Oriental Shorthair

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oriental shorthair portrait
Step into the world of feline elegance and charm with the Oriental Shorthair cat breed! With their sleek bodies, vivid eyes, and boundless curiosity, these quirky cats are the embodiment of sophistication and playfulness.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, care, health concerns, history, and more!


OFFICIAL NAMEOriental Shorthair
ORIGINUnited States
HEIGHT9-10 inches
WEIGHT6-12 lbs
LIFESPAN10-15 years
oriental shorthair sitting on green grass
Photo: White_bcgrd/Getty Images


The Oriental Shorthair is a breed with many distinctive features that set it apart from others. A cat of medium size, their weight typically ranges between 6 to 12 pounds, with males being slightly larger than females.

The body of this breed is a study in grace and flexibility, with a sleek, elegant form accentuated by long, slender legs. Remarkably muscular, they carry an air of weightless poise, as if they could perform ballet pirouettes at a moment’s notice. Their tails are long and thin, tapering to a fine point, and are often seen curled in a charming question mark when they’re inquisitive.

But the physical attribute that always catches attention is their head. The Oriental Shorthair boasts a wedge-shaped head, unlike any other breed. The head is flanked by bat-like, oversized ears, which sit atop at an angle, always alert, ready to swivel towards the slightest sound.

Their almond-shaped eyes, which can be green, blue, or odd-eyed (each eye a different color), give them a sly and intelligent expression that is hard to miss. These eyes carry a captivating expression of curiosity, often leaving the impression that they’re always contemplating something interesting or planning their next playful move.

The coat of the Oriental Shorthair is as distinctive as the rest of its physique. It’s short, glossy, and lies close to their body, revealing their muscular contours. This breed is known for its vast array of coat colors. With over 300 different color and pattern combinations recognized, there’s an Oriental Shorthair to match every type of interior decor!

Despite their exotic appearance, Oriental Shorthairs have a warm and inviting aura about them. Their expressive features and wide range of coat colors make them a delight to behold, rendering each individual cat unique and intriguing in its own right.

oriental shorthair close up
Photo: Kusska/Getty Images


When it comes to personality, the Oriental Shorthair is as vibrant as its coat! Their warm and friendly character is, without a doubt, their most charming trait. Just as their alert ears would suggest, they are incredibly attentive and curious creatures. They seem to have a boundless thirst for knowledge, always eager to explore their surroundings and engage with anything that piques their interest.

Always full of energy, the Oriental Shorthair is exceptionally playful. A simple piece of string or a shiny bauble can keep them entertained for hours. Every new object is a potential toy, and every hidden nook is a new world waiting to be explored. These cats have a love for play that remains undiminished even as they grow older.

Their intelligence shines through every playful gambit, every curious probe. They can figure out how to open cabinets, turn on faucets, and often find a way to get to the highest points in your home. Don’t be surprised if you find your Oriental Shorthair perched on top of the refrigerator surveying the domain below. Never underestimate their problem-solving skills; they can be quite ingenious!

Oriental Shorthairs thrive on interaction. They are sensitive to their human family’s emotions and are often found offering quiet companionship to someone who seems upset. Equally, they are quick to join in celebrations, their gleaming eyes reflecting the joy of the moment. They seem to have an uncanny ability to sense what their human companions need, making them an incredibly empathetic breed.

Oriental Shorthairs are also known for their vocal nature. They love to communicate with their human companions, often using a variety of meows, chirps, and purrs. The sound of their voice is an endearing mix of a raspy mew and a trilling purr, often having an almost conversational quality to it. They’re not shy to let you know when they want attention, food, or just a good cuddle.

Despite their active nature, they love nothing more than snuggling up with their favorite human at the end of the day. They’re incredibly affectionate, and they love to show their affection by curling up in your lap or snuggling next to you on the couch. Their loyalty and love for their humans are as profound as their curiosity and zest for life.

black oriental shorthair lying on a chair
Photo: JodiJacobson/Getty Images Signature



While the Oriental Shorthair’s sleek, short coat doesn’t require the same level of care as some long-haired breeds, regular grooming is still essential. A gentle brush once a week should be enough to keep their coat shiny and healthy. It doesn’t just remove loose hair and dirt—this is also a lovely bonding opportunity, a moment of quiet companionship that you both will enjoy.

Exercise and Play

The Oriental Shorthair is a highly active breed, brimming with energy and curiosity. Regular exercise is crucial for these cats to stay happy and healthy. They love games that stimulate their hunting instincts.

Things like feather toys, lasers, or even a simple ball can keep them entertained for hours. And remember, playtime isn’t just exercise—it’s another way to strengthen your bond and share delightful moments with your feline friend.

Diet and Nutrition

When it comes to feeding your Oriental Shorthair, a balanced diet is crucial. These cats do well on high-quality commercial cat food, but it’s also possible to feed them a raw or home-cooked diet under the guidance of a veterinarian. Ensure they are getting enough protein, as it is a vital part of their diet. Also, keep an eye on portion sizes. Oriental Shorthairs love their food, but overeating can lead to weight gain.

oriental shorthair sitting on the carpet
Photo: Anna Pozzi/Getty Images


Oriental Shorthairs typically have a long lifespan, often reaching 10-15 years or more with proper care and attention. However, like any breed, they are predisposed to certain health issues. Here are five common ones to be aware of:

Periodontal Disease: Oriental Shorthairs are prone to dental issues. Regular brushing of their teeth is advised to prevent these problems.

Amyloidosis: This is a disease that affects the liver and kidneys. It’s more prevalent in Siamese and related breeds, including Oriental Shorthairs.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): This is the most common heart disease in all cats, and Oriental Shorthairs are no exception.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This eye condition can lead to blindness, and Oriental Shorthairs are genetically predisposed.

Crossed Eyes: This condition, known as strabismus, is a common trait in this breed and can affect their vision.

While this list may seem daunting, remember that a healthy lifestyle can significantly minimize these risks. Providing a nutritious diet is essential, but the right diet varies from cat to cat. Consult your vet to tailor a meal plan that suits your feline’s unique needs.

Regular veterinary check-ups help address potential health issues before they become a problem. During these visits, your vet will perform a full physical examination and may recommend additional screenings based on your cat’s age and health history.

Last but not least, keeping your cat’s vaccinations up-to-date is crucial to protect them from common feline diseases. Combined with your love and attention, these steps will go a long way in ensuring your Oriental Shorthair lives a long, healthy, and happy life.

oriental shorthair kitten lying on the sofa
Photo: Svyatoslav Balan/Getty Images


The Oriental Shorthair boasts a rich and intriguing history. This breed’s journey began halfway across the globe, in the land of smiles: Thailand. Over centuries, these cats, originally part of the Siamese family, were esteemed for their remarkable loyalty and distinctively beautiful features.

As global curiosity grew, these cats found their way to Europe and later, America. However, the real emergence of what we now know as the Oriental Shorthair didn’t occur until the mid-20th century.

It was during this time that breeders, mesmerized by the Siamese cat’s elegance yet yearning for greater variety, embarked on a daring experiment. Their goal? To create a feline that retained the Siamese’s grace but boasted a wider range of colors and patterns.

This endeavor proved to be a resounding success, birthing the incredibly diverse Oriental Shorthair breed. This new breed was first recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1977, who were captivated by their diverse color palette, which spans over 300 different possibilities.

Not long after, in 1985, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) also granted the Oriental Shorthair official recognition. This was a monumental moment, cementing the breed’s stature and popularity in the feline world.

Today, the Oriental Shorthair continues to be a beloved favorite among cat enthusiasts across the globe. Its fascinating journey from the exotic lands of Thailand to homes worldwide is a testament to the breed’s unique charm and irresistible allure.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines that describes the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential. Breed standards are devised by breed clubs and recognized by various cat registries worldwide.

These standards provide detailed descriptions of the breed’s physical characteristics such as body shape, size, coat type and color, eye color and shape, ear placement, and tail length.

oriental shorthair sitting near a scratching post
Photo: Anna Pozzi/Getty Images


How expensive is an Oriental Shorthair cat?

An Oriental Shorthair kitten typically costs between $600 and $1200, depending on the breeder’s reputation, the kitten’s lineage, and other factors. Adult cats may cost slightly less, but prices can vary widely.

Why do Oriental Shorthair cats look different from other breeds?

Oriental Shorthairs are bred to have a slender, graceful body and a distinctive wedge-shaped head. Their large ears and almond-shaped eyes contribute to their unique appearance. Their coat, which comes in over 300 color and pattern variations, is another feature that sets them apart from other breeds.

Is the Oriental Shorthair a quiet breed?

While Oriental Shorthairs are known for being very sociable and affectionate, they’re not typically quiet cats. They’re quite vocal and love to communicate with their owners, often using a range of sounds that can be surprising for those not familiar with the breed.

What is the lifespan of an Oriental Shorthair cat?

Oriental Shorthairs generally live between 10 to 15 years, although some can live into their late teens or even early 20s with proper care and good genetics. Regular vet check-ups, a balanced diet, and plenty of exercise can help prolong their lifespan.

Are Oriental Shorthair cats hypoallergenic?

No cat breed is truly hypoallergenic, including the Oriental Shorthair. However, they do have short, fine coats that shed less than some other breeds, which might make them a better choice for people with mild allergies. Always spend time with a cat before bringing it home to see if it triggers your allergies.

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