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Oriental Shorthair Breed Summary

Intelligent, Curious, Vocal, Playful

Famous for their elongated head, tall ears, striking eyes and slender legs, the Oriental Shorthair’s signature look may seem very different to other felines! These unique looking cats are said to closely resemble the temperament of its parent breed – the Siamese.

The Oriental is quite the chatter box! Whether they’re purring, hissing or meowing, these cats like their voices to be heard – so if you aren’t prepared to give them purr-lenty of attention, you’ll soon hear about it.

These agile cats are full of energy, so you’ll be likely to find them climbing the furniture or rummaging around in open drawers in your home if you’re not careful – they’re generally on the search for mischief! As they’re social creatures, these cats love the company of their humans and will stay by your side (or on your lap) while you’re chilling on the sofa and are more than happy to play a game or two (or three or four) of fetch! As these cats are considered one of the most intelligent cat breeds, they are generally easy to train and can even learn a number of tricks.

Fun Fact: This is one colourful cat! The Oriental Shorthair is said to have more colours than any other breed of cat. In fact, they come in more than 300 pattern and colour combinations!

Lifespan 10 – 15 years
Height (at the withers) Males and Females: 20cm – 25.4cm
Weight Males and Females: 3.6kg – 6.4kg
Coat Short and smooth
Colour Wide array of coat colours and patterns. The most popular Orientals are tabby, bicoloured, silver, white, cream, and chocolate
Eye colour Mostly green, blue, or odd-eyed
Common health issues Bladder stones, heart problems, liver amyloidosis, periodontal disease
Other Names Ornaments, British Angora, Javanese, Foreign Longhair, Mandarin
The Oriental may look very different to its parent breed - the Siamese – but under their fur, they’re very much alike.

The Oriental is one opiniated cat, and they’ll be the first to vocalise exactly what they think, as well as ask for plenty of attention – so expect plenty of meowing from these chatty cats! This breed is very loyal and fond of their people, so they’ll be likely to follow you around the home and keep an eye on what you’re doing. When you’re sat down, an Oriental will happily join you and curl up in your lap. They also like to join in with family activities and will even play fetch! These social cats like to be kept entertained and as such don't enjoy being left alone for too long. If you're often out of the home, it's wise to get another Oriental for your cat to be-fur-iend. A friend to all, these kitties are also great with children and other pets.

These spirited cats never outgrow their love of play, and remain kitten-like even into their senior years – from jumping up to the tallest cupboard or playing with a cardboard box for hours, you’re always likely to find an Oriental looking for something to do, unless they’re curled up by your side of course.

When we look at the history of the Oriental Shorthair, we first have to look to its parent breed – the Siamese! It’s widely believed that Thailand (formerly known as Siam) was the birthplace for many cat breeds – including the Siamese. Siam royalty were especially fond of the bright eyed, colour-pointed Siamese, and lavished them in their palaces.

The exact date of Siamese cats arriving in England is not recorded, but by the end of the 19th century lots of Siamese were making an appearance in local cat shows.

So, how did the Oriental come to light? The breed was developed in England during the 1950s and ‘60s, using Siamese cats as the foundation breed and crossing them with other breeds. The intent was to produce a cat that had the body type of a Siamese but with a wider range of colours. Crosses with British Shorthairs, Russian Blues, Abyssinians and domestic shorthairs produced kittens without the pointed Siamese pattern – these were then bred back to the Siamese. In just a few generations, breeders produced cats that looked like the Siamese, but with far greater colour and pattern combinations. Cats with the Siamese points were used in Siamese breeding programs and the non-pointed cats became the basis for a new breed… the Oriental! When Orientals were introduced to the USA in the 1970s, crosses with American Shorthairs further expanded the colours and patterns within the breed, and a longhaired variety was also developed.

Today, the Oriental Shorthair is one of the most popular breeds of cat, especially in the UK and across the Atlantic. The breed was accepted for championship registration by the Cat Fancier’s Association in 1977, with the bicoloured variety following suit in 1985 and the longhaired variety being recognised ten years later.