Oriental Shorthair Cats




Oriental Shorthair (OSH) personalities are as unique and wide-ranging as their multicolored coats. They are natural clowns and prodigious entertainers, full of enthusiasm, energy, and the belief that the world should and will revolve around them. Haughty and royal one minute, they are animated and inquisitive the next. They are highly curious, and will go to great lengths to be involved in all of your activities from waking in the morning to help you shower until late evening pillow adjustments. They excel at games, and seem to feel that fetch and hide the socks is their duty when you attempt to fold clothing.

Orientals' feelings are easily hurt if you ignore them and do not do well if not given attention. Given their full share of affection, Oriental Shorthairs will repay you with a long lifetime of love, affection, and intelligent conversation. They usually bond closely with one family and become extremely devoted and dependent upon their chosen humans. Expect them to be at your side, in your lap, and at the door to interrogate you about where you've been as well as informing you how many times the doorbell or telephone rang.

The OSH’s vocal tone is generally softer and milder than that of the Siamese, but the range, frequency, and inflection does vary widely from cat to cat. Like their Siamese relatives, they are never at a loss for words on any subject and feel that you must be informed of their complete opinions. Generally speaking, OSH are friendlier to visitors and unknown children than Siamese.

Oriental Shorthair Physical Characteristics

The body type of the OSH is virtually the same as the Siamese. What sets the breed apart is the wide variety of colors and patterns. Unlike the Siamese that come in only four colors and one pattern (although that varies depending upon the cat registry), the Oriental is available in over 300 color and pattern combinations. Some colors are more common than others; solid ebony, chestnut, blue, shades of silver or any of these colors in tabby, classic, ticked, or spotted, and Bi Colors are also popular.

The Oriental Shorthair is in general an extremely healthy breed and reputable breeders provide a genetic health guarantee with kittens purchased from their catteries. OSH can suffer from some of the same defects as the Siamese, since they are closely related. Protrusion of the cranial sternum is a disqualification from showing and while, not a serious defect, it can be sometimes seen or felt in some Siamese and related breeds. Endocardial fibroelastosis is a more serious but fortunately rare anomaly that can be found in some Siamese lines. A reputable OSH breeder will have tested both the sire and dam before breeding.

History of the Oriental Shorthair

Centuries ago, blue-eyed, color pointed cats were owned only by royalty and were kept in the Royal Palace of Siam. The Siamese breed, however, is only one of several varieties native to this area. The Cat-Book Poems, a manuscript written in Siam (now Thailand) sometime between 1350 and 1767 A.D., describes and shows a variety of cats native to the area, including solid black, black and white bicolor, solid brown, blue/gray, and shaded silver, as well as cats bearing the point-restricted color pattern. The cats portrayed in this book had slim bodies and legs, large ears, and tapered muzzles, much like that of today's Siamese and Oriental Shorthairs.

The first cats imported to England from Thailand were often solid or bi-colored. It wasn't until the 1920s when the Siamese Cat Club issued a statement excluding all other colors that the blue-eyed pointed cat became the Siamese standard in Britain.

The concept of cats with a long lean body style and large ears but, with a wide range of colors and patterns had captured the interest and imagination of cat fanciers around the world. It was only a matter of time before these cats entered the cat fancy, with a little help from breeders with a flair for exterior decorating.

The Oriental seen in the show halls today is not a direct import from Thailand, but rather a Siamese hybrid developed in the 1950s and 1960s. The breed's creation was deliberate, breeders wanted a cat that looked and acted like a Siamese but that came in a wider range of colors. In the 1950s British breeders crossed Siamese cats with domestic shorthairs and Russian Blues. In the late 1960s American breeders, fascinated with the British Orientals, took up the torch and crossed Siamese, domestic shorthairs, and Abyssinians to create a new look and often a slightly more tolerant temperament. Body style was not sacrificed for color and pattern, and today, ongoing backcrosses to the Siamese preserve type and personality traits.

The Oriental breeders did meet with some initial resentment from Siamese breeders who were resistant to the idea of another Siamese-type hybrid, but, since the way had already been paved by breeders of the Color Point Shorthair (which gained CFA acceptance in 1964), the opposition didn't stop Orientals from gaining ground.

In 1977 the CFA accepted the Oriental Shorthair for full Championship status. Since then, the OSH or Oriental Shorthairs have rapidly increased in popularity. In recent years the Oriental Shorthair has consistently ranked high among short haired breeds. Today the Oriental Shorthair is recognized for Championships in many Cat Registry shows including FIFe, ACA, CFA, TICA, UFO, ACFA, and AACE.

In many OSH Breeders opinions, European and Eastern European Oriental Shorthairs consistently produce OSH kittens and cats having larger ears, and ears spaced a good bit wider apart on the head (never large, long ears set close togetner) thus producing a most striking and exotic appearance. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and companion kitten purchasers should look closely at both parents of a kitten to determine their own preference.

Based in part on the research and writings of by J.Anne Helgren’s Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds.