Section 6 – SIAMESE & ORIENTAL – Group 1
Orientals are long, slender, stylised cats. They are lively, talkative and intelligent and are very attached to their people. All of the members of this breed group have the same physical standard. What makes the Oriental Shorthair distinct from the rest of the Siamese group is their wide array of colours. The Havana, Oriental Lilac and Foreign White were the first of the Oriental breeds to be recognised.
Oriental Shorthairs are a very lively, elegant and colourful cat, in every sense. These are not cats for people who want to live a quite life but they are wonderful for people who want an interactive and amusing pet and a truly devoted companion.
The Oriental Longhair (formerly known as the Angora, and also known as the Javanese in some countries), is the longhaired version of the Oriental Shorthair just as the Balinese is the longhaired version of the Siamese. Alternatively, it could be considered to be the full coloured version of the Balinese in the same way as the Oriental Shorthair is the full coloured equivalent of the Siamese. The Oriental Longhair has a semi-long coat which drapes over the elegant body. The tail should be plume-like and the ears may be tufted.
Orientals are a man-made breed that originated in the 1950s in England. Many modern breeds developed from the crosses done at that time and one such breed is the Oriental Shorthair/Longhair. Russian Blues, British Shorthairs, Abyssinians, and regular domestic cats were crossed to Siamese and the resulting cats were not pointed and were crossed back to Siamese. In surprisingly few generations, there were cats that were indistinguishable from Siamese in all ways except colour. The non-pointed cats were the ancestors of our modern Orientals.
Initially, each colour was developed and named as a separate breed: such as Foreign White, Havana (originally known as the Chestnut Brown Foreign) and the Oriental Spotted Tabby. Soon it became apparent that there were too many possible colours to have a breed for each so all the non-pointed cats were grouped into one breed.
The Oriental Shorthairs and Longhairs are divided into Oriental Selfs, Oriental Non-Selfs (other than tabbies) and Oriental Tabbies. The Oriental Selfs are the single colour cats (white, black, brown (Havana) lilac, cinnamon, fawn, caramel and also red, cream and apricot. The second group of Orientals consists of the Torties, Smokes and Shaded – they are neither self-coloured cats nor tabbies but come in a vast array of colours like their self-coloured cousins. The third group are the four patterns of Tabby (classic, spotted, ticked and mackerel). Finally, in addition and more recently, 2006 saw the introduction of the Oriental Bicolour which, as you would expect, is a coloured cat with the addition of white.
The Foreign White, unlike others in the Oriental Section is actually a Siamese with the Dominant white gene masking out the points colour. Like all other Siamese,this breed has Lapis Blue eyes. It, like its other relatives is a very elegant stylish breed & is deceptively muscular & weighty. The GCCF currently only recognises Foreign Whites, it does not recognise the Oriental white which are distinguishable by the eye colour which can be Green, Odd Eyed or Blue, the blue eyed version having paler blue tone than the more intense Lapis Blue of the Foreign White.
Orientals, like the entire Siamese breed group, are lively, intelligent, sociable cats who love to play. Many of them are fetchers, returning their favourite fetch toy tirelessly to the hands of their human. They can amuse themselves for hours with an empty cardboard box. They do not grow out of their love of play, remaining kitten-like all their lives. No cupboard or high shelf is safe from these inquisitive, high-jumping cats. Many Orientals are talkative cats, telling you about their whole day and commenting on what you are doing. They have strong and distinctive personalities. Do not let their fine bones and slender appearance fool you! They are athletic and confident and are built like runners or dancers.
They hold their own against much larger cats and dogs, often ruling the roost. In general, an Oriental does not do well as an only cat. They do well with children, other cats, dogs, and lots of activity and commotion. They love attention and like to snuggle and sleep in a heap with their companions or under the covers with you.
The overall impression of these cats is that they are elegant, slender and graceful; they are long and lean and are natural athletes with a surprising weight of muscle on their narrow frame. They are generally not large cats, though they are long and tall. This domestic cat is low maintenance in the grooming department.
Obviously, like any longhaired cat, the Oriental Longhair will require regular grooming although their silky and fine coat will not tangle or mat and so just needs a gentle comb-through.
The average weight of the Oriental Shorthair is between 8 and 14 lbs and they have a long life expectancy of between 12 to 15 years.
Although most Oriental Longhairs live long and healthy lives, there are a number of disorders that seem to be associated with the Oriental family – those similar to the Siamese as they are closely related. Flat chested kitten syndrome has been seen in Orientals.
An eye problem called progressive retinal atrophy, which causes progressive blindness, has also been identified in this breed. Fortunately, reliable DNA tests are available and prospective owners should ask breeders if their cats have been tested and are clear of the problem.
Hepatic Amyloidosis refers to the deposition of amyloid in the liver. Familial amyloidosis has been described in certain breeds of cats, including the Oriental.