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Oriental

 

 

Introduction

The Oriental breed is essentially a solid colored Siamese cat, being the same colour or pattern all over, but usually without the famous Siamese 'points'. However, there is one exception to this generalization about coat colour, as there is now an Oriental Bicolor, which not only appears in all the Oriental colors and patterns, but also in pointed Siamese versions of these colors and patterns. There are Longhaired Oriental cats (which used to be known as Angoras), and breeders are striving to produce longhaired or semi-longhaired Oriental Bicol ours too. All in all, there are reckoned to be well over 200 different colour schemes in this paint-box of this amazingly diverse breed of cat!

 

Appearance

The one feature that distinguishes the Oriental Shorthair from the Siamese is its coat color. Essentially, the Oriental Shorthair is a Siamese without a pointed pattern. The following are the various categories of patterns with specific examples: Solid (Blue), Shaded (Fawn Sliver), Smoke (Cameo Smoke), Tabby (Ticked Tabby Pattern), and Parti-Color (Ebony Tortie). One specific color form that deserves mention is the Oriental Spotted Tabby, since breeders attempted to give it standing as a separate breed that resembled the ancient Egyptian domestic cat.

Except for the coat color and pattern, the Oriental Shorthair has the same appearance as the Siamese. The body is medium in size, long, and svelte. The tail and legs are long and slender. The head is wedge-shaped with large pointed ears and almond-shaped eyes. The coat is short, fine, and glossy.

 

History

Evidence suggests that many of the Thai descendants of the modern-day Siamese cat were 'self' (one colour/pattern) or bicolor, usually with green eyes. After the pointed Siamese with their vivid blue eyes were first imported into Britain in the 1880s, a number of these solid-colored Siamese were also brought to Europe, and described as being Siamese cats. It wasn't until the 1920s when the Siamese Cat Club in Britain decreed that the only true Siamese cats were those with contrasting points and blue eyes that interest in them started to wane and numbers declined. However, the Orientals that we see today are not descended from cats imported to this country from Thailand at the very end of the nineteenth century, but instead are a result of British breeding in the 1950s to re-introduce a cat with Siamese characteristics, but in a wide range of solid colors. This was done by primarily by crossing Siamese with British shorthairs, and later on, also with Russian Blues. The Oriental Longhair was achieved by crossing the Oriental Shorthair with a Balinese (a Longhaired Siamese) in the 1970s, but it is still comparatively rare. The very first Oriental breed to appear in Britain under this breeding program was the Chestnut Brown Foreign, later to become the Havana Brown, and known today simply as the Havana. Until the 1980s the Oriental breed was called a 'Foreign' in Britain, but they are now known as 'Orientals' with two exceptions - the Foreign White (see notes on appearance below) and the Havana.

 

Health

Orientals do not have known breed-related health problems, and pets from reputable breeders should be strong and healthy. In common with all breeds of cat, they nevertheless need annual vaccination boosters against the common feline ailments of flu and enteritis, as well as against Feline Leukemia if they go outdoors. Older Orientals are sometimes prone to kidney problems, detectable by loss of weight and increased thirst, but a Vet can prescribe medication to help combat this, and many live to the age of 14-16. It is wise to have Oriental kittens neutered by the time they are 6 months old, as they tend to mature sexually at a very young age, and do not need to have a litter of kittens first. Un-neutered male cats will spray in the house and tend to wander, whilst un-neutered females will be very noisy. Some breeds of white cats are known to be prone to deafness, but this is not the case with the Foreign White.

Longevity

Approximately 12 to 15 years.

 

Care

Orientals are not fussy eaters and will eat most good quality proprietary brands of cat food, but will also enjoy treats of cooked chicken, ham and grated cheese. However, cows' milk will probably give them a stomach upset, and a bowl of water should always be available. It's often wise to shut cupboard doors and put things out of sight in the same way that you would for a toddler, as they are so inquisitive. Orientals can live very happily indoors without going outside. Eyes and ears should also be checked and kept clean if necessary, and it is advisable to brush the shorthaired varieties lightly from time to time to remove loose hair. The less common longhaired varieties will need more grooming to keep their coats clear from tangles and knots.

 

Temperament

Like the Siamese, Orientals are true extroverts with a loving and affectionate nature. They are very sociable cats that relish the company of their human families as well as that of other pets, and should not be left on their own for long periods. They show exactly the same temperament and intelligence as the Siamese and can be equally as demanding, mischievous and inquisitive as their 'pointed' cousins, often to be found interfering in matters around the house that do not really concern them, and trying to 'help' with the household chores. Although Orientals always have a lot to say for themselves on a variety of topics, many of their owners say that their voices are slightly gentler in tone than those of the Siamese. But like their Siamese and Balinese relations, Oriental cats are very playful cats, who will keep you endlessly entertained with even the simplest of toys, which also helps to keep them out of mischief!