Let's talk Orientals

With their striking eyes, long, lithe bodies and highly varied markings, the Oriental cat’s resplendent good looks make them a real showstopper of the feline world. Highly intelligent, they thrive on human interaction and will often form a deep bond with one person. Quite demanding at times, this is a cat that likes to be the centre of attention. And, as one of the more ‘talkative’ breeds, they will have no hesitation in letting you know that.

Official name: Oriental

Other names: Oriental Shorthair, Oriental Longhair, Oriental Bicolour, Javanese (Oriental Longhair)

Origins: UK

 Hair length shorthair:

Very low

Energy level *:
 Hair length longhair: Medium  Vocal tendencies:  High
 Shedding level shorthair: Low
Kid friendly *:
 Shedding level longhair: Medium  Cohabitation with other pets: High
 Grooming needs shorthair: Very low
 Can stay alone *:
 Grooming needs longhair: Medium Environment (indoor/outdoor):

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed’s specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy, healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socialising your pet as well as covering their basic welfare, social and behavioural needs.

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

23 - 28 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
4 - 7 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
23 - 28 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
3 - 5 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight

 Baby cat  Birth to 4 months
 Growing kitten  4 to 12 months
 Adult 1 to 7 years
 Mature  7 to 12 years
 Senior  12+


Origins of the breed

For many enthusiasts, the Labrador Retriever remains one of the most popular all-round dogs worldwide. It’s thought that Labrador Retrievers originated from the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, where fishermen used dogs of this appearance to retrieve fish. The breed as we know it today, however, was established by the British in the early 1800’s.

The Labrador Retriever Club was founded in 1916 and the first standard followed soon after, predominantly tailored to working Labrador Retrievers who found early fame, having been originally introduced to the U.K. in the late 1800’s by Col Peter Hawker and the Earl of Malmesbury.


2 facts about Orientals

1. Brains and beauty

As one of the most intelligent breeds of cat, the Oriental enjoys figuring things out – and can even solve simple puzzles. They thrive on mental stimulation and will also play ‘fetch’. Them fetching the objects, of course, not necessarily you! 

2. The eyes have it 

One of the unusual things about the Oriental cat is that their eye colour can vary between green and blue. Most often, they tend to have green eyes – except in the case of the white variety whose eyes are normally blue. Occasionally, though, they can even have odd eyes – one green and one blue.


History of the breed

The history of the Oriental cat is a short but rather complex one. To understand it, we need to start by paying a visit to a close ‘cousin’ of theirs: the Siamese. 

Back in the early 1900’s, the Siamese had become very popular in Britain. However, by the end of World War Two, the pedigree cat population was not faring well. So, in order to boost numbers, other breeds – such as the Abyssinian, the British Shorthair and the Russian Blue – were also introduced. 

This resulted in two distinct varieties of Siamese – some that were ‘pointed’ (where the extremities, such as the ears, nose and tail, are darker) and others which were not. It was the latter that became the ‘Oriental’ cat that we know and love today. 

Originally short-haired, Orientals also went on to produce some long-haired kittens over time. These are now recognised as a separate breed called the Oriental Longhair. To this day, they remain less common than the Shorthair variety. In both cases, even if a cat is born with the pointed markings of the Siamese, they are still considered Orientals. 

To add to the general confusion around the breed, the Oriental cat was originally referred to as the ‘Foreign Shorthair’. Also, a white Oriental is often known as the ‘Foreign White’ and the brown variety as the ‘Havana’. Hope you’re keeping up!

In the 1970’s, when the Oriental cat began to be imported into the US, they were crossed again with American Shorthairs. This produced yet more colours and patterns. Today, with more than 300 variations, the Oriental is often nicknamed the ‘Rainbow Cat’ or ‘Ornamental’.  



From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Orientals

1. Head

Wedge-shaped head with large, pointed ears and almond-shaped eyes.

2. Eyes

Eyes are usually green, but can be blue or even ‘odd-eyed’ with one of each.

3. Body

Body is long and lithe with a slender neck and a decent-length tail.

4. Fur

Colour and markings can vary wildly with more than 300 variations.

5. Coat

In the Shorthaired variety, the coat is close-lying with a glossy sheen; in the Longhaired, it is fine and silky.


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Oriental

They can sometimes suffer from urinary issues

Although a generally healthy breed of cat, the Oriental can be prone to cystitis (bladder inflammation). The tell-tale sign is when your Oriental makes frequent attempts to urinate, but with little success, or urinates in odd places. If this happens, they should be taken straight to your vet who will be able to advise on the best course of treatment. Fortunately, plenty can be done for this condition, depending on the cause. Also, a tailored diet is often recommended. Lastly, as stress can be a factor, it’s important to establish if that could be playing a role. 

Another thing to be aware of is eye disorders

Like all cats, the Oriental can suffer from issues ranging from conjunctivitis and cataracts to glaucoma. Although Orientals are not the most affected feline breed, they may also experience ‘progressive retinal atrophy’ (PRA) – when the cells of the retina begin to decline – leading to impaired vision or even blindness. Treating any primary cause is important, but unfortunately there is nothing that can be done for the inherited form. The good news, though, is that it is not painful and many cats can go on to adapt and live a happy life. Indeed, cats have a pronounced sense of smell and their whiskers give them spatial information. If buying a kitten, be sure to check that its ancestors didn’t suffer from PRA. 

They can potentially be prone to liver disease too

This is something that can affect all cats, but like their ‘cousin’, the Siamese, the Oriental can be particularly susceptible. Liver disease can be caused by a variety of problems. Also, because the bile and pancreas ducts meet before connecting to the intestine, cats tend to develop combined inflammation of the three organs. This is called triaditis. Depending on the cause, treatment can take various forms, ranging from extra vitamins and anti-inflammatories to antibiotics or even surgery. As always, the earlier a problem is detected the better. Your vet is your – and your pet’s – best ally. Also, the right nutrition will be fundamental to support recovery.


Caring for your Oriental

Grooming, training and exercise tips

When it comes to grooming, everything hinges on whether your Oriental cat is the more common Shorthaired variety or the rarer Longhaired. If you have the Oriental Shorthair, their coat will be short, sleek and glossy, and should only need grooming once a week. If you have an Oriental Longhair, the coat will be medium-length, fine and silky, and will need brushing more often – ideally three or four times weekly. In either case, shedding in the Oriental cat is around average, though it can feel more noticeable in the Longhaired variety. For both types of Oriental, all the other normal rules apply, such as checking their ears for any sign of infection, occasional claw-trimming and brushing their teeth as often as humanly possible.

A fiercely intelligent breed, with a quick-witted personality, Oriental cats learn quickly – sometimes too quickly. Left to their own devices, they can open doors, find their way into drawers and will sometimes even remove items from an open handbag. All typical behaviour traits of the Oriental cat. To keep them out of mischief, and because they thrive on company, they will do best with an owner who can be at home with them during the day. Also, a good-quality cat tree and as many interesting puzzle toys as you can muster are highly recommended. As with most breeds, early socialisation during the Oriental’s ‘kittenhood’, with both humans and animals, will mean they are more likely to be relaxed, sociable and have better coping skills later on.

A very agile animal, with a lot of energy to burn, the Oriental cat needs plenty of exercise to prevent them from getting bored – and into trouble... As mentioned in the ‘Training’ section, a decent-quality cat tree is a good start. Ideally it should be a tall one, as Oriental cats like to perch in high places, and will often climb on top of the fridge and shelves etc. A few ‘chaser’ toys, or even a ball, can also help to burn off some more calories. Like the Siamese, the Oriental cat also does well paired with a ‘friend’ – ideally another Oriental or else a breed that is equal to them in terms of energy and intelligence. 

All about Orientals

In a word, yes. The Oriental cat thrives on human interaction, is a very ‘chatty’ breed and is not shy of having an audience. However, it goes both ways, and they need reciprocal interest and affection from their owners to be truly content. An Oriental cat that has company is a happy Oriental cat.

Like the Siamese, the reason that Orientals cats are so vocal is that they are more social than most breeds. They also crave interaction with their owners. So, the Oriental’s unique version of the common ‘meow’ sound is their way of communicating with their human families as well as demanding their attention. However, they are not quite as loud as their Siamese cousins. That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.


1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/