Monday, August 10, 2015
Cat Breeds: Oriental Shorthair and Oriental Longhair
Like many other breeds, the modern Oriental cats originated in the decade following World War II (WWII). During the war, the number of available breeding cats in England had been drastically reduced. To create new breeds, and to reestablish old ones, breeders were forced to get creative.
In the case of Oriental cats, Siamese cats were crossed with Russian Blues, Abyssinians, and British Shorthairs. The resulting offspring looked a little like Siamese, but they were not pointed like Siamese. When breeders crossed these cats back to Siamese, within just a couple generations they had kittens that looked exactly like Siamese cats except for the lack of points.
When the occasional pointed kitten was produced, due to the recessive nature of the pointed gene, they were used to strengthen the Siamese gene pool. Non-pointed kittens were used in the Oriental breeding program.
At the beginning, each color produced was given its own name. Chocolate cats were Havanas, whites were Foreign Whites, tabby cats were Oriental Spotted Tabbies, and so on. When it became apparent that there were too many colors, and that those colors didn't always breed true (with some exceptions), they were lumped into two distinct groups. Longhaired cats became the Oriental Longhair and shorthaired cats became the Oriental Shorthair.
The Appearance of the Oriental Cats
Except for coat length, the longhaired and shorthaired versions are completely identical. They are both slender, graceful, and elegant. They're not heavily built, but they are long and tall. The bone structure is fine and delicate, giving the cat a sleek appearance.
Oriental cats should be neither fat nor bony, but rather muscular and firm. The neck should be long and solid and the head should have a very straight profile when viewed from the side. The front view of the head should be triangular.
Ears should be large and wide, eyes are set at an angle and are almond-shaped. Eyes can be of any color, but green is preferred by breeders and gains more points in competitions.
These cats should be brushed once a week. The shorthaired variety could benefit from a buffing with a chamois cloth.
The Personality of the Oriental Cats
Some cats are quiet, reserved, and anti-social. Some are too social for their own good. The Oriental cats are definitely the latter. They are social, intelligent, and active. Because of their highly social nature, they don't really do well on their own. If you're away from home for hours a day, consider getting two cats so they can keep each other company.
Most Oriental cats bond closely to one person in the family and will ignore the rest of the household. They are true lap cats and are likely to fall asleep purring if you stay put long enough.
In addition to loving their people, these cats also chat and interact on a daily basis. They love to play and can turn almost anything into a toy. No piece of paper or paper clip is safe from their budding curiosity. They'll also play with things you'd rather they didn't touch, so put those knickknacks away.
If you're looking for a social cat to keep you company, and you don't mind having a cat play under your feet, then the Oriental Shorthair or Oriental Longhair might be for you.