Oriental Breed Guide
Middle Age: 7 years
Life Span: 10 to 15 years
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Oriental cats are a new and unique addition to the cat lover world. While their origins date back to Thailand, the Oriental we know and love today has been more recently developed in the United States. They share similar traits with the Siamese cats, but are special in their very own ways.
History of Oriental Cats
After World War II, many Siamese breeding programs were lost, and because of that, Siamese cat lovers in Britain wanted to widen the gene pool to keep the breed sustainable. In doing this, they bred classic Siamese cats with other breeds, such as
- British Shorthairs
- Russian Blues
The result was the Oriental that is known today. These kittens looked similar to Siamese breed, but they came in a wider array of colors and patterns. This pleasant discovery shot the Oriental into popularity, and in the 1970s, the breed came to the United States and was soon recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association. Today, this beautiful breed comes in more than 300 colors and patterns.
Oriental Cat Size and Physical Appearance
Siamese and Oriental kitties are almost indistinguishable, if not for their different colors. They both have a long, muscular body that is perfect for jumping on cat towers. Orientals have wedge-shaped heads and large, pointed ears on the top of their heads.
Orientals walk on small, dainty, oval paws and love swinging around their long, thin tail. They have a medium-length coat that is fine and silky and come in more colors and patterns than any other breed. They also have unique, almond-shaped eyes that can be blue, green or odd (one blue eye and one green eye).
Oriental Breed Information
Oriental cats can be categorized into two main groups: short or long-haired. The most common is the oriental shorthair, which was officially recognized as a cat breed by the CFA in 1977. The oriental shorthair comes in more than 300 colors and patterns and is often considered a hypoallergenic cat due to its short hair and minimal shedding. The oriental longhair was recognized as a cat breed by the International Cat Association in 1979 and by the CFA in 1995. Although they have long hair, they do not have a double coat. So while their hair may be longer, their shedding is still minimal and doesn’t require the intensive grooming of many other long-haired breeds.
Oriental Cat Personality and Temperament
Oriental cats are dignified, caring, and very intelligent. Not only are Orientals intelligent, but they are known for their athletic abilities as well. This breed is a great companion to cat lovers’ parents who want a loyal, friendly pal. They do require more attention and don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time as they can develop separation anxiety.
In fact, Orientals do best in small groups, unlike most domesticated cats. If you do have an Oriental and work during the day, you might want to consider getting them another kitty friend. These cats are quite social and prefer a group setting. They are also talkers and are known to share their opinion with anyone who will listen in a loud, raspy voice.
Common Oriental Cat Health Problems
Because of the Oriental cat’s wedge-shaped head, they are more prone to respiratory and dental health problems. They also may be genetically disposed to eye problems, both crossed eyes and progressive retinal atrophy. Lastly, they could suffer from amyloidosis, a disease that affects members of the Siamese family.
- Respiratory Problems – Common respiratory problems such as upper respiratory infections and feline rhinotracheitis viruses present themselves in young Oriental kittens and can be treated quickly. By keeping your kitten up on vet appointments and vaccines, you can avoid a lot of these conditions.
- Eye Problems – Some Oriental cats have a mutated gene associated with progressive retinal atrophy. Luckily, your cat likely won’t display symptoms if he only has the one gene. But if two carriers have kittens, their offspring will have a higher chance of developing PRA. Oriental kitties may also have feline glaucoma, which is a condition that is often perceived as normal and does not present health risks.
- Amyloidosis – Amyloidosis is a disease that occurs when amyloid, a type of protein, is deposited in body organs. In Siamese-type breeds, the liver is usually affected by Amyloidosis.
Although they can suffer from the diseases above, Oriental cats are actually one of the genetically healthier purebreds and can live 10-15 years.
Oriental Cat Grooming Needs
One of the reasons why people have loved Oriental cats for decades is their lack of grooming. Oriental cat owners get the best of both worlds – a beautiful coat that is shiny and silky, yet without the long hair and shedding, as other breeds have.
Your Oriental friend will benefit, though, from regular grooming. Petting and finger brushing will help dislodge dead hair and encourage new growth. Your cat will also always need ear cleanings and nail trims. Orientals might be a great bet for those that are allergic to the longer-haired breeds.
Are Oriental Cats Good With Kids?
Oriental cats are extremely intelligent, playful, and great for the whole family. If your children know how to play gently with these feline friends, they will provide endless hours of entertainment and companionship. They are social cats and benefit from a playmate throughout the day.
If you want to get an Oriental cat, make sure to consider their level of stimulation when you’re away. They might benefit from a second dog or cat in the house. Orientals love to love their owners, and you will get what you give with this enjoyable breed.
Oriental Cat Exercise Requirements
Oriental cats are very playful and enjoy company, games, and exercise. Before bringing an Oriental into your life, make sure you have adequate play space, such as a cat tower or other places for your kitty to jump and run.
Because of their athletic body type, Oriental cats love to leap high and run far. They also love playing fetch like a puppy. Oriental cats are also more social and enjoy other cats, dogs, and even kids.
Oriental cats make a great companion for the owner that doesn’t have time for grooming, but has lots of time for play! They are smart, athletic, and are happy to give back the love they receive.