Loyal…Intelligent…Interactive: The elegant Oriental Shorthair
One of the most recognised breeds of cats, even to a novice cat fancier, is the striking and graceful Siamese. Her equally popular but much more colourful counterpart is the ‘Oriental Shorthair’. Just like her parent breed, the Siamese, Oriental Shorthair is elegant, long, slender, graceful and talkative. Let’s know more about this breed!
With their vivid blue eyes and distinctly patterned coats Siamese cats are popular
worldwide and known for their elegance, beauty and certainly their talkative nature. Oriental Shorthairs are similar in personality, nature and body type, but the array of their colours is more interesting.
While Siamese cats date a long way back in history and are known as ‘The Royal Cats of Siam’, Orientals are a man made breed that originated in England in the 1950s, when following the World War II many people were rebuilding breeding programmes lost to the times. At that time, Siamese cats were bred to several other breeds (Abyssinians, British Shorthairs, Russian Blues and even some domestic cats).
Some of the kittens from these resulting litters were not pointed as the Siamese are and this simply means that the colour on a Siamese cat is restricted to the ‘points’ (ears, nose, feet and tail) while the rest of the cat retains her lighter body colour and the contrast is very obvious. Because the Siamese gene is a recessive one, kittens from these breeding were either ‘pointed’ while others were solid and/or tabby patterned. The ‘pointed’ (Siamese) kittens were kept and used to increase dwindling gene pools and the ‘non-pointed’ kittens became the basis of what is known as the Oriental Shorthair.
Unique physical characteristics
Today, Orientals Shorthairs are popular across the world and in show rings in every association and are recognised as being part of the ‘Siamese Breed Group’. They now come in a wide variety of colours and patterns and make fantastic and very devoted loyal companions.
Oriental Shorthairs are considered an ‘extreme’ breed and they exhibit elegant, slender body, long head, long elegant neck,large ears, slanted eyes, fine boning and a long whip like tail. Despite their delicate look, they are a well muscled and solid breed. They are also extremely athletic, engaging, interactive and love to be in the middle of things. A common concern from spectators is that they appear ‘too skinny’ but when they are placed in the arms of a spectator, the most common thing I hear is “Oh my, they are so much heavier than they look,” which is absolutely the case. As the saying goes, “Muscle does weigh more than fat!”
Highly interactive social breed
Just like their parent breed, Oriental Shorthairs are very intelligent, they are interactive and highly social, love to play and tell the occasional story in their distinctive voice. They are wonderful lap cats and with their very short coat, they require very little maintenance or grooming. The International Cat Association (TICA) recognises 281 colours of Oriental Shorthairs currently.
(Susanna Shon owns Purrsia Cattery located in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has been breeding cats since 1981 beginning with Siamese/Orientals).