The A-Z of Cats – Pedigrees of the World – The Oriental Shorthair

The A-Z of Cats
Pedigrees of the World – The Oriental Shorthair


The Oriental is a man-made breed and comes in both a Shorthair and a Longhair variety. They were originally bred in the early 1950’s in Great Britain. The Oriental Shorthair has a short, fine textured coat, glossy or satin-like, that lies close to the body. Despite their svelte, tubular body they have surprising weight and muscle tone and are not a fragile breed.

The Oriental Shorthair, also called an “Ornamental” or “Foreign Type” cat, was originally bred to produce the body and personality of the Siamese in a wider variety of colours and patterns. There are over 300 possible colour and pattern combinations but they are usually green-eyed. It not only resembles, but also behaves similarly to its Siamese cousin.

Energetic and inquisitive, they require regular attention and are among the most vocal of cat breeds. A cat’s individual voice is caused by the way in which it produces its vowel sounds and some cats, mainly the Oriental varieties, often develop very distinctive voices easily recognized by their owners. Oriental Shorthairs form deep and long-lasting bonds with their owners; their intense loyalty is sometimes likened to that of the family dog, particularly because they become so attached to people. Oriental Shorthairs have been likened to a Chihuahua or even a Greyhound in appearance.

In the busiest moments, your Oriental will find a way to interrupt your activities; a little nudge while you eat, a close examination of whatever tools you may be using or some help tying your shoes before you leave in the morning. They like to poke their nose in when you are choosing food from the refrigerator! At quiet times they love to cuddle up on your lap, purring.

When you get home from work or shopping, they will chat away trying to tell you all about their day. Don’t think of hiding their favourite toy on top of the wardrobe as they are intelligent and curious enough to get up there and find it. They have been known to open a drawer, or empty your purse to discover their favourite toy. It might be a pen or a crumpled up piece of paper that they can chase around the kitchen floor. Give them the attention and affection they so desperately need, and they will do anything to please you. Ignore them, and they will show how unhappy they are. These elegant cats remain playful, spirited and loyal well into their old age.

Cats of Oriental descent loathe being left alone for any length of time. If this is the type that appeals strongly to you, why not consider having two? The cats, brought up together, will become inseparable friends, keeping each other company whenever they have to be left at home or in a boarding cattery.

When the Oriental Shorthair was accepted for championship status in 1977, it rapidly became one of The Cat Fanciers’ Association’s (based in Ohio) most popular breeds. In 1995 the Oriental Longhair was added into this family of sleek, muscular felines making it a cat for just about anyone. With over 300 different colours and patterns to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find an Oriental that will suit your taste.

In 1995 Orientals added the bi-colour pattern to their repertoire. They have a clear white underside, legs, chest and inverted V on the face and are very popular.

Finally, they cost around £500 in the UK and life expectancy is 15 years. They don’t have any major inherited health problems.


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