The Oriental Cat Breeds
The Oriental cat breeds are a man-made and originated in England in the 1950’s. After World War II the number of breeding cats and breeders were reduced causing the remaining breeders to become creative to rebuild Oriental cat breeding programs. Many of the moderns Oriental breeds originated from cross-breeding done during that time.
One of these breeds is the Oriental Longhair and the Oriental Shorthair. Siamese cats were crossed with British Shorthairs, Abyssinians and Russian Blues. The cats from these cross-breeding were not pointed and were subsequently crossed back to Siamese. What was surprising was that in only a few generations, these cats were indistinguishable from Siamese cats in every way except color.
Female Shorthair black tabby/spotted white Oriental cat - photo by Kamée
The Siamese pointed color is genetically recessive and pointed kittens were produced. The best of the Siamese colored cats that resulted from these crosses were used to enlarge and strengthen the Siamese gene pool. The non-pointed cats were the ancestors of the modern day Oriental cat breed.
In the initial stages, each color was named and developed as a separate breed – Havana (chocolate), Foreign White and the Oriental Spotted Tabby. However, it soon became apparent that there were too many colors and all the non-pointed cats were grouped into one breed – the Oriental Longhair and the Oriental Shorthair.
In the 1970’s Orientals were being imported into the USA and new crosses between American Shorthairs created even more colors.
Oriental Shorthair Cat
The Oriental cat is elegant, slender and graceful. They are not large cats but rather long and tall.
Oriental cats (both shorthair and longhair) have a fine bone structure and a long, sleek, slender body. The legs and tail are long and slender.
This is a muscular cat breed that should be neither bony nor fat.
The head and neck is extraordinarily long. The head of all the members of the Siamese group should have a straight profile (side view) and the chin should line up with the nose.
Oriental Longhair Cat
The front view of the head is triangular.
The head itself is wedge-shaped with a fine muzzle. The ears are strikingly large and wide with the eyes almond-shaped and set at an angle. The preferred eye-color is green.
Oriental cats are easy to groom. A weekly brushing is all that is required to remove loose hair and to keep the coat in its natural glossy condition.
Personality & Temperament
The Oriental cat breed is an intelligent, lively and sociable breed. These beautiful cats are devoted to their humans and need constant companionship. You should consider getting another Oriental if you plan on leaving your cat alone for long periods of time. This is truly a cat breed that does not do well on its own.
Some Orientals bond very closely with only one person and will avoid other members of the family and even visitors. They are lap cats that enjoy curling up on your lap, purring like a locomotive.
An Oriental cat is the perfect cat for someone who wants a cat that talks and interacts on every level of your daily life.
This cat breed simply loves to play and the more you interact with games, the more new games you will have to invent.
They are happy with any kind of toy – be it a mouse, a piece of crumpled up paper or even just a ball of string.
Be warned – anything and everything will be turned into a toy, so if you have any valuable ornaments around, make sure they are firmly grounded!