to blue, red, cream to black. It can be single-colored, multicolored, bicolor, tortoiseshell, tabby, chinchilla. Its body weight is about 3-6 kg. Its expected lifespan is 12-14 years.


One of the main characteristics of the breed is that it is a peaceful and pleasant companion who is very affectionate. Some say males are kinder and more affectionate than females, who are sometimes described as aloof. The Exotic Shorthair is very playful, so it is not just a decoration of the apartment! It faithfully follows family members and patiently waits for any kind of attention. It likes to rest on its owner’s lap and is very fond of petting. The voice of the breed rarely heard, but when it does, it is soft, pleasant and melodious. The needs of an Exotic are simple: regular meals, a little playtime and a lot of love, which it then repeatedly returns to its owner.

Ideal environment

The breed can also be a good companion for the elderly and families with children. Since it is very peaceful, it usually gets along well with other pets. In its case, it is worth paying special attention to the fact that it may tend to overheat due to its short nose and thick fur. That is why it is especially important to provide it with a cool place in the summer. In such cases, it mostly likes to relax in an air-conditioned apartment. Exotics are more active and curious than their Persian brothers and are better suited to an active family.


Unlike the Persian, who requires a lot of grooming, the Exotic Shorthair only needs about one brushing per week. The dramatic reduction in grooming requirements is one of the main factors that lead people to choose an Exotic over a Persian. That is why it is sometimes referred to as the Persian cat of lazy owners. The Exotic Shorthair is not a hypoallergenic breed as some people think. Because of the plush, short coat, this cat’s coat is not prone to tangles, but brushing it on a weekly basis can reduce the chance of hairballs and help maintain a healthier coat.

Because of its flat face, the Exotic Shorthair’s tear ducts tend to overflow, causing discoloration and patchiness in the fur near the eyes. To prevent this from happening, gently clean the corners of the eyes with a damp cloth. To avoid possible infections, use a separate area of the cloth for both eyes, as this breed can be particularly sensitive to conjunctivitis.

In order for it to get used to the necessary grooming routine and feel comfortable during it, it can be helpful to acclimate it to such actions at a young age. Since all kittens are sensitive to the cleanliness of their litter, make sure that the Exotic Shorthair littertray is always spotless. Its claws should be trimmed every few weeks. The cleanliness of the ears should be checked weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them with a cotton ball or a soft, damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and warm water.

Common health problems

Like any other cat breed, the Exotic Shorthair is prone to certain health problems. One of the most common problems with this breed is nasal congestion, which in turn can lead to bad breathing. Due to their compressed face, it is more difficult for such cats to get air in and out. Because of this and their thick fur, Exotic Sorthairs are sensitive to heat and can get heat stroke sooner than an average cat. So it is especially important that they are in a cool place in the summer. The breed may also be prone to heart murmurs, urinary tract infections, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, corneal ulcers, and upper respiratory tract infections.

(Literature: János Szinák – István Veress: Cat Guide, Laura Aceti – Viola Autieri: Our best friend, the cat)

breed description exotic shorthair short-haired cat

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