Oriental Shorthair – The Ornamental Cat

This guide was written by Joe Francis
Updated: February 24, 2018
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In this guide

Oriental Shorthair cats are among the most unique looking cat breeds there are. They are quite vocal and will not hesitate to give you a piece of their mind if only you could understand. Like most cats, they are intelligent with an undying love and very attached to people. If you love color, you will have a wide assortment from which to choose from with the Oriental. They are elegant and lively and are perfect for vibrant and bubbly owners who don’t mind a vocal cat and for those who love having those awkward conversations with their pets where you pretend to understand everything they are saying.

The History of Oriental Shorthair

Like most cat breeds, the roots of the oriental shorthair date back to the 1950s when most cat breeds were developed. After World War II most cat breeds were decimated, and efforts were made to broaden the Siamese gene pool.

The oriental was as a result of a cross breed with the Siamese being the foundation breed. The crosses were Russian Blues, British Shorthairs, Abyssinians and domestic short hairs. These were then cross bred back to the Siamese.

Breeders were able to produce cats, but they didn’t quite look like the Oriental that is known today. The current day oriental has its roots from the non-pointed cats which built the foundation for a new breed which happens to be the modern day Oriental Shorthair. To date, there are more than 300 different patterns and colors of Orientals including the pointed variety. There are some associations that don’t accept them while others require them to be listed as Siamese.

The Oriental Shorthair’s Appearance

Save for the color, it is almost impossible to distinguish the oriental short hairs from the Siamese. They have a muscular body with long lines and a wedge-shaped head that is long and tapering from the noise to the tips of the ears which makes it look triangular. They have unmistakably wide ears that are almond shaped and a body that is usually described as tubular with slim, long legs.

The hind legs are slightly taller than the front legs. They have a fine long and silky medium length coat and is longest on the tail. The color of the coat has such a wide palette that it has earned this breed a nickname and they are fondly called ‘Ornamentals’. Depending on the color of the coat, the color of the eyes might not blue, green or one blue and one green.


In terms of personality, the Oriental is more or less the same as the Siamese. It is a talkative and highly opinionated cat and does not mince his cat words with a raspy and loud voice. Even though they are not much help, they like to be helpful and are very attached to people.

Orientals are quite dependent and love being around their owners all the time. They will be on your lap while you sit and will also jump in bed with you at night and will easily become your best friend if you love being around a chatty busy-body.


Caring for the cat is quite simple because of the short coat of hair and weekly brushing is recommended. You will also need to brush the teeth at least once a week and also clean out the ears if they are dirty using a cotton ball. They are largely an indoor cat and they hate to be left alone for many hours. To save yourself from the bickering that meets you when you walk through the door at the end of the day after work, it is best to have another Oriental, so they keep each other company.

The oriental is not a cat for the faint hearted introvert. You need to be vocal and take and beat down once in a while as the cat gives you a list of things you did through the day that did not sit well with it. It is a great pet that learns quickly and get this, it can play fetch!

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