exotic shorthair breed photo

Exotic Shorthair

Often called the “lazy man’s Persian” the exotic shorthair has the same body type and personality of the Persian cat, but with a shorter coat. Find out everything you need to know about this docile cat breed.
Exotic Shorthair
Coat Length
Other Traits
Exotic Shorthair
  • 10–12 inches
  • 10–12 pounds
life span
  • 8–15 years
good with
  • children
  • seniors
  • dogs
  • cats
  • families
  • sociable
  • affectionate
  • medium
shedding amount
  • infrequent
  • medium
activity level
  • calm
  • quiet
coat length
  • short
  • chocolate / brown / sable
  • cinnamon
  • lavender / silver
  • fawn
  • blue / gray
  • black / ebony
  • cream / beige / tan
  • lilac
  • white
  • red / orange
  • bi-color
  • solid
  • tabby
  • calico / tri-color
  • color point
other traits
  • requires lots of grooming
  • friendly toward humans
  • friendly toward other pets
  • low prey drive
  • strong loyalty tendencies
  • good lap cat
  • tolerates being picked up

If you've always wanted a Persian cat but were concerned about the time it takes caring for their long coats, then an exotic shorthair might be for you. This sweet and loving breed has the looks and personality of a Persian, but sports an undemanding short, dense coat that's a snap to maintain. In fact, a weekly brushing is all an exotic shorthair really needs to keep her fur in top form. Exotic shorthair cats also come in the same wide range of colors and patterns as Persians. 


Exotic shorthair cats are a medium-sized breed with beautiful round heads, eyes, and bodies. Most will tip the scales between 10–12 pounds. Exotic shorthairs are a quiet and curious breed that are a bit more active than their long-haired cousins. 

exotic shorthair kitten near window
Exotic shorthairs have the cute, smooshy Persian face with the American shorthair's short, plush coat.
| Credit: Светлана Акифьева / Adobe Stock

You won't have to turn your living room into a kitty hair salon when you own one of these cats. Although they are close cousins to Persian cats, exotic shorthairs are noted for their plush, dense coats. Yet, they have the same flat faces and round heads as Persians do. 

Exotic shorthairs are available in a wide range of colors and patterns, including white, blue, black, red, and lilac. Their eyes can be blue, blue-green, or copper, depending on the animal's coat color. Like Persians, exotic shorthair cats have a short, solid appearance with large paws and short, thick tails.


Living with an exotic shorthair is a real joy. These warm, loving felines make an easy-to-please pet that's fun to be around. 

"Exotic shorthairs have a personality that is a blend of the Persian and American shorthair," says Chyrle Bonk, DVM at Pet Keen. "They are playful but are not going to run themselves ragged. They are affectionate, loyal to their family, and like to be involved in everything they do. They are also laid-back and will handle children and other pets, but will also want one-on-one time with their people."

exotic shorthair with woman on sofa
The one thing an exotic shorthair cat needs to be happy: you. These kitties love their people and hate being left alone for long periods of time.
| Credit: Blanscape / Adobe Stock

While Persians have a reputation for being couch potatoes, exotic shorthairs are active and love a good game of "chase the ball." But when the activities end, they're equally content to join you on the couch for movie night. Exotic shorthairs are quiet cats with soft voices they use only when they need to (like at dinner time). 

With early training and socialization, exotic shorthairs are fine sharing their space with other cats or dogs. They are a loyal breed and may lavish all their attention on their family, but she may turn up her nose if a stranger stops by. The exotic shorthair's personality makes them especially good pets for families with older children who know how to interact with pets and seniors.

Living Needs

Exotic shorthair cats will be happy living anywhere you are. That's because they're only focused on their owners and not too concerned about square footage. These cats are a low-maintenance breed that doesn't require a lot of space and will be as happy in an apartment as a sprawling home. Exotic shorthairs are social cats and aren't a big fan of being alone, so it's a good idea to provide them with interactive toys and even a kitty playmate to keep them happy if you travel a lot.

Because exotic shorthair cats are a moderately active breed, providing a cat tree is a great way to keep them stimulated. They also love toys, so provide a variety, possibly rotating them out every few weeks so your kitty doesn't get bored. And, like most every breed, your exotic shorthair cat will love at least one padded window seat where they can spy on the outside world and chatter at birds. You can also offer them a cat bed of their own, but because they are such lovebugs, it's more likely your exotic shorthair will end up sleeping next to you.

exotic shorthair orange eyes lying down
Credit: tuelekza / Adobe Stock


Keeping your exotic shorthair in top form is easy, especially compared to the Persian's in-depth grooming routine. Their short, dense coats only require a weekly brushing to remove dirt and shedding hair

"The exotic shorthair has the plush haircoat, without the upkeep," Bonk says. "Their fur tends not to mat and tangle like that of a Persian and can usually get by with a weekly brushing. More frequent brushing during the spring will help control their seasonal shedding as well."

Ingrid Johnson, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant, Cat Groomer, and author of Fundamentally Feline, uses three grooming tools for cats:

  • A de-matting comb (also called a shedding comb) with wide teeth of varied length to remove undercoat. 
  • A slicker brush, which is a wide bristled brush that removes dirt and dander
  • A flea comb or FURminator, which strips away the flyaway hairs. 

Johnson recommends starting out grooming sessions with cats when they are kittens. "Pleasure brushing teaches a cat to learn to love grooming," she says. Plus, since they like to spend a lot of time in your lap, you can brush them as you watch TV. You also should wipe their faces regularly with a warm, damp dishcloth to minimize staining from the build-up of tears.

Exotic shorthairs can entertain themselves pretty well since they are a medium-energy breed. You won't find your exotic shorthair cat climbing the curtains—you're more likely to find them batting a ball up and down the hallway or snoozing on the couch


Overall, exotic shorthairs are typically a healthy breed. But because they share so much of their DNA with Persian cats, they can have some of the same medical issues. These include heart disease or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Most of these problems can be avoided to some extent by purchasing your kitten from a reputable exotic shorthair breeder.

ginger exotic shorthair cat sitting by window
exotic shorthair lying in grass
Left: Exotic shorthairs are moderately active cats, meaning one of their favorite pastimes will be watching birds from a comfy window perch. | Credit: serg6legion / Adobe Stock
Right: Just like their Persian parentage, exotic shorthair cats can come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. | Credit: vasilvas / Adobe Stock

Like Persian cats, Bonk says exotic shorthairs can also suffer breathing issues due to their flat noses. This is especially a problem in cats that have been exclusively bred to have super flat faces. It's important to talk to the breeder before buying a cat to make sure your new exotic shorthair kitten will be able to breathe normally through life. Obesity can also be an issue with exotic shorthairs (and make their respiratory issues worse!), which is why it's important to keep track of your cat's diet and consult your veterinarian on how much and how often to feed your kitty.

Because of their flat faces and plush coats, Bonk says exotic shorthairs don't do well in the heat.

"They aren't very heat-tolerant, since they may have difficulty panting enough to cool themselves off," she says. "Their thick haircoat can also cause them to overheat, so make sure they always have a cool retreat to go to." 

Exotic shorthairs also need to be spayed and neutered, kept indoors at all times, and given regular dental and nail care. The typical exotic shorthair lifespan is about 15 years. 


The exotic shorthair is a relatively new breed, developed in the 1950s by crossing Persian cats with American shorthairs as well as some Russian blue and Burmese cats. The goal was to create a silver-coated American shorthair cat that resembled a Persian, according to the Cat Fanciers' Association

white exotic shorthair cat with different color eyes
Though they're descended from Persians, exotic shorthairs only need a weekly brushing to keep their coat in tip-top shape.
| Credit: joke50e / Shutterstock

By the mid-60s, breeder Jane Martinke saw the potential of the new breed and petitioned the American Cat Fanciers' Association to recognize it in 1967. The International Cat Association did the same in 1979. As more Persian cats were used to create the breed, additional coat colors began to appear, such as tabby and orange exotic shorthairs. This type of cat is now one of the most popular breeds of short-haired cats in the world.

Fun Facts

  • One of the most famous exotic shorthair cats was Garfield, the lasagna loving, sarcastic cartoon cat. Of course, Garfield was in a breed of his own when it came to wisecracks and laziness, traits real exotic shorthairs don't share at all.
  • Garfield isn't the only famous exotic shorthair in pop culture. Ferguson, Winston's beloved cat in "New Girl," was played by an exotic shorthair tabby.