Oriental Shorthair cat breed: the daredevil of the cat world, a real all-round favourite

László Enikő

2023. August 22 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

The Orientals are extremely attached to their owners and it can be very difficult to adjust to the loss of their family members. They are loving but wild pets who can play with almost anything, the main thing is just to have fun!


The Oriental Shorthair cat is extremely attached to its owner and does not like solitude. It has Siamese blood in its veins, so true to this it is a very sociable and lively cat. Its is also referred to the daredevil of the cat world because of these qualities.


The Oriental Shorthair cat can best be described as a colorful remake of the original Siamese. This cat was bred with the inclusion of Siamese, and then they were crossed with other breeds. The original intention was to expand the Siamese gene pool in Britain, as many breeding programs were destroyed during the World War II. Kittens crossed with Russian Blues, British Shorthairs, Abyssinians and domestic shorthairs are born without the typical Siamese pattern. They were then backcrossed with Siamese. In just a few generations, breeders produced cats that looked exactly like the Siamese, except with a variety of colors and patterns. Cats with Siamese points were used in Siamese breeding programs, but kittens with other patterns formed the basis of a new breed, the Oriental breed.

When cats began to be imported to the United States in the 1970s, American Shorthair crossbreeds resulted in even more colors and patterns. Later, a long-haired version was also developed. Today, Orientals come in over 300 colors and patterns. At first, each color variant was labeled as a separate breed, for example, the chocolate-colored ones were called Chestnut Oriental Shorthair. The semi-long haired version is still called Mandarin or Javanese, but the different colored individuals are no longer classified into different breeds. They had to stop differentiate in this way as there has been a lot of confusion regarding the names.

Breed standard

The Oriental Shorthair cat is medium-sized, its body weight usually ranges between 4-6 kg. Its body is slender, flexible and long. Its movements are graceful and dignified. The legs are thin and muscular, the front ones are shorter than the back ones. Its paws are oval and small. The tail is long, thin and tapering towards the end. Its head is wedge-shaped, tapering towards the facial part. The nose is long, straight, and its chin is strong. The ears are large and far apart, their ends are pointed. Its eyes are medium-sized, almond-shaped, slightly slanted, itsts gaze is full of life and expressive. The neck is slender and muscular. Its fur is short, close to the body and soft to the touch. The color can be white, red, cream, ebony, blue, chestnut, lavender, cinnamon, or fawns. Its expected lifespan is about 12-15 years.


Siamese and Orientals may differ in color, but they are very similar inside. The Oriental is talkative and opinionated. It says exactly what it thinks in a loud, raspy voice and expects its owner to listen and act on its advice. It loves its family very much and is willing to help its people: it follows them and supervises their every move. Nothing can escape its attention. Their personalities are at least as colorful as their fur. They are diverse, but playfulness, affection and vivacity are usually shown in all individuals.

The Oriental is extremely intelligent, agile, athletic and loves to play. Engage its sharp mind with puzzle games and its body with things like cat wands with feathers or other toys that it can chase. It will also need a cat ladder to climb. It is able to open doors and drawers because it is a very curious, clever and intelligent cat; which can be a dangerous combination. Valuable things should be withheld from it, since obedience is not always characteristic of it. It can play with anything, it doesn’t disdain expensive and cheesy toys; an Oriental can have fun with a paper roll for hours. It is also happy to play fetch, so you should try this with it as well.

Ideal environment

It’s a cat you can talk to all day and it’ll often talk back, it really will be your best friend. Just make sure you spend quality time with this demanding and sociable cat. Orientals don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time, and if you work during the day, it’s good to it to have a companion to make friends with. This is a loyal and loving breed of cat that will sulk if little or no attention is given to it. However, in the right home it will flourish for many years.


The smooth fur of the Oriental Shorthair cat is easy to maintain with thorough combing once a week. Trim overgrown nails as needed, usually every two weeks. It may be prone to periodontal (gum) disease, so it’s important to brush its teeth regularly at home with a vet-approved toothpaste and schedule vet cleanings as needed. If its ears look dirty, they should be gently cleaned; wipe them with a cotton pad or a soft, damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using ear cleaning sticks as they can damage the inside of the ear. Pay attention to the cleanliness of the litter, because, like all cats, the Oriental Shorthair is sensitive to its cleanliness.

Common health problems

Orientals are generally healthy, but some problems affecting Siamese can also appear in them. Squinting, ueinary stones, liver failure, and dilated cardiomyopathy may occur.

(Literature used: János Szinák – István Veress: Cat Guide, Laura Aceti – Viola Autieri: Our best friend, the cat, Jean-Luc Renck: The cat)

breed description oriental shorthair short-haired cat species description

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