Oriental Shorthair Cat

Oriental Shorthair cat

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Oriental Shorthair Cat Patti – Photo: copyright © Helmi Flick – Lilac (dilute chestnut brown). Please respect copyright.

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You could almost sum up this breed in one sentence, perhaps two. This breed of cat is, what I would call, the Modern Siamese in different clothes (except it is a bit heavier/bigger2). However, cat fanciers wouldn’t refer to the prefix, “Modern”. Siamese cats are now known as the slender fragile looking (but not actually fragile) cats that we see at cat shows. The Traditional Siamese is known as the Thai by some. Although the Thai cat (a TICA registered cat) is between the traditional and modern in my view. The word, “oriental” refers to a slender body shape.

This cat is then no different to the Modern Siamese except for the wide range of coat colors and patterns (300 in all4). In fact a very well known commentator1 on the cat fancy writes about the Siamese/Balinese/Oriental Shorthair/Oriental Longhair together under one title. The similarity causes cat associations recognition and registration problems. Do associations register them as Oriental Shorthair cats or Siamese cats? Some cat fancies classify them as Siamese2, the CFA and TICA (major USA registries) don’t.

The Oriental type is very distinct. The body is long and tubular, the ears noticeably large, the head wedge shaped (triangular), the neck and legs are long and the tail pointed and whippy1. We know the Siamese is vocal, inquisitive and intelligent and so, therefore is this cat. They are also gregarious2, which means that they are going to be close to you and interact with you, maybe getting in the way of doing your computer work! They have been called “shameless flirts”.2

This cat is not a particular favorite of mine as I prefer a more old fashioned conformation, but looking at the stylish head and shoulders “portrait” of Patti above (by Helmi Flick), this can be an extremely attractive cat. There is a longhaired Oriental cat as well, which carries the recessive longhaired gene. You can see a large format still photo that came out of the photographic session in the video below on this page.

The CFA hit the nail on the head when they say that the Oriental Shorthair Cat was developed to “explore” a wide range of coat colors and patterns. In the breed standard the CFA say that the whole point of breeding this cat is the coat color.

oriental shorthair cat jumping

Someone must have chosen this body type with which to do the exploring. This may have been a mistake bearing in mind that most people prefer the shape of the traditional Siamese.

This is confirmed by the Polls being run on this web site. You can see the preferences in respect of the Persian (Ultra and Traditional) and the Siamese (Modern and Traditional – vote and see the results) by clicking on the links.

The non-pure bred domestic cat fits the bill for a standard shaped cat of many patterns and colors so this breed (in my opinion) is intended to be a mirror of that cat, in terms of coat types, but in a more svelte body  – see cat body shapes.

Oriental ShorthairCat

When you see these cats in person, close up, you get the full impact of their very delicate and slightly unusual appearance. They are to my mind not very large cats either, which adds to this slightly rarefied image.

Cat Names

Perhaps, indicative of the need to rationalize the cat registries and/or create a global cat registry; for a while in the UK the spotted tabby Oriental Shorthair was called an Egyptian Mau (a different breed, which you can see by clicking here). Also, there appears to be current confusion over naming in that in the UK the Chestnut Oriental Shorthair is called the “Havana” but this is not the cat breed known as the Havana Brown in the USA.

Oriental Shorthair

Above: Photo of Hogan – black Oriental Shorthair cat: © Helmi Flick – this is a thumbnail – pls click for supersize


Orientals that were blue (diluted black – grey/blue) were imported from Thailand  (formerly Siam) in the 1800s2. These might have been what the cat fancy refer to as Korats. Solid (“self”) coloured Siamese cats were brought over from Thailand in the early years but in the 1920s Siamese cats were declared to be only pointed and blue eyed by the Siamese Cat Club of Britain2, the non-pointed non-blue eyed cats were referred to as “non-blue eyed Siamese”4. About half of Oriental Shorthairs are solid colored2.

In Britain, the solid chocolate was developed in the 1950s, which led to the Chestnut Brown Foreign, which was recognized in 1957 and is the origin of the Havana Brown in the United States.

1950sDate of origin2 This conflicts with the date below.
1970sOriental Shorthair cat created.
1977Accepted for championship status (full status) by the CFA
1995Bicolor added to the range of coat patterns/colors and accepted by CFA (note: this is said to have happened in 19854). CFA combined Oriental Longhairs and Shorthairs into one breed group called Orientals2.


Appearance, Character & Health

For the appearance of the Oriental Shorthair cat you can do no better than look at Helmi’s pictures. You can see a large format slide show of some more excellent Oriental Shorthair cats by clinking on this link together with a discussion on the breed standard. As mentioned, this breed has the widest range of color/pattern types (300+). 

Bearing in mind that any coat color and pattern is acceptable for this cat breed, it is a good opportunity to briefly go over some coat types that can be found on the Oriental Shorthair cat:

Oriental Shorthair Cat

Above: Photo: © Helmi Flick – this is a thumbnail – please click for supersize. This is a silver classic tabby cat.

Solid: This type of cat is “self colored”. This results in a solid coat color. The color is uniform throughout, with no agouti gene banding of the hair follicles and no tabby patterns etc. The white Oriental Shorthair is called “foreign white “in Britain (with only blue eyes) and oriental white (with green or blue eyes) internationally2. The solid colours must be even.

Lilac is a dilute chocolate genetically or called a chestnut brown. It was one of the first colours to be developed in the 1960s. An alternative name for lilac is lavender, which is still used in the USA and Canada2. Dilute coloring allows faint tabby markings to show more2

Tabby: his is produced by the Agouti gene and is the classic pattern with which we are familiar on moggie non-purebred cats. The brown spotted tabbies were called “Maus” as they no doubt resembled the Egyptian Mau but this caused some confusion. “The quality of the pattern is an essential part of the cat”3.

Parti-color: solid color with patches of red or intermingled red on the body and extemities3.

Bicolor: It is the piebald gene (white spotting gene) that produces the bicolor pattern being white + another color.

oriental shorthair cat
Photo of Ichan an OSH © and by .m for matthijs

Shaded: You can see a red shaded Traditional Persian cat (Orlando) here to see how the coat looks (the page opens in a separate window). Orlando is a fabulous Traditional Persian.

Smoke: This is another form of shaded and visa-versa. They are both a form of tipped coloration in which the shaft of the hair follicle is white (for the silver series) or golden (for the golden series). Smoke tipping is heavier than shaded tipping.

The character of the Oriental Shorthair Cat is the same as the well known Siamese, namely, talkative, outgoing, energetic and playful. They are very social.

This implies that “input” from the human companion is required. Domestic cats that are described as intelligent and this breed would be an example, usually demand a higher commitment to care. In other words you will have more of a relationship with your cat, at least potentially.

As to health, there is a post below by a visitor who refers to the disease Hepatic Amyloidosis that affects this cat breed to a certain but unknown degree.  Because of this cat breed’s close association with the Siamese cat it is possible that it suffers from the same diseases to which the Siamese is susceptible (see Siamese cat health problems)5.

It is said the Oriental Shorthair cat is susceptible to upper respiratory illness and cardiomyopathy has been reported. It may affect certain lines5.

This cat is low maintenance. They do require special attention as to their feeding habits6.

Please scroll down to see submissions

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…

  • Paulchen Panther, possibly an Oriental Mix? 
    Hi there, I adopted Paulchen last year from his rescuer (she developed a very bad type of cat allergy). She took him in after his mother died in a car …
  • Why does my cat scratch around his neck and ears? 
    I have a 3yr old foreign white boy named Lewis and a 14yr old blue point Siamese, my sister has 2 Havanas. Lewis has a skin condition which causes …
  • Don’t Use Clay Litters for Oriental Cats 
    I have a great brown spotted Oriental cat who is a one year old. To make a long story short, I didn’t use clay litter until he was about 8 months old, but …
  • Nephthys 
    I have an Ebony Smoke Oriental Shorthair named Nephthys. I love her personality even when she gets her little attitude. We all know Oriental Shorthairs …
  • Orientals – Highly recommended! 
    All my long life I have been blessed with Oriental cats. In my estimation they cannot be beaten for looks, intelligence and affection. I recently had …
  • I found a female OSH in the dumpster in Austin, TX 
    I was throwing out some trash in my apartment in north Austin, TX when I stumbled (almost literally) on a bone thin animal. At first glance (having never …
  • Why I Adopted an Oriental Kitten 
    As my first love was an original Siamese, who died at the age of 3, I felt I could not have another Siamese as I was too distraught by the loss of him….
  • My Wonderfully Vocal “Slinky” Kitten 
    We recently adopted a beautiful young cat. He is now 5 months old and has the most beautiful soft, silky feel to his coat. Our cat does not have the typical …
  • I Love the Oriental Shorthair Cat
    I have had two Orientals and love the breed. They are wonderfully vocal and will answer you back when you ask them about their day. Both of mine would …
  • Is My Cat an Oriental Shorthair? 
    I don’t know my cat’s breed and I would like to find out. I think he is an oriental because the description fits him well but he is white and gray. But …
  • Owned by Two Oriental Shorthair Cats 
    I have been owned by two of these wonderful cats! They are both Chocolate Oriental Spotted Tabbies. Orli, sadly, suffered from a genetic disease that …
  • My Slinky Cat 
    Following a 15 year friendship with a big, fat alley cat, I sought a cat that would be friendly and talkative the way my fat tabby cat was.I did a …
  • Orientals and Gum Disease 
    We have had various cats as pets for years but Omar is in a special class all his own. We have never owned a male nor an oriental shorthair. He is a …
  • Siamese & Orientals 
    First of all, I wanted to make a few corrections. A Siamese is a Siamese, & if you go back & LOOK at the CFA yearbooks from 30 years ago or more, the …
  • Oriental Shorthair With Penetrating Eyes  Not rated yet
    Went to a friends house for the first time .. completely unaware of certain behavior of the Oriental Shorthair was amazed with the behavior of one of her …
  • Adopted OSH Mix — What a Guy!  Not rated yet
    My Franklin is an 8-month old Oriental Shorthair mix that I adopted from a rescue group. I got him as a companion to my grumpy formerly feral 18 month …
  • Cute Oriental Shorthair Kitten  Not rated yet
    Here is a cute Oriental Shorthair Kitten. In fact, there are two. This little cat captured my heart at the Apr 25-26, 2009 Oklahoma City OK – TICA Thunderkatz …

Oriental Shorthair Cat Breeders

As at 2008, I have been unable to find a breeder with a website that I can list based on my criteria, which is a Google search listing in the first 3 pages. The 3 listed where unsuitable.

If you would like to be listed please contact me (see navigation bar on the left for relevant page).

Oriental Shorthair Cat — Sources:

1. Legacy of the Cat by Gloria Stephens and Tetsu

2. The Encyclopedia of the Cat by Dr Bruce Fogle

3. http://www.cfa.org/Portals/0/documents/breeds/standards/oriental.pdf

4. Wikipedia authors

5. Medical, Genetic & Behavior Aspects of Purebred Cats – edited by Ross D Clark DVM

6. Cat Fanciers Association – Breed Profile

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Oriental Shorthair cat picture
Photo by Bryan Ledgard

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

6 thoughts on “Oriental Shorthair Cat”

    1. Hi Taylor, here is a slightly lightened up version of your photo. You have a very nice slender black cat with a Siamese like face – a long face. He is actually quite like my cat Charlie.

      I always say that my cat has some Siamese in him. That may be the case with your handsome boy. It is quite possible in fact.

      The Siamese is an ancient cat breed. There are many street cats in Thailand that are Siamese cats. They don’t have to be registered with an association although in America for a cat to be a cat breed and a pedigree cat it has to be registered.

      So my answer is, yes, he may well have some Siamese him. If he is vocal and a good talker and loyal that would seal the deal.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  1. Is my cat part oriental shorthair? He matches the description except that he doesn’t have large ears. He is very tall and slender, over a foot tall and 12 pounds.

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