Oriental Shorthair at a Glance
The Oriental Shorthair is a member of the Siamese Breed Group which includes the Oriental Longhair, Siamese and Balinese. They all share the same body type, however what makes the Oriental Shorthair distinct from the rest of the Siamese group is their wide array of colors combined with a short sleek coat. They are very social and talkative and thrive within the company of other people. Find out more about this breed and if an Oriental Shorthair is right for you and your family.
- Temperament: Playful, intelligent, affectionate
- Size: Medium-sized cat
Adult females: small to medium, approximately 5-8 pounds
Adult males: medium, approximately 8-12 pounds
Kittens mature slowly and don’t fully develop until 18-24 months.
- Colors: Oriental Shorthair cats come in hundreds of color and pattern combinations, including the traditional solid, tabby (Distinct color patterns with one color predominating), tortie and torbie (tortoiseshell cats with tabby patterns). All of these can be silver/smoke and with or without white.
- Life Expectancy: 10+ years. Oriental Shorthairs and those within the Siamese Breed Group can live longer than other cat breeds, reaching an above average life expectancy and have been known to live 20+ years.
About the Oriental Shorthair
Oriental Shorthairs are very lively, elegant and colorful cats in every sense. They are wonderful for those interested in an interactive pet and devoted companion.
They have extremely loving temperaments and bond closely with their families and people of all ages, including children, cat-friendly dogs and other cats. They thrive on attention and affection and are often found beside their humans. They like to be “helpful” and follow family members around throughout the day. They love warm places and can be typically found sitting on their humans laps during the day and snuggling under the covers with family members at night.
Oriental Shorthairs are talkative cats that enjoy talking with their family. They demand a lot of attention and tend to get into mischief if left alone for long periods of time.
Oriental Shorthairs are long, lean natural athletes built like runners or dancers.
Like the entire Siamese breed group, Oriental Shorthairs are lively, intelligent, sociable cats who love to play. Many of them are fetchers, returning their favorite fetch toy tirelessly to the hands of their human while others amuse themselves for hours with an empty cardboard box. They do not grow out of their love of play, remaining kitten-like all their lives. No cupboard or high shelf is safe from these inquisitive, high jumping cats. Cat trees, teaser toys and games of fetch keep them on their toes. They excel at the feline sport Agility and are very receptive to training.
They hold their own against much larger cats and dogs, often ruling the roost. Oriental Shorthairs are devoted to their people and need companionship. Oriental Shorthairs love everyone and love a party, happily jumping from lap to lap, purring and asking for pets. In general, an Oriental Shorthair does not do well as an only cat. They are good with kids, other cats, dogs, and lots of activity and commotion.
They love attention and like to snuggle and sleep in a heap with their buddies or under the covers with you. They are not cats for people who want to live a quiet life, have undisturbed knick-knacks, and a cat content to sit still and look pretty.
TICA Regions, Clubs & Rescues
Want to connect with fellow cat lovers and those who love the same breed as you?
Find a Kitten: TICA Breeders
The TICA website is the only place where you can find TICA member breeders who have signed the TICA Code of Ethics.
The short, fine coat of the Oriental Shorthair is easily cared for. Comb it every couple of weeks with a stainless steel comb. You can also dampen your hands with water and stroke your hands down the cat’s body from head to tail. This also removes any loose hair.
Nails should be trimmed weekly. A human nail clipper can be used to tip the white area of the nail. Be careful not to go back too far into the red blood area inside the nail. Eyes and the inside of their ears should also be cleaned weekly. Clean their ears with a warm, damp washcloth or cotton square. Brush their teeth with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath and schedule regular veterinary dental cleanings.
Adult Oriental Shorthair cats need to be fed at least twice a day. Kittens should be fed more often, at least three or four times per day, as they burn off calories more quickly. Fresh, clean water is best, so cats don’t hesitate to drink. If you worry about your cat drinking enough water each day, here's a tip from some cat behaviorists - place the water bowl at least three feet away from any food. Cats’ noses are sensitive and an overwhelming smell of food may cause them to drink less. Filtered drinking fountains can also be used in place of a water bowl.
Canned foods are often the preferred method for feedings. Not only are they more convenient, but they are higher protein and lower carbohydrates than dry food. Canned food has a higher-water content so increases the cat’s overall fluid intake, which keeps the kidneys and bladder healthy. Due to their easily-digested ingredients, canned foods produce less solid waste in the litterbox as well.
Oriental Shorthair cats are generally a healthy breed. They have a tendency to be sensitive to anesthesia. It is important to make the veterinarian aware of this before any type of surgery. This includes routine surgeries such as neutering, spaying and dental cleanings. Oriental Shorthairs can be susceptible to Amyloidosis. There is much research being done to find a test for this disease but, to date there is no test available to detect Amyloids.
Orientals are a man-made breed that originated in the 1950’s in England. After World War II the number of breeders and breeding cats was reduced. Some of the remaining breeders became quite creative as they rebuilt their breeding programs. Many modern breeds developed from the crosses done at that time. One such breed is the Oriental Shorthair/Longhair. Russian Blues, British Shorthairs, Abyssinians, and regular domestic cats were crossed to Siamese. The resulting cats were not pointed and were crossed back to Siamese. In surprisingly few generations, there were cats that were indistinguishable from Siamese in all ways except color. As the Siamese pointed color is genetically recessive, pointed kittens were also produced. The best Siamese colored cats from these crosses went back into the Siamese breed, enlarging and strengthening the Siamese gene pool. The non-pointed cats were the ancestors of our modern Orientals.
Initially, each color was developed and named as a separate breed: such as Foreign White, Havana (chocolate), and the Oriental Spotted Tabby. Soon it became apparent that there were too many possible colors to have a breed for each. All the non-pointed cats were grouped into one breed, the Oriental Shorthair/Longhair. Orientals were imported into the United States in the 1970s. Interestingly, "Havanas" were imported into America early on but evolved into a distinct breed called the Havana, which are quite different from solid chocolate Orientals.
On the founding of TICA in 1979, the Oriental Shorthair was one of the original breeds in championship competition. TICA currently accepts all colors and patterns of the pointed category for show.
Did You Know?
Oriental Shorthair cats are nicknamed “Ornamentals” because of their extensive color palette, having more colors and patterns than any other breed. See “Colors” above.
They are also known as “Siamese in designer genes.”
The scientific illustrator Jenny Parks’ 2017 book Star Trek Cats, Star Trek’s Spock is depicted as an Oriental Shorthair.
The Breed Standard
The ideal cat of this breed group is a svelte, graceful, refined cat of medium size with long tapering lines. It is in excellent physical condition, very strong, lithe and muscular giving the sensation of solid weight without excess bulk. While the breed is considered "medium" in size, balance and proportion are to be considered of greater consequence. The cat should "fit together". If it is extreme in one part, all parts should be extreme to retain balance.
Click here (https://tica.org/pdf/publications/standards/si.pdf) to read the full TICA Oriental Shorthair Breed Standard.
Additional information and an introduction to the Oriental Shorthair breed can be found in the links below:
Oriental Shorthair Breed
Accepted For Championship in TICA in 1979
- Oriental Shorthair At A Glance
- Breed Introduction
- Printable Breed Introduction
- Oriental Shorthair Breeders
- Breed Standards
- Breed Committee
Photos used courtesy of © Helmi Flick Cat Photography.