Oriental Shorthair: Breed Characteristics and Care

Favorability High
friendly High
child friendly High
pet friendly High
exercise needs Moderate
play High
energy level High
intelligence High
vocal tendency High
shedding amount Moderate

History of the Oriental Shorthair

The Oriental Shorthair is a cross between many other cat breeds. After World War II, many domestic cat breeds were at risk. To revive the Siamese, breeders in the UK began introducing Russian Blues, Abyssinians and British Shorthairs into their breeds. The result was that kittens without pointed heads were eventually bred back to Siamese cats. Subsequent crosses produced the Siamese pointed kittens that inherited the breed, as well as the unique and elegant color combination that became the basis of the oriental breed as we know it.

At first, each non-spiky color received a unique breed distinction, but breeders soon realized that the gene pool of these cats would yield a vast array of color combinations. To simplify things, all kittens without pointed heads are called Orientals.

The Oriental cat was introduced to the United States in the 1970s, and in 1977 quickly achieved cat Fancier Association (CFA) championship status. Originally the breed was just a shorthair breed, but further crossbreeding in the United States resulted in both the Oriental Shorthair and Oriental Longhair breeds. The Oriental Longhair received CFA Champion status in 1995.

American crossbreeding also further expanded cat coat color combinations, resulting in about 300 colors and patterns in existence today. Orientals are sometimes called rainbow cats because of their colorful coats.

Oriental Shorthair Care

Oriental Shorthairs are considered excellent pets, outgoing and fun to interact with and observe. They are gregarious in nature, and unlike many other breeds of cats, they can become withdrawn if left alone for long periods of time.

These cats are considered very interactive and enjoy playing with human family members or other cats or even dogs. It is generally recommended that you ensure that your Oriental has a furry companion. Many oriental owners report that their cats are often greeted at the door when they come home and will start making various meows and chirps.

It should be noted that vocalization is a key part of the Oriental Shorthair’s personality, a trait common to Siamese cats. These cats often use a variety of sounds to express excitement, interest, despair, or other emotions.

Unlike other cats who may be shy with strangers, most Orientals enjoy meeting new people and will eagerly jump on a visitor’s lap for attention. Occasionally, this breed will focus on one person and may be more evasive from interactions with other people, but this is more of the exception than the rule.

These cats can learn tricks, are often good at walking on harnesses when trained as young, and may even enjoy playing catch. They are also incredibly vertical and often like to perch on high places (like the top of a refrigerator or cabinet) to keep an eye on what’s going on below.

The smooth, silky coat that hugs the body accentuates the breed’s angular face, wide ears, and long legs. This coat is low maintenance and the Oriental Shorthair does a great job of grooming itself. However, your cat may enjoy occasional brushing to remove any loose hair and irritate the skin.

common health problems

With a genetic history of close association with Siamese cats, Oriental Shorthairs are as prone to the same health problems as their pointy relatives. In general, however, the breed is generally considered healthy.

The health conditions of the Oriental Shorthair include:

  • bladder stones
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • hepatic amyloidosis
  • mast cell carcinoma
  • crossed eyes

Diet and Nutrition

Keeping your Oriental Shorthair healthy requires feeding a high-quality cat food. Don’t let their voices convince you to eat too many snacks!


  • outgoing and friendly

  • Get along well with strangers


  • Tends to be vocal a lot

  • perched high

where to adopt or buy

The Oriental Shorthair catapulted in popularity after being imported into the United States, and today the breed enjoys a healthy fan base thanks to its myriad of colors. These cats are sometimes even nicknamed ornamental cats because of their variety of colorful coats. Because of this popularity, there are many breeders of Oriental Shorthairs.

You should also consider opening your home to Orientals from Cat Rescue. Regional and national groups exist to find new homes for displaced Oriental Shorthair and Longhair cats.

Some resources to look for when searching for Oriental Shorthairs include:

More cat breeds and further research

The more you learn about the Oriental Shorthair, the more you will learn about this unique and outgoing member of the feline world. If you are evaluating whether this cat is right for you, please contact the breeder and cat owner for more information on the breed’s unique temperament and needs.

Other closely related breeds you might be interested in learning about include:


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