Pet Advisor Blog
Oriental Cats Family – Cat Breeds Guide
The long and sleek Oriental Cats have captured the attention and admiration of the international cat fanciers’ community since its initial development in the 1950s. Orientals are so admired that is recognized in all predominant feline registries and countless standard distinctions, categories, divisions, breed groups and descriptions to exemplify the desirable trait of this breed.
Today, Oriental Cats are recognized as either part of the Siamese Breed Group, or cats classified as one division of the Oriental Breed Group, and also accepted as distinct and separate Oriental cat breeds with individual sets of official standards.
Oriental Cats are either:
– Oriental Shorthair
– Oriental Longhair
*(Oriental Semi-Longhair which is technically a Javanese)
Both can be recognized as – two separate and distinct breeds:
– Divisions of the Oriental Breed
– Breeds under the Siamese Breed Group
Oriental Cats have two lines or types:
– British Orientals (a hybrid of Siamese, British Shorthair and Russian Blue)
– American Orientals (a hybrid of Siamese, American Shorthair and Abyssinian)
Oriental cats are Siamese of ancestry, descendants of the centuries-old cats owned by the royalty of the Kingdom of Siam in South East Asia.
The modern Oriental Shorthair originates from Great Britain and was first developed between the 1950s and the 1960s. The modern Oriental Longhair was initially developed in the United States during the 1970s.
Size: Oriental cats are small to medium-sized hybrid breeds.
Coat Type: Oriental cats will come in two coat varieties, shorthaired and longhaired or medium-length coats.
Body Type: Orientals have svelte type bodies.
Grooming Requirement: Oriental Shorthair cats will require very little grooming attention and can be groomed once every month. Oriental Longhair should be groomed once every few weeks.
Vocal Tendency: Orientals are cats that will be very vocal and naturally talkative
Energy Levels: These Siamese-type cats are known to have very high levels of activity.
Time Alone: Oriental Shorthair cats need 4 to 8 hours of “alone time” every day. Oriental Longhair requires less as these cats prefer to have a maximum of 4 hours of “alone time” every day.
Care: Oriental cats will need adequate human attention and can be a handful.
Recognized as part of the Siamese Breed Group:
The International Cat Association
Recognizes Oriental Shorthair and Longhair as two divisions of the Oriental Breed:
Canadian Cat Association
Cat Fancier’s Association
Recognizes the Oriental Shorthair as a distinct and separate breed:
American Association of Cat Enthusiasts
American Cat Fancier’s Association
Canadian Feline Federation
United Feline Organization
Recognizes the Oriental Longhair as a distinct and separate breed:
American Cat Fancier’s Association
Canadian Feline Federation
United Feline Organization
American Association of Cat Enthusiasts – calls it Longhair Oriental
Oriental cats are essentially a Siamese-type when it comes to ancestry. These cats are the descendants of ancient Siamese cats of the Kingdom of Siam. The recognized modern Oriental cat breeds or coat variants are not naturally bred, but hybrids developed from the Siamese.
The Oriental Shorthair was the first Oriental breed that was developed. The modern shorthaired Orientals can trace their roots in Great Britain where the first hybridization to produce the Oriental SH cat commenced during the 1950s. British breeders crossed the Siamese cats with their local domestic shorthairs and some lines of the Russian Blue. A decade later, the breeders in North America followed suit, using their own local domestic shorthairs in the hybridization and replaced the Russian Blue stock with lines of the Abyssinian cats.
The hybridization caused a controversial argument between the breeders of the Siamese and the Oriental breeds’ pioneers. The Siamese fanciers resented this newest hybrid of Siamese type as the hybrid Colorpoint Shorthair was just recognized and accepted by the Cat Fancier’s Association or CFA in 1964. These purist Siamese breeders were concerned that hybridization will lead to yet another and so on, further diluting the bloodlines which may affect the future of Siamese pedigree. But there was no stopping the Orientals and their pioneer breeders. By 1972, Oriental Shorthairs was accepted for registration. Five years later the CFA granted this hybrid full Championship Class status. After its full recognition in 1977, the Oriental Shorthair’s popularity rapidly spread all over the world. It eventually surpassed most other shorthaired cat breeds in popularity during the 1980s, showing momentum as it consistently ranked at the top of the most popular cats within the short-haired breed category.
During the height of the Oriental Shorthair’s popularity in the 1970s, especially right after the breed’s full Championship Class recognition, Oriental cat breeders welcomed the idea of a longhaired hybrid of the Oriental SH. These cat fanciers’ believed that it was just fitting to develop a longhaired variety of the Oriental after all the Siamese cat have its longhaired version in the presence of the Balinese. The Colorpoint Shorthair also had its own longhaired variant in the Javanese.
The breeders planned and initiated a hybridization program that involved crossing the Oriental Shorthair with the Balinese. It produced specimens with long, lean and elegant bodies, covered in silk-like textured coats and displaying a rich selection of coat colors. This saw the birth of the modern Oriental Longhair, one of the youngest of the Siamese-type cat breeds. The Oriental LH also saw rapid fame as this cat has all the desirable traits of three famous breeds. It has the temperament of the Siamese cat, the low maintenance care of the Balinese and the rich coat colors of the Oriental Shorthair. By 1985, the youngest Siamese-type hybrid gained official recognition and acceptance as a Championship breed from The International Cat Association or TICA. The longhaired Orientals saw CFA approval in 1988, leading to the eventual creation of the Oriental Breed group, grouping the longhaired and shorthaired Orientals together.
The Oriental Shorthairs are full of enthusiasm and packed with high energy. These cats can quickly change moods; it is in their nature to do so as shorthaired Orientals are a curious bunch. Don’t be surprised to see these cats acting haughtily like royalty, and then quickly changing into a more zesty type of cat that is full of curiosity. Some consider these cats as “diva” like behaving as if the world revolves around them. They require more attention as these cats crave human companions. Overall these cats are very loving, affectionate and very intelligent cats will be dependent on their chosen human owners.
The Oriental Longhairs are more independent and tolerant. These Orientals are an active lot that will be playful even without the help of their human owners. They are nimble jumpers, displaying dexterity and elegant control. Overall, these cats are ideal feline companions that will be loyal, highly intelligent and affectionate.
Oriental cats are basically Siamese-like in appearance. The main difference is that Oriental cat breeds come in a huge variety of coat colors and patterns. The Siamese four colors look very dull and very little compared to the Oriental cats more than 300 color and pattern combinations when it comes to the coat area.
All Oriental cats are basically Siamese-type, very lithe yet also very muscular.
Oriental cats have svelte and long bodies that have noticeable firm muscles and fine bone structures. The body is sleek and tubular.
Head, Ears and Eyes
Oriental cats have long tapering wedge-shaped heads. These cats have strikingly large ears that are pointed and will be wide at the base All Oriental cats possess almond-shaped eyes that are medium in size. Eyes are slated towards the nose and will complement the lines of the wedge-shaped head and ears. Eye color will be green but white Orientals will display blue, green and even odd-eyed colors.
Coat and Tail
The Oriental cat’s tail is thin at the base and tapering to a fine point.
Oriental Shorthair cats have short and fine coats that are glossy in appearance and satin-like in texture. Oriental Longhair cats have coats that are medium in length, fine and silky but without downy undercoats. The longest hairs can be found on the tail.
The possible coat colors and patterns for the Oriental cat breed are over 300 in number.
Considered to be generally healthy, Oriental cats will be plagued by the same genetic problems as their Siamese progenitors. This will include the common Siamese defect known as protrusion of the cranial sternum. There is also a serious genetic anomaly known as endocardial fibroelastosis to watch out for.