Essentially a Siamese Cat with a Longer Coat
Shane Sykes - Last Updated on April 19th, 2021
Appearance Matters. What does the Oriental Longhair look like?
Long and lean, Oriental Longhair resembles the Siamese in their build, but has a medium-length (not truly "long") silky coat that's available in many colors including fawn, caramel, cinnamon, lilac, blue, black, chocolate, cream, red, or apricot, and a full range of patterns including smoke, tortoiseshell, tipping, shading, white or tabby.
The expressive eyes are almond-shaped and usually blue or green, although cats often appear with one eye of each color.
The Oriental cat is available in both a longhaired and shorthaired version. Known as an Angora in Britain, not to be confused with the popular Turkish Angora, the Oriental Longhair is a breed all its own.
In adulthood, the Longhaired Oriental weighs between 8 and 10 pounds, with females smaller.
It's all Personal. The Oriental Longhair Personality
As talkative, intelligent and personable as the Siamese (really, the Oriental of either coat length is simply a Siamese with a different coat), the Oriental Longhair is an exquisitely entertaining, vivacious, playful pet. This cat will want to be with you – indeed, underfoot – at all times, involved with everything you do.
Attracted to vigorous play, your pet also likes to "snuggle" or "couch potato" with you during quiet evenings. You'll need a cat tree for your Longhair, since this curious kitty lives up to its reputation and will be climbing other things – including bookcases, or fragile displays that may easily topple at the slightest disturbance. You won't be able to keep your pet out of closed places long, either, since these cats are insatiably curious and smart enough to open cupboards, closets, and just about anything else they want to get into and explore.
This cat loves people – especially you – and is very trusting. Although Longhairs generally form a close bond with one person it chooses as its "favorite," this kitty will also befriend anyone who is generous with much-desired attention.
Once attached to you, your pet will put complete trust in you, and you should not betray this trust in any way, including ignoring or leaving your pet alone for too long. This lovely, intelligent, sensitive cat is also prone to depression and unhappiness if left in isolation – even unintentionally. Make sure to pay close attention to your little shadow so you'll have a devoted companion by your side for life.
The Longhair adores its indoor life with people so much that it never needs to be an outdoor cat. Unless closely supervised, it's best to keep your cat indoors at all times, and it will be both happier and healthier for it.
The Health and Happiness of your Oriental Longhair Cat
Generally a hardy breed, Longhairs can live 15 years or longer as indoor cats. They can have typical Siamese weaknesses like amyloidosis, a liver disorder, and cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart muscle that reduces heart function. However, the more serious and often fatal disorder, called feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, is less common in Orientals than it is in other breeds.
These cats are also prone to gingivitis and tartar formation, which can lead to periodontitis. If possible, brush your pet's teeth regularly with a pet-friendly toothpaste using a pet toothbrush or a child-sized soft toothbrush. Gauze wrapped around your finger may make a more tolerable alternative for your cat if resistant to the brush.
Grooming is easy for the Oriental Longhair, since these cats don't have the typical undercoat of many long-haired cats, and the coat is only medium in length. An occasional good brushing is all that should be necessary – although feel free to do it more often, since your pet will adore the attention, and will also be much more used to being groomed if you do so, thus making your job easier as a result.
Feline History. Where does the Oriental Longhair come from?
Essentially, the Oriental Longhair is a Siamese cat with long rather than short hair, and is not limited to a few colors and point markings. Instead, the Oriental Longhair comes in more than 300 pattern and color combinations specifically developed from the Oriental Shorthair.
This was done because fanciers wanted a breed that had the same pattern and color options as the Oriental Shorthair, but with a medium-long coat instead of a short one. To that end, the Oriental Shorthair was crossed with the longhaired Siamese, known as the Balinese, and the Oriental Longhair was born. It was accepted into the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1988 for registration and was accepted for championship in the early 1990s.
Because the Oriental Longhair is essentially the Oriental Shorthair with a longer coat, the Longhair's history is that of the Shorthair's.
In the 1950s, the Shorthair was developed by crossing the Abyssinian, the standard domestic shorthaired cat, and Siamese. This resulted in a cat with the body style and personality of the Siamese cat, but with much broader selections of coat patterns and colors. The Shorthair comes in every color, with almond-shaped eyes usually of green or blue. Orientals can also have one eye of each color.
The Oriental Longhair and Shorthair were designated as one breed in 1995 by the CFA, which was simply referred to as the Oriental. Subsequently, the Longhair became a division of the breed, making it suddenly much easier to breed and register the Longhair derivation. This was beneficial for those who owned Oriental Shorthair parents that produced litters of kittens where one or two were Longhairs. Now, those Longhaired kittens could be shown as Longhairs, instead of having to be designated as not suitable for show, and could be sold as eligible for competition.
This also increased the number of patterns and colors acceptable for the Longhair as designated by the CFA. Once bicolor was accepted in 1995, the number of possible patterns and colors exploded to more than 300.
While still rare, the Longhair has devoted fans worldwide and is gaining exposure and recognition. It's an exquisite breed that appeals to those who want a talkative, svelte "Siamese" in a longer, no-fuss coat in any number of colors and patterns rather than simple "points" and a minimal choice of color.