I had someone ask me the other day, "what is the difference between an Exotic and an Exotic Shorthair ?"  

Exotics are a relatively new cat breed.  The goal was to create shorthaired Persians--inspired, at least in part, by cats that came out of some American Shorthair breeders attempts to use Silver Persians to enhance their AS's coloring.  To achieve this goal Persians were crossed with shorthaired breeds having a similar type (cobby, compact bodies and round heads)--Burmese, British and American Shorthairs, etc.  In 1975 out crosses for Exotics were limited to Persians and American Shorthairs only.  Heavy emphasis was placed on creating kittens and cats that were identical Persians, but with the short, super plush coat.  As a result, Persian lines dominated the Exotic Shorthair gene pool.

To get "shorthaired Persians" the offspring must have at least one shorthair gene present (of two possible).  Any time a Persian parent is used, the odds go up of creating longhaired offspring, because that cat will contribute only longhair genes to the offspring.  If the other parent exhibits short hair, they may have 2 shorthair genes (in which case all the offspring will have short hair), or--more likely--one of each, which results in some longhair kittens and some shorthair kittens.

As Exotic breeding improved, cats were being produced that looked just like Persians.  Many had short hair, but the quandary was what to do with the longhaired Exotic kittens that were being produced--some of which were looking just as promising as their Persian counterparts. From the CFA showing perspective, they didn't adhere to Exotic Shorthair standards because of coat length, and they weren't Persians because of their heritage.   So they could not be shown.  In 2009 CFA allowed for Exotic Longhairs to be shown--in Persian classes, but for Exotic points.  So your Exotic LH had to literally be just as good as the Persians.  At the same time they limited breeding to LHs--they could only be bred back to shorthair cats, since the goal was not to compete with the established Persian breed.  Other registries have handled things differently--some register Exotic LHs as Persians, and they can be used in Persian breeding programs.  That has been very controversial, and created a good deal of confusion.

So--an "Exotic" is a cat produced to be a shorthaired Persian.  Usually when someone says "Exotic" they mean Exotic shorthair, although the two varieties exist (LH and SH).  An Exotic Shorthair is a cat or kitten from an Exotic breeding program that exhibits the traits of a Persian, but with a short, plush coat.  An Exotic Longhair is a cat or kitten from an Exotic breeding program that exhibits the traits of a Persian--including the long coat, but has non-pure Persian breeding behind it.  A Persian is... in CFA terms, a Persian of pure Persian breeding.  If the cat comes from a registry other than CFA, Persian is referring to the type and characteristic of cat and coat, but the cat may have a pedigree including several other breeds.

What does this mean?  If you are considering getting in to Persian breeding and are interested in showing in CFA, be very wary where your cats come from.  Do your research, and pay special attention to pedigrees--especially of imported cats, as people in Europe, for example, often advertise their beautiful LH Exotics as Persians, which they may be in the registries they are participating with, but are not according to CFA.  I am seeing more and more of this in the US, too--people advertising their Exotic LHs as Persians.  

 Be aware of what you are buying--there is nothing wrong with an Exotic Longhair, unless you are breeding Persians!