Oriental Longhair: Cat Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

oriental longhair cat

Jo Randall / Flickr / CC by 2.0

 

The elegant Oriental Longhair closely resembles its relative the Siamese but has a much more recent history. They are a curious, good-natured and very talkative breed that is best suited to a home where they will have a lot of company. They also come in an outstanding array of color and pattern combinations.

Breed Overview

Weight: 8 to 12 pounds

Length: Long and slender

Coat: Medium to long coat, fine and silky

Coat Color: Wide array of coat colors and patterns

Eye Color: Green, blue, or odd-eyed

Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Oriental Longhair

Affection Level  High
Friendliness  Medium
Kid-Friendly  High
Pet-Friendly  High
Exercise Needs  Medium
Playfulness  High
Energy Level  High
Intelligence  High
Tendency to Vocalize High
Amount of Shedding Medium
Oriental Longhair distinct tail
Here you can see the full plumed tail of the Oriental Longhair. Agency Animal Picture/ Getty Images
Solid Colored Oriental Longhair
This solid color Oriental Longhair also has more whiskers around the face. Heikki Siltala /Wiki Media Commons/ Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License

History of the Oriental Longhair

Oriental Cats can be categorized as long or short-haired, with the short-haired variety being much more common. While it is believed that a similar type of cat was developed in Turkey in the 19th century, with the introduction of the popular Persian cat, they quickly disappeared across Europe.

In the mid 20th century, breeders wanted to develop Siamese-like cats with a greater variety of coat colors and patterns. They began crossing Siamese with other breeds like Russian Blues, British Shorthairs and Abyssinians.

This was how the Oriental Cat was first born, and by the 1970s, they were being imported to the United States where they became incredibly popular. They were recognized as a breed in their own right by the Cat Fanciers Federation in 1977, but as the short-haired variety. In 1995 the Oriental Longhair was officially added to their listing.

The International Cat Association recognized the Oriental Longhair as a breed in its own right in 1979. While the short and long-haired variety are similar in temperament, the Longhair has a more lustrous, silky coat, and they have an impressive plumed tail. They are sometimes also referred to as the British Angora, which it was known as until the early 21st century.

Oriental Longhair Care

Oriental Longhairs share a lot of traits with their Siamese relatives. They are exceptionally curious and clever and, unless you keep them appropriately stimulated, they can get up to mischief, making their own amusement.

They are best suited to living in a household where they will have plenty of company. They are an exceptionally friendly breed that loves to be the centre of attention. Wherever you are in the house, your Oriental Longhair is likely to be close by your side.

Their affectionate and amiable personality means they also often do well in a multi-pet household. If introductions are done properly, it is not uncommon for your Oriental Longhair and the family dog to become fast friends.

Their friendly nature lends itself well to growing up with children too. Providing the children are respectful of the cat's space, they can be fun-loving, gentle and adventurous playmates.

As far as cats go, this breed is surprisingly trainable. They are incredibly smart, very inquisitive and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods.

Spending some time working on some tricks can endear your kitty to even the least cat-loving visitors. It will also strengthen the bond you have with them and help to keep them stimulated and entertained.

If you enjoy a tranquil household, then the Oriental Longhair would not be a good cat to bring home.

Like the Siamese, they are known for being exceptionally vocal and expressive. If they want to join in with something, get some attention, are not happy, or are just in a dippy mood, you will no doubt hear their loud and raspy mewl. Ignore them at your peril!

The Oriental Longhair looks very similar to their Siamese relatives, with distinctive triangular-shaped heads, large, wide ears and almond-shaped eyes. They have a long, slender and athletic body shape and a very distinct plumed tail.

The breed is also known for coming in a vast array of colors and patterns options. At close to 300 variations, this is way more than any other breed.

They don't have a double coat so, even though it is long, it does not require the intensive grooming of longer haired breeds like the Persian. A good brush out once a week to remove dead hairs should suffice.

Common Health Problems

The Oriental Longhair is generally considered a healthy breed. They can be prone to several inheritable conditions, though. You should always look for a breeder that carries out health screening on potential parents.

Some of the conditions that the breed is known for include:

  • Kinked Tails and Crossed Eyes: These are inherited quirks from their Siamese relatives. If your Oriental Longhair has either of these, it may make them look a little more unique, but it won't cause them any harm.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This is a gradual degenerative condition which ultimately leads to blindness.
  • Liver Amyloidosis: This involves amyloid proteins being deposited in the liver, and this reduces function and can lead to liver failure.

Diet and Nutrition

The breed is known to be prone to periodontal disease. It is thought they may be more at risk because of the shape of their long, slim face. It is important to feed a high-quality food to limit any issues and, if they tolerate it, tooth cleaning can also be beneficial.

PROS

  • Affectionate

  • Can live well with children and other animals

  • Playful and intelligent

CONS

  • Very vocal

  • Needs a lot of company

  • Needs a lot of stimulation

Where to Adopt or Buy an Oriental Longhair

Seeking out a reputable breeder will help to ensure that your kitten will be well socialized and healthy.

A good place to start your research is through the Cat Fanciers Federation list of recognized breeders.

Adopting a cat can be hugely rewarding, so why not reach out to your local shelters. You may find an Oriental Longhair, or another cat, that you fall in love with.

You can also search for the breed at Petfinder.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

Make sure that you do a ton of research before deciding if an Oriental Longhair is the right breed for you. Talk to other owners, reputable breeders and even enthusiastic breed clubs to get more information.

If you're are interested in similar breeds you could consider:

There are a whole host of cat breeds for you to investigate before you make a final decision.