Oriental Shorthair Cat
Breed Profile and Facts

The Oriental Shorthair cat is often regarded as a Siamese with a different coat color. We explore this in more depth.

Originally, Orientals had the same breed standard as the Siamese cat, but in 1920's the British Siamese Club amended the breed standard to exclude any cat without a pointed coat and blue eyes.

Sadly, the number of 'Siamese' with self or solid color coats dwindled post their expulsion from the Siamese group.

Oriental Shorthair cat  bi-color

Oriental Shorthair | Bi-Colour | owned by Lee Smith and bred by Lucy Arends Wagner |    © Sarah Thexton

oriental shorthair history

In the 1950's, cat breeders Baroness von Ullmann and Mrs Hargreaves were working on producing a cat with a foreign-type body (Siamese look alike) and solid brown coat.

They did this by crossing Siamese cats with Abyssinian, Burmese, Russian Blue cats and American Shorthair cats.

They finally achieved success and named the cat the 'Chestnut Brown Foreign' but the name was later changed to 'Havana' (not to be confused with the Havana Brown).

The Havana resembled the Siamese in every way apart from coat color. In Britain the Havana signaled the beginning of Foreigns that included all solid colored cats.

In the 1990's, with the inclusion of other colors and patterns, Foreigns were renamed Oriental Shorthairs which was the name adopted by the Cat Fanciers Association in the United States in the 1970's.

The Cat Fanciers Association and The International Cat Association accept the Bi-Color under the Oriental Shorthair breed, but in Europe, the Federation International Feline (FIFe) sees this as a separate breed named the Seychellois.

Oriental Shorthair cat brown or Havana

Westwood Zin Zan | Brown Havana | bred by Gail Nel owner A Roberts |  cat picture © Theresa Fouche

oriental shorthair features

The Oriental Shorthair cat is a long, graceful and lithe cat with fine bones and firm muscles - it has sleek lines.

It legs are slim and they have small, dainty oval paws. The tail is also long and thin and tapers to a fine pointed tip.

The Oriental's head is shaped like a long tapering wedge or isosceles triangle. The nose is long and straight, the muzzle wedge-shaped and fine and the chin and jaw is medium sized.

As expected, the neck is long and slender. The ears are described as large  with pointed tips.

The eyes are medium in size, almond-shaped and set at a slant.

The preferred eye-color for all coat colors is green, but gold is accepted. Parti-color and self white coats may have green, gold, blue or odd-eyes (1 blue, 1 gold).

Eye-color should always be vivid. It is most important that the eyes should be uncrossed i.e. have no squint.

Owner and breeder unknown | cat picture © Theresa Fouche

oriental shorthair coat

The Oriental Shorthair cat comes in two coat lengths:


The coat is fine, but dense and silky and lies close to the body. It has a beautiful satin-like glossy sheen.


The coat is medium-long and lies close to the body. Unlike many longhaired cats the coat does not have a downy undercoat. Thehe coat is dense, but fine and silky.

Oriental Shorthair  colors:

These domestic cats come in an array of over 300 colors and patterns. Solids (or Self-colors), Shaded, Smoke, Bi-Color, Parti-Color and Tabby.

seal-calico point Oriental Shorthair

Taigha Samarah Dawn | Seal calico point | owned and bred by Lucy Arends Wagner |  © Theresa Fouche

oriental shorthair information

ideal home | ideal family

The Oriental Shorthair cat is suited to indoor living. It is sensitive to cold due to a lack of an undercoat. Any indoor cat should be supplied with sufficient toys and cat trees to keep it entertained.

This cat is ideal for children. Younger children need to be taught how to handle cats. All cats prefer gentle handling.

It will adapt well to other pets. New pets need to be introduced gradually and owners need to respect the rights of existing pets. Orientals get on well with other cats and cat-friendly dogs.

oriental shorthair personality and temperament

It is a sociable cat that does not tolerate solitude and would do better in a home where there is company the best part of the day.

The Oriental Shorthair cat is an intelligent cat that displays a keen interest in its environment and in household activities. 

It is a very lively, active and playful cat and owners often describe them as dog-like.

Like the Siamese cat, they are very vocal and demanding.

When it tires of play, the Oriental cat loves to cuddle up next to you or on your lap.

It is an affectionate, loving cat that can be very possessive of its owner and is a loyal and devoted companion.

cat care

This domestic cat is low maintenance in the grooming department.

Weekly grooming for shorthair cats and twice a week for long haired cats is recommended.

Our cat care pages provide excellent tips on grooming.

oriental shorthair health concerns

The Oriental Cat is a healthy breed, however, some cats are prone to heart disease.

Owners need to ensure that their cats are vaccinated against feline diseases and de-wormed every 3 - 4 months.

Loek Maew Cafe d'Amor of LaMaska  |  Black Oriental  | owner Mariette Burger breeder A van Dijken  |© Theresa Fouche

diet | average weight of the oriental shorthair

They are not fussy eaters and do not require a special diet, but you should feed your cat the best food you can afford. Visit our chapters on cat dietary requirements for great information on the types of cat food.

Your cat should always have access to fresh drinking water.

The average weight of the Oriental Shorthair is between 4.0 - 6.5 kg (8.8 - 14.3 lbs)

life expectancy of the oriental shorthair cat

The Oriental Shorthair cat has a long life expectancy of between 12 - 15 years.

Cat Related Pages:

Javanese Cats

Balinese Cat

Types of Siamese Cats

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