Photo credit from left:, @chrcats, @olivethecatadventures

Oriental Shorthair

A complete breed guide for Oriental Shorthair Cats

Last Updated 1 November 2022

This article is written by Pet Circle Veterinarian, Dr Maree Monaghan BVSc (HONS)

The Oriental Shorthair is basically a Siamese cat without the distinctive colour points. They come in a wide variety of colours and patterns and are often called "rainbow" cats. Oriental Shorthairs are vocal, intelligent, inquisitive cats that love being around people and other animals.

We've put together a complete guide with everything you need to know before adopting an Oriental cat. If you need any further info, check out our Discover education portal or our complimentary Ask a Vet service.


1. Oriental Shorthair Facts

2. History

3. Physical Characteristics

4. Personality

5. Nutritional Requirements

6. Common Health Problems

Further reading

Oriental Shorthair Cat Facts

Place of origin: Life Expectancy: Level of affection
Thailand, England, USA 10 to 15 years High
Energy level: Tendency to vocalise: Coat colours:
High Very high Black, white, blue, chocolate, lilac, red, cream, cinnamon, fawn, caramel, tortoiseshell, apricot
Coat type: Size: Coat markings:
Short, straight, glossy Female: 2.2 to 4.2kg, Male: 3.6 to 5.5 kg Tabby, tortoiseshell, tortie tabby, tipped, shaded, smoke
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Temperament:
Low Low Green, Blue, Odd eyed (one green and one blue)

How big are Oriental Shorthair Cats?

Oriental Shorthair Cats are considered a medium sized breed, a similar size to the Siamese. They are normally around 25cm tall, weigh 2.2-5.5kg and have a long, lean build.

Do Oriental Shorthair cats shed?

Just like Siamese cats, Oriental Shorthairs do shed a little, but not much. A weekly brushing with a cat comb is a good idea, as is feeding them a top quality diet to keep their fur silky and smooth. For Oriental cats, we recommend a grooming glove for cats, as they love the massage-like experience!

How long do Oriental Shorthair cats live?

The Oriental Shorthair lifespan is 10-15 years. As with any breed, they will live much longer if you feed them a premium quality diet, never let them become overweight, and keep their teeth in top condition!

Are Oriental Shorthair cats talkative?

Yes, absolutely. Just like the Siamese, oriental breeds are notoriously vocal and love to meow and have a chat. They tend to have a meow tone which is somewhat milder than the Siamese, but it is still much more vocal than the average cat.

Do Oriental Shorthair cats scratch furniture?

Known for being quite playful and energetic, Oriental Shorthairs may scratch your furniture if not provided with a suitable scratching post and plenty of mental stimulation. Read more about The Best Cat Furniture for Active Cats.

Are Oriental Shorthairs good with kids?

Yes, Oriental Shorthairs cats are great with kids who are gentle and respectful. With their playful, affectionate nature, and their love of talking, Oriental Shorthairs make great playmates for kids. As with any cat, always supervise young children around a Oriental Shorthair and make sure they have a high perch for the cat to escape to if needed.

Are Oriental Shorthairs hypoallergenic?

While no cat is truly 100% 'hypoallergenic', the Oriental Shorthair is known for causing a milder reaction in humans with cat allergies. This is due to a number of reasons - firstly, they produce less Fel d1 protein in their saliva, which triggers the allergic reaction in humans. Secondly, their coat type is favourable as it is lower shedding, short, and easier to maintain.

How do I choose an Oriental Shorthair breeder?

When looking for an Oriental Shorthair, your options are to: a) adopt from a rescue (this is our top recommendation!) b) buy from an or online marketplace or pet store (NOT recommended!), or c) Research a reputable breeder. Never purchase a kitten without inspecting the breeder's premises and asking the 10 Breeder Checklist Questions first. Good breeders socialise their animals, house them humanely, allow you to inspect their premises, and selectively breed healthy traits and good temperaments. Read our Guide to Finding a Good Breeder for more tips.

Back to top

Oriental Shorthair History

From left: Champion Prince Souti, born 1912 (Britain); Engraving of Siamese by Harrison Weir, 1889; Early American Siamese champion, DOB 1909. Source: Old Style Siamese.

The Oriental Shorthair was the result of crossbreeding several cat breeds after the Second World War, particularly the Siamese. According to the CFA, "Orientals represent a diverse group of cats that have their foundation in the Siamese breed."

The numbers of many purebred cats fell drastically during World War II. When the war ended, breeders in England crossed Russian Blues, British Shorthairs, Abyssinians, and regular domestic cats with Siamese in an effort to increase their numbers. Many of the resulting cats did not have the characteristic colour points of the Siamese although they retained the same body shape and personality. These cats are now known as Oriental Shorthairs.

Oriental Shorthair Physical Characteristics

Photo credit: @couldbebela

Oriental Shorthairs are medium in size but feel heavier than they look with long, slender, muscular bodies. Their head forms a distinctive triangle set off with large ears, a straight nose and almond shaped eyes. The Oriental shorthair has long slender legs with the hind legs longer than the front legs and a long slender tail.

Back to top

Oriental Shorthair Personality

Photo credit: @bronxy_and_brooklyn

Oriental Shorthairs are highly intelligent, active cats that demand attention by constantly "talking" to anyone that will listen! They have a wide vocabulary and expect every meow, chirp and yowl to be answered immediately (if not sooner) by their humans as they follow them around the house.

When not shadowing a human, an Oriental Shorthair will often be found perched on top of a cupboard, refrigerator or any other high vantage point, supervising all activities.

Oriental Shorthairs are very affectionate and love to curl up on any available lap or next to a sleeping human. They thrive on company so, if you need to spend much time away from home, it is best to have a companion for your Oriental Shorthair.

Their high level of intelligence and thirst for play means they require lots of mental stimulation. They thrive on games and puzzles - and boredom is often the cause of their notorious mischief! These guys will need to keep their buzzing minds busy with a whole lot of interactive toys.

A clever breed with a keen motivation for food, the Oriental Shorthair is typically quite easy to train. Many Oriental owners even train their kitty to walk on a leash and harness.

Best toys and accessories for Oriental Shorthair cats

Gigwi Melody Chaser

Ideal for playful, intelligent cats like the Oriental Shorthair, the Gigwi Melody Chaser Parrot is interactive and will keep them entertained for hours.

The Catsentials Three Level Cat Tree

This cat tree has multiple levels for your Oriental Shorthair to jump and climb with plenty of room for their kitty companion.

Catit Senses Food Tree

With three levels of difficulty, this food dispensing toy will keep your clever Oriental Shorthair occupied for hours and help them maintain their sleek body shape.

Cat Harnesses

Due to their intelligence and ability to be trained, the Oriental Shorthai is the perfect cat for teaching how to walk on a lead and harness.

Back to top

Oriental Shorthair Diet and Nutrition

What to feed an Oriental Shorthair cat?

The Oriental Shorthair needs a premium, balanced diet to support their busy minds and bodies and ensure they thrive. A calorie controlled or "indoor cat" diet is appropriate for less active Oriental Shorthairs to maintain their sleek appearance. Oriental Shorthairs are prone to dental disease so will definitely benefit from a "dental" formula. A mixture of wet and dry food is recommended to keep your Oriental Shorthair in tip top shape. Feeding regular wet food meals along with dry kibble is a simple way to increase your cat's water intake to ensure adequate hydration and help support urinary tract health.

For Oriental Shorthair cats, a kitten diet is required until they are fully grown, which is usually around 12 months of age.

Top dry food for adult Oriental Shorthairs

Advance Triple action Dental Care

This premium Australian made dry food is perfect for supporting your cat's dental health.

Hills Science Diet Indoor Cat

This premium quality, highly digestible formula contains a unique blend of ingredients designed to support the maintenance of a healthy weight in indoor cats.

Royal Canin Siamese

Formulated specifically for Siamese and Oriental cats, this diet is tailored with nourishing omega oils to maintain healthy skin and shiny coat, and a special kibble shape to encourage chewing and prevent dental disease.

Back to top

Top wet foods for Oriental Shorthairs

Royal Canin Sensory Multipack

Royal Canin Adult Sensory combines three important elements at meal times, with each portion of food ensuring important sensations are stimulated for your Exotic Shorthair's sense of smell, touch, and feel.

Advance Cat Adult Wet Cat Food

With a lower calorie level and lean proteins including ocean fish or chicken and turkey in a rich jelly, this premium wet food is specially formulated to keep Exotic Shorthair cats trim and healthy.

Ziwi Peak Wet Cat Food

Rich in free range New Zealand meats, sustainably sourced fish and green lipped mussel, Ziwi canned foods are packed with natural, wholesome nutrition to suit all adult cats.

Hill's Science Diet Feline Wet

These high quality wet cat food formulas are easily digested and contain proven nutrition to support your cat's health and wellbeing.

Oriental Shorthair Health Problems

Although Oriental Shorthairs usually lead long and happy lives, there are some diseases they are predisposed to. These include:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited disease which causes deterioration of the rods and cones in the retina of the eye and eventually leads to blindness. Most affected cats show signs of vision loss after 3 to 5 years of age and the first symptoms are often associated with difficulty seeing in the dark or "night blindness". Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this disease and affected cats will become blind within months to years after first showing symptoms.


1. Feline Juvenile Gingivitis may affect any cat breed, but Oriental breeds are particularly prone. This condition causes inflammation of the gums around the teeth and is usually diagnosed between 7-10 months of age. A rarer and similar condition called Feline Juvenile Periodontitis also exists, which involves the attachment of the tooth to underlying bone.

2. Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a serious condition caused by deposits of an abnormal protein, called amyloid, in tissues and organs throughout the body. This disease is thought to be genetic in cats however the mode of inheritance is still unknown. Affected cats typically develop symptoms of Amyloidosis between one to five years of age. The disease may progress rapidly or progression may be over several years. The liver and kidneys are most commonly affected organs leading to symptoms including excessive drinking and urination, lethargy, inappetance, weight loss, and jaundice. Learn more about Amyloidosis here.

3. Feline Hyperaesthesia Syndrome

Feline Hyperaesthesia Syndrome is a condition where affected cats are overly sensitive to touch or other stimulation of the skin and nerves. Rippling or twitching of skin on the lower back, both after touch and for no apparent reason, is a common symptom, as is biting or licking the lower back, sides, hind paws, rear, or tail. This condition is thought to be inherited in Oriental Shorthairs. Learn more about Feline Hyperaesthesia here.

Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

How To Choose the Perfect Cat Furniture

Teach Your Cat to Walk on a Lead in 3 Steps

Which Cat Litter is Best for Me?

What is the Best Grain Free Cat Food?

Why Do Cats Knead?