Although it is widely accepted that the Oriental Shorthair first emerged in Thailand, what was formerly Siam, where they were the breed of choice of the royal and noble, it was not developed as a breed until it reached the United States years later. The Shorthair has the Siamese in its bloodline and is also seen in longhair and bicolour variations. Today, the Oriental Shorthair is one of the most popular breeds, especially in the UK and across the Atlantic. Initially developed by enthusiasts wanting to create a cat with characteristics of the Siamese but with a more colourful and varied appearance, the breed was accepted for championship registration by the Cat Fancier’s Association in 1977; the bicoloured variety followed suit in 1985 and the longhaired variety was eventually recognised ten years later.
Almost exact in appearance and structure to the Siamese, one of its original forebears, the Oriental Shorthair is a lithe and athletic cat with a robust frame. Its long legs and strong paws make it suited to hunting and climbing, whilst contributing to its look of elegance. Typically, the head is wedge-shaped and the eyes are oblique, giving the cat a curious expression. Unlike the Siamese whose colours and patterning are restricted, all deviations are permissible for the Oriental Shorthair. This includes solid or parti-colours and patterns that include tabby, tortoiseshell, smoke and shaded. All patterns that combine white are accepted. The Oriental Shorthair has a fine, close-fitting coat, while the Longhair has a profuse coat that requires regular grooming.
The Oriental Shorthair is described as having a friendly but demanding temperament, being better suited to households that can bestow plenty of attention and love on it. They are also thought of as the clowns of the feline world, providing a reliable source of humour and entertainment. Besides this, the Oriental Shorthair, as well as its longhaired and bicoloured cousins, is a highly inquisitive animal that is content to rummage about indoors, whether in your cupboards, drawers or bag, to find something of interest. The average weight for a healthy Oriental Shorthair is 12 pounds, with a typical life expectancy of 12-15 years.
The Oriental Shorthair is generally very healthy and resilient, but is affected by the same health conditions as the Siamese. These range from mild to more severe and include bladder complaints, liver disease, mast-cell tumours, optical disorders and neurological problems. Ensure you always purchase from a reputable breeder that can provide health records for their cats and evidence of early vet checks.
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