Exotic Shorthair: Cat Breed Profile, Characteristics & Care

Appearance, Personality, History, Care, & Helpful Information for Pet Owners

An exotic shorthair cat sitting on a cat tree.

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The exotic shorthair cat has been called the "lazy" person's Persian because it shares the Persian cat's facial features but has a shorter coat that requires less grooming. Exotic shorthairs are soft, medium-sized cats that tend to develop strong bonds with their owners, get along with other pets and kids, and have sweet personalities. Although exotic shorthairs have relatively low energy levels and exercise needs, they'll happily play with fishing pole feather teasers or similar toys for hours.

Breed Overview

Personality: Affectionate, loyal, easygoing, low-energy,

Weight: Up to 15 pounds

Length: Up to 30 inches

Coat Length: Short hair

Coat Colors: Black, white, golden, silver, smoke, bicolor, and Himalayan

Coat Patterns:  Solid, pointed, tabby, and tortoiseshell

Eye Color: Gold, green, and blue

Lifespan: Up to 15 years

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: United States

Exotic Shorthair Characteristics

Exotic shorthairs have lower energy levels than many other cats, so they can thrive in a variety of households and don't require a lot of active interaction or stimulation. The exotic shorthair's sweet, relaxed, and playful personality—as well as its low-maintenance grooming and exercise needs—make it the perfect pick for first-time cat owners and mellow families.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs Low
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level Low
Intelligence Low
Tendency to Vocalize Low
Amount of Shedding Low to Medium

History of the Exotic Shorthair

Persian cats have been—and still are—some of the most coveted cats in history. Motivated by the popularity of the breed, American shorthair breeders began to mix Persians, Burmese, and Russian blues into their American shorthair lines sometime during the 1950s. They hoped to recreate the beautiful looks of the Persian in American shorthairs.

Although the first litters of Persian-American shorthair kittens didn't look exactly like Persians, they retained some of the key characteristics—like round faces, short noses, and large, round eyes. But. they had shorter, more plush coats. Many breeders then bred these kittens with Persians to further develop the exotic shorthair breed.

As the breed grew in popularity—and the gene pool broadened—fewer breeds incorporated Burmese and Russian blues into their breeding programs to achieve shorter, plusher coats. Eventually, the Cat Fanciers' Association began to limit the number of outcrosses allowed in purebred exotic shorthairs. In 1987, they banned exotic shorthair outcrosses completely, allowing them only to be bred with Persians.

Today, the exotic shorthair is one of the most popular purebred shorthair cats, ranking second to the Persian.

An exotic shorthair kitten
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Exotic Shorthair Care

Unlike Persians, exotic shorthairs are extremely easy to groom. While Persians require daily brushing and combing, you can expect to comb an exotic shorthair's coat once or twice per week with a steel comb. Mats, knots, and tangles are uncommon in the exotic shorthair. The exotic shorthair sheds seasonally, so it needs additional grooming and bathing to remove dead hair and skin cells during this time.

Because exotic shorthairs have flatter faces, their eyes tend to tear and stain the surrounding fur. You can prevent staining by washing your exotic's face daily with a soft, dry cloth. If your cat's eyes are red, crusty, or have excessive discharge, make an appointment with your veterinarian to investigate the possibility of an eye infection.

As with every breed, you should examine your cat's ears weekly. You can clean away waxy build-up and debris with a soft, cotton cloth. Avoid using a cotton swab, as they can damage the delicate, inner-ear structures. If your cat's ears are red, inflamed, or smell funny, see your veterinarian. These may be signs of infection.

The exotic shorthair has a fairly low energy level and doesn't require a lot of exercises. It is content to play an occasional low-key game with toys, and then lounge or cuddle for hours.

Common Health Problems

Ethical breeders take steps to ensure they're producing healthy cats, but there's no guarantee that your exotic shorthair will not develop a health condition at some point. Some health problems that are common among exotic shorthairs include:

Polycystic kidney disease: Otherwise known as PKD, this condition is characterized by enlarged kidneys and improper kidney function. Cysts are typically seen in affected cats by 12 months of age, but kidney failure can occur years later. There are DNA tests that can identify PKD, so ask your cat's breeder for proof that the mother and father have been cleared.

Respiratory issues: Because exotic shorthairs have flattened faces, they can have difficulty breathing—especially in hot, humid weather. Your exotic shorthair should always be kept in a climate-controlled environment.

If you're concerned about your exotic shorthair's health, talk to your veterinarian about ways you can help your cat live a long, happy, healthy life.


Aside from their drastically different coats, the exotic shorthair and Persian are bred to the same standards. Exotic shorthairs have flattened faces, small ears, and short legs. Unlike the Persian, though the exotic's coat is short, dense, and plush.

Diet and Nutrition

Your cat's diet and nutritional needs will depend largely on its age, sex, size, and activity levels. If you're unsure how much or how often to feed your exotic shorthair, your veterinarian can help you develop a healthy, balanced diet for him. You can also consult the feeding guides developed by your preferred cat food brand.

Overfeeding your cat can lead to obesity, which causes health problems. Leaving food out at all times can encourage too much snacking, so providing the appropriate amount of food at scheduled times during the day can help manage a cat's weight.

Where to Adopt or Buy an Exotic Shorthair

Although it may be extremely difficult to find an exotic shorthair kitten at your local shelter or rescue group, you may be able to find an adult exotic. Reach out to your local shelter, rescue groups, or even your veterinarian to see if there are any adoptable exotic shorthairs in your area.

If you choose to work with a breeder, look for one that has performed—and has proof of—all health certifications. Avoid breeders that always have litters available, have multiple litters on the premises, or allow you to pay for your cat over the internet. These are all signs of a potentially unethical breeder.

Exotic Shorthair Overview

Exotic shorthairs make perfect pets for people who love Persians but don't want the commitment of high-maintenance grooming. These cats are also easygoing and low energy, so they don't demand constant attention or frequent interactive activities—they are content to cuddle.

Like any pet, it's important to do your research and ensure an exotic shorthair is the right pick for your family's lifestyle. The exotic shorthair has a loving, loyal, and calm personality, making it an enjoyable companion for just about everyone who doesn't need an energetic playmate.

  • Low-maintenance grooming

  • Looks a lot like a Persian cat

  • Doesn't need a lot of exercise

  • Prone to respiratory and kidney problems

  • Doesn't have the long, luxurious coat of a Persian

  • May not be energetic or fun enough for kids

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed profiles.

  • Do exotic shorthair cats need a lot of brushing?

    Exotic shorthairs are much easier to groom than Persians, even though they look a lot alike. Exotics have shorter coats that don't need a lot of brushing.

  • Are exotic shorthair cats healthy?

    They are pretty healthy purebreds, but their short faces make them prone to breathing problems, and they can carry a genetic kidney disease.

  • How much does an exotic shorthair cat cost?

    An exotic shorthair cat can cost between $1,200 and $2,200.