Exotic Longhair Breed Highlights
- The Exotic Longhair is almost the same as a Persian and is recognized as such for some registries. However, they don’t have purebred Persian lineage. The Persian was crossed with the American Shorthair (plus the Burmese and Russian Blues further back in the gene pool) to create the Exotic Shorthair. And the Exotic Longhairs are simply the kittens of those litters that express the longer-haired genes.
- Original breeders of the Exotic wanted to name the breed the “Sterling,” as they intended the coat to be a shiny silver color. However, the American Shorthair’s colors kept popping up in the kitten litters and were very popular, so the term “Exotic” was used instead.
- As a flat-faced, or brachycephalic, breed of cat, the Exotic has a harder time keeping itself cool due to those cute flat noses. For this reason, they are prone to overheating and owners should take care to keep their coat brushed out and provide plenty of cool spots to rest.
- The Exotic Longhair is a relatively new breed on the scene, developed in the 1950s. But its Persian lineage can be definitively traced back to 1620 when they were imported to Italy from Iran. And it’s believed to have been around for hundreds of years before then, in Mesopotamia.
- According to many breeders and owners of Exotic Longhairs, the males of this breed tend to be on the more affectionate side, while the females act a bit more aloof.
Unique Physical Features
- Round everything. Exotics have round eyes, face, and body.
- Flat face (also called brachycephalic)
- Thick neck — often described as having a “linebacker” body, the Exotic Longhair is thick and big-boned. So while they might look a bit chunky, it’s just the way they’re built.
An Exotic Longhair is sweet and affectionate, with a playful side too. Often you find them entertaining themselves with whatever they can find, like a balled-up piece of paper. But they’ll happily engage in playtime with their people, especially if you have something they can chase. Their American Shorthair parentage makes them a bit more outgoing and active, while the Persian in them means they’re quite content cuddling on the couch all day. The Exotic might be a bit reserved when meeting new people and may hide when there’s lots of activity in the home, but will warm up if given a bit of time and space to check things out on their own terms.
Exotic Longhair cats (much like Exotic Shorthair and Persian cats) have a low activity level and are extremely docile, but can be very playful and affectionate with their guardians. They also need a fair amount of attention from their favorite people, so expect them to follow you around. These kitties bring a calm and relaxed attitude into the home and enjoy plenty of cuddles and lap-time. They have a dense coat that traps heat close to the body, so Exotic Longhairs enjoy finding cool places to “chill out”, including tile and brick floors; it’s advisable to have a home with air-conditioning. These kittens and cats are great for people who enjoy having an affectionate cat to spend time with, and those who have time to spend on daily grooming. Because they prefer to be around people, they’re best off in a home where their guardians are not frequently away for longer periods of time.
History of the Exotic Longhair
The Exotic Longhair made its debut on the cat scene in the mid 20th century, along with their siblings the Exotic Shorthairs. American Shorthair breeders wanted to cross their breed with Persians in an effort to obtain an American Shorthair with a silver coat, emerald eyes, and blockier body type. The intent was to create a “Sterling,” named for the sterling silver coat. Things didn’t go quite as planned, but the resulting mix of coat colors was too much to resist, especially when paired with the new breed’s overall cuteness. The American Shorthair Breeders also used Russian Blues and Burmese crossed with Persians early on, to try and keep the coat length shorter. But these long-coated breeds injected their genetics and are the reason we have the Exotic Longhair.
The new Exotic breed was officially recognized in 1966 by the Cat Fanciers’ Association and easily gained popularity throughout the world. Crossing the breed with Russian Blues and Burmese was allowed until the year 1987 when the CFA decided to only allow crossing with Persians. Exotic kittens with a long coat are known as Exotic Longhairs, but are also recognized by many registries as Persians.
Plays Well with Others?
Exotic Longhair cats are laid-back and easy-going and are fairly tolerant of children and other pets. As long as younger children are taught how to gently handle cats, and other pets don’t play too roughly with them, this breed should get along with everyone just fine.
The Exotic Longhair needs exercise to keep from becoming overweight, and their love of play makes it easy. They especially like chasing toys, so using a fishing-pole style toy to entice them to run and pounce will do wonders to keep them in shape.
Mental Enrichment Needs
These cats enjoy their lap-time and naps, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a need for entertainment to keep their minds active and healthy. It doesn’t take much to serve as enrichment for this breed, who can be kept busy with catnip mice and other small toys. Kittens have retained the hunting instinct from the American Shorthair so play sessions with a wand toy and prey-like lures will be fun and appreciated. This breed likes to be around their human guardians to see what they are doing, so be sure to provide them with plenty of spots, like stools or shelves, so they can keep an eye on you.
Fun Activities the Exotic Longhair Enjoys
The Exotic Longhair has the same personality as the Persian - laid-back, docile, playful, and not terribly active. They also have a hunting instinct from their American Shorthair ancestors. Give these activities a try:
- This breed gets hot quickly; a cooling mat will be appreciated on hot days.
- Try putting a few ice cubes in a bowl of water for cats to bat at for a fun game. For a treat, try freezing chicken broth or tuna water in ice cube trays.
- A long wand toy with feathers or mouse/rat lures to “hunt” will satisfy that prey drive.
- Grow a cat-friendly indoor garden with cat grass and catnip.
- Make an easy tent from a blanket draped over a chair, or put paper bags and boxes on the floor to create private napping spots.
- Sprinkle catnip on open phone books or on packing paper and watch your cat go crazy.
- Easy food puzzles that your kitten has to manipulate with his paws to get a treat item from will be appreciated.
- Provide window perches and beds from which your cat can watch wildlife outside. You can also try playing wildlife videos on your TV for your kitten to enjoy.
The Exotic has a thick, multi-layered coat, just like a Persian. Daily brushing is recommended to keep the fur and skin healthy and to prevent matting and furballs. The Exotic also tends to shed more during seasonal shedding periods and will benefit from more frequent brushing during these times. Some Exotic Longhair owners prefer to have their cat bathed and groomed professionally to help with the grooming upkeep of this breed.
The flat face of the Exotic requires frequent cleaning to prevent infections from developing in the skin folds and keep them comfortable. Brachycephalic cats are less tolerant of upper respiratory infections, in that their respiratory system is already compromised and infection/inflammation worsens it. Be very observant and proactive with keeping your cat's nostrils clear of any discharge should a respiratory infection set in. As with all cat breeds, Exotics also need twice-monthly nail trimming, regular teeth brushing and yearly well pet veterinary checkups to stay happy and healthy. Introduce your kitten to these experiences at a young age, keeping the experience calm and positive.
Common Health Conditions for CatsUse the chart of Trupanion claims data below to find out what health conditions happen most frequently for cats. Every cat is unique, but understanding what health conditions are likelier to occur can help you be a more prepared pet owner.
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Gwynn Oak, MD
Condition: Urinary obstruction
The Trupanion policy paid: $19,031.43
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Conditions: Ear infections, diarrhea, enteritis, allergic reaction to medication
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Conditions: Giardia, Pancreatitis, infection, lymphoma
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