Oriental Longhair: Choosy Cats that Want No One but You

The Oriental Longhair cat lying on the sofa
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Cats tend to exist in two different extremes. There are those that act aloof and independent as if your existence didn’t really matter to them beyond your function as a food dispenser. Then there are those that are friendly and attention-seeking—so much so that they demand attention from pretty much everyone, so it doesn’t have to be you. If neither appeals to you, you are quite lucky to stumble upon this piece, because we are going to discuss a cat that exists in the middle—the Oriental Longhair.

Here is a fact: for those who enjoy the company of high energy and super intelligent cats, the Oriental Longhair can be a perfect match for you. The cat features an elegant, slim body, with a ton of muscle underneath. This is a low maintenance cat that is friendly, loving, loyal, and very affectionate—but only towards the people they know. They won’t follow strangers around—just you. Doesn’t that make you feel special?

The Oriental Longhair cat playing in the garden

In that regard, we would like to share with you in detail some facts and other essentials that you need to know about this Oriental cat. As a cat with a complicated history, it is only wise that you know what you will be getting into if by any chance you decide to adopt or buy one for your household. So, enjoy the read.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Above Average

  • Grooming: Moderate

  • Health: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good

  • Exercise Needs: Above Average Needs

Cat Breed GroupSemi Long-Haired, Crossbreed
SizeAverage, but long; they normally measure around 10 inches long
WeightMales: 9 - 12 pounds

Females: 4 - 8 pounds
Lifespan10 – 15 years

The Oriental Longhair is a cat that features a sleek body. They possess lots of physical similarities with the Siamese. The cat that is also known as the British Angora was initially recognized in the late nineteenth century in England. But this recognition didn’t last long as people soon lost interest. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that serious interest was shown for this particular breed.

An energetic and elegant body is the hallmark of this slender but muscular cat. They highlight a long and silky single-layered coat that can be found in an assortment of hues. Oriental longhairs have a wedge-shaped head christened with almond-shaped eyes. Their ears are usually large and pointed while their legs remain long and slender. The tail is notable as it tends to be quite bushy.

Studio image of an Oriental-Longhair

These cats are healthy but are prone to a few genetic disorders, i.e., liver, heart, and dental disorders. They have a cute personality as they are intelligent and playful by nature. You should also note that they are pretty active cats that can get mischievous and quite inquisitive at times.

Oriental longhairs are fond of high places, i.e., on top of cupboards, trees, etc. And in as much as they are naturally active and always playing, these cats need time to socialize and bond with their caregivers.

Main Highlights

  • The Oriental Longhair are low maintenance cats that only require the occasional grooming to maintain the quality of their coat.

  • They don’t shed as much as cats with a dense undercoat, but regular combing is still advised to help prevent the development of hairballs. This shedding may force you to vacuum your home frequently to rid it of the fur.

  • Apart from a few genetic predispositions, Oriental longhairs are healthy.

  • Want a vocal cat? The Oriental Longhair is very vocal and won’t hesitate to express their worries and concerns. You might want to prepare yourself psychologically for excessive and undesirable meows and crying especially at night.

  • These cats love to be petted and tickled. They crave attention and won’t hesitate to demand it the hard way if you keep ignoring them.

  • They are very active. They like to engage in activities and thus will need adequate play and exercise to keep them in good shape.

  • They are friendly and are good with both adults and kids. They tend to cope well with other pets too.

Breed History

Formerly known as the British Angora, although these cats have oriental features, they are originally from Europe—England to be specific. They are a crossbreed of the Siamese and other cats, i.e., the British Longhair, Russian Blue, and the Abyssinian.

These breeding efforts were conducted by British breeders to help broaden the Siamese pool after most of their breeding programs were disrupted during the World War 2. The subsequent felines, however, didn’t have point coloration—which is a recessive trait in Siamese cats—and so were crossed back again with the Siamese.

Close-up of an Oriental Shorthair looking at camera against white background

The resulting cats after this repeated breeding were later sorted. The ones with the best Siamese traits were retained; they then came to be the predecessors of the modern Oriental cats. Although briefly, the modern Orientals were first recognized in England in the nineteenth century. It wasn’t until the late 1960s when serious development on the breed began. A series of developments have since taken place on this breed to create the modern Orientals we see today.

Note that their original name—the British Angora—was changed by cat fanciers to the Oriental Longhair in 2002. Today, Orientals can be found in both long-haired and short-haired varieties and in over 300 coat colors and patterns.


Like all members of the Siamese breed group, Oriental Longhairs are elegant, slender and graceful. These felines are eminently long and thin, but, they are natural athletes. Despite their narrow body frame, they are surprisingly muscular.


Orientals have an extraordinarily long neck with a straight head. From a frontal viewpoint, the head of this cat appears triangular—even though it’s actually wedged-shaped and smooth. For the most part, you shouldn’t hope to see a large Oriental cat. They are all slim and long but are very dynamic.

Personality and Character

Intelligent and vocal are the two words that are most synonymous with Oriental cats. These felines are exceptionally smart and extremely friendly. They bond profoundly with their human companions and are vocal in communicating their pain, distress, and concern. Their vocalizations—which primarily consist of cries and meows—are just as loud as their purrs when they are happy and content.

The cat is also demanding. They will not hesitate to demand your affection. They always want to be the center of attention especially when their caregiver is around. These cats, you should note, can get mischievous and inquisitive. And they love tall perches, so we suggest that you prepare cat shelves or trees for them or they cannot be blamed for knocking things off of your cupboard.

Black Tortie Silver Shaded Oriental longhair.

Their best attribute is their friendly and sociable nature. These cats are suitable for adults, kids, and other pets, although it is often advised that you get a kitten and get them socialized at an early age as these cats tend to shy away from strangers.

Note that Orientals are super active. They love to play and will often want to be engaged in running games. Provide a scratching post for them to sharpen their claws on if you don’t want them to unleash their energy on your couch.

Because of their playful nature and thirst for attention, an Oriental is not a cat you will want to leave alone for long hours. But if you must, ensure you give them lots of playthings to keep them occupied when you are not around.

Health and Potential Problems

Orientals have a large gene pool. Because of this, they shouldn’t be susceptible to genetic disorders. However, being that they have Siamese genes in them, they are predisposed to a few heart, liver, and dental disorders.

Black Oriental-Longhair cat sitting up

On the whole, however, they are a healthy breed of cats. If well maintained, they can live for up to 15 years. Make sure to keep up with routine vet checks and vaccinations, however, to make sure you catch any underlying diseases early. All the health issues that the Oriental Longhair is susceptible to are the type that can be best treated when caught early.

Care Features

Oriental longhairs are easy to care for and maintain. Their high energy can be controlled by giving them enough time and space to play. This will allow them to stay trim throughout and avoid loneliness. Being that they love attention, spending a few moments playing with them and petting them will keep them happy and content. We also encourage talking with them as the Oriental Longhair is very vocal and will only be too happy to respond to your words.

For their health, you don’t have to worry much unless you notice something serious like lethargy, vomiting, etc. Otherwise, they are healthy and might only require checkups once in a while to ensure that they are okay; this is mainly due to the minor genetic dispositions mentioned above.

Mother oriental-longhair cat an her kitty

Grooming is the most critical care feature for these felines. Given that they have long silky fur that sheds rather regularly, you have to ensure that you brush your cat frequently to aid in the removal of loose hair. Luckily for you, due to a lack of undercoat, you don’t need to brush them as frequently as you do cats like the Kurilian Bobtail.

Also, one of their health concerns is dental problems. As such, ensure that you brush their teeth regularly to prevent any cases of periodontal diseases or disorders. In addition to brushing their hair and teeth, wiping their eyes mainly on the corners is advised to remove the discharge. This should be done as a part of their routine grooming.

Studio image of an oriental-longhair cat

The best and safest way to do it is by using a clean cloth. When doing this, ensure that you wipe each corner with a different part of the cloth to avoid the risk of spreading any infections. Note that Orientals are known to be indoor cats. As such, they must be kept indoors to prevent them from contracting diseases and infections from other cats and dogs as well as to prevent them from other dangers associated with the outdoors.

Feeding Schedule

Just like humans, each cat is also unique in their own way. They each have their likes, dislikes, and needs when it comes to food. Nonetheless, every feline is subject to specific nutritional requirements. Each must obtain at least 41 different nutrients from their diet.

The proportion of the food, however, will vary depending on the cat’s age, size, lifestyle and overall health. So it isn’t surprising that a young, energetic kitten will eat more than an adult cat.

Oriental Longhair with chocolate smoke coat

You will have to feed your Oriental cat the right amount of nutritious food to maintain their body condition as they tend to get obese when they overeat. You can consult the vet if you’re not sure about how to devise an appropriate feeding schedule for them.

As a general rule, you shouldn’t put the food out all day for them to eat whenever they please. Rather, separate their daily portion into two separate meals—given in the morning and the evening.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Earlier, we mentioned that Oriental Longhairs are low maintenance cats. And yes this fact stays true. Oriental Longhairs come with long, silky, but single-layered coats which also occur in a wide variety of patterns and colors. These cats’ coats come in over 300 colors, including black, blue, chocolate, lilac, gray, and cream, among many others. The patterns range from spotted, tabby, to mackerel.

Although they have long hair, grooming is relatively easy with these cats. Weekly brushing is all they need to help remove loose hair as they don’t shed as much as cats with a dense undercoat.

Brown Oriental Longhair cat sitting in the sun

You should note that the Oriental Longhair is often associated with fleas. As such, you might want to give them a flea bath occasionally. For this, you might also want to get your cat accustomed to baths beforehand so that when a flea bath becomes necessary, you won’t have problems. Other than the occasional brushings and the flea issue, the Oriental Longhair is a low-maintenance cat.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

The Oriental Longhairs’ active and social nature makes them a perfect breed to keep as family pets, especially for households with kids and cat-friendly dogs. An Oriental Longhaired will play well with your kids. They mostly enjoy fetching, retrieving, and chasing games.

Oriental-kitten sitting on a table in the garden

Oriental Longhairs are unfortunately not very fond of strangers. They might even need some time to get used to you after you’ve just brought them home from the breeder or the shelter. The good thing is that they learn how to cope quickly and also reciprocates love and attention with loyalty, affection, and respect.

If your dog is cat-friendly, you won’t have to worry about your Oriental cat raring for a fight. These cats get along with dogs as well as other cats. The best way to make them get along with other pets is to introduce them slowly and in controlled circumstances. Also, make sure you keep their food bowls separate.

Wrap Up

We can only sum this breed up in three words: perfect family pet. Their sweet personality, overall friendless, and fun character are what largely make them the go-to family pet. The Oriental Longhair is for sure one cat that you will have lots of fun and excitement with.

Oriental-cat sitting up on the sofa

Do you look forward to making the initially-shy Oriental Longhair open up to you by showering them with love and affection? Or would you prefer a cheerful cat that gets along with everyone right away? Don’t forget to share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment section below.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.