Oriental Longhair
Oriental Longhair

The ideal Oriental Longhair is a svelte cat with long, tapering lines. The body is fine-boned, elongated, tubular, and lithe, but muscular. The head is a long, tapering wedge in good proportion to the body. The total wedge starts at the nose and flares out in straight lines to the tips of the ears, forming a triangle with no break at the whiskers. Ears are very large, pointed, wide at the base, and set wide on the head, the outside edge continuing the wedge lines of the face. The neck is slender, the legs are long and thin, and the tail is long, not kinked, and tapers to a point. The eyes are almond-shaped, medium in size, not crossed, and either blue, green, or odd-eyed, depending upon the coat color and pattern. Eyes are set not less than one eye width apart, with a slight slant toward the nose. Adult males weigh 7 to 10 pounds; adult females weigh 5 to 8 pounds. Show Oriental Longhairs are not bony, flabby, or fat. Allowable outcrosses are Siamese, Colorpoint Shorthair, Oriental Shorthair, and Balinese.

This breed’s fine-textured coat is medium length and silky, and lies close to the body, except for the plumage on the tail, which is lush, feathery, and considerably longer than the body hair. Colors and patterns are too numerous to name, but are divided into the classes of solid, shaded, smoke, parti-color, tabby, and bicolor. The newest class, bicolor, doubles the possible combinations. All these variables make for a bewildering array of possibilities, but some colors are more common than others. For example, solid ebony, pure white, and some of the tabby patterns are popular. Because the Oriental is accepted in so many colors and patterns, breeders usually specialize in a few favorites.


The Oriental Longhair is essentially a Siamese not limited to short hair, the colorpoint pattern, and few color choices. The Oriental Longhair is accepted in more than 300 color and pattern combinations. The breed was deliberately developed from the colorful Oriental Shorthair; the fanciers involved wanted a breed that had the same wide range of colors and patterns but with a longer coat. In the late 1970s, breeders crossed the Oriental Shorthair with the Balinese (longhaired Siamese), and the Oriental Longhair was born. In 1985, the breed achieved championship status in TICA. In 1988, the Oriental Longhair was accepted by CFA for registration and in the early 1990s for championship.

To really understand the Oriental Longhair, however, you have to know a bit about the colorful history of the Oriental Shorthair breed. The Oriental Shorthair was developed in the 1950s from crosses between the Siamese, the domestic shorthair, and the Abyssinian. The breed has the body style and personality of the Siamese but is not restricted to the colorpoint pattern; the Oriental Shorthair comes in every color of the rainbow except green—that color is reserved for the beautiful, almond-shaped eyes (the OSH may have green or blue eyes, or one of each, depending upon the coat’s color and pattern).

In 1995, CFA combined the Oriental Shorthair and the Oriental Longhair into one breed called the Oriental. The Oriental Longhair became a division of the Oriental breed, and suddenly breeding and registering the Oriental Longhair was much easier. For example, if two Oriental Shorthairs produced longhaired kittens (possible if both parents possessed the recessive longhair gene), those kittens could now be registered and shown in the longhair division instead of being sold or given away as pets. And when Oriental Longhair breeders cross back to the Siamese or Oriental Shorthair to maintain the proper head and body type and keep the bloodline diverse and healthy, any shorthair kittens born in those litters can be registered and shown as Oriental Shorthairs.

It also meant the Oriental Shorthair’s colors and patterns were acceptable for the Oriental Longhair. The same year, CFA accepted bicolor for the Oriental, which increased the number of possible colors and patterns to more than 300.

The Oriental Longhair is still quite rare, but the breed has fans and is gaining more. The breed appeals to the cat lover who wants the long, svelte body type and talkative temperament of the Siamese, the semi-long wash-and-wear hair of the Balinese, and the rainbow of colors of the Oriental Shorthair. Many breeders who work with the Oriental Longhair also work with the Oriental Shorthair, and often with the Siamese or one or more of the other Siamese-derived breeds as well.

Key Facts:

Did You Know?

Despite the breed’s name, the Oriental Longhair’s coat is only medium length. It lacks the easily tangled, downy undercoat common to some longhaired breeds. Grooming is quick and simple.

Behavior and Personality:

The myriad colors and patterns may catch your attention, but the vivacious personality of the Oriental Longhair holds it. Very active, playful, and entertaining cats, they are always underfoot and want to be involved in all of your activities, from aerobics to quiet evenings by the fire. A tall cat tree is necessary to keep your Oriental Longhair from climbing to the top of the highest bookcase. There are few places Oriental Longhairs cannot reach, and their curiosity and intelligence makes it hard to keep them out of closed closets and cupboards. They hate closed doors, particularly when their special person is on the other side.

Extremely people-oriented and trusting, Oriental Longhairs generally form a close bond with one person. While friendly to others in the household, it’s clear who their preferred person is. They spend most of their time with their favorite human and eagerly await his or her return. Once you form that close emotional bond, Oriental Longhairs put complete trust in you. If left alone or ignored for too long, they become unhappy and depressed. With the proper amount of love and attention, however, Oriental Longhairs are completely devoted companions. Like most Siamese-derived breeds, they are snugglers, wanting to be on your bed, in your lap, and, most of all, at your side. The Oriental Longhair is not for those who work all day and have an active social life at night.

Although known to be demanding, noisy, and mischievous, these qualities endear them to their many fans. This breed’s vocal tone is generally softer and milder than that of the Siamese, but Oriental Longhairs still love to share all the intimate details of their day with their favorite person. They are never at a loss for words on any subject. Because they are vocal cats, they are also sensitive to your tone—harsh rebukes hurt their tender feelings.