Oriental Shorthair Cat

Take a look at certain dog breeds, such as Malteser. If you didn’t know, would you be able to guess that they descended from wolves? Probably not. Does that Maltereser dog look even similar to a Stafford dog? Absolutely not.  

However, with cats, you can easily see how similar they look to each other, even the completely different breeds. And they all look similar to their ancestors, wild cats. Still, some cat breeds look more unique than others. For example, Oriental Shorthair cats.

Oriental Shorthairs almost look like cat caricatures but in a good way. They have a distinct, goofy appearance but still keep the same grace and elegance as other cat breeds. Does this sound interesting to you? Let me tell you some other interesting things about Oriental Shorthair cats!

Oriental Shorthair Cat Characteristics


Fur colorWhite, brown, blue, champagne, ebony, platinum, fawn, red, seal, chocolate, etc.
Fur patternPointed, solid, tabby, smoke, bicolor, and shaded.
Fur lengthShort or medium
Eye color & shapeAlmond-shaped, green or blue eyes.
LengthMales 11”-14”
Females 10”-12”
WeightMales 9-12 lbs
Females 8-10 lbs
Expected lifespan12-15 years


TemperamentIntelligent, trainable, affectionate, energetic, vocal, playful, social, and attention-seeking.
Kids and other petsFriendly toward kids and other pets, under the condition that they are properly socialized.
Sociable and cuddlyFriendly toward strangers, enjoy socializing and cuddling.

Requirements & Traits

Feeding3-4 meals a day for kittens or 2-3 meals a day for adult cats. Animal-based foods rich in protein and animal fat. Both dry and wet food are recommended, as well as some occasional snacks.
GroomingRegular grooming requirements, fur brushing every few days, nail clipping every two weeks, teeth brushing once a day, and ear/eye cleaning every few weeks or when needed.

History and Origins

Oriental Shorthairs are actually close cousins to Siamese cats. If you remember the history of Siamese cats, you know that they were royal and sacred cats in ancient Siam. However, they weren’t the only cats in Siam. Several other cat breeds existed at the same time, and one descended from Siamese cats – Oriental Shorthairs.

Picture of a young Oriental Shorthair Blue Eyed White
Cats rule, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

All these cats became popular in Europe in the 19th century when merchants brought them from Siam to England. At first, Oriental Shorthairs weren’t considered a separate cat breed. People considered them to be just another color of Siamese cats. 

For decades, Siamese cats were extremely popular, and cat breeders and associations discouraged any deviations from standards. However, in the mid-20th century, breeders started to experiment with Siamese cats, crossing them with domestic shorthairs, Russian Blues, British Shorthairs, and even Abyssinians

These fun experiments led to an uproar amongst the more conservative Siamese breeders, but they also created the first “version” of the Oriental Shorthair – Colorpoint Shorthair. In 1964, the CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association) accepted the new breed and set the first standards.

This new breed became even more popular over the next few years, and in 1977, CFA recognized the breed under the name Oriental Shorthair, allowing it to compete in championships.  At approximately the same time, breeders developed the Oriental Longhair by crossing the Oriental Shorthair with Balinese cats.

Then, finally, breeders and associations recognized Oriental Shorthairs and Oriental Longhairs as one breed – Oriental. Oriental Shorthairs remained a more popular variant. This is probably because they are a bit “older” and shed less than the Longhairs. Still, both variants are great pets. 

Oriental Shorthair Cat Personality 

Apart from appearance, cat personality is just as important. That’s why some breeds become particularly popular among cat owners and breeders. Oriental Shorthair cats not only look absolutely beautiful but also have beautiful personalities.

If you want a cat that’s intelligent and easy to train, then getting the Oriental Shorthair is the best choice you can make. These cats are smart, curious, and vocal. Having them in your home will feel more like having a friend than having a pet. 

However, Oriental Shorthair cats aren’t just smart. They are also friendly, cuddly, and affectionate. They bond deeply with their owners, which makes them perfect pets for everyone who wants a real connection with a cat. Keep in mind that Oriental Shorthairs often bond with one person the most, but they are still cuddly and social with other people.

If you socialize your Oriental Shorthair properly, they will be great with other pets and even kids. After all, these cats have a lot of energy, and having another pet or a kid around will help them spend that energy more easily. 

Additionally, Oriental Shorthair cats love to be the center of attention. If you think you can just feed them and pet them for a minute or two, then go on with your day, you are terribly wrong. You will need to spend some quality time with these cats every day, focusing your attention solely on them. 

Oriental Shorthair Cat Appearance

Ebony Smoke and White female Oriental shorthair
Cats rule, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I keep praising Oriental Shorthair’s appearance so much that you probably wonder what’s so special about these cats. One thing that certainly catches the attention is the large ears that give these cats an elvish appearance. However, there are other interesting physical characteristics of Oriental Shorthairs, so let’s take a closer look at them:


One can’t talk about Oriental cats without mentioning their ears. They are unusually large, almost as large as the cat’s face. Oriental’s ears start wide at the base and then taper gradually until they become slightly rounded, almost pointy at the top. Still, despite being way too large, these ears look great with the rest of the Oriental’s head and body. 


Oriental Shorthair fur can be solid, tabby, bicolor, smoke, pointed, or shaded. When it comes to color, there are many possible shades: white, brown, blue, black, fawn, chocolate, ebony, seal, cinnamon, etc. As a matter of fact, there are over 300 possible color and pattern combinations. 

When it comes to fur texture, Oriental Shorthairs have glossy, satin-like furs that lay close to the body. On the other side, Oriental Longhairs have fine and silky hairs that are longer on the tail. 


Oriental cats, both Shorthairs and Longhairs, have almond, slightly slanted eyes that can be green or blue in various shades and hues. Sometimes, their eyes can be odd-colored, which means one eye is green and the other is blue. 


Both Oriental Shorthairs and Oriental Longhairs are medium-sized, with males being slightly larger than females. Male Oriental cats are between 11 and 14 inches long and usually weigh between 9 and 12 pounds. Female Oriental cats are between 10 and 12 inches long and weigh between 8 and 10 lbs.

Other Body Characteristics

Oriental cats have long and slender bodies. Their bones are also fine and dainty, but their muscles are strong. The hind legs are longer than the front legs, but both sets of legs are quite long and slender. The paws are round and small. The tail is also long and slender.

The head is long and wedge-shaped, with a flat skull and long nose. Muzzle is wedge-shaped and delicate, and the chin is medium-sized. The neck is long and slender in proportion to the rest of the body.  

Daily Life With Oriental Shorthair Cat

Ebony silver ticked tabby and white oriental shorthair
Cats rule, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Oriental Shorthair cats aren’t too demanding, and they don’t have any special care requirements. Of course, just like with any other cat breed, you still need to know how to care for your cat properly. There are some basic care requirements that are the same or similar for all cats:


Your Oriental Shorthair deserves to eat well, so make sure to buy high-quality cat food. Try to incorporate both wet and dry food into your cat’s daily diet. Wet food will help your cat stay hydrated, while dry food is good for cleaning teeth.

Portion size and feeding frequency depend on your cat’s age, gender, and size. However, the general rule is 3-4 meals for kittens and 2-3 meals for adult cats. Kittens need to eat more often because they are still growing. For the exact portion size, consult your vet. You can also simply feed your cat and observe how much it can eat.

Avoid overfeeding your Oriental Shorthair. Even though many cats are extremely food-oriented, you need to feed your cat in moderation. Cat obesity is a serious issue, especially with breeds that are naturally slender. Such breeds have tender bones and muscles, and when they become overweight, they don’t have strong enough bodies to support excess weight.

You can give treats to your Oriental Shorthair but don’t overdo it. Treats are also full of calories, but they usually don’t have much nutrients. Your cat should only get treats every now and then, especially when you are training it.  Don’t forget to keep your cat hydrated. Always keep around a bowl with fresh water.   


Brush your Oriental Shorthair’s fur every 3-4 days. This should be enough to prevent it from tangling. If you have Oriental Longhair, brush its fur every day. Both longhair and shorthair Orientals have silky furs that don’t tangle so easily, but they still require some attention.

When it comes to their eyes and ears, you can use a damp cotton cloth or paper towel to clean them. Make sure to do it gently. If you notice any unusual discharge, don’t try to fix it yourself. Instead, consult your vet.

Dental hygiene is another important aspect of your Oriental Shorthair care regime. While your cat is still young, try to teach it to put up with teeth brushing. This way, it will make less fuss once it grows up. Of course, always use toothbrushes and toothpaste made for cats. Additionally, give your cat teeth-cleaning treats.

To protect yourself (and the furniture) against your cat’s sharp nails, you should keep them trimmed. Every cat owner knows that trimming your cat’s nails is easier said than done, but don’t despair! If you start trimming your cat’s nails while it’s still a kitten, it won’t resist it much, even when it grows up. Alternatively, you can take your Oriental Shorthair to a professional pet groomer. 


If you are a couch potato, you will need to change your habits once you get an Oriental Shorthair. These cats are playful and energetic, which means they need a lot of activity to stay happy. To keep it entertained, you need to provide your Oriental Shorthair with enough mental and physical stimulation.

To do that, you should buy a cat scratching and climbing tree. Get several cat toys, but don’t buy too many of them. Cats are like children – the more toys they have, the less interested they become in playing. So, instead of buying dozens of different toys, choose several that your cat will truly love. 

My advice is to look for toys filled with catnip or toys that make squeaky sounds. Also, any toy with “fur” or feathers will certainly awaken your cat’s hunter instincts. Try to find toys that are interactive in some way but still easy to use for your cat.

Don’t just throw a toy at your cat and expect it to be entertained. Take some time every day to play with your cat.  It will be a nice bonding opportunity and a great physical exercise for both of you. And the best part is, after each play session, you can rest together and cuddle. 

If the weather conditions allow it, and if you leash-trained your Oriental Shorthair, you can take it for a walk. Alternatively, if you have a backyard or garden, you can let your cat play outside, but under your supervision.

Most Common Oriental Shorthair Cat Health Issues

Oriental Shorthair cat
Morven, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Oriental Shorthair cats are relatively healthy, and their gene pool is wide enough. Still, like any other cat breed, Oriental Shorthairs can become sick. Since they are closely related to Siamese cats, Oriental Shorthairs can suffer from similar health conditions. Some of these conditions are:


This condition occurs when proteins named amyloids deposit in various tissues and organs. As a result, the affected tissues and organs become damaged and dysfunctional. Usually, amyloidosis affects only certain breeds, such as Siamese, Oriental Shorthairs, Abyssinians, Burmese, Devon Rex, and Tonkinese cats.

Some of the most common symptoms of amyloidosis in cats are weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, lethargy, excess urinating and drinking, mouth ulcers, pale gums, rapid breathing, and rapid heart rate.

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. There, they will get appropriate treatment, depending on the organs affected by amyloidosis. 


Most cats love to chew on things that aren’t food. Still, if your cat shows an appetite for eating non-food items made of plastic, paper, fabric, or dirt, that could be a sign of a serious condition – pica. This condition can be frustrating for cat owners but also dangerous for cats.

Pica can lead to choking, poisoning, and intestinal obstruction. If you notice your cat is showing unusual interest in eating non-food items, you should take it to the vet. The vet will determine whether your cat has pica or some behavioral issues. 

Hereditary Retinal Degeneration

Some Oriental Shorthair cats can develop hereditary retinal degeneration, a condition in which one eye part called the retina starts to deteriorate. As a result, the affected cat becomes blind, first only at night and then fully. 

The common signs are hard to miss. If you see your cat bumping against objects, squinting, and generally having a hard time seeing, it probably has some sight issues. Take it to the vet to determine the exact cause of these problems. 

Hereditary retinal degeneration isn’t curable, but your vet can give you some useful advice. This way, you will be able to help your cat navigate its daily life. For example, you can adapt some parts of your home to be safe for blind cats, rely more on sounds when interacting with your cat, etc. 

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

Every cat has its own preferences when it comes to cuddling and petting. Some cats allow to be petted all over their bodies, while others will hiss at you if you try to touch them in a way they don’t like. However, if your cat shows extreme sensitivity to touch, especially in the back and tail area, it might be suffering from feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS). 

Some common symptoms are: constant meowing for seemingly no reason, tail-chasing, lethargy, fatigue, dilated pupils, excess licking and even biting of the back and tail, obvious discomfort when being petted, getting startled for no reason, and many more. 

Experts are still not sure what causes this condition, but there are several possible reasons. Taking your cat to the vet might help you find the reason for FHS, as well as the appropriate treatment. The most common treatments include medications and supplements, behavior therapy, and environment modifications. 


Many cats, including the Oriental Shorthairs, suffer from gingivitis. This condition is characterized by inflamed and painful gums. Apart from being uncomfortable for the cat, gingivitis can also lead to much more serious conditions, such as periodontal disease.

If your cat has red and swollen gums, it’s probably because of gingivitis. Other symptoms include gum bleeding, trouble chewing, bad breath, excessive drooling, decreased appetite, and weight loss. If you notice any of these signs, take your cat to the vet.

Fortunately, gingivitis is treatable and curable. The vet will probably put your cat under anesthesia and then clean its teeth. They might prescribe some antibiotics and other medications. You should also ask them how to prevent this condition from coming back.

Oriental Shorthair Cat Name Suggestions

Oriental Shorthair cats are truly gorgeous, and they deserve fitting names. Here are some suggestions:

  • Emi
  • Buddha
  • Orion
  • Jasper
  • Saphire
  • Athena
  • Willow
  • Milo
  • Elf
  • Noah
  • Xander
  • Zephyr
  • Yumi

Buying or Adopting an Oriental Shorthair Cat

Even though Oriental Shorthairs aren’t as common as their cousins Siamese cats, they aren’t rare either. With a little bit of luck, you can find an Oriental Shorthair (or Longhair) in a shelter and adopt it for $50-$150. However, keep in mind that the price may vary from shelter to shelter.

If, on the other hand, you decide to buy this cat straight from the breeder, it will cost you anywhere between $600 and $3000. The price depends on the cat’s pedigree, age, appearance, gender, and breeder. Make sure to choose reputable and ethical breeders! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Oriental Shorthair cats friendly?

Yes, Oriental Shorthairs are extremely friendly and social cats. 

How expensive is an Oriental Shorthair?

Their price ranges between $600 and $3500.

Do Oriental Shorthair cats meow a lot?

Oriental Shorthairs are vocal cats, so you can expect them to meow more than some other breeds.

Can Oriental cats be left alone?

Yes, but not for too long; otherwise, they will become bored and destructive.

Are Oriental Shorthairs natural?

This breed was developed by crossing Siamese cats with Abyssinians, Russian Blues, British Shorthairs, and several other breeds, so it’s not “natural.”

Oriental Shorthair Cat Fun Facts

  1. Oriental Shorthair cats are great jumpers and climbers.
  2. Many Oriental Shorthairs love playing in water.
  3. When it comes to possible fur color and pattern combinations, the Oriental Shorthair cat is one of the most diverse cat breeds.  


Oriental Shorthair is an increasingly popular cat breed, and that’s hardly surprising. The thing that makes this breed so unique is its unusually large ears. Because of this, people often compare Oriental Shorthairs to Elves. However, apart from their unusual but beautiful appearance, Oriental Shorthairs have lovely personalities.

These cats are affectionate, intelligent, playful, and vocal. With them in your home, you will never get bored. So, if you want this ray of sunshine as your pet, get yourself an Oriental Shorthair!