The Oriental cat is a favorite of cat lovers and breeders alike for its striking appearance and for its loving personality, which can be quite vocal.
The breed was developed in England back in the 1950s, and represents several varieties that originated from the Siamese lineage; by one definition, the Oriental is a non-spotted version of the Siamese.
These cats began to become popular in the US in the 1970s, and the Cat Fancier Association recognized the Oriental Shorthair, which is characterized by a sturdy and silky body and prominent ears, in 1977.
The CFA, in turn, recognized the Oriental Longhair, which is as its name suggests a variant with a plush coat and tail, in 1995.
Oriental cats today come in literally hundreds of variations in the hue, thickness and pattern of their fur.
Should you Purchase Pet Insurance for your Oriental Cat?
As is often the case, selective breeding both creates these beautiful animals and is responsible for their susceptibility to certain illnesses.
Oriental cats are known to be particularly prone to:
- Hereditary Dilated Cardiomyopathy: this congenital defect that interferes with proper contraction of one of the ventricles of the heart. The result can be anything from blood clots to heart failure. Diagnosis requires an electrocardiogram and often an ultrasound. Medicines can often help an afflicted cat to live a fairly normal life and lifespan.
- Liver Amyloidosis: this condition occurs when a cat’s body makes an abnormal protein, amyloid, that builds up in the body. Amyloidosis is particularly serious when it affects organs like the liver, but it can be difficult to diagnosis since the symptoms—such as anorexia, vomiting and buildup of fluid in the abdomen—can be caused by any number of problems. Diagnosis depends on thorough urinalysis and blood work, and may require a liver ultrasound or biopsy. The disease can frequently be managed with blood transfusions or with surgery to remove damaged parts of the liver.
- Feline Cancer: Orientals are one of the types of cat breeds that tend to suffer a higher incidence of cancers than is usual in cats. Advances in veterinary medicine in recent years have created new drug and surgery options for treating feline cancers of many types.
- Feline Asthma: Orientals are also somewhat more liable to develop asthma than most cats. Rapid diagnosis is important in order to prevent the occurrence of pneumonia and other life-threatening respiratory illnesses. Asthma can often be controlled in cats using drugs, but it may be necessary to identify causes in the affected cat’s environment.
- Strabismus (crossed eyes): Siamese of all types may be born with or may develop crossed eyes. Strabismus may cause no problem for a cat, or it may be symptomatic of a serious neurological condition, or of such illnesses as leukemia or meningitis. Diagnosis requires a thorough ophthalmological examination or X rays of the skull. Treatment is based on identifying the underlying cause.
Oriental owners need to prepare themselves for the possibility that their pets may at any point develop one of these or another condition that can decrease enjoyment and length of cats’ lives.