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Oriental Shorthair
Characteristics, History, and Health

Oriental Shorthair

Eastern Breeds

Oriental Shorthairs are fun, talkative, and affectionate kitties who love to hang out with their favorite humans. These long and lean athletes are always on the go, and require a lot of attention if you don’t want them getting into mischief on their own!

Main Info
Coat Pattern
Variety of patterns – more than any other breed
Coat Length
Health Issues
  • Neoplastic and gastrointestinal disordersNeoplastic and gastrointestinal disorders
  • Crossed eyesCrossed eyes
  • Lung infectionsLung infections
  • Diabetes mellitusDiabetes mellitus
  • Feline OCDFeline OCD
  • Vestibular diseaseVestibular disease
  • Feline hyperesthesia syndromeFeline hyperesthesia syndrome

Main Characteristics of the Oriental Shorthair

A close relative of the Siamese, the Oriental Shorthair maintains the same head and body type of its parent breed, but sports various coat colors and patterns including smoke, shaded, tortoiseshell, tabby, and bicolor. In fact, over 750 color and pattern combinations are possible under the Cat Fanciers’ Association conformation rules. Oriental Shorthairs are lean, muscular, and agile with very large ears that are pointed like the modern Siamese. In contrast to the deep blue eye color of the Siamese, the Oriental Shorthair has almond-shaped eyes that come in beautiful shades of green. The Oriental Longhair, which simply carries a pair of recessive long hair genes, is a variety of this breed.

Oriental Shorthair Origin

It is believed that the Oriental Shorthair has its foundation in the Siamese breed. The Siamese are the royal cats of Thailand (previously Siam), that were first brought to England in the 1800s. During World War II, many breeding programs were devastated, and the Siamese was crossbred with Russian Blues, British Shorthairs, Abyssinians, and Domestic Shorthairs to expand the gene pool. Kittens born with Siamese points were rotated back into Siamese breeding programs, while the non-pointed kittens became the basis for the Oriental Shorthair breed.

Oriental Shorthair Personality Traits

The Oriental Shorthair is said to closely resemble the Siamese in personality. They are agile and athletic and known as highly skilled jumpers. They are playful and social cats who also love to snuggle and take naps on your lap. They are quite vocal and aren't shy about demanding the attention they so rightfully deserve. They are known to do well with other cat and dog friends, as they desire a lot of stimulation and companionship.

Oriental Shorthair Common Health Issues

Since it is derived from the Siamese, the Oriental Shorthair is at a higher risk for developing health problems such as neoplastic and gastrointestinal disorders, crossed eyes, lung infections, feline OCD, vestibular disease, Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, and diabetes mellitus. Siamese-derived breeds are also noted to have higher mortality rates compared to other cat breeds. However, Oriental Shorthairs are noted for their longer lifespan, often living 15 years or more.

Oriental Shorthair Fun Facts

  • The Ornamental cat coat. This breed comes in nearly 300 different coat and pattern combinations–stripes, spots, solid colors, you name it! Whichever color and pattern you think of,  the Oriental Shorthair has it. This gave rise to their nickname, “Ornaments”.

  • They may be the smartest cat breed out there. The Oriental Shorthair is thought to be one of the most intelligent cat breeds out there, if not the most intelligent. They are highly trainable because they are very curious and love interaction and stimulation.

  • They get very attached to people, very quickly. Oriental Shorthairs are ready to bond with their family. This is why it's important to socialize them very early, and to provide them with as much quality time as possible.

  • They are born entertainers. Much like their Siamese parent breed, the Oriental Shorthair are very talkative and fun-seeking. They will continuously search for adventure, and they will never fail to entertain you in new and interesting ways!

Oriental Shorthair Characteristics

10-15 years
Good with
Children, Dogs, Cats, Families
Shedding amount
Affection level
Activity level
Tendency to vocalize
Exercise needs


The International Cat Association (TICA) “Introduction to the Oriental Shorthair”

Cat Fanciers' Association "About the Oriental"

FETCH by WebMD "What to Know About an Oriental Cat"