Oriental Cat (Foreign Shorthair) Breed Profile

Oriental cat at a glance

  • Origins: United Kingdom
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Eyes: Hazel, green and yellow
  • Energy: Medium to high
  • Temperament: Playful, outgoing, curious and loving
  • Weight: Males 4.5-5.5 kg (9.9 – 12.1 lbs) and females 4-5 kg (8.8 – 11 lbs)
  • Colours: All colours except pointed
  • Coat: Short
  • Grooming: Requires weekly grooming
  • Talkative: Moderate
  • Cost: $800 – 1,500


Oriental cat

The Oriental is a close relative of the Siamese cat who originated in the United Kingdom. Breeders wanted to create a Siamese-type cat in different coat colours while maintaining the same modern Siamese type head with large ears and a long slender body which tapers to a whiplike tail.

Oriental cats are intelligent, loyal and devoted and are known to bond closely with their human family.

What’s the difference between an Oriental and a Siamese cat?

What's the difference between a Siamese and an Oriental cat?

The only difference between the Siamese and the Oriental is in the coat colour and pattern. Siamese cats have a light coloured coat with dark points; the Oriental can be any other colour and pattern.


Oriental cat

Orientals are Siamese-type but in a variety of coat colours, instead of the colour points of the Siamese cat.

First conceived in the 1950s in the United Kingdom where breeders wanted a Siamese-type cat but in different colours. Siamese, Russian Blues, Abyssinians and domestic shorthairs were used to achieve this.

Orientals were imported to the United States in the 1970s. The CFA accepted them for championship competition in 1977.

In the United Kingdom, the Oriental goes by the name of Foreign Shorthair, while white Orientals are Foreign White, and brown Orientals are Havanas.


Oriental cat


The Oriental has a wedge-shaped head with large ears and almond-shaped eyes.


The Oriental cat’s body is long, tubular and muscular, the legs are long and slender, and the paws are oval. The tail is long and tapers to a fine point.


The coat should lie close to the body, be soft, fine and glossy, with no trace of a coarse texture. One thing I have noticed on both of the Oriental cats I’ve had has they had a scattering of grey hairs around their neck.

Oriental cat colours

Dilute calico oriental shorthair

The Oriental can come in all colours with exception to pointed, according to the Cat Fanciers Association, the Oriental comes in 600 colours and patterns in short and long hair.


Black and white Oriental cat

The Oriental is very similar to his Siamese cousin in personality and can be quite talkative as well as friendly, confident, outgoing, highly intelligent, lively, sociable, curious and affectionate. They stay kitten-like well into adulthood. Despite being an active breed, they also love to snuggle on your lap on an evening.

Orientals make a great family pet and get along with everyone, they are known to become extremely attached to their human companions and can form strong bonds with one particular person, although this is less common than with the Siamese.

We recommend a feline companion if you are out of the house for long stretches as Orientals thrive on company and can get lonely on their own.


Red Oriental shorthair

The Oriental is an overall healthy cat however it can inherit progressive retinal atrophy and mucopolysaccharidosis, both of these diseases can be tested for.


White oriental shorthair or foreign white

The Oriental is an easy to care for cat. Brush the coat once a week to remove loose hair and trim the claws as needed. Due to their trusting nature, we recommend the Oriental be an indoor-only cat or have access to a safe cat enclosure.

An annual veterinary visit is recommended and follow a vaccination schedule as recommended by the veterinarian and local government regulations.

Treat for parasites which include fleas and intestinal worms, even indoor cats are at risk.

Feed a high-quality diet and fresh drinking water.

Related breeds

Oriental longhair cat
Oriental longhair cat
  • Siamese
  • Peterbald
  • Havana brown
  • Foreign white
  • Oriental longhair

Julia has been publishing articles on cats for over twenty years with an emphasis on detail and accuracy. Her knowledge of cats continues to grow through research and ensuring she constantly stays up to date on the latest health and cat care information and guidelines. Contact: [email protected]