The Oriental is a sleek, elegant cat with large, flaring ears and almond-shaped eyes, often associated with the Siamese breeds.
Intelligent, affectionate, and talkative, Orientals have a vivacious personality and a kitten-like love of playing that lasts throughout their lives. From catnip mice to cardboard boxes, they love to play with toys, and many of them are enthusiastic fetchers.
This devoted, people-oriented feline may form a close bond with one person, but Orientals may also enjoy being around children, other cats and even dogs. Because of their love of activity and company, Orientals are not ideal single pets.
With their long, lean, graceful bodies and extraordinarily long necks, Orientals look every inch the feline athlete. In relation to their dainty heads, their ears are remarkably large.
Oriental Shorthairs have a short, glossy coat, while Oriental Longhairs have a semi-long coat.
Oriental Shorthairs and Longhairs are truly cats of many colors and patterns including solids, tabbies, silvers, smokes and particolors. According to The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), the Oriental breed currently offers more than 600 color, pattern, and coat length combinations.
As its name implies, the Oriental Shorthair is a shorthaired breed that requires only periodic brushing to maintain coat health and help control shedding. Because the Oriental Longhair does not have a wooly undercoat, it also needs only regular brushing to keep shedding to a minimum.
As a breed, Orientals are generally healthy. However, as members of the Siamese breed family they can be prone to health issues including an inherited neurological defect that causes crossed eyes; hereditary liver amyloidosis and dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that reduces the heart’s ability to contract. Bladder stones and mast cell cancer have also been seen in this breed.
Oriental kittens should eat a kitten food for their first year of life to aid in their growth and development.
While there have been written mentions of a solid color Siamese cat as early as the late 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1950s that purposeful development of a recognized Oriental breed began. Breeders in Europe started selectively breeding them by crossing Siamese with Russian Blues, British Shorthairs, Abyssinians and domestic shorthairs, in order to increase the gene pool.
The CFA recognized the Oriental Shorthair in 1977, and the Oriental Longhair was officially added to the breed registration in 1995.