Tortoiseshell Oriental Shorthair

The Oriental Shorthair group has grown rapidly in popularity over recent years, thanks in part to the svelte appearance of these cats and their personable natures. The Tortoiseshell form is essentially a female-only variety, as a result of a genetic quirk, with any males which are produced being sterile. Be aware that these cats can first come into season when they are only five months old, so early neutering is necessary to prevent unwanted kittens.

The patterning of the Tortoiseshell Oriental is instantly recognisable. The close relationship of these cats to the Siamese is clearly reflected in their highly distinctive appearance. The development of the Tortoiseshell variants of the Oriental stems from pairings of both Hakanas and Blacks with Red Point Siamese.

  • COUNTRY: United Kingdom
  • TYPE: Shorthair
  • TortoiseshellBODY SHAPE: Slender and athletic
  • WEIGHS UP TO: 12 pounds (5.5kg)
  • PLUS POINTS: Attractive patterning and playful personality
  • WATCH POINTS: When on heat, these cats often call loudly and persistently.


The coat colour of the Ebony Tortoiseshell – as this particular variety is sometimes called to distinguish it from other forms –is a mix of black, red and paler cream fur, with the overall patterning being highly individual. There should be no large areas of a single colour dominating in the coat; the colours should combine together instead to create an attractive even patchwork.

In common with other Orientals, the eyes of these cats are green, with their fur being fine and glossy. They require little grooming to maintain their immaculate, sleek appearance, with a weekly brushing usually being adequate. During the moulting period, breeders sometimes wipe their cats’ coats with a damp chamois leather, which helps to mop up loose hairs rather than having them shed around the home.

Orientals are resourceful cats, who can learn to open cupboard doors with their paws, and can even open pedal bins to obtain scraps from within. All the Tortoiseshell Oriental forms are affectionate and playful by nature, making excellent companions for young and old alike.

A range of tortie colour forms exist within the Oriental breed. They include Chocolate tortie, where the black colour in the fur is replaced by chocolate brown, and the Blue and Cream or Dilute tortie.

  • These cats are sometimes referred to as Oriental Particolours, because of the way the coat consists of patches of different contrasting colours.
  • The tortoiseshell description derives from the shell pattern of the Hawksbill Turtle, which has dark and light patches of colour.