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You see a cat that looks like a Siamese but also not. It’s long and fine-boned with a triangular head and gigantic ears. It has short hair but lacks a colorpoint coat and blue eyes. What could it be? Well, chances are, you met an Oriental Shorthair.
This breed shares a physical resemblance to the Siamese, but it’s actually a breed all its own. These cats are active, friendly, and downright fun to be around.
Are you curious to learn more about this fun-loving breed? Our Oriental Shorthair breed profile breaks down the breed’s history, appearance, personality, and more.
The development of the Oriental cat began in the 1950s in England, when breeders began working to expand the coat variety of the Siamese cat. Breeders crossed the Siamese cat with other breeds, including the Abyssinian, British Shorthair, Russian Blue, and domestic cats. The resulting felines did not have the trademark pointed coats of the Siamese. These cats were then crossed back with the Siamese to create what we now refer to as the Oriental cat.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Oriental breed was imported to the United States. New colors continued to be developed as the imported cats were bred to American Shorthairs.
The Cat Fanciers’ Association accepted the Oriental Shorthair for championship status in 1977, followed by The International Cat Association in 1979. Today, the breed is recognized by all major cat registries.
Appearance & Size
As with the Siamese, the Oriental Shorthair is a cat of extremes. Overall, these felines appear long and lean with muscular yet narrow frames. Their wedge-shaped heads are topped with large ears. These felines have a straight profile, with the chin lining up with the nose. Oriental cats have almond-shaped eyes, with the preferred eye color being green.
Along with their long tubular bodies, the Oriental Shorthair has a long tail, legs, and even toes. These cats can reach up to 18 inches long and weigh up to 12 pounds.
Coat & Colors
The Oriental cat breed has over 600 color, pattern, and coat length combinations. The Oriental Shorthair will, of course, have a shorter coat than their longhaired counterpart, but they share a variety of color colors and patterns:
- Solid: Solid-coated felines have the same fur color from root to tip, with no shading or markings.
- Shaded: These coats have a lighter undercoat in shades of white and darker tipping on the face, sides, and tail.
- Smoke: These cats appear solid in color but actually have a narrow band of white at the base of their hairs, which can only be seen when the fur is parted. This color difference is visible when the feline is in motion.
- Bi-color: Bi-colors cats have solid areas of white and another color/pattern, such as red or tabby pattern.
- Parti-color: These are solid-coated felines with various colors in their coat. The patches of color may also be diluted colors of the primary hair color. The parti-color label includes tortoiseshell and calico cats.
- Tabby: A tabby cat may have one of four coat patterns. Classic tabbies display swirls similar to a marble cake, mackerel tabbies have stripes, spotted tabbies display oval or round spots along their bodies, and ticked tabbies have agouti hairs that give these coats a sand-like, salt-and-pepper appearance. All tabby cats can be identified by the “M” shape on their forehead.
- Pointed: These cats have darker shading on their face, ears, legs, feet, and tails.
Personality & Temperament
Like the Siamese, Oriental Shorthairs are known for being intelligent, lively, and sociable cats. They have big personalities and develop strong bonds with their humans. These cats love communicating and will happily spend the day chatting with you.
This breed has a high activity drive, so you’ll need to provide regular playtime and additional enrichment activities while you’re away. But they can also amuse themself for hours if provided with suitable toys. Toy options could be something as straightforward as a cardboard box or as elaborate as a wall jungle gym.
Oriental Shorthairs play well with others and make a great addition to a busy household with multiple pets. Generally, Orientals do not do as well as only cats. They love attention and activity.
The Oriental Shorthair is also very intelligent. These cats need mental stimulation to prevent destructive behavior caused by boredom. Mental enrichment could include puzzle feeders, clicker training, and even communication buttons.
Overall, the Oriental Shorthair is a lovebug. They will happily spend the day cuddled up on your lap or follow you from room to room, talking all the way. They are an excellent choice for people who want an interactive, amusing pet that is a devoted, faithful companion.
Shedding & Hypoallergenic
As with all cats, the Oriental Shorthair regularly sheds, though it may appear more minimal since this cat has a short, fine coat. The Oriental Shorthair is not hypoallergenic.
Generally, short-haired cats require minimal grooming. To keep your Oriental Shorthair’s coat in tip-top condition, give them a once-a-week brushing to remove debris and condition the hair.
Because the Oriental Shorthair is prone to dental disease, brushing your cat’s teeth is recommended. Consider purchasing pet insurance with dental coverage for this breed. While pet insurance will not cover preexisting conditions, most unexpected medical expenses that arise after your waiting periods pass will be considered by your provider. Reducing financial risk during emergencies helps you focus on your pet’s health rather than your bank account.
In addition, you should always trim your cat’s nails. Nail care can be done at home or by a groomer or vet.
Finally, occasionally check your cat’s ears and skin for signs of irritation. Problems in these areas could indicate an underlying health condition, so seek medical guidance immediately. Regular veterinary check-ups can also help circumvent serious health problems in the future.
As with all cats, it’s essential to provide your Oriental Shorthair with outlets for their kitty behaviors, like scratching, climbing, and chasing. Provide scratching posts, cat trees, and other vertical climbing options. Use interactive toys, clicker training, and puzzle feeders to keep your furry friend mentally stimulated.
Cleaning the litter box is nobody’s favorite task, but a tidy litter pan is crucial to your cat’s hygiene. Clean the box daily, if not multiple times per day. You can also purchase an air purifier to place near the litter box to keep everything fresh and clean.
The Oriental Shorthair is an obligate carnivore, requiring a meat-centric diet. You should provide your cat with high-quality, well-balanced food with various protein sources. Good-quality food will ensure your cat gets all their nutrients, but you can also supplement it with fish oil or food toppers for added nutrition.
Your Oriental Shorthair will also need water access throughout the day. Select a metal or ceramic bowl that will not cause whisker fatigue. Avoid using plastic bowls that can harbor bacteria in the small scratches that develop on the bowl’s surface. Change your cat’s water daily—nobody wants to drink stale, dirty water.
If you’re looking for a highly-trainable cat, the Oriental Shorthair is a great pick. With a bit of patience and lots of positive reinforcement, you can train your cat to fetch, high-five, and even use communication buttons.
The Oriental Shorthair would also make a great adventure cat, thanks to their trainability. Teach your feline to walk with a harness and leash, and you’ve got a new adventure buddy. Just make sure your cat is wearing a tracking device while exploring so they don’t get lost.
Health & Lifespan
While the Oriental Shorthair is considered healthier than other pedigree breeds, there are still certain health conditions that these cats are prone to developing, including liver amyloidosis, progressive retinal atrophy, periodontal disease, kinked tails, and crossed eyes. The life expectancy of the Oriental Shorthair is 15 years.
The Oriental is an expensive breed, costing anywhere from $400 to $3,000 depending on the kitten’s lineage and coat coloring and markings.
As Family Pets
Oriental cats love everyone and do well with kids, dogs, and other cats. They love attention—the more cuddles, the better. They’ll happily jump from lap to lap, purring and demanding pets. If you’re looking for a confident family pet, the Oriental Shorthair is a fantastic choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few frequently asked questions about the Oriental Shorthair. Don’t see yours? Ask us in the comments.
Are Oriental Shorthair Cats Cuddly?
The Oriental breed is super affectionate. These cats are the definition of lap cats. They adore cuddling and will happily sleep next to you in bed if you allow it.
Is The Oriental Shorthair A Very Quiet Cat?
The Oriental Shorthair is a very talkative cat. They’ll tell you what they’re thinking morning, afternoon, and night. These cats will get lonely if ignored, so they need a home where they get lots of attention and praise.
What Are The Cons Of Oriental Shorthairs?
While excellent with other pets and kids, the Oriental Shorthair needs lots of human interaction. They are not suited to single professionals or busy families that can’t dedicate time to their feline.
Are the Oriental Shorthair’s social needs too much for your busy schedule? Check out our list of the 10 best low-maintenance breeds. We take into account the feline’s social needs, energy levels, grooming requirements, and overall health to bring you the most low-maintenance cat breeds.
Why Trust Love Your Cat?
Tara is dedicated to providing our readers with the most up-to-date, quality information for caring for our furry friends. She spends countless hours researching each topic and works alongside the team at Love Your Cat to give our readers informed content. Tara is a lifelong cat lover and the companion of two sassy domestic felines.