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Siamese Cat vs. Oriental Shorthair Cat: What Do I Choose? (With Pictures)

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on May 8, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Siamese vs Oriental Shorthair

Siamese Cat vs. Oriental Shorthair Cat: What Do I Choose? (With Pictures)

Both the Siamese and Oriental Shorthair have similar physical traits. It can be hard to tell the difference between these two breeds, which makes it even harder to figure out which one works better for you. Both of these cats bond closely with their humans and tend to be more outgoing than your average cat. Sometimes, these cats may even be prone to separation anxiety.

However, these cat breeds aren’t exactly the same and their differences can make a huge impact on owning them. Let’s have a look at both of these breeds, as well as the differences between them.

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Visual Differences

Siamese vs Oriental Shorthair side by side
Image Credit: (L) Altsva, Shutterstock | (R) Elena Masiutkina, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Siamese
  • Origin: Thailand
  • Size: 8–15 pounds
  • Lifespan: 15 years max
Oriental Shorthair
  • Origin: Thailand and the United States
  • Size: 8–12 pounds
  • Lifespan: 15 years max

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Siamese Overview

The Siamese cat was one of the very first Asian breeds to be recognized in the western world. They’re native to Thailand, which is actually home to many different cat breeds. Thailand was once called Siam, hence the breed’s name.

The Siamese first became popular in Europe and North America around the 1800s. However, the feline has changed a lot from those early days.

seal point siamese cat standing on scratching barrel meowing
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Appearance

Siamese cats have long, muscular bodies and triangular heads. Their eyes are often blue, and their ears are extremely large. The modern feline features the color point pattern, though the breed likely had other coat types years ago.

The breed’s coat color is caused by a form of albinism. The enzyme that creates the coat’s pigment becomes heat sensitive in Siamese cats. Therefore, pigment is only produced in the cat’s extremities, which are much cooler than other parts of the body. All Siamese cats are born completely white due to the warmth of their mother’s womb.

Temperament

Siamese cats are often very friendly. They’re very outgoing cats that tend to love everyone. As they’re extremely people-oriented, these felines are known to follow their humans around the house and meow for attention. Their call is extremely high-pitch and often compared to a cry. They’re considerably noisy compared to other breeds. Due to their tendency to follow their humans around the house, this breed often gets described as “dog-like.”

With that said, they can suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for too long. They aren’t necessarily the best pet for families that are gone for much of the day. Many people suggest adopting two cats so that they can help keep each other company. However, remember that this does mean twice the work.

a seal point siamese cat in brown background
Image Credit: Altsva, Shutterstock

Health

Siamese cats tend to be less healthy than others, for one reason or another. About 68% of Siamese cats live over 10 years, which leaves a surprisingly large amount passing away before their 10th birthday. Many deaths are due to mammary tumors and similar cancers. Their median lifespan seems to be about 14.2 years. However, many felines do pass away far before this.

This breed may also be prone to gastrointestinal problems. However, they seem to have a lower risk for urinary tract disease, which is surprisingly common in other cats. They aren’t the most unhealthy cat breed out there, but they aren’t the healthiest, either.

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Oriental Shorthair Overview

The Oriental Shorthair was developed directly from the Siamese cat. However, this breed was specifically bred and developed in America, despite having strong roots in Asia. They share many of the same temperament and physical traits as a Siamese cat. However, they do have several key differences.

oriental shorthair cat
Image Credit: Ambiento, Shutterstock

Appearance

Oriental Shorthair cats were bred from Siamese felines. Therefore, their appearance is pretty similar to the previous cat we discussed. These felines do come in a range of coat colors, unlike the Siamese. They don’t have the same pointed coat all the time, but they absolutely can.

These cats tend to be very slender with long legs. Their ears are extremely large, and their almond-shaped eyes can come in a range of different colors. Often, they have green eyes, but variations exist.

This breed only has short hair. However, the Oriental Longhair is an extremely similar breed with longer fur.

Temperament

This breed acts very similarly to the Siamese. Oriental Shorthair cats tend to connect readily with people and be very outgoing. They are curious about their surroundings and remain playful into adulthood. It isn’t odd for them to follow their owners around the house looking for attention. They may even greet you at the door. These behaviors make them pretty dog-like.

Oriental Shorthairs also tend to be loud. They meow a lot and have “conversations” with their people. Many describe them as conversationalists for this reason.

Black Oriental Shorthair in the grass
Image Credit: jojosmb, Shutterstock

Health

The Oriental Shorthair tends to be pretty healthy. Their close relationship with the Siamese does cause them to be prone to about the same health conditions and live for about the same period. They have a lower instance of being overweight than other cat breeds, likely due to their already slim body.

This breed may be prone to asthma and other breathing issues. They may have crossed eyes, which were once very common in Siamese cats. They’re also prone to gastrointestinal conditions, eye problems, and congenital heart issues. Choosing your cat from a quality breeder can help prevent health issues.

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What Are the Differences Between a Siamese and Oriental Shorthair?

The Oriental Shorthair can come in a range of different colors and patterns. The Siamese only comes in a pointed coat, though. Otherwise, their physical characteristics are pretty much the same, including their triangular head and lean body.

Each cat’s eye color is also different. Siamese almost exclusively has blue eyes, while the Oriental Shorthair has brown eyes.

The felines due differ genetically in many ways. For instance, the Oriental Shorthair does not always carry the albinism gene that makes the Siamese pointed. They absolutely can, but they don’t have to. There are other ways they differ genetically, too, but these are less apparent.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

In most domains, these two breeds are extremely similar—to the point that which one you choose doesn’t really matter. They act extremely similar with no over-arching differences between breeds. Furthermore, both cats can be pointed, though the Oriental Shorthair doesn’t have this coat all the time.

The Oriental Shorthair was bred from the Siamese, which is why both breeds are extremely similar. In the end, the one you choose largely depends on what coat color you’re interested in, as well as which breed is easier to find in your area. Both these breeds have the same temperament and health, so those shouldn’t be deciding factors.

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Featured Image Credit: (L) Suwanon Wongsaphan, Shutterstock | (R) Ambiento, Shutterstock

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