Oriental Shorthair: A Lover of People

Brown Oriental Shorthair cat lying on the floor
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

Many people are torn when it comes to deciding between cats and dogs. They love a dog’s affection but would like an animal that’s more independent and easier to take care of. If you’re one of these people, then you should consider getting an Oriental Shorthair.

The Oriental Shorthair is an extremely popular breed and is well-known for their Siamese roots. Coming in over 600 different colors, patterns, and coat lengths, the Oriental is a cat that’s truly unique. They’re a highly intelligent breed which loves brain teasers, playing fetching, and talking. With children, they’ll love to spend hours entertaining them as they are attention seekers.

Oriental Shorthair Kitten sitting on a table

If you’re someone who loves affection, this breed is a good choice for you. They’re a bunch of curious, vocal, and vibrant cats. If they see you as a part of their family, they’ll give their heart and soul to make you happy.

In this article, you’re going to find out everything you need to know about the Oriental Shorthair. From personality to grooming, health and history, you’ll be given a complete rundown of what the Oriental Shorthair consists of. Continuing reading to learn more about this curiously fantastic breed.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Above Average

  • Grooming: Low Maintenance

  • Health: Average

  • All Around Friendliness: Very Good

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate

Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Crossbreed
SizeSmall to Medium-Sized
Weight5 to 10 pounds
Lifespan10 to 15 years

If the Oriental Shorthair reminds you of the Siamese cat, well, you’re on the right track. Originally, the Oriental Shorthair was developed from the need to expand the Siamese breed after the devastation of WW II. Within a couple of generations, breeders developed cats which looked exactly like the Siamese, however, varied in color, patterns, and coat length.

Then, in the 1970s, they were exported to the United States where the breed continued to cross with American Shorthairs—creating even more colors and patterns. Today, Orientals can come in over 600 different colors and patterns. The Oriental Shorthair is medium in size and comes as a longhair as well, depending on the mix. They have a triangular head with two pointy triangular ears that stand right on top of their heads. Their almond-shaped eyes and pointy, sleek nose give them an Oriental look.

Oriental Shorthair Kitten sitting on a bed

Though they may appear to be slightly fragile in design, they’re not. In fact, this breed is quite muscular and strong, despite their appearance. They have long, slender legs which give them a very elegant look which will be noticeable when you watch them glide across the room. Though they’re elegant in nature, they’re extremely nosey. Any open space or undiscovered nook, they’ll be in it. In addition, they’re vocal in nature. If they have an opinion about something, they’ll tell you exactly how they feel with their loud, raspy voice.

On top of that, they’ll expect you to follow their loving advice. If you’re looking for a quiet cat, then this isn’t the breed for you. They love entertainment which is why this breed is best suited for families with children or for people who have time to invest in them.

Main Highlights

  • Orientals were developed to explore various new colors and patterns possible for the Siamese breed.

  • Oriental Shorthairs also come in longhaired versions.

  • They’re attention seekers and love to be played, petted, or cuddled with.

  • They were exported from Britain to the United States in the 1970s.

  • The Oriental Shorthair was accepted for championship status in 1977.

  • They do not like being kept at home alone for long periods of time as they’re highly social and talkative.

  • The base breed of the Oriental is Siamese; this is why they look exactly the same excepting their colors and patterns.

  • They have 600 different colors, patterns, and coat lengths.

  • As talkative and opinionated cats, they’ll verbalize their emotions with their loud, raspy voice.

  • They love to be the boss of the house. Though they do well with children and animals, they must feel as though they are the one in control.

  • The Oriental is one of the CFA’s most popular breeds.

  • Oriental Shorthairs need to keep their brain busy with puzzles and teaser toys. They are very intelligent.

  • The Oriental Shorthair personality is extremely vibrant, playful, and curious.

Breed History

The Oriental Shorthair is not a natural breed. In fact, it was created to experiment with various colors, patterns, and coat lengths on a mission to broaden the Siamese breed’s variety. The breeders used the Siamese as a foundation breed, and it shows. If you were to place a Siamese and an Oriental side-by-side, they’d look essentially the same with only the color and pattern of their coat showing a significant difference.

Due to the WW II, the Siamese breed population suffered a heavy blow; thus, there was a need to add to their numbers while simultaneously broadening their gene pool. After mixing the Siamese breed with the Russian Blue, the Abyssinians, and the British Shorthairs, they were able to produce kittens without the Siamese pattern.

black oriental shorhair cat lying down and looking at the camera

After, they were then bred back to the Siamese. Within a couple of generations, Siamese breeders were able to develop cats that looked like Siamese, however, varied in patterns, colors, and coat texture.

Though some kittens were born with the traditional pointed pattern, others were not. The cats with non-pointed patterns were the base for a new breed: the Oriental Shorthair. These cats were then imported to the United States in the 1970s where they continued to produce more patterns, colors, and coat texture. The Oriental Longhair version has also been developed.


You’ll notice that aside from the color, the Siamese and Oriental are nigh indistinguishable. Though at first glance they may appear fragile, don’t be fooled as these cats pack some weight and muscle. They are able to carry themselves in a very poised and elegant manner. When looking at the Oriental Shorthair, from their nose to their tail, their bodies are graceful in design. They have long and slender legs, allowing them to glide across the room. Their angular head has two large pointy ears rested on top, matching their triangular head and their almond-shaped eyes.

Personality and Character

The Oriental comes in a variety of colors and patterns which also represent their vibrant and outgoing personalities. They’re well-known for bonding and maintaining a close relationship to those that they call their own.

Though they look like patient cats, you’ll find yourself being interrupted by their need to be close to you. They’ll want you to feed them, play with them, or simply give them a pat on the head. But, let’s not get carried away; when you’re at your calmest of moments, they love to simply enjoy the silence while resting on your lap. You’ll hear them purr away with delight.

oriental-shorthair cat sleeping together with a persian cat

Now, if you’re late to come home or feed them, you’ll be told off as Oriental Shorthairs are extremely vocal with their emotions. Now, as you can tell, these cats are extremely intelligent, but they’re curious cats as well. They’ll get into everything and anything around the house. They have the need to know where everything is or why the drawer is left open.

With that being said, they’re also easy to entertain as a simple piece of crumpled paper will supply them with amusement. Make sure you give them attention because, at the end of the day, it’s all that they want.

Health and Potential Problems

Since this breed was developed using Siamese as the base breed and mixing them with other breeds, the health problems that occur in Siamese typically occur in Oriental Shorthairs as well. Though these health issues may not occur in your Oriental, it’s important to be aware of some of the more common health problems, which include the following:

  • Nystagmus: Is a neurological disorder which causes involuntary rapid eye movement.

  • Amyloidosis: A disease which occurs when a specific protein called amyloid is deposited into organs. It’s typical for this to occur in the liver of Siamese cats.

  • Hyperesthesia syndrome: Is a neurological problem which causes cats to excessively groom themselves which leads to hair loss and frantic behavior.

  • Gastrointestinal conditions: Are diseases which involve the gastrointestinal tract such as megaesophagus which decreases the function of esophageal motility.

  • Congenital heart defects

  • Crossed eyes

  • Asthma/bronchial disease

  • Lymphoma: A type of cancer that forms in the lymphocyte cells.

Care Features

Oriental Shorthairs are emotional cats. They like to know where you are, when you’re coming home, and how long you’ll be gone. If they consider you a part of their family, they need the closeness to keep them content.

Attention is a huge necessity for them; if you ignore your Oriental Shorthair, you’ll notice them becoming upset and sad. They’ll do everything they can to please you, so it’s important that you spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day playing with them.

brown Oriental-Shorthair cat sitting in a room

If they’re an indoor cat, make sure they have enough space and toys to play with. If they’re an outdoor cat, you need to let them outside for around 15 minutes. This will give them enough time to stretch their legs and get some exercise. We don’t recommend letting them out for much longer than that as these beautiful cats face many dangers outside.

Feeding Schedule

The Oriental Shorthair is carnivorous—which means you’ll want to keep them on a high protein and fat diet. You’ll want to keep them on a natural diet without carbohydrates as they’re unable to process and digest carbs properly. Thus, avoid feeding your Oriental Shorthair food that contains rice or grain.

For a proper feeding schedule, we recommend that you consult your vet. They’ll be able to recommend specific wet and dry foods, especially if your cat has an underlying health condition which needs to be alleviated with a specific type of food.

Close-up of an Oriental Kitten Kitten

The feeding schedule of the Oriental will depend on a couple of factors. You’ll need to look at whether they’re an indoor or outdoor cat, if they’re spayed or neutered, and any health conditions. Though, typically, for a healthy cat, they enjoy eating small snacks or meals throughout the day.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The Oriental Shorthair is a breed that comes in a variety of patterns and colors. There are over 600 different colors, patterns, and coat length combinations you’re able to choose from, so, each one is highly unique in appearance.

You’ll find coats in red, cream, lavender, cinnamon, and white. If you like stripes, their tabby variety comes in four different patterns: ticked, classic, spotted, or mackerel. These patterns and colors can also be mixed—creating an entirely different look.

Oriental Shorthair cat smelling something outside

There’s also bi-color patterns which became popular in 1995. See, Orientals literally come in every color and pattern imaginable. In terms of grooming, the Oriental Shorthair is extremely easy to maintain and care for. To make sure they’re properly groomed, comb their coat a couple of times a week—either with a soft bristle brush or a comb which will remove dead hair and give their coat that extra shine and softness. Don’t forget to clean their ears, their eyes, and brush their teeth.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Typically, the Oriental Shorthair temperament is ideal for families with children and cat-friendly dogs. Your Oriental will be able to play fetch probably much better than your actual dog since they love learning tricks and receiving attention from both adults and children.

Cute Oriental Shorthair kitten

Respect is very important for them, so, if your child treats them roughly, they will not be on good terms. They get along with dogs and cats, but it’s crucial for other animals to respect their authority. In essence, they’re fine with anyone who acknowledges that they’re the boss.

Wrap Up

The Oriental Shorthair is an extremely intelligent and playful cat that would be a great addition to any home. They love affection and attention, thus, would be perfect for a home with people who have the time and energy to invest in them. If they’re not given enough attention, they can easily become depressed. They’ll love to give their opinion on what you’re doing around the house as they’re highly talkative in nature. With other cats and dogs, they get along great just as long as the other animals know who’s boss.

In addition, if you’re looking for a low-maintenance cat, the Oriental Shorthair is one of the easiest to take care of, due to their short and silky hair. Brush them a couple of times a week, and they’re good to go.

Image of oriental_shorthair cat after eating a meal

If you’re someone who loves to cuddle and have a companion around the house who you can talk to, then the Oriental Shorthair is definitely a breed you should consider. They’re easy to maintain, have a young and vibrant personality, and they also love to surround themselves with people.

Do you think the cheerful and talk-active Oriental Shorthair is the breed for you? Or would you prefer a cat with a calmer temperament that prefers to convey their feelings through action as opposed to words? Let us know what you think in the comment section below! If you already have an Oriental Shorthair, we’d love to hear your thought and experiences about this breed!

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.