Oriental Shorthair Cat
Felis domesticus

The Oriental Shorthair cat is a playful, kitten-like breed that loves giving and receiving attention!

The Oriental Shorthair has the delicate, graceful qualities of the Siamese. But this little darling comes in many exotic, varied color forms. As its name suggests, the coat is short, but it is also very fine and glossy. This lively little cat makes a great low maintenance pet cat that requires little grooming.

The Oriental Shorthair Cats are man-made Hybrid breed cats developed from the Siamese. This cat breed basically has the long slender stylized body form of the Siamese Cat, but without its pointed pattern. Its body is medium-sized, long, and lithe. The legs are long and slender, and it has a long tail. Its head is angular, complimented with almond-shaped eyes and pointed ears.

The history of the Oriental Shorthair is somewhat vague. The natural breed Siamese Cats were first imported into Britain in the 1800’s, both with a pointed pattern and without. But only those Siamese with the pointed pattern were developed. Color types of the Siamese without the pointed pattern began to be revived in Europe in the 1950’s, but by then their numbers were greatly diminished. Breeders at that time became quite creative with crosses to build up their breeding programs. A number of shorthair cats including the British Shorthair, Russian Blue, Abyssinian, and other domestic cats were crossed with Siamese. Over a few generations cats were created that looked just like Siamese but were not pointed. Today this breed is found in many striking varieties, such as the Foreign White and Oriental Spotted Tabby. Oriental Shorthair Cats are currently found in many Western countries.

The Oriental Shorthair has most of the same characteristics as the Siamese. It is an energetic, playful, affectionate breed that loves spending time with its owner. It is definitely an extrovert that dislikes being alone. It can be demanding in its need for attention, though it can also be an extremely loyal friend. Interestingly, the Oriental Shorthair is known for being comfortable with using a leash and collar and is less objective towards restraint than other breeds. This characteristic is much appreciated when traveling or going to cat shows. Like the Siamese, the Oriental Shorthair has a loud, distinctive voice.

For information about keeping a pet cat, see:
Cat Care: How to Take Care of a Cat

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Felidae
  • Genus: Felis
  • Species: domesticus


The original Siamese breed included many different colors and pattern types. However, when the breed was brought to the west, Breeders focused on a specific color type: the Seal Point coat (a pale coat with brown extremities) with blue eyes. Later, other pointed variations were accepted, but the many other possible color patterns were excluded.

As a result, many Siamese color types disappeared, until in the 1950s, when breeders became interested in reviving the other Siamese coat colors and patterns. This ambition was accomplished by crossing the Siamese with various other shorthair breeds, while taking care to pass on the new colors while retaining all other Siamese features.

In Britain, the new breed was called the “Foreign Cat”, when referring to solid colors other than the Havana Brown, and “Oriental Shorthair” when referring to the other pattern types. Later, in the early 1990s, the two names were consolidated and all Foreign Cats, except those that were solid white with blue eyes, became known as Oriental Shorthairs. The solid white variation is known as the “Foreign White”. In the United States, they were always referred to as “Oriental Shorthairs”.


The one feature that distinguishes the Oriental Shorthair from the Siamese is its coat color. Essentially, the Oriental Shorthair is a Siamese without a pointed pattern. The following are the various categories of patterns with specific examples: Solid (Blue), Shaded (Fawn Sliver), Smoke (Cameo Smoke), Tabby (Ticked Tabby Pattern), and Parti-Color (Ebony Tortie). One specific color form that deserves mention is the Oriental Spotted Tabby, since breeders attempted to give it standing as a separate breed that resembled the ancient Egyptian domestic cat.

Except for the coat color and pattern, the Oriental Shorthair has the same appearance as the Siamese. The body is medium in size, long, and svelte. The tail and legs are long and slender. The head is wedge-shaped with large pointed ears and almond-shaped eyes. The coat is short, fine, and glossy. They weigh 9 to 14 pounds and live approximately 12 to 15 years.

Care and Feeding

This breed requires no special diet, though a diet low in fat is preferred in order to maintain their slender form.

Housing Your Cat

Oriental Shorthair Cats enjoy the indoors and the outdoors. However, they are very active, so if kept inside, they should be provided with toys and a scratching post, in order to prevent them from turning to curtains and furniture for entertainment.


Weekly brushing is recommended, as it is for any low-maintenance cat.

Social Behaviors

Oriental Shorthairs are social cats that need plenty of attention. They usually do well with kids, other cats and dogs, thriving on lots of activity and interaction. However they can vary in behavior, possibly due to the amount of socialization they get when young. Some may not get along as quite as well with young children, or other companions.


This breed is very active, and should be provided with toys and play time. It will enjoy time outside to run around and play, and indoors will enjoy a variety of toys as well as social interaction with its family and other household occupants.


This breed matures quickly. Breeding is generally not a problem, unless the female is especially fine-boned. Litters contain approximately 4 to 6 kittens.

Common Health Problems

Oriental Shorthair Cats are generally healthy with no special problems documented.


Oriental Shorthair Cats are readily available in many different color variations on the internet and from local breeders. Prices range from $175 to $650.


Featured Image Credit: Tania Van den Berghen, Pixabay