Oriental Cat

A "genetically engineered" breed of cat, the Oriental is basically a group of cats with the shape of the Siamese but without the restricted himalayan points. This group is the only one that does not have a history relating to a particular country of origin.

The Havana, a deep-chestnut-colored cat, is probably the best known of this group today. However, the breeders were originally aiming to create a chocolate-colored Siamese. They mated a Seal Point Siamese to a Russian Blue, and the resulting black kittens were then mated back to Siamese in the hope that the required chocolate color might result. During the same period, a Seal Point Siamese mismated with a half Siamese, and as luck would have it, a chocolate-colored kitten was found in the litter. From these two original lines, the deep chestnut-colored cat that we now call the Havana evolved.

But this was just the beginning. Mating back to Siamese, many carrying the dilute gene, meant it was possible to breed blues and lilacs. Crossing Siamese to a white shorthair, and then crossing the progeny back to Siamese, eventually produced the Foreign White. Outcrosses involving the red-, cream- and tortie-pointed Siamese gave rise to the original colors of solid-reds, creams and torties but also produced the dilute colors of chocolate, caramel, cinnamon and fawn.

From matings to the tabby-pointed series of Siamese, the most popular Oriental Tabbies evolved. By adding silver to the mix (originated by introducing the Chinchilla Persian), another whole spectrum of colors became available.

What started out as an idea to breed a solid-color cat of Siamese shape, but without that breed’s color restrictions, has therefore resulted in a vast selection of cats. Orientals are available in almost any color, shade and pattern imaginable.


Solid-colored Siamese have been in evidence for many years, the result of a Siamese mismating with a cat of unknown parentage. In Britain, it was not until the 1950s that experimental matings took place in an attempt to produce solid-colored cats. Today this is probably the most rapidly expanding group of all known breeds, as different colors, along with their patterned relations, are constantly being produced.


Essentially, these are solid or patterned cats of exactly the same body conformation as the Siamese — they just don't have points. Both elegant and angular in body shape with long, slender legs and proportionately long tails, the Oriental Shorthairs have broad, wedge-shaped heads with wide-set ears, almond-shaped eyes (classically green in color, except with the white varieties), and long, slender necks. In profile, the head is quite straight, without any stop or break. The overall impression of the Oriental Shorthair is one of a well-muscled, graceful and evenly balanced cat, with a bright and intelligent expression.

Origin: Britain

Grooming: 1/5

Activity: 4/5

GCCF Group: Oriental Shorthairs


Oriental Shorthairs have the character as well as the body shape of a Siamese. Intelligent, friendly and inquisitive, this is a loving breed that demands attention — and will ask for it in a loud voice if its requests are not met!

Suitability as a pet

The Oriental's short, sleek coat needs little by way of grooming, and from this point of view the breed could be considered low maintenance. The Oriental is fun loving, and into everything and anything, including everyday household activities such as bedmaking and washing dishes! Retrieving is a favorite sport — it loves to bring back toys that have been thrown for it to fetch. Orientals enjoy a family environment and will get along well with other pets, as long as things aren’t overcrowded. Like the Siamese, they need their own space.

Gallery of Oriental Cat