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. History:
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.