The Oriental breed is the result of selective breeding that uses the Siamese breed as the foundation stock. With the beauty of genes that have the inherent potential for all creative possibilities, the Oriental was developed to discover all achievable colorant patterns of the Siamese. Oriental cats can come in either the shorthair or longhair variety. Oriental Shorthair was the first Oriental cat to be developed in the 1950s – 1960s in England. This variety was created by breeding the Siamese cats with Shorthairs, Russian Blues and Abyssinians. The outcome was a desirable breed type that has retained the personality and sleek body form of the Siamese, yet is not restricted to the color-point pattern. Many opposing cat fanciers were soon won over by the striking colors and patterns of the beautiful new hybrid.
The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) accepted registration for the Oriental Shorthair in 1972. Four years later, the cat was granted provisional status, which was then raised to full championship status within just another year in 1977. According to CFA records, the Oriental Shorthair has consistently been in the list of most popular shorthair breeds.
The possibility of a longhair variety that has similarly wide-ranging colors and patterns was actualized later in the 1970s by combining the Oriental Shorthairs with the Balinese (longhaired Siamese). The Longhair Oriental was then built. In 1985, The International Cat Association (TICA) granted this beautiful breed the championship status.
The CFA initially considered the Oriental Longhair as a separate breed and grant it the championship status in the early 1990s. It was not until 1995 when the association decided to bring the Oriental Shorthair and the Oriental Longhair together as a single breed called the Oriental; and categorizing them into their respective coat length. CFA has also accepted the bicolor as a new color class when it was previously put under the non-champion, Any Other Variety (AOV) class. These changes under the CFA have increased the number of accepted colors and patterns of the Oriental breed.
Physical appearance and attributes
Both the Oriental Shorthair and Oriental Longhair have similar physical characteristics except for their coat lengths. The Orientals is a lithe cat that weighs an average of 7 -10 pounds for males and 5 – 8 pounds for females. It has a tubular body that is slender and lithe. Though sustained with fine boning, the Oriental cat carries its form with strength from the well-developed muscles and grace from the svelte body lines. This breed takes its strides with complementing long, slim legs extended by dainty, oval paws. Its long tail that tapers into a fine point completes the body form epitome of an elegant appearance.
Oriental cat has a well-proportionate long head of tapering wedge. The wedge starts tapering down from the tips of the ears to the tip of the nose with no whisker breaks. In profile, a flat skull is evident and a straight line can be traced from the top of the head to the tip of the nose. The muzzle is of a substantial length with a firm chin that is neither receding nor diminutive, supported by strong jaws. This breed has strikingly large ears that are wide at the base and tapers to a vaguely rounded tip. Oriental cat has almond-shaped eyes with the inner corners slanting slightly towards the nose. Eye colors can sometimes be in hazel or amber. Green is usually the preferred color for all Orientals with the exceptional blue that would occur in the whites.
The Oriental Shorthair wears a coat of hair that is short and close-lying, giving it a fine texture that reflects a nice gloss. Oriental Longhair has slightly longer hair coat that extends beautifully at the tail to create a gorgeous plume, which it swishes around its body with pride. What gives the Oriental cat its defining trait is its coat that can come in over 300 hundred possible color combinations and patterns. This has made the Oriental cat the most colorful cat breed on earth.
Personality and temperament
Possessing a svelte and agile body type has served this active breed well. The Oriental cat is capable of hours of athletic antics that are usually translated into entertainment for the home. The larger than life approach has given the Oriental cat an exceptional enthusiasm towards every form of play and tricks.
Coupled with its high intelligence and curiosity, this breed would find its way into cupboards, drawers and closets. The Oriental cat would bring its zest of life into its interaction with humans, making it a highly people-oriented and vocal breed.
Trusting and devoted, it has the ability to form an intense emotional bond with its favorite person who would give it the proper attention and care. The oriental cat would unreservedly return the love with total trust and affection. This usually makes it difficult for the cat to adjust to the loss of loved one or to form new bonds quickly. Even though the Oriental cat does not demand for attention like the Siamese, it craves for it and the level dependency for human companionship is equally high.
Care and health issues
The healthy Oriental cat has the potential life span of about 15 years or more. Health conditions that might be of a concern include those that are common in the Siamese breed. These include crossed eyes, which is caused by an inherited neurological defect; liver amyloidosis, which is also a hereditary defect that causes liver or kidney failure; and dilated cardiomyopathy, which results in the difficulty of the heart to contract. It is important to obtain the breed that has a written health guarantee from a qualified breed. This ensures that the cat has gone through the necessary health tests for hereditary or common cat diseases.
Oriental cat is easy to groom, requiring only a weekly combing with a soft bristle brush to help distribute skin oil. To prevent matting or tangles for the longhair variety, it would need to be combed about twice a week using a stainless steel comb. This would help remove accumulated dead hair to keep the coat healthy.
Other grooming practices to observe include nail trimming as needed. Check the ears for redness or odor that might indicate the presence of an infection and clean it if necessary. The Oriental cat is also prone to periodontal diseases, thus, it is necessary to brush the teeth frequently with vet-approved product.
The ideal home
A breed that is highly dependent on human companion for a hearty growth, the Oriental cat is best suited for homes with members who are prepared to make the time to love and care for it. Even though it is able to adapt to indoor living, spaces for play and adventure would need to be created. Thus, an outdoor garden that is escape-proof and safe would be ideal for this active and agile breed to run, climb, explore and hunt. Otherwise it can also make do with an indoor adventure space that is equipped with cat gym sets, cat trees, scratching posts and interactive toys.
With proper care and attention, the Oriental cat will prove itself to be an ideal pet that would bring much live and zest into any home. Its sociable nature makes it an ideal companion. With the ability to form strong-knitted bonds, the Oriental cat is prepared to give its lifetime of trust, affection and devotion to the one who knows what it means to care for it.