The Oriental Longhair may evoke visions of a elegant cat from the far east, but in truth, this is a more modern breed than the pointed cats one thinks of in Asia. The breed is a worldwide effort, coming from the much more popular breeds of the Oriental Shorthair and Balinese. Oriental Longhairs share the same physical traits and color variety as the Oriental Shorthair, with the coat type being the primary difference.
The history of the Oriental Longhair is the story of the Oriental Shorthair. The Oriental Shorthair was recognized as a breed in the 1970s in various registries. Oriental Shorthairs were made in the effort to widen the gene pool of the Siamese, as well as put new and interesting coat colors on the refined body of the Siamese. Balinese, the longhair version of Siamese, soon followed suit. The longhair offspring had a few different names, with the most common one being the Oriental Longhair.
The Oriental Longhair has a semi longhair coat that requires very little grooming. The torso and legs should be smooth, with a coat that looks “painted on” the cat. The real star of the show in the Oriental Longhair is the long plume tail.Some Oriental Longhairs have “floofs” on the backs of the ears, which are tufts of fur. These “floofs” seem to be seasonal, and vary from cat to cat on length. Many people who see an Oriental Longhair for the first time may be confused by the name “longhair” as this cat has a much different coat than that of a Persian or Maine coon. If the cat is young, or even sitting on his tail, they can be almost mistaken for a Oriental Shorthair. It is the combination of the fine, elegance of the Oriental Shorthair and the soft, feathery plume tail that makes this breed beautiful. Coat colors can have a slightly different appearance in longhair Orientals, with Ticking being one of the examples. The lack of undercoat combined with longer length gives this breed a unique look when it comes to coat patterns. Some people with allergies find they they can live happily with Oriental Longhair or Balinese cats.
The Oriental Longhair has the same personality type and traits of its cousin breeds, the Oriental Shorthair. They are smart, sensitive cats that need and want warmth, since they do not have an undercoat. Orientals are known for their fondness of cuddling with other cats. Orientals often need another cat in their life to be happy, as most will become depressed without one. This is why many breeders place these cats in pairs.
If you have one of these cats in your home, you can expect your counters to be surfed on, your food to have a bite taken out of it, sinks to be played in, and garbage cans to be pillaged. This is a breed that you must outsmart rather than force, as they do not take kindly to manhandling. They are a breed who uses vocalizations to express emotion. Many can be leash and tricked trained. Orientals are masters at cuddling, with some who even sleep under the covers with owners at night.
Every cat is an individual, and genetics along with environment can determine the temperament of the cat. Shyness can be a factor in this breed, however, many breeders are trying to breed away from it. Orientals can be extremely sensitive to change, and a sudden, drastic change (such as being sent to a shelter) can revert them back to a feral state. These cats are often mistook as un-socialised when they are not. Shy Orientals should be given special accommodations and considerations when placed into new settings.
Oriental Longhairs make wonderful pets to those who can meet their needs. Once you befriend one of these cats, you will have more than just a pet; You will have a being who understands your emotions and provide you with entertainment and beauty every day.