Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cat Breed Facts: Oriental Shorthair

The Oriental Shorthair is a breed of cat quite unlike any other. These cats are interesting and distinctive in appearance. They have vibrant personalities, and each and every cat of this breed can be recognized as an individual.

The Development of the Oriental Shorthair

The very beginnings of this breed occurred in England in 1950. A woman named Baroness von Ullman decided to attempt to create a new breed of cat, one with short born hair, green eyes, and the body of a Siamese. In 1954, she presented two kittens, not bred by her, which matched her original design. These kittens were determined by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in England to be a new breed called the Chestnut Brown Foreign.

Four years later, a woman named Patricia Turner decided to create a breed with the same look, but pure white with blue eyes. These kittens, once produced, were called Foreign Whites, as in England, individual colors were often registered as separate breeds. Years later, two Siamese breeders from the United States, Peter and Vicky Markstein, came upon these cats. They were so enamored with them that they decided to seek the acceptance of all Foreigns of all colors as a single breed, to be called the Oriental Shorthair in the United States.

The foundation of the Oriental Shorthair was the Siamese, which provided the body type, and the American Shorthair and Abyssinian, which provided the additional colors and their distribution. This new breed, the Oriental Shorthair, was strong, vigorous, and healthy. They had hard bodies and excellent muscle tone.

Some Breed Standards for the Oriental Shorthair

The standards for the Oriental Shorthair are fairly strict, as with most breeds. It can be easy to have a cat who is penalized or even disqualified in a show situation. If you’re seeking a kitten for show purposes, you’ll need to choose your kitten carefully.

General: Ideally, the Oriental Shorthair has long, tapering lines, and is lithe, but muscular. The eyes should be clear, and the cat should be in excellent physical condition.

Head: The head should have a good proportion to the body and be wedged-shaped. There should be no less than the width of an eye between the eyes. The skull should be flat, and the profile of the Oriental Shorthair should be a long, straight line from the top of the head to the tip of the nose. There should be no bulge over the eyes, and no dip in the nose.

Ears: The ears of this breed should be very large and pointed, and quite wide at the base.

Eyes: Medium-sized and shaped like almonds, the eyes should be slanted towards the nose. The eyes should be uncrossed and green in color. White Oriental Shorthairs may have either blue or green eyes.

Body: The body should be long with fine bones and firm muscles. This cat is slight and sleek. The hips must not be wider than the shoulders. The neck is long and slender. Paws should be dainty, small, and oval-shaped. The tail should be long, thin at the base, and tapered to a fine point.

Coat: The coat of an Oriental Shorthair should be short, fine textured, glossy, and lie very close to the body. These cats come in many colors, including paritcolors, shaded colors, smoke colors, solid colors, and tabby colors.

Penalties: Any cat who has crossed eyes or a visible or palpable protrusion of the cartilage at the end of the sternum will be assessed a penalty.

Disqualifications: Illness and poor health are one of the leading causes of disqualifications in Oriental Shorthairs. Other factors that lead judges to disqualify a particular cat might be: mouth breathing due to obstruction or poor occlusion; weak hind legs; incorrect number of toes; visible kinks anywhere one the body; emaciation.

Though some might see these cats as a little odd-looking, their sleek lines and dainty appearance makes them an interesting companion. Their sparkling personalities make them an ideal cat for those who like a feline with a sense of adventure.

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