Breed All About It: Persians & Exotic Shorthairs

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By Roslyn McKenna, PetSafe Web Content Specialist

Renji poses for a picture

Renji poses for a picture

I sound like a crazy cat lady when I tell people I have 4 cats. My husband had 3 cats when we met, and then we added another cat and a dog to our pack. One of our cats is a Persian and the other two are Exotic Shorthairs, which is just the fancy name for shorthaired Persians. I grew up with a Persian plus a lot of other pets, but there’s a lot more to flat-faced cats than I realized before I started living with 3 of them. If you’re thinking of buying or adopting a Persian or Exotic, here are some things to consider about these breeds.

Pros

-          Friendly, cuddly personality

-          Good longevity

-          Exotics have very low grooming maintenance

Cons

-          Flat noses mean wheezing, sneezing, and eye/nasal discharge

-          Genetic predisposition for eye, skin, kidney, and dental problems

-          Grooming needed for Persians, and both breeds shed a lot

Cuddly, Lovable Persians…

ichigo frontPersians and Exotics are very similar cats. The Exotic Shorthair breed began in the 1950s, when American Shorthairs and Persians were bred to create a low-maintenance cat with the same sweet Persian personality. Exotics have thicker coats than Domestic Shorthairs, so they shed but don’t mat. With an Exotic, you’ll notice more cat hair on your furniture and clothes, especially when they shed their coats in spring and fall.

Persians/Exotics both make great lap cats. Our cats are good examples of the lovable Persian personality. Renji will jump in your lap the moment you sit down, even if he’s never met you before. Ichigo likes to climb up on your chest to give you kisses and chin bumps. When you walk in to the kitchen, Ikki meows and “swims” on the floor, exposing his stomach for belly rubs.

Exotic Shorthairs tend to be slightly more playful than Persians, though neither breed will demand constant play and attention. Both breeds generally prefer cuddling to playing, but you can always tempt them into a play session with a feather toy or laser toy. They’re not as vocal as Siamese cats, but they do meow when they’re happy or they want something from you.

…With A Few Less Loveable Traits.

baby ikakuuWith their long fur and lovely tails, Persians require some maintenance to keep them looking and feeling great. Regular brushing and the occasional bath will keep your Persian’s skin healthy and coat free of mats. We shave longhaired Ichigo a few times a year when the mats get out of control. He’s a much happier cat after a haircut.

Persians/Exotics do have a few health problems to watch out for. Like brachycephalic dog breeds, they’re more likely to have skin, nose and eye issues because of their flat faces. They also have more trouble breathing and tend to snore. Short-nosed breeds have the same number of teeth but a smaller mouth than other cats, causing crooked teeth more prone to periodontal disease. Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), which can cause kidney failure, is more common in Persians/Exotics. A reputable breeder will try to breed cats with fewer health problems and let you know what traits run in the family.

Persian/Exotic tend to be long-lived cats despite these issues. One reason is because obesity is less common in Persians/Exotics than in other breeds. These cats don’t tend to overeat, and their stocky body type means they can get away with having more weight on their slightly larger frames.

One unexpected downside to owning flat-faced cats is the cleanup. You expect the hairballs from a longhaired cat, but you don’t expect the “eye goo.” Every time they sneeze, brown liquid shoots out of their eyes and nose. Our cats’ faces are practically concave, so they have trouble breathing and have a lot more nasal discharge. The white walls in our home were spotted with years of accumulated goo until we painted to cover it up. You can avoid the “Persian goo” by choosing a cat with a less smushed nose or wider nostrils, and you can gently wipe away tears and snot from their faces every day.

The Bottom Line: Should You Get a Persian or Exotic Shorthair Cat?

Persians/Exotics make great companions. These sweet lap cats want nothing more than to be with you. They’re likely to live long, happy lives if you plan for regular brushings and vet checkups. Choose a cat with a less flat face to reduce the wheezing and sneezing. Adopt from a good shelter or carefully select a reputable breeder to make sure you get a healthy cat. I hope this guide prepared you for the fur, purrs, and snot that come with having a short-nosed cat.

Do you have a Persian or Exotic Shorthair? Share your tips or stories about life with your flat-faced cat!

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