Should Herman the Exotic Shorthair with Enormous Eyes Be An Internet Star?

Herman is an Exotic Shorthair with what appears to be a classic, grey tabby coat who was born with exceptionally large eyes which makes him an “Internet Star”. What I’m saying is that once a cat is born with a physical anomaly which people find interesting and amusing then that cat can become an Internet star. Grumpy Cat is the paradigm example. Grumpy Cat is a dwarf cat with an anatomical defect with respect to her mouth and face resulting a grumpy appearance.

Herman - an Exotic SH with oversized eyes
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Herman – an Exotic SH with oversized eyes. CREDIT: SHIRLEY NORDENSKIOLD / BARCROFT MEDIA

Herman’s outstanding feature is his eyes which gives a startled, bizarre appearance to be honest. I see the interest. I find it interesting myself. But personally I am squeamish about this sort of voyeurism. It is a sort of freak show, harking back to Victorian times when people with anatomical defects were employed by circuses or freak shows to entertain the public. It is not quite that bad in respect of Herman and Grumpy Cat but there is a similarity in the mentality of the people involved, both the owner and the spectator.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the reason why this cat has very large eyes is because of what I would describe as inappropriate cat breeding. The Exotic Shorthair is a short haired version of the contemporary Persian cat. The contemporary Persian and Exotic Shorthair have very flat faces. This is an extreme form of breeding. It is sometimes referred to as “ultra-breeding”.

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Sometimes it can go wrong resulting in unforeseen anatomical defects such as an upper and lower jaw which are misaligned, for example. Most flat-faced Persians and Exotics have tear duct overflow and breathing issues. In this instance, for some peculiar reason, the eyes are oversized. In fact, they’re so oversized that Herman cannot blink properly. The eyelids do not cover his eyes even when sleeping. Will that cause health problems? Probably. The eyes will dry out won’t they?

Herman - an Exotic SH with oversized eyes.  CREDIT: SHIRLEY NORDENSKIOLD / BARCROFT MEDIA

Herman – an Exotic SH with oversized eyes. CREDIT: SHIRLEY NORDENSKIOLD / BARCROFT MEDIA

Herman’s owner is 26-year-old Shirley. They live in Copenhagen, Denmark. Herman has thousands of followers on social media already. At the time of the photograph on this page he was five months of age.

Do you think I’m being too serious in gently chiding the breeder and criticising what I would consider to be the exploitation of a cat for the wrong reasons namely that he has a physical defect which does not enhance his health but which is amusing to people?

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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7 Responses

  1. M E King says:

    After looking at the video I think this is more about a skull deformity than large eyes. Please note the lack of a rounded skull in the back. Along with everything else this cat may be at risk for neurological issues.

  2. Dee (Florida) says:

    No cat should be an internet star in my opinion.
    And, I won’t do my usual ranting about my hatred for breeders.
    Herman is a tragedy, and I can foresee multiple problems that may occur because of his eyes. As mentioned, dry eyes are a huge issue right now and, hopefully, he is being attended to by a specialized vet before he goes blind.

  3. M E King says:

    My first though was please tell me he’s been neutered.
    Are his eyes abnormally large or as they appear to me pushed out of a too small skull ? He has what appears to be a skull deformity as seen when you observe what would be the bridge of his nose. It is slanted back into the skull rather than flat or slightly sloped outward. Aside from his eyes being in danger of injury because they are projecting out I see a great likely hood for breathing issues and possible eating difficulties.
    Only in this crapped up world would a breeder exploit a cat that fails breed standards on every level.

  4. Susan Gort says:

    I feel so very sorry for these cats, and indeed for all creatures that suffer for their appearance. Their caretakers have a duty to see that these precious individuals have a safe and carefree life-NOT put front and center to satisfy their wishes of fame and fortune. And to satisfy the cravings of the human species for morbid looks.

    • Michael Broad says:

      I am glad you agree with me Susan. I find it distasteful myself as you can see. However, many people would disagree with me.

  5. Herman is adorable, however exploiting an animal for monetary gain or attention does not feel right.
    Since this cat has made his appearance though, he will continue to generate interest. My hopes are that a fundraiser begin; to save up for any health problems he may face [ no pun here ] as he ages.

    Eva says-thanks for this post and photo of Herman.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Good idea Eva. I’d like to hear from the owners as to how his large eyes affect health if at all. If he can’t blink properly that must lead to potential health problems with the eye and there may be other issues that we don’t know about.

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