Oriental (Shorthair Variety)
Origin: Siam (Thailand)
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The history of the Oriental Shorthair begins with the Siamese. Breeders from many different countries began to imagine Siamese cats "painted" in different colors. The most influential of these different-colored Siamese was developed in the 1950s in England, where breeders were attempting to produce a chocolate brown cat that was self-colored (meaning solid in color with no markings). This breed would eventually be called the Havana and came about from crosses between a chocolate point Siamese and either a black Domestic Shorthair or a Russian Blue. In the 1970s, the Havanas were imported to the United States and called Havana Browns. In 1974, when Orientals began to be developed in the U.S., most of these Havana Browns were reregistered as Orientals, as were Foreign Lavenders (whose development was similar to the Havana Browns).
In 1977, the Oriental Shorthair was accepted by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA). The breed standard of the Oriental is based on the Siamese standard but with many different colors and patterns added. The CFA made some changes to the breed in the mid-1990s. Oriental Shorthairs would often produce longhaired kittens in the same litter as shorthairs, but these longhaired kittens could not be shown as either Oriental Shorthairs or Oriental Longhairs, as they were a separate breed. In 1995, the CFA combined the Oriental Shorthair and the Oriental Longhair into one single breed called "Oriental" so that the offspring could be shown in the division to which they belong.
Orientals have been called the Greyhounds of the cat fancy because of their long, muscular shape.