First of all, let’s clarify the difference there is between Oriental and Siamese cats. Both belong to the group of Oriental shorthair breeds, with identical standards and they both boast Siamese (today Thai) origins, hence the names. Ancient Thai manuscripts show cats of both breeds, which can be recognized by their colors, uniform for the Oriental. Cats where taken to England whence they spread across Europe, and cat lovers began working on the selection.
Until 1923, breeding solid-colored cats was disputable, as the British Siamese Cat Club was against is, supporting only the Siamese and blue-eyed Himalayan cats, whose markings are the same.
Eventually, uniform color cats were completely excluded from the Siamese branch and breeding vanished, only to reappear in the 60’s. At the time, breeders were going for slim, monochrome shorthaired cats, like the Russian blue, or the Havana, whose color match that of the Havana rabbits, or cigar. These mono-color breeds were eventually dubbed Oriental.
There is also the Seychellois cat whose bi-colored hair, which was obtained by crossing bi-colored Orientals and Siamese. Their name has nothing to do with the islands, and means nothing in terms of origin. Such coloration in cats is only obtained by careful breeding and does not naturally exist. Oriental breeds registration with the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) officially began in 1974, when there already were 60 nurseries.
So how can you tell if a cat is Siamese or Oriental? The answer is simple: colors, hair and eyes. The Siamese has a point coloration, that is a pale body and dark extremities–face, ears, feet, tail and in the case of a male, scrotum. It also has blue eyes. On the other hand, the Oriental has a solid color, and green eyes. As was earlier mentioned, the rest of the criteria are identical: a strong slim body with refined bones. The neck is long, ending with a wedge shaped head and two rounded ears. It has a long flat and sharp nose and lacks dimples. The tip of the nose and the point of the lower jaw are on the same line. It has elongated, almond shaped eyes set somewhat obliquely. The coat is short, shiny, tight to the body and has no undercoat, the tail boasting the longest one. Mating Oriental and Siamese is legitimate and kittens are categorized depending on their phenotypes — the physical manifestation of the genotype. Therefore both species can be born from the same litter.
Of course, the hallmark of both Oriental and Siamese cats is their specific character. Such cats are not the rambling type but instead prefer to remain close to their “human partner,” which doesn’t exclude a rugged temperament. This cat is genuine royalty and loves to be the center of attention. The love of them must be confirmed over and over again. They easily grant their time and affection and require the same in return. Thus they will greet you from work, follow you around, will match your schedule and recognize the mood in which you are. It is important that they feel like a member of the family. They love active games like playing with a piece of rumpled paper or bringing back an object, but can also walk on a leash. They are curious and energetic and will take part in all of your activities.
Yet, if these are inherent characters to both species, never forget: each cat is different.
Siamese cats are originally used to battle snakes in their homeland. They will efficiently get rid of them, their quick responses helping them avoid the bites, but do not kill and ‘show off’ like other cats would.
These cats are easy to maintain, needing no less and no more than balanced food. The main difficulty is their sensitivity to cold. Drafts in the environment should be avoided as much as possible.
Being myself an owner and breeder of such cats, I can say that they are smart, easygoing, active, loving and sociable. Give them your love and care, and they will give you their all in return. Once an Oriental cat lover, always an Oriental cat lover…
Olga Shatokhina 2013.