Exotic Shorthair Cats The Pet Owner’s Guide to Exotic Shorthair Cats and Kittens Including Buying, Daily Care, Personality, Temperament, Health, Diet, Clubs and Breeders by Colette Anderson by Colette Anderson - Read Online

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Exotic Shorthair Cats The Pet Owner’s Guide to Exotic Shorthair Cats and Kittens Including Buying, Daily Care, Personality, Temperament, Health, Diet, Clubs and Breeders - Colette Anderson

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Introduction

It would be fair to say that Persian cats are the first and second most popular companion felines because the second runner up, the Exotic Shorthair is a short-haired Persian — even if he does go by another name.

The breed incorporates all of the wonderful traits of the Persian, but with a plush, low-maintenance coat inherited from its American Shorthair ancestors. This combination creates, in the minds of many enthusiasts, the perfect cat.

History of the Exotic Shorthair Breed

More than thirty years ago, breeders of American Shorthairs began to cross their cats with Silver Persians. The goal was to create a shorthaired cat with a silver coat and green eyes. The kittens produced from these pairings were adorable, but they didn’t look like American Shorthair cats.

Jane Martinke, a well-known judge with the Cat Fancier’s Association, suggested the creation of a new breed in 1966 to be called the Sterling. She saw both the potential for the mix, and feared a dilution of the purity of the American Shorthair’s bloodlines.

As the idea became more fully formed, the goal became breeding a cat that looked like a Persian, but with a plush short coat. Because this was to be accomplished through American Shorthair x Persian crosses, the new breed standard was (and remains) identical to that of the Persian. From the beginning, the notion of an exclusive silver coat fell away and all coat colors were accepted.

Early breeders did use other breeds in refining the look of the new breed. Burmese cats were used to achieve better body conformation and a more moderate head, and there were some outcrosses to the Russian Blue. The goal in those pairings was to bring in the plushness of the Russian Blue’s double coat. Kittens produced from these crosses were, however, bred back to Persians.

Many Persian breeders would not allow their lines to be used for the cultivation of the new breed, which came to be called the Exotic Shorthair. That difficulty began to disappear as the new cats came closer and closer to meeting the pure Persian standard. By 1975, only breeding with American Shorthair cats and Persians was allowed. Today, most Exotics have superior Persian bloodlines in their pedigrees.

One of the challenges in cultivating this breed is the fact that the gene for long hair is recessive, so in any litter of Exotic kittens, at least half will have long hair. This is an issue I will discuss more fully in the chapter on breeding, but it has created the somewhat paradoxical need to accept the longhaired version of a cat originally created to be the shorthaired version of a longhaired cat!

The Cat Fanciers Association granted the Exotic Shorthair breed championship status in 1967. The first Grand Champion Exotic Shorthair was named in 1971, and the first Exotic Cat of the Year was crowned in 1991.

Physical Characteristics

Like the Persian, the Exotic Shorthair is a short cat with a low-to-the-ground stance. His physique is cobby or stout, but round and muscular with a broad chest and massive shoulders. These cats are heavy, but not fat, gaining good density from the weight of their bone structure.

Overall, the appearance is one of solid compactness. The average weight is 6 - 14 lbs. / 2.72 – 6.35 kg. The round, tufted paws and short, thick tail (carried low) compliments this image.

The Exotic’s large head sits on a short, but substantial neck. The face is broad and also short, with a flat muzzle and full, round cheeks. The nose has a pronounced stop, which is a slight indentation where the muzzle joins the face.

Exotics, like Persians, have a brachycephalic skull which is a shorter skull than typical for the species. The side-to-side measurement is at least 80% of the length. They are also pedomorphic, meaning they keep their round-eyed kittenish expression for life. The ears are tiny, rounded, and well furnished with hair, spaced widely on the head.

The dense, fluffy coat is slightly longer than other shorthaired breeds, with plush, erect hairs. The look is very like that of a cuddly teddy bear. The huge advantage, however, is that the Exotic’s coat does not mat or tangle and can be easily maintained with weekly combing and brushing to remove loose hair.

The expected lifespan for the breed is 12 - 14 years although this can vary widely by individual, with many living well into their late teens in excellent health.

All Persian colors and patterns are acceptable. Since this is an extensive list, please refer to the breed standard in Chapter 8 for complete descriptions.

The Personality of the Exotic Shorthair

Exotic Shorthair cats are slightly more active and playful than their Persian relatives. They have the same easygoing, good nature with a calm attitude that makes them the perfect family cat. Although easily amused with something as simple as a wadded up ball of paper, they are not nosy or given to jumping.

An Exotic Shorthair will play happily, but his preferred position is lounging around between petting sessions. These are happy, affectionate and loyal cats that love life and their humans in equal measure. Their personality is undemanding and their voices are soft and rarely heard.

Your cat will communicate with you most directly with his incredibly expressive eyes. The gaze of an Exotic Shorthair can be so compelling and adoring, it’s all but impossible to even think of ignoring one of these beautiful cats.

Exotics are happy to be lap cats, and may even enjoy sitting on your shoulder, but don’t expect them to sleep with you, especially during the warm months.

The breed has a tendency to be heat sensitive and will seek out cool spots, like tiled floors, where they can stretch out and get comfortable. It’s not at all unusual for an Exotic to find the direct line of air from an air condition vent and claim that spot as his very own.

Male or Female?

The male or female question is fairly standard, but with most breeds, in my experience it just doesn’t make that much difference.

In general, however, I tend to take cats on an individual basis and to consider the factor of environment in the development of temperament.

I’ve always had male cats irrespective of breed because they are typically larger and I like big cats. In the case of the Exotic Shorthair, however, males are definitely more affectionate. Females are loving, and just as loyal, but with a decidedly independent streak and some tendency to be aloof.

I do agree with the statement that most neutered males turn into lovable lugs as soon as the excess testosterone is out of their system and this is definitely the case with Exotic Shorthair toms.

Some people shy away from owning male cats due to the potential for urine spraying, but I don’t see this as a problem. I have never had a tom that sprayed in the house. The behavior is extremely rare with neutered males and has been, in my opinion, blown out of proportion.

More Than One?

I am personally a big advocate of adopting littermates. Obviously with a pedigreed breed like the Exotic Shorthair, this can be expensive, but the long-term benefits are considerable. The special bond that siblings enjoy seems to keep the animals more kittenish and playful as they age.

I’ve lived with two Russian Blue males, brothers, for a number of years and they wrestle just as vigorously at ten years of age as they did when they were gawky adolescents. They’re wonderful company for one another when I’m away, and definitely double trouble when it comes to thinking up creative things to get into.

Exotic Shorthairs are not prone to the severe separation anxiety experienced by some breeds. A Siamese will wake the dead yowling out his lonely misery if you’re gone to the grocery store 5 minutes too long.

However, Exotic Shorthairs really do prefer to be with people. If you are away from home a great deal, having two cats to keep each other company (or at least having another pet in the home) is a good idea.

With Children

The Exotic Shorthair is a fine companion for a child, but I always say that with a very firm caveat – make sure you teach your children how to be kind and respectful to ALL