1993 Yearbook Article
The story of the Oriental Shorthair is a story of an ideal made real. More than most other breeds of cats, the Oriental Shorthair has been produced through our knowledge of genetics and logical aspects of cat breeding. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the breed is the cooperation that has produced the breed as a while as well as many of its best cats. It was no accident that in the breeds’ first year of championship status, an Oriental Shorthair was the 18th best cat in the country. Within only a few years the breed has become the sixth ranked breed in CFA and the fourth ranked among shorthair cats in terms of numbers of cats registered. Many people working together have made these cats what they are today, so it is appropriate that the story of the Oriental Shorthair should be told not by one but by many.
Not everybody who has contributed to this elegant breed has contributed to this article. This however, does not lessen their contributions to the breed. Sincere apologies are extended to anyone who could have added to this article; but who was not contacted.
The Oriental shorthair has no legends to justify its existence, no history of exotic lands of origin, no mystique of religious importance – in fact, almost no history at all. The early colonial stories of the Oriental Shorthair came from the dark depths of the early years of the 1970s. The breed’s pre-colonial history inEngland with a few forays in America , dates to only a couple of decades before that. The Oriental Shorthair is, in fact, a thoroughly modern cat.
This is not to say that the Oriental Shorthair did not have close relatives in remote times and places. The Oriental is actually nothing more or less than a Siamese cat with a designer wardrobe and we all know that the Siamese has a history that extends into the very distant past. The people of Siam did not regard the pointed cat as their only prized feline. They knew and loved cats of many different colors, including the Si-Sawat (blue) and the Supalak (copper-brown). These cats were not only the ancestors of today's Korats and Burmese; but were also the solid blue and Chestnut Siamese cats of that time. Currently, in Bangkokapproximately 20% of domestic cats are pointed; the rest appear in the full spectrum of feline hues.
The Siamese cat, seal-pointed variety, was brought to England well before the turn of the century. They were rare, exotic, and quite a prize to bring home after excursions into the mysterious East. In 1896, Mr. Spearman just home form Siam , exhibited his new blue cat in the Siamese class. The cat was disqualified due to color despite its place of birth, possibly the cat was pointed but some reports indicate that was solid blue. There was continuing confusion about what was and what was not a Siamese cat until the late 1920s when the British Siamese Cat Club issues the following statement: “The club much regrets it is unable to encourage the breeding of any but blue-eyed Siamese.” From that time on, solid colored cats with yellow or green eyes were excluded from the Siamese classes at shows – and that, temporarily was the end of the Oriental Shorthair.
World War II
During World War II cat breeding fell on hard time in Europe . After the war, breeders once again compromised the absolute purity of Siamese cats. Russian Blues and svelte cats of uncertain ancestry were used to flush out the gene pool. American breeders can obtain GCCF pedigrees for imported Siamese behind CFA’s top winning and producing Siamese, tracing ancestry to Russian Blues and black hybrids. A black hybrid was a solid black cat with both Siamese and non-Siamese (often Russian Blue) ancestry, rather like a modern Oriental Shorthair. Since the gene for point restricted color is recessive, the British Siamese breeders knew that non-pointed ancestry would not affect any pointed cat’s ability to breed true to Siamese. Thus the Siamese was saved from potential extinction from a restricted gene pool (too small a breeding population) and there came to be a number of solid colored cats of Siamese type. These hybrids peaked they interest of British breeders, and soon a new breed of cat was in the works.
The Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies
In the 1950’s a breed of solid brown cats with Siamese type was developed. They were initially called Havanas and had the same type standard as the Siamese. Some traveled to the U.S.A. where they became known as Havana Browns and where they drifted from the British standard, developing a type all their own. In 1958 the GCCF recognized the British cats as Chestnut Brown Foreigns. These cats conform to the Siamese type standard and are the same cat as today’s solid chestnut Oriental Shorthairs. British breeders soon developed solid lavenders and blue-eyed whites and over the next decade had produced solids and tabbies of Siamese type in many colors. In a very British mix of eccentricity and pure logic, the GCCF considers each color a separate breed. All the “foreign” type cats, however, were allowable outcrosses to each other and all kittens were registered according to color since the standard for type was the same.
In the U.S.A. at the end of the ‘60s a few American breeders in various parts of the country worked towards CFA recognition of various colors of Siamese type cats. One the west coast Irene Grizzi worked with ebonies and reds, while Betty Purseglove in Michigan had a white program. Mrs. Hackett and Ann Billheimer (Tawnee Cattery) both worked with chestnuts and lavenders, which were the most successful of these early Orientals to be. Mrs. Billheaimer presented a lovely lavender male at the 1972 CFA board meeting who received much acclaim; but due to the lack of numbers the lavenders never made it past registration status. A cohesive program did not exist, and these oriental type cats stayed home where only their owners could admire them.
In the summer of 1971, Judy Hymus (Thomas) then a Colorpoint Shorthair breeder went to England to look for lynx-points which GCCF considered part of the Siamese class. Judy visited the home of Angela Sayers (Solitaire cattery). While on the grounds she was delighted to see fancy birds and pheasants and a beautiful dark blue cat of Siamese type with bright green eyes. In the house was a litter of black and brown kittens of similar type. Angela called them Foreign Shorthairs and explained their ancestry. Judy saw similar cats at the Saunders’ Lymekiln cattery in Scotland . In her travels Judy did acquire a lynx-point from the Warner’s Spotlight cattery. Back in the U.S.A. , this lynx-point attracted the attention of several Siamese breeders, including Vicky Markstein. Vicky was showing a Siamese male she obtained from Dick and Barbara Levitan, Felitan Frodo of Petmark, towards a national win. Judy told Vicky about Angela Sayers’ incredible navy blue cat with lime green eyes. The Marksteins went to England the next summer to look at, not only Siamese, but “those elegant cats of another color” that were soon called Oriental Shorthairs. (* denotes pictured cats)
Looking for Standard
A group of New York area cat fanciers, primarily Siamese breeders, met informally at the Markstein’s house in the very next year to discuss the possibility of non-pointed Siamese-type cats and to determine a provisional standard and potential colors for this new breed. The first official meeting of Oriental Shorthairs International (OSI) took place on October 19, 1973. The group was articulate, intelligent, and rowdy (rather like the cats that they were soon to breed). Some were already successful breeders of top show Siamese. They discussed the possible standard at length. Should it be the Siamese standard, word for word, except for color? What should the new colors be called?
Since none of the original OSI members had Orientals at home before the formed the standard, sentiment did not interfere with the desire for an ideal cat, which was to be a perfect Siamese in brand new clothes. As a result the only changes to the Siamese standard were the removal of the word “medium” from the description of the head and the word “dainty” from the description of the body. These breeders felt that both the words dainty and medium interfered with the description, long. Bill Eisenman, a charter member of OSI says that at that time there was a tendency towards miniaturization in the Siamese classes due to “dainty” being misinterpreted as a description of size. The Oriental breeders felt that there was no room for ‘cuteness’ or undersized cats in the ideal long, lean, tall and elegant cat. A fact with which Siamese breeders concurred, as some time later the word dainty was removed from the Siamese standard.
Color descriptions, however, are another matter. All of this idealistic high-mindedness had some OSI members waxing poetic in their desire to make the Oriental colors sound distinctive while other members wanted the colors to remain consistent with CFA norms. After the dust settled ebony, lavender and chestnut had been voted in, but ivory, apricot and peach had lost to more sensible white, red and cream. Another big issue was whether bicolors should be allowed. Since most of the new Oriental breeders had been Siamese and Colorpoint breeders, they wanted to adhere to colors acceptable in those breeds. Many of these breeders assumed that all the Siamese type cats, Siamese, Colorpoints and Orientals, would eventually end up to be divisions of one breed, the same that happened with the Persian colors and Himalayans. They did not want the white spotting factor to interfere with this. So, after much discussion, bicolors were disallowed primarily to remain consistent with Siamese and Colorpoint colors. Silver seemed to be an allowable exception to this rule of thumb for colors because at that time silver was thought to be at the same locus as the Siamese point color gene. In other words it was thought that a cat could not be pointed and silver at the same time (which turned out not to be true. It’s just very hard to tell if a pointed cat is silver except by breeding it). If that had been true, a pointed cat out of a silver cat could not have been silver so the presence of the silver gene in the Orientals would not carry over to the “Colorpoints” and “Siamese” out of Orientals. In fact, now that colorpoint colors out of Orientals compete in championship in the Colorpoint class it still doesn’t matter because silver lynx-point and tortie smoke-point Orientals almost always look exactly like their non-silver Colorpoint cousins in terms of color. The standard was submitted and quickly approved. CFA accepted the Oriental Shorthair for registration in October 1974.
Aside from the white spotting factor the Oriental breeders aim was to allow all possible domestic cat colors while conforming very firmly to the Siamese standard. Initially, several possible colors were left out inadvertently, many of which have since been added. For instance, dilute silver tabbies were not originally a listed color, blue and lavender silver tabbies were accepted in 1984. Even now not all theoretically possible colors have a color description and class number and even so some of the colors listed for the breed, like lavender shaded silver, have never yet been seen! Cinnamon and fawn (the dilute of cinnamon) were also not in the original color list although these colors have actually existed in the Siamese and colorpoint population for at least several decades. Most cinnamon and cinnamon carriers have descended from English imports where the color has been referred to as “light chocolate” and the double-dilute chocolate. The color apparently originated in a red Abyssinian outcross into the British Siamese in the 1960s. In the middle 1970s, the oriental breeders didn’t know that they were getting that particular bonus.
The charter members of OSI were very aggressive, not only in their pursuit of their ideal cat, but also popular support. OSI quickly enlisted the breeders of lavenders. Tawnee Ballerina, one of Ann Bilheimer’s cats, was one of the first CFA grands and other color proto-Orientals. By February 1974 seven British Orientals had arrived. The best Siamese belonging to OSI members were soon bred to these cats. By the time registration was accepted there were over 60 breeders and almost 100 cats!During the next year a great effort was made to recruit as many new breeders as possible and to register every single Oriental kitten. This massive registration drive, masterminded by Ann Tacetta, was undoubtedly a major factor in the Orientals being advanced to provisional status in October, 1975. Orientals now appeared regularly at shows where they wee very well received, not only by judges and exhibitors, but by the general public. The future already looked bright when, in an unprecedented move, CFA accepted all proposed colors for championship status in October 1976, effective May 1, 1977. Oriental Shorthairs had a running start: from an idea contemplated in 1973, to acceptance for registration in 1974, and to competing in championship two and a half years later. This sort of exhilarating beginning has never occurred before and will probably not happen again because, perhaps unfortunately, CFA no longer advances status so quickly.
The Orientals were an immediate success. Bill Eisenman remembers the first classes of Orientals as being beautiful, homogeneous in quality and type, and in startling colors. Judy Hymas-Thomas, after struggling for years to improve the type on Colorpoints, said that the Orientals were astonishing “like Athena springing full grown from the brow of Zeus, beautiful and mature.” How did this happen? Careful thought and cooperation from many breeders produced these cats, it was no accident.
The single most important cat behind the early Oriental Shorthair show-stoppers was probably NGRC Felitan Frodo* of Petmark, the most successful so how Siamese of the ‘70s. Frodo, a blue point, was Best Siamese and 13th Best Cat in 1972-1973. He was a cat of great elegance and style with phenomenally long legs, sweet disposition, and “horror of horrors” he dated tabbies and solids more often than cats of his own race. Several other Siamese cats also had a strong impact on the early Orientals, two of these cats CH Felitan Bilbo Baggins and a Frodo son CH Petmark Nescafe* were much more notable as breeders than as show cats. Both had very extreme type if not everything needed to be a top show cat. They mixed very well with the British import Orientals and the domestic pre-Orientals, which were generally appealing cats, but rather moderate in type.
Not every breeder is willing to chance the breeding of wildly different looking cats in hopes of creating the necessary balance and beauty of a show cat, but it does work. Alison Hedberg (Sand n’ Sea Cattery) was the kind of breeder who would, not only with her own cats, but also to help other breeders. Siamese and Oriental breeders alike remember Alison fondly as a person who was always willing to help a beginner. She was always looking towards the future of her breeds and the cat fancy as a while, as opposed to just gunning for personal success. The results of her efforts, therefore, are everywhere and live on in a multitude of pedigreed not just in fading memory. One of her most notable personal achievements was the breeding that produced the first top winning Oriental. Alison obtained a pretty little lavender tabby, Lolytin Danae of Sand n’ Sea,* who had been bred by Lynn Hirshfeld (Miller). Danae was out of a Frodo son, Petmark Wizard of Lolytin, and one of the imported Orientals, Harislau Myosotis, also a lavender tabby. Danae was a pretty, but moderate cat. With the hopes of producing a typier Oriental, Alison bred Danae to Nescafe who was everything but moderate or pretty. Nescafe had a head a million miles long, with legs to match, and a face that perhaps only a mother could love. The results were fabulous, not only a top twenty cat, but littermates such as Sand n’ Sea Bokar of Denali, who went on to found entire lines of Orientals. The top twenty cat was NGRC Sand n’ Sea Bikkuri of Jemwyck,* and this is hr story as told by her owner, Jayne E. Murray.
BIKKURI - Jayne E. Murray
The year was 1977, the date was January 5th, and on Cape Cod at the Sand n’ Sea Cattery a tiny lavender spotted tabby Oriental female, who was destined to become GRC NW Sand n’ Sea Bikkuri of Jemwyck, was born. It was a red letter day, although no one knew it at the time.
I remember, as though it was yesterday, watching a very pretty little kitten walking down the hall of Alison Hedberg’s house. A long legged little spotted creature, her long skinny tail straight up and waving back and forth as she walked. She was so special, loaded with confidence and elegance even at that age. She really was intriguing with that lavender spotted coat that covered a trim little body, and I asked Alison if she had any plans for her. Alison said no, and I promptly said I’d like to have her. Alison said “she’s yours,” and that was the beginning of a very exciting show season and a long love affair with Bikkuri.
Her show career began to flourish at her very first show when she finaled in every ring, with several Best Kitten awards. At Boston in September of 1977, as an open, she finaled in several rings and made her championship. The next month at the Garden State show, she was best champion in three rings and second best champion in the 4th ring. She missed becoming a grand at that show by 5 points, but took care of that two weeks later at the Nutmeg Cat Fanciers show in New Haven , Conn.She granded with 250 points. She was really living up to her name, which is Japanese for a pleasant surprise. Bikkuri and I went to one show a month and each show she continued to final. The biggest thrill came in February 1978 at the Empire cat show in New York City . The spectators at that show were, as usual, wall to wall and at times the crowd around Bikkuri’s cage was so deep that I couldn’t see her cage. The spectators dubbed her the “Pink Panther” and followed her around when she went up to the ring, and cheered when she was best Oriental in every ring. Sunday was a repeat of Saturday and Bikkuri was in his glory. Final time came and Bikkuri was awarded Best Cat in 3 rings and 8th Best Cat in the 4th. It was a very exciting and wonderful experience. It would have been perfect if Alison had decided to come to that show and witnessed her success.
Bikkuri was a very special cat, and I believe she knew it. She loved the shows, from her first in 1977 to her last show in 1986 when she was invited to be a guest of honor at the first annual show of the Oriental Shorthairs of America (OSA). She hadn’t been to a show since 1978, but she loved it, enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new ones that came to see her, and to take her picture. I was truly surprised at the number of people who stopped by.
The 1977-78 show season was truly a memorable one for Oriental Shorthairs. Bikkuri was Best Oriental and Fifth Best Cat in the National Awards. For the first time in CFA history a breed newly recognized for championship had a cat representing that breed win a place in the top twenty highest scoring cats in the country, the first year the breed was eligible for championship competition.
1979 saw another Oriental in the top 20, GRC Patapaw Firefly bred and owned by Marilyn T. Buchanan was 17th Best Cat. She was a lovely blue-cream cat and 2nd best cat in the Midwestregion. That same year had another winning Patapaw Oriental, GRC Patapaw Moonbeam; an ebony was 10th best cat in the Midwest . The North Atlantic region had two Orientals in its top ten with GRC Petmark Cappucina,* a chestnut bred and owned by the Marksteins as 4th best cat, and GRC Jecaro Blu-Jeans* bred and owned by Bill, Wanda and Jean Kunzelman was 8th best cat.
1980 was the year of the Perelandra cats. The best OSH and MW 8th best cat was GRC Perelandra’s Mnemosyne (bred and owned by Valerie and John Belevage), the second best was GRC Perelandra’s Esspresso of Eclat (owned by Diane Vlasak and Melba Katz), and Perelandra’s Tachyon was 4th best kitten. 1981 had a blue-eyed white, GRC Crystaljade Bianca of Petmark (bred by Randy and Deborah Murphy and owned by Yvonne McMurray), as best OSH . The second best was an ebony, Aviva's Kuro Neko (bred and owned by Jeff and Alicia Kaiser). This was the first time that a white was best OSH but certainly not the last as 1982 saw GRC Petmark Pola of Mayflower* (Bred by Peter and Vicky Markstein and owned by Muriel Slodden) as Best OSH. In 1983 and Oriental was again in the top twenty with GRC Ogimi Dorien Grey, a lavender tabby bred by Robert and Barbara Gordon, owned by J. Gordon, B. Gordon and B. Baylor.
In 1978 there were six grand champion Oriental Shorthairs from three catteries, Patapaw, Sand n’ Sea, and Tawnee. Most of these cats were bred from imported Orientals and American Siamese. In 1983 there were 16 grands from 12 catteries, and in 1984 there were 31 grands from 21 catteries. 1984 was a big year, not in national winners – no Orientals made the top twenty – but in the fruition of Orientals synthesized in the U.S.A. , in numbers diversity, and the beginnings of Oriental dynasties to come. The regional award winners of 1984 are cats that seem like a who’s who of important cats behind many of today’s winners. In the South West region the best OSH was GRC Derry Downs Summer Night (and ebony bred by Cherylee DeYoung), the Southern region has as best OSH GRC Printer’s Balbriggan (an ebony tabby bred by Ann and Bob Sumrall, owned by Pat and Dave Glass) and as 9th best kitten Felitan’s Chelsea of Kaybill (bred by Dick and Barbara Levitan and owned by William and Kathleen Wentling.) The best Midwest OSH and 19th best cat was GRC RuRu Red Spreeder (bred and owned by Barbara Rudolf) and GLR 10th best cat and best OSH was GRC Illawong My Familiar of Dajens (bred by Mrs. S. Rawlinson, and owned by Irma Jenei). The NWR had as 11th best cat San-Toi’s Tootsie (a chestnut bred and owned by D. Johnson and C. Roberts) and another oriental as 14th best cat Shammar’s Spider (and ebony bred and owned by S. Martin and L. Campbell), the NAR had as best OSH GRC Felitan Silvanus (a silver tabby bred and owned by Barbara and Dick Levitan) and as 8th best kitten Felitan Sea Witch of Seareef* (owned by Al and Jan Garraputa.)
Not all American Oriental Shorthairs are descended from imported Orientals. Some Oriental breeders started from scratch, using American Shorthairs and Siamese to found their lines. It was exciting to ‘create’ the breed de novo and by using American Shorthairs, early Oriental breeders had a whole new color palette with which to work. Barbara Harr (Harr cattery) had been primarily a Colorpoint breeder but had become a little bored with only a few colors, a common pattern for Oriental breeders. When the possibility arose she obtained a first generation Oriental, a cat with an American Shorthair parent, and started breeding back to Siamese for type. In the next generation she had cats that were unmistakably Orientals.
FELITAN - Barbara Levitan
Years before Oriental appeared on the scene, Barbara Levitan had seen the results of an unplanned breeding of an errant Siamese queen belonging to Mrs. Rauch in Yorktown Heights . Barbara bought her first Siamese there, but she always remembered the little black mongrel kittens. So when Barbara Levitan saw Barbara Harr’s Orientals, she bought one, an ebony male named Harr’s Ogden T Panther of Felitan, the first Felitan Oriental. He produced, among others, the first blue grand, GRC Jecaro Blu-Jeans* in 1979, bred and owned by Bill, Wanda, and Jean Kunzelman.
Barbara Levitan and her friends Barbara Levine (Y-Not) and Carol Russel (Saraka) had always admired the color of silver American Shorthairs; they had never, however, much liked the shape of the package. The ideal solution was obvious, buy and American and produce silver Orientals. So Barbara Levitan went shopping, eventually she came home with a sweet faced silver tabby female “Stripey”* who was bred to Barbara’s most extreme Siamese male CH Felitan Bilbo Baggins. There were three silver tabbies, two females and one male, and one smoke female in the litter. Barbara Levitan kept one tabby “Spotnik,”* gave one to her daughter Eva, the tabby boy went to Carol, and the smoke went to Jane Wheat (Schuyler cattery). These first generation kittens actually looked like Orientals, fortunately Siamese type seemed to be more potent than the American. Barbara was not out of the woods yet however. Stripey was spayed, Spotnick proved to be sterile, and so did Barbara Levine’s tabby. Jane Wheat’s smoke proved fertile. She was bred to an ebony tabby – also bred by Barbara Levitan – with plenty of type, Felitan Amulet of Schuyler, one of the kittens from that litter produced Barbara’s founding silver tabby male Schuyler’s Sterling Silver of Felitan. Sterling had very long legs and was very good for a third generation Oriental but the Levitans did not want to show a silver until they had a real winner. She felt that when a new color hits the show bench, if the type isn’t very good, too often the color gets associated with mediocrity, and resulting prejudice holds back interest in cats of that color. So the Levitans bred Sterling to GRC (1980) Felitan Eboneeza, a non-silver cousin with much better type and produced GRC (1982) Felitan Silvanna, the first silver Oriental Shorthair shown and the first silver grand. Silvanna started a whole lineage of silver grands. GRC Felitan Silvanus* was best North Atlantic Oriental in 1984, his daughter Felitan Bobby Jean (of Kalahari) was best North Atlantic Oriental in 1986. Another Silvanus daughter, CH Temeluphis Argent of Rogue D.M. bred by Alex and Janice Stalcup, founded the successful silver line of Gloria and Susan Adler’s Glor-ee cattery, including GRC Rogue Joyeux Noel of Glor-ee, who was best NAR Oriental in 1987, GRC Glor-ee Sterling Silver,* and GRC Glor-ee’s Silver Jewel – all ebony silver tabbies and NAR regional winners, as well as GRC Glor-ee’s Gelsey* and GRC Glor-ee’s Captain Spalding* the first blue-silver and lavender-silver grands.
Since the Levitans were trying to breed silvers and because they have always kept their cattery small (quality not quantity), and, most importantly, because they firmly believe in helping other breeders obtain good cats without adding stifling strings, they almost always kept silver kittens and sold non-silver for show or as pets. This policy helped form some of the most noteworthy Oriental lines in the country. Some good examples are Barbara Baylor (Fan-C) and Al and Jan Garraputa (Seareef).
FAN-C CATS - Barbara Baylor
I, Barbara Baylor, visited a friend, Barbara Gordon, one day and saw a very beautiful spotted ebony tabby; it was love at first sight. The cat’s name was Tabbyoca, later GRC Felitan Tabbyoca of Jenlyn, D.M. She was CFA’s first grand champion ebony spotted tabby (1982) and she also achieved distinguished merit status in her first litter! I was fortunate to have “Spot” living with me at that time so she was bred to GRC Singa Mikado of Fan-C, D.M. Fortunately Spot was a homozygous Oriental (in other words she did not carry the gene for color restricted to points, Siamese, like so many Orientals do) so all of her kittens could be shown. Spot’s first litter was such fun! There were times when all five kittens sat together in finals. So many beautiful kittens in so many colors! NGRC Ogimi Dorian Gray, lavender tabby, GRC Ogimi Lady Jane Gray of Karamu. GRC Ogimi Aretha Franklin, ebon. GRC Ogimi Roosevelt Franklin, ebony. GRC Ogimi Leroy Brown, chestnut spotted tabby. Spot only had three litters, the second was an accident; but a lucky one. It produced GRC Ogimi Jaboulet of Seareef, D.M.* a blue female who was one of Al and Jan Garraputa’s foundation cats. Jaboulet was bred back to her gradfather Mikado and produced, among others, GRC Fan-c Broadway Joe* of Seareef an ebony, and GRC Fan-C Chila of Seareef, a chestnut female. Spot’s last litter was a repeat of the first and produced GRC Fan-C Perrier Jouer of Shadow, a blue tabby owned by Sharon and George Bounds and an ebony tabby male who became a grand premier. Spot had a total of nine kittens and only one was not shown and did not grand.
Spot’s most famous offspring was Dorian Gray, CFA’s 19th best cat in 1983. The judges loved Dorian, and as far as Dorian was concerned everybody was his best friend. Dorian produced several beautiful litters in spite of dying young from a freakish reaction to an antihistamine given to him for a slight sniffle. His kittens were good, but many were pointed and at that time even the colorpoints out of Orientals were unacceptable for competition in CFA. Losing Dorian was the single most disastrous blow to my breeding program in 25 years.
Ann and Bob Sumrall granded one of his offspring, as did Diane Vlasak. I had only two females, both blue tabbies. One went to Jo and Phil Quinzi and became the basis for the La Bianca OSH program. I kept the other one.
As you can see the introduction of “Spot” into my breeding program affected the breeding programs of a number of notable breeders. Interestingly she is the only OSH introduced into my Colorpoint and Siamese program. All of the lovely Orientals that I have produced over the years have come from her. Thanks, Barbara Levitan from all of us.
Mikado was bred to two other lovely GRC Orientals that year. Diane Vlasak’s ebony from Valerie Balavidge gave her GRC Karamews’ Carbon Copy and Karamews’ Blue-purr. Diane’s solid blue grand produced at least three more grands. We tore up the show ring that year with all of those cats!
I think that the innovative contribution that I’ve made to the Oriental breed was to allow a top producing Singa male Siamese to be used with these Oriental cats from Frodo lines, for the first time. Look what happened. WOW! It isn’t just the colors that I love in the Orientals. There’s something special about their personalities. If you like Siamese you’ll love Orientals. When you have one litter you’re hooked for life
Al and Jan Garraputa have had their share of success with Oriental Shorthairs, including a top twenty cat with GRC Seareef’s Buccaneer* 1987s 20th best cat.
SEAREEF CATTERY - Al & Jan Garraputa
The way we acquired our first Oriental Shorthair is a story in itself. In the early eighties we were showing a lovely Siamese female that we co-owned with Vicky Metosh. At the time it seemed as though the Siamese were always judged at the end of the day, thus making the day quite long and boring. Idea! Let’s get a cat to show in premiership since they wee usually judged and finaled early in the day. Due to the body shading on most of the Siamese we had seen, we felt that it was not practical to purchase one of them for premiership. We decided on an Oriental Shorthair thus eliminating the shading problem and keeping to the body type we so loved.
Our first Oriental was a blue male with vibrant eye color, wonderful type, and a shimmery silver blue coat. Around our house he was known as Sailor. Unfortunately in the show ring he was known as Jaws. Hence his show career was short lived. Since he was such a fine example of the breed we decided to keep him as a whole male. We can still hear a faint echo saying, “NO whole males in our lovely home.” Ha Ha!
It was during that time that we had the pleasure of meeting Barbara Baylor of Fan-C Cattery. At the time, Barbara was showing a stunning lavender tabby Oriental male with a super sweet disposition. This male GRC NW Ogimi Dorian Gray went on that year to a top twenty national win. We knew instantly that Barbara’s cats had the type and sweet attitudes that we wanted to work with in our breeding program.
Barbara was kind enough to trust us with a lovely blue Oriental female, Ogimi Jaboulet of Seareef, D.M.* (Gabby) with these stipulations (1) Gabby would be sent back to Barbara to be bred to GRC Singa Mikado of Fan-C, D.M. (2) Gabby would have a permanent home with us for as long as she lived. We were thrilled with the arrangement.
The breeding between GRC Sings Mikado of Fan-C D.M. and GRC Ogimi Jaboulet of Seareef D.M. produced five Oriental Shorthairs and one blue point AOV. All were top quality and we kept three of them. The lovely AOV Fan-C Fantasia of Seareef, the sweet refined blue female, GRC Fan-C Ebb Tide of Seareef and an ebony male with super type, Fan-C Broadway Joe of Seareef. Thanks to Barbara, we had the start of a solid breeding program.
Note: The second breeding for Gabby was to Sailor and this produced GRC Seareef’s Sailor Girl, our first grand of our own breeding.
We knew that we wanted to work with ebonies, so we contacted Barbara and Dick Levitan about purchasing an ebony female. Anyone who knows about Oriental Shorthairs is familiar with the name Felitan. Among Oriental breeders it is a household word. This cattery name is behind more Orientals than any other cattery name. We were in luck, Barbara and Dick had a few ebonies. They usually worked with silver tabbies. In fact the mother of these kittens was a silver tabby, GRC Felitan Silvanna D.M.
GRC Felitan Sea Witch of Seareef,* a lovely ebony female, with a sleek body and a jet black painted on coat came to live with us. “Witchie” was bred to Broadway Joe thus producing our first National Winner, GRC NW Seareef’s Buccaneer,* CFA’s 20th Best Cat 1986-87. Bucky had his father’s disposition and type and his mother’s style and rich ebony coat. This breeding also produced our first one show grand, GRC Seareef’s Witchie Inlet.
These cats and their offspring have gone one to produce many winning cats. (See CFA Yearbooks for their wins) GRC Seareef’s Sailor Girl; GRC Seareef’s Andrea Doria,* GRC Seareef’s Sea Sorceress; GRC Seareef’s Witch Craft; GRC, NW Seareef's Buccaneer,* GRC Seareef’s Witch-A-Board,* CH Seareef’s Sand Shark, GRC Seareef’s Licorice of Confectiona (owner: Diana Lagerwall) GRC Seareef’s Black Coral of Purrtecats (owners: Bob and Sharon Gummow) GRC Colormagic Ricco Tubbs,* Dam: Seareef’s Midnight Lace of Colormagic (owners: Linda Wilson and Virginia Wolfe).
Witchie, Joey, Gabby and Sailor have been our foundation cats and we thank Barbara Baylor and Barbara and Dick Levitan for being kind enough to allow these cats to share their lives with us.
Ann and Bob Sumrall (Printer) are among the small group of breeders to have produced around a dozen grand champion Orientals.
PRINTER - Ann & Bob Sumrall
The Sumralls had been breeding Siamese and Colorpoints and went right into Orientals very soon after they were accepted into championship in CFA. In 1981-82 Ann granded an ebony ticked tabby male named Printer’s Tipperary ,* he was from her first Oriental litter. His sire was CH Susan’s Finvana of Printer,* aptly nicknamed “Ears” a Siamese who seems to pop up in at least half of the pedigrees of Orientals who have fabulous ears. Tipperary ’s mother was Sand n’ Seas Que Pasa of Printer, whose mother was a littermate of NGRC Sand n’ Sea Bikkuri. Ann liked red, so she obtained a tortie point CPSH. CH Roncha’s Re-Marque of Printer from Charlotte Loscombe for her Colorpoint program and contacted Barb Rudolf and told her that she wanted a red spotted tabby OSH . She sent a seal point female to GRC Ruru’s Red Spreeder.* The result was GRC Printer’s Dromineer,* who Ann calls her red spotted tabby boy who is really an ebony. Being persistent, Ann went to Barb’s house, when she was showing Dromineer, and picked out two red tabby kittens. Ruru’s I am Red (Amy) proved to be just what she wanted. Amy in turn produced GRC Printer’s Sweet Rosie O’Grady,* a red spotted tabby female. Dromineer was bred to a cream point CPSH, CH Printer’s Scarlet Ribbons, a granddaughter of Re-Marque, and produced GRC Printer’s Irish Scream,* a solid cream male, and GRC Kinsale Lace.* All three of these cats with their three varieties of red genes granded in the 1986-87 show year and many grands have been produces by these cats.
Anne says, “All in all I had little to do with my success as a breeder except for a love of animals, a good eye, and a desire to make something beautiful even better. The rest of the credit goes to the breeders who were willing to take a chance on a new breeder and to help her. All the printer grands and champions come from Susan Beuerlein (Susan’s), Bob Molino (Sanlino), Alison Hedberg (Sand n’ Sea), Charlotte Loscomb (Roncha). Barbara Baylor (Fan-C) and Barbara Rudolf (Ruru), who said to me no holds barred, no strings, use your best judgment and go for it. I did and was happily rewarded, reasonably successful, and so very proud of my cats. My many thanks to the people that have shown Printer cats and their grandchildren for me. That is what it is all about.”
As has already been said here many times, one of the Oriental Shorthairs’ reason for being is color. Some breeders have purposely concentrated on one color, like the Levitans, as mentioned above, and others have become virtually synonymous with a color more accidentally. Red coat color was present in Orientals quite early in the breed existence. In 1979, the 19th best cat was a blue-cream named Patapaw Firefly, bred and owned by Marilyn T. Buchanan.
One person who comes to mind immediately when you think of red Orientals however, Barbara Rudolf (RuRu), absolutely refused to breed them, at first.
RURU - Barb Rudolf
Barb Rudolf wanted to get into red-point Colorpoint Shorthairs. She contacted several breeders and finally purchased two red-points from Mrs. Dolores Balestrieri (Tangee). One, Tangee Girl of RuRu, was kept as a breeder; the other became Barb’s brother’s pet. One of Tangee Girls daughters, CH RuRu Tortie Chrisama (Kissy), was a tortie point who absolutely captured the heart of a dear friend of Barb’s named Jane Braden (Llyr cattery). Jane wanted so badly to produce red Orientals. She had a male Oriental named Cormac (Llyr Cormac Mac Art) who was registered as red tabby; but had proven to be cream. Jane said that Barbara was going to breed Kissy to Cormac or else. Barb said, “I do not want to breed Orientals.” Jane said “yes you will” and Barb said “no, never, I will not breed Orientals!” So the breeding was done and Kissy had five kittens on March 6th, 1980.* Two, a cream spotted tabby Oriental named RuRu ChrismMac and a cream spotted tabby female named RuRu Cinnabar,* Barb kept for breeding. Jane kept a blue cream female RuRu Deidre of Llyr.* Barbara Rudolf had to admit that she really liked Orientals.
Cinnabar was bred to a Siamese owned by Chris Jones and named CH Star of Siam’s Kelii of Tamman, out of GRC Thaibok Tyrone and GRC Star of Siam’s Leila. This breeding produced a tortie female named RuRu Epris.* Barb says that Epris had an awful head but a fabulous body. At a show in St. Louis Mary Stewart who had some lovely chestnut Oriental males with her, came by to look at Epris. She said that Epris had the most wonderful body she had ever felt on an Oriental, and for that alone she deserved to grand. So Epris was kept out, and she defeated cats with better heads often enough to keep going. Finally, Mary Stewart saw her again, this time as a judge, she finaled her and that granded the cat! The next year Epris was the best OSH in the MWR. Mary also suggested a breeding. She had sold one of her lovely males CH/GRP Lepracan Mus Brown Is The Color, but called Spyder to Lynn Fairbanks, who was going to show him in premiership. So Barb called Lynn and asked for a stud service. Lynn was willing but only for a one shot deal. The day after Epris was bred Spyder was neutered. Interestingly, Spyder’s grandmother was NGRC Patapaw Firefly. Although Spyder was not red he had a great blue-cream behind him.
Fortunately Epris was pregnant and had seven kittens in assorted colors. One was a red spotted tabby with outstanding type and he was named RuRu Red Spreeder.* Jane was getting out of cats so she made Barb promise to keep her red Orientals going. Spreeder made it very easy to keep that promise. He did very well as a kitten then finaled in five out of six rings as an open, with several best cat wins, and granded in two shows at the age of 8 ½ months. Altogether he was only shown in eleven shows as an adult, all in the Midwest region. From this he was: the first red tabby Oriental grand, Best Midwest Region OSH 1983-84, and Midwest 19th best cat. To add icing to the cake, he has proven himself to be a great breeder even though he has only been used in a limited fashion. His grand offspring include: GRC RuRu Red Encore, red ticked tabby male. GRC Ruru’s Sugar Foot of Lumax, tortoiseshell female. GRC RuRu’s Lavender O Mega Spots, lavender spotted tabby male. GRC Printer’s Dromineer,* ebony male. GRC Kaybill’s Gingersnap of Kulta, ebony patched tabby female.
In spite of Spreeders’ limited stud services he has wound up to be behind a huge number of lovely cats in s lot of different catteries including: Wintara, Pegela (Elaine and Peggy Rands), Colormagic (Pamela and Gary Huggins), Kulta (Joanne Kultala), Kaybill (K. Wentling), Wolfs, Kaliman, Cerissa, JandJ, Manalishi, in West Germany, Argentina and France as well as others probably unknown. The common theme is, of course, the vivid red color that Spreeder produces. Barbara says that to keep her promise to Jane (now Rhyes) she will have to do better than that, she needs better ears (don’t we all) and a longer head to make that perfect cat. And what color does Barb’s perfect cat come in? You guessed it, vivid, brilliant RED.
At first thought it is surprising that only one OSH kitten has placed in CFA’s top ten kittens. Oriental kittens are often present in kitten finals, even if they are rarely best kitten. The difference between finaling and finaling high is enormous. In a random sample of 34 shows in one month in early 1990, representing shows from all over the country, an interesting pattern showed up in kitten finals. 35 Oriental kittens finaled at least once in these 34 shows, but only once was an OSH the highest scoring kitten in show. In 22 of these 34 shows a Persian kitten was the highest scoring kitten in show. Of the other twelve Best kittens only a single Burmese and one Scottish Fold kitten captured highest scoring kitten twice. The remaining ten spots were won by ten different kittens of ten different breeds. One was an Oriental Shorthair.
Why is this? Aside from the inherent appeal of a furry and typey Persian kitten, there is the fact that a kitten must live up to an adult standard. The Oriental standard calls from a fine boned at with large ears, which is fairly easy for a kitten to achieve. The standard also requires that the cat have a long head, a straight profile and surprisingly heavy and muscular body for its long, slender and tubular appearance and that is rather harder for a kitten to be.
One oriental kitten did manage a top ten win and here is the story behind her as told by her breeders and owner Robert and Sharon Gummow.
PURTEECATS - Robert and Sharon Gummow
Sharon and I started breeding cats about six years ago. We had pet Siamese for years and after they had passed away, Sue Hoffman Bush (Sujym) introduced us to Orientals. We ended up buying a breeder from her, a solid lavender Sujym Oriental Lace of Purteecats, who is the mother of GRC Purteecats Liberty Belle* (sired by San-Toi Crackerjax of Purteecats). Belle, also a lavender, was 2nd best kitten in the top twenty as an adult in the Great Lakes Region, and Best Oriental at the CFA / Purina Invitational Show in 1988-89.
We decided to concentrate on solid color Orientals in the four basic colors, as well as seal point and blue point Siamese. We have used San-Toi, Sujym, Nefrtt, Blkcyn, Felitan, Seareef, Fan-C, and Windflower lines in our breeding program. We have a fairly small cattery and concentrate on a small number of quality breedings.
In 1987-88 we bred and showed National Winner GRC Purteecats Elvira.* She was the first Purteecats Grand. Elvira, an ebony, was out of our GRC Blkcyn Kenya of Purteecats and was sired by GRC Nefrtt’s Blue Scarab if Galari. The breeding was not without problems. Gretchen Flesher offered to let us use Blue Scarab the first time that she saw Kenya . It was his first outside stud service. Kenya developed a vaginal infection after the breeding and ended up receiving prostaglandin treatment in an attempt to save her for breeding. After two more breedings, she finally successfully conceived and had a litter of six healthy kittens. Elvira was the pick female.
Elvira was shown six or seven shows before w even thought about the possibility of a national kitten win. All but two of her shows were within four hours driving time of our Toledo , Ohio home. Al and Jan Garraputa, Debbie Missotti, and Gretchen all were helpful in giving us pointers and helping us pick shows after we decided to go for the win. Elvira ended her kitten career with 2277 points in November 1987 and was in 6th r 7th place at that time. We had to sweat out the next four and a half months, watching her drop to tenth place, where she stayed. That year she was not only 10th best kitten nationally, but also GLR Best kitten and 11th best cat.
One attribute that is essential for a top show Oriental is the proper ear set. Ears are only worth 5 points according to the breed standard, but in fact they make, or break, the whole front look of the cat. A judge looks hard at all the Orientals in a class, and that can be quite a few cats. After making mental notes about the better cats in the class, he or she turns around for a last look to make a final decision. Unless there is a real stand out in the class, the final decision gets made in that last look. We’ve all been there watching the judges hesitating between the best three or four cats, while hoping the brown ribbon will land on our cat’s cage. When the judge wiggles a feather and OOPS! Up go the ears and the best of breed goes to that other cat whose ears stayed down in the wedge.
One pair of breeders who seem to be able to avoid the floating ears problem with the greatest of ease is Dee Johnson and Connie Roberts of San-Toi cattery.
SAN-TOI - Dee Johnson and Connie Roberts
Dee and Connie had been breeding Siamese for years, with a great deal of success, before they got involved with Orientals. Dee and Connie used to help vaccinate Ruth Cooks’ (Corwyn) Oriental kittens. In 1979 Ruth owned the best OSH kitten in the North West Region, GRC Harr's Mudcat Grant of Corwyn bred by Barbara Harr. He was an ebony ticked tabby male and the first NWR best OSH . Over the next several years Ruth bred a number of grand champions and several regional winners both in breed and in top ten cats and kittens. Connie and Dee, particularly Connie, fell in love with the kittens. Soon afterwards Connie got her kitten. Orientals quickly became a new San Toi success, both in the show hall and in their owners’ hearts. As Dee notes, Siamese and Orientals are basically the same creatures, they’re really very much alike. There is something about the Orientals however, a little more of IT, whatever IT is. They are very smart and very personable and they really get you. Since Siamese and Orientals are basically the same kind of beast, the breeding techniques that made San-Toi a byword among Siamese breeders worked the same magic with Orientals. They did a lot of line breeding using very few Orientals and their top Siamese, like Singa Ballad of San-Toi, and in no time their Orientals looked like their Siamese, absolutely stunning.
GRC San-Toi Tanqueray was Dee and Connie’s first OSH grand. In 1984, they had San-Toi’s Tootsie, a chestnut girl, who was 11th best cat in the NWR, and GRS San-Toi’s Kodachrome of Nefrtt, owned by Debbie Misotti. Since then it seems that virtually every year has a group of Grand Champion Orientals from San-Toi which also includes a regional win or two.
In 1987-88 GRC Kimeron’s Blackberry* bred and owned by Sandy West, the daughter of two San-Toi cats, GRC San-Toi Blackberry of Kimeron and San-Toi’s Jedi Knight of Kimeron, was CFA’s best OSH and 5th best cat in the country. Dee and Connie knew from the moment they saw her at Sandy ’s house as a little kitten that she was something special. She earned her national win on almost entirely local shows; she only went to about five out of state. Now she is living at Dee and Connie’s house and they say she could go right back into the ring as is. This is very rare. Not all Orientals “hold” once their show days are over. The standard favors a young cat and many retired Oriental grands loll happily at home looking more like furry sausages than show cats. Bless their pointy little heads; but not Blackberry. Sleek and gleaming ebony, with a perfect profile and a drop dead front look, by all accounts Blackberry on the show bench was the epitome of the stylized Oriental cat and oh those ears! As Dee puts it, “We definitely have an aim in our breeding program: ears, ears, and ears.” Don’t let that fool you though, they get everything else too.
The same year that Blackberry was Best cat there was another Oriental in the top twenty, GRC Leggs Sylphide* was 15th best cat. In perfect Art Deco harmony, in the most Art Deco of cat breeds, Sylphide’s porcelain white absolutely complimented Blackberry’s onyx black. I must admit that I never saw Blackberry in the flesh, but I saw Sylphide at nine months old, a new Grand Champion, and I thought she was the most perfect cat that I had ever seen.
LEGGS - Lynne Von Egidy and Cathy Mallary
Sylphide & BEW Oriental Shorthairs
We were very happy to be asked to contribute an article about Sylphide and our white Oriental breeding program to this retrospective of the Oriental breed. Both of us have been actively involved with cats, and Orientals, since before Orientals were accepted in CFA, and in fact one of the cats (Y-Not Ivresse, a chestnut tabby) pictured in the first CFA OSH article still lives in Cathy’s house.
Lynne became interested in the whites very early on, when we first saw Petmark Pola of Mayflower* and her brother Petmark Point Blanc of LaMer. They were the first whites sired in this country by Rigodon Van Batn El Bakarah, the Dutch import who is the source of the white gene in our cats. In was not until a couple of years later that Lynne acquired her first white, Soreno Tenaya of Leggs, a granddaughter of Rigo, and Cathy didn’t get hooked on whites until Leggs Nikia (Sylphide’s mother) came on the scene.
Now, of course, we are both thoroughly committed to white, and while not every breeding we do involves whites, every plan we make is designed to help our white program.
Sylphide represents the fifth generation in direct descent from two foundation Oriental imports. Her maternal line goes back to Solitaire Keleawe, a chestnut female whose daughter, Petmark Guayabo of Thai-Ro, was the first chestnut OSH bred in this country and registered by CFA. Intriguingly, Keleawe herself was descended from a white Oriental, but the white color in Sylphide comes from Rigo who is the source of the white color in many of the white Orientals currently being bred in the U.S.
Sylphide’s two lines of descent from Rigo are as follows: Leggs Sylphide, our of Leggs Nikita, sired by Leggs Equus,* who was sired by Petmark Snow Prince, sired by Petmark Point Blanc of LaMer, sired by Rigodon Van Batn El Bakarah, and who was out of Soreno Tenaya of Leggs, out of Crystaljade Bianca of Soreno, sired by Rigodon Van Batn El Bakarah.
Sylphide’s five generation pedigree also shows descent from many of the influential Siamese lines developed over the last twenty years: Thaibok several times, Singa, Holcroft (all through her sire, Del-Ri’s Diamond Jubilee), Petmark several times (primarily through the two daughters of Petmark Nescafe* bred to Rigo), Calermar (through Snow Prince’s dam Calermar Sempr Fedelis. Much more rarely for an oriental, she is also descended from the Karnak Siamese line: Karnak Zapata appears in the fifth generation of her pedigree.
Breeding and exhibiting a white Oriental Shorthair is certainly one of the Cat Fancy’s best recipes for frustration. Almost every characteristic of prime importance in the OSH is hardest to achieve, or at least to present, in white. For example, even the slimmest woman will tell you that she gains five pounds to the eye in a white dress. Add just eight ounces to a sleek oriental cat, and you have made that cat non-competitive. The slightest fault in head structure will stand out glaringly. The white has no masking dense color and certainly no the luxury of facial marking to help disguise the inevitable (minor, we hope) head faults.
Then there’s that coat! We started out naively thinking that breeding a good quality white coat would be like breeding a good quality seal point coat. We should have known better. Proof positive of what we were up against was living in Cathy’s house: an old seal point spay with a quart-sized white spot in the middle of her back caused by an injury. The hairs in Goofy’s white spot had a completely different texture from her seal point hair for as long as she lived. The spot could easily be picked out by feel in the dark. Clearly color affects coat quality, Sylphide’s seal point sister had a wonderful painted on coat, but many people will remember Sylphide’s famous imitation of a Johnson’s cotton ball whenever the show hall was too cold or she was a little out of sorts. And thus was from the cat with probably the “best” white oriental coat to date.
Nothing in the Cat Fancy is without controversy, and the white Orientals are no exception. Here for instance, are two important questions to be answered over the next few years:
1. What colors represent the breeding of choice for white Orientals, or does it matter?
2. How is the well-known tendency of white cats to be deaf going to affect our cat breeding programs and how, if at all, can it be controlled or eliminated?
The white gene is dominant, it paints white over whatever other genes are present in the cat. The underlying color and pattern continues to be inherited in the normal fashion from generation to generation under the white. In breeds which encourage homozygous white breeding, the other colors, though present, may have been hidden for so many generations that there is no way of predicting what color is under the white. In our breeding program however, we are maintaining a heterozygous white line. We breed our whites only to pointed cats and the resulting litters produce pointed kittens, and the predictability of the color underneath the white remains possible.
Initially we maintained this pointed only policy to ensure that our whites had true Siamese deep blue eyes. More recently Leggs Solar was bred to a homozygous silver tabby Oriental (Felitan Spotty Dotty of Kalahari, homozygous for silver and tabby and all-over pattern) who produced two odd-eyed white kittens, each with one deep green and one deep blue eye. Now the overriding concern is not the eye shade but having bother eyes be the same color as odd-eyes are not allowed in the OSH standard.
The primary reason for imposing the heterozygous whites only limitation in our breeding program is the problem of deafness. The deafness problem is a thornier one, and the solution is not yet clear. . For the record, let no one tell you that “All blue-eyed white cats (including Orientals) are deaf” or that “Oriental whites don’t have a deafness problem.” Both statements are untrue. Deafness has occurred in BEW Orientals, and it has occurred in cats which are quite definitely pointed cats underneath the white. To date, we know of no incidence of direct parent to kitten inheritance of deafness: the only deaf white we know of who sired a deaf one, and the only deaf kittens we have produced came from two hearing parents.
Given this extremely unpredictable inheritance, eliminating deafness from our blue-eyed white cats is clearly going to be difficult, and may prove to be impossible. There are no deaf cats active in our breeding program at the moment, and we hope to keep that true. However, if a deaf cat were the only white available to maintain a family line, we would use that cat rather than sacrifice the bloodline, and not feel, at least on the evidence available to date, that we were significantly increasing the risk of deafness by doing so.
Sylphide, when presented with the opportunity to reproduce, decided that quality was more important than quantity and gave us one kitten, Leggs Solor, a handsome white male by Shera Len Nice Guy (a blue point Siamese). Solor showed very well as a kitten, ending up as 6th best kitten in the NAR, granded easily, and went on to be 20th best cat and best Oriental in the NAR all in 1988-89. To add frosting (vanilla) to the cake (white), his son Leggs Amapola of Mayflower,* owned by Muriel Slodden, one-upped him by placing not only as a kitten and a cat in the NAR, but also making best OSH in the country!
At any rate, with a little cooperation from our cats and lots from Lady Luck, we are going to continue to devote our energies to produce what the show spectator described as porcelain statue cats with purple eyes.
In 1988-89, the year that Seareef’s Witch-A-Board was CFA’s Best OSH, the second Best OSH was GRC El-Dia Tinsel Town* belonging to Barbara Phelps, yet another Siamese breeder who drifted out of Siam into the whole world of the Orient. You may have noticed that solid ebony and solid white Orientals seem to have a special appeal, well black and white are as good together as apart, and black stripes on a white background? It never hurts to be a silver tabby either!
The Siamese was my first love and was that breed that brought me into the Cat Fancy in 1967. Over five years of breeding and showing followed before I took a lengthy “sabbatical” to escort two daughters through their teenage years.
I next attended a cat show in 1984, and many new breeds had emerged. One in particular, the Oriental Shorthair, tore at my heart. The first Oriental I saw was an ebony, it looked to me like my beloved Siamese wearing a brand new coat!! I was hooked and soon became a professional spectator at the shows while learning about this exciting breed. I found it really intriguing when I learned that the Orientals were born with their colors showing instead of all white as I was used to with the Siamese. Also there were so many colors and patterns to choose from. I soon began to realize that with the Oriental I could have all of the things I loved about the Siamese without worrying about such things as body color darkening or point color fading and/ or flecking. After many show visits and hours of pouring over borrowed CFA Yearbooks and back issues of Cat World, I had formed a mental picture of what my “perfect” Oriental would look like and I wanted to try my hand at breeding again.
Not long after this I saw a silver spotted tabby Oriental at a show. Now I was in love with both the ebony and the silver spotted. I began searching for foundation stock. I wrote to catteries that had been breeding, showing and winning in the late 60’s and early 70’s and were still producing winners in the 1980’s. I chose to combine what I considered some of the best from the east and the west. From Dee Johnson and Connie Roberts in California came San-Toi Showdown of El-Dia,* an ebony male kitten who was later to become a grand champion and sire some lovely kittens. From the east coast came Felitan My Fair Lady of El-Dia. I was told that Lady would be a homozygous silver, but as luck would have it, she was a s silver lynx point and not the silver spotted tabby I had so separately wanted. For that reason I came extremely close to turning her down when Barbara Levitan of Felitan cattery offered her. Barbara, in her infinite wisdom, assured me that Lady, when bred with my San-Toi ebony, would throw me silvers of my own.
The day did come when Showdown and Lady’s first litter was born. There were two smokes, a silver lynx point and ONE silver tabby. The silver tabby was nearly twice the size of the others, and had a coat that felt like coarse bristles, and a very broad muzzle ad oversized ears. The silvers I had seen until that point were rather light in color with not much intensity of pattern but this kitten had very good contrast. I can remember discussing this long awaited silver tabby as she grew (yes, she really was a female). Her color was so vibrant and her developing pattern was beautiful, except that it wasn’t spotted like it was supposed to be. It was mackerel!! The only question around our house became “do you think her color could carry her because she sure hasn’t got much type and who wants a mackerel tabby anyway?”
Little by little the ugly duckling began to transform, looking more like a swan as she grew. We named her El-Dia Tinsel Town * and she later added the title of Grand Champion to her name and many best in shows to her credit.
About this time I noticed that nearly all of Showdown’s kittens had very intense color and/or pattern. Showdown himself has the deepest, all the way to the root, ebony color, and his sire, Calermar’s Clipper of San-Toi is a pure seal point Siamese. I began to wonder if perhaps these factors were influencing the trueness of color on kittens and if color on the silvers could be improved from breeding the most intensely colored offspring of these two boys.
El-Dia Lucky Stripe was born about that time, an ebony mackerel son of Showdown and Sandual Tabitha, and this little guy had exquisite color AND pattern. Lucky, or King as we dubbed him was kept with hopes of further improving color in pattern in the tabbies. He held his own at the shows, making many finals; but he never liked being shown. We pulled him with less than 40 points left to complete his Grand. He had more important work to do.
King’s first offspring were out of My Fair Lady and my theory seemed to hold true. These kittens (four silver tabbies and two smokes) had more clearly defined patterns than Lady’s two previous litters. Also, sine Lady’s a pointed cat and all six kittens were Oriental Shorthair, it caused us to wonder if King might be homozygous Oriental. To date, King has yet to sire a pointed kitten, regardless of what he’s been bred to.
I guess the end of this story lies somewhere within the future as only time will tell how much the color can improve on the silvers without jeopardizing type. I must admit though that it is nice to have a homozygous Oriental male as Siamese females can be bred to him when need be and still only Oriental kittens result.
The Oriental Shorthair was fortunate to have such a fast and flashy start in CFA in the late 70’s. The breed and all the people involved with it have maintained a high profile (straight profile?) since then, fully justifying such a jump start. The OSH standard also maps a road for future travel. First there is type, in our standard the goal is quite extreme and the cat can always be a bit longer or a little bit finer, the body can more closely approach the feel of a steel pipe. Second, there is color, multitudes of colors, some of which have never been seen. Working with unusual colors takes dedication because putting the type and the color together can be difficult. Future winners in exotic hues will owe their existence to breeders who are willing to keep color over type and then bang their heads against a brick wall to put type back on the color.
Have you seen a shaded silver OSH yet? There have been three to date, the first was not really show quality but the other two were shown a fair number of times. CH Synergy Polaris* bred and owned by Heather E. Lorimer was the first clear shaded silver, he had a lovely front look and lots of length although he never granded (he was a bit of a moose) and he died tragically young, before siring. GRC Hobbicats Shady Lady bred by Ken and Laurie Herbig and owned by Peggy and Elaine Rands. The first shaded grand, is a lovely fine boned, sleek and long headed cat who granded handily and hopefully will produce more of the same. All of the shaded silvers have been ebony shaded and all have been closely related, descending from two silver tabbies GRC Felitan Silvanna bred and owned by Dick and Barbara Levitan, and CH Temeluphils Thromboxane of Synergy bred by Alex and Janice Stalcup and owned by Heather E. Lorimer.
Unfortunately, none of these shaded cats were intentionally produced so repeating the accident is going to be difficult. It does seem though that for an Oriental to be shaded requires three things. First the cat needs the dominant silver gene to be silver, second the hairs must be “wide banded” in other words the cat’s color must be only at the tips of the hairs to leave a large “band” of silver running from the hair root to very near its tip, third the cat must be a tabby with absolutely no pattern. The third trait is going to be the hardest to breed for. Abyssinian breeders have strived for many years to clear their cats coats of barring. Oddly enough, all three shaded Orientals had clearly marked silver tabby siblings which implies there may be a special “shaded” gene which clears the coat. That would make the color much easier to breed for. The details of the genetics of this color in Orientals may not be known for years.
Another fairly recent appearance in the OSH is the classic tabby pattern. There were some classics early in the Oriental breeding programs but everybody was concentrating on solids or spotted tabbies and the classic pattern, which is recessive, quickly vanished. A few breeders have uncovered the pattern and have been working diligently on preserving it. Nancy Jo Schwitzer has been breeding classics for several years and has granded the first classic tabby OSH . Austin and Agnes Creasy accidentally produced a classic tabby a few years ago and have been getting a real handle on the genetics of the color in the process of getting the right chassis under the paint job.
CREASHIRE CATS - Austin and Agnes Creasy
When my wife Agnes and I began breeding Oriental Shothairs one of the first breeder females we acquired was a seal lynx point, Nakia’s Reet Petite of Creshire. We bred her to Printer’s Liam Devlin ad got and ebony classic tabby from the litter. Although the classic was small and of moderate type we kept her realizing she was a rarity.
Several months later we received a call from a breeder who had heard about our classic and was interested in acquiring a female from the litter. She believed that the litter-mates to the classic would be classic carriers (would carry the classic tabby gene). We had already sold the kittens, but this conversation made me begin thinking about breeding plans for the classic and some other kittens we were raising to be breeders. We had used the sire of Garbo (our classic) for an earlier breeding and had kept two females from that litter. By this time Garbo’s mother had produced another litter with two females of breeder quality. These four, plus Garbo’s litter sister could all be carriers of the classic tabby gene.
At this time I was beginning to develop some understanding of the color genetics. The gene for classic (sometimes called blotched) tabby pattern is a recessive. This mans that both parents must carry the gene in order to reproduce it, and only individuals who are homozygous (inherited the genes from both parents) will be a classic on appearance. There are three ways that one can be certain that an individual is a carrier:
1. It is classic in appearance.
2. One of its parents is a classic.
3. It has produced classic offspring.
Having parents that are carriers or having grandparents that are classics only gives an individual the possibility of being a carrier. The classic pattern can also be masked over by an individual being homozygous non-agouti (solid color). Also the Siamese of Colorpoint pattern can mask all of the classic pattern except the tail.
In considering all of the above constraints it became obvious that we needed a classic male. This would permit us to produce classics from Garbo and her mother and test breed the other possible carriers. The offspring from all such breedings would be known carriers. On May 30, 1988 we called everyone that we knew who was breeding classic tabby Orientals. We were very fortunate to acquire from Sally Abbott, Typha Cattery, a young classic male who would be mature enough for breeding at the time our females would be ready. Typha’s Tumbleweed of Creshire was bred to: Garbo; Reet Petite, Garbo’s mother; Galadriel, Garbo;s litter sister; and two other females that proved not to be carriers.
From these breedings we have kept Vincent Price, ebony classic male; Victoria and Vectra, blue lynx point classic females; Bogart, ebony classic male; Bacall, ebony classic female; Bastet, ebony ticked tabby female (now in West Germany); Blynn, solid ebony female; Several carriers from the test breedings. Some of these we have placed with another breeder with whom we are working on reciprocal basis. The remainder we are breeding to improve type and pattern. We always breed with at least one parent being classic so as to be certain that all progeny are carriers.
SHADES AND STRIPES
Shaded Silvers and classic tabbies are coat patterns often seen in other breeds, if only rarely in Orientals. One pair of colors that is unique to the Oriental however, is solid cinnamon and fawn. As I mentioned earlier in this article, the cinnamon gene has been around for a while. The color we call cinnamon is the dame color that makes the red Abyssinian RED. The cinnamon color is also seen in spots on Ocicats, which derived from Abyssinians and Siamese. It may have originated genetically as a new color mutation or by regular sex-linked red moving off the X chromosome. The former is probably more likely as the color is not the same as red, it is intermediate between red and chestnut. Orientals got the cinnamon gene rather indirectly from an Aby-Siamese British cross. A few dedicated breeders are slowly expanding the population of cinnamons and fawns, one notable breeder who has been working with the color is Linda Kochis of Ellian cattery.
ELLIAN - Linda Kochis
Cinnamon is the light brown gene recessive to chestnut. The color was introduced from a red Abyssinian outcross made in Great Britain during the 1960’s. A small number of dedicated breeders working with Dutch and English imports have made great progress with the type in these cats. Several show quality OSH who carry the gene have graced the show bench in the past few years. Fawn, the blue dilution of cinnamon, is truly a rare color and its progress has been slower.
My daughter Elayne and I started breeding 10 years ago with a lovely line bred Petmark chocolate point., Faro Garlinthias of Ellian, a Nescafe daughter. She came to us on breeder’s terms as a way of filling the void left in our lives by the death of our 16 year old Gaidon, chocolate point Siamese. Originally we were just going to have one litter, give the pick to her breeder, Ethyl duBois, and keep the other kittens as neutered pets. But I soon became obsessed with the idea of actually breeding a cinnamon and then working to breed one of show quality. In order to gain my husband Andy’s support in this goal, I agreed to keep our full time adult population at 8 cats and not spend high fees for stud service or for new cats. I’m sure this slowed down progress in our breeding program but I’ve been content raising 2 to 3 litters per year and building up the line step by step. With few exceptions, every breeding produced kittens of better quality than their parents.
I’ve followed a pattern of outcrossing for type then inbreeding to retain color. Galinthias was bred to a cinnamon son of the original English import Southview Peromone. Her cinnamon grandson, CH Ellian Kinnamon, was outcrossed to a typey chocolate point, Barnwood Dominoe of Ellian, an AOV from Singa, Sand N’ Sea, and Quire’s Gal-X-C lines. Dominoe’s cinnamon grandson CH Ellian Sundancer was a major step forward in type. By doubleing up on Dominoe and outcrossing to Petra Pfaffe’s (Cherrygarden) Dutch cinnamon line, I was the happy co-breeder with Debbie Baehr of a vigorous and healthy litter of 4 cinnamon and 3 chestnut Sundancer grandkittens. Naturally, the chestnuts were pick of the litter. The male GRP Yamada Kin Sorelle of Ellian* is, I believe, the best cinnamon seen on the show bench to date. Judges from Holland , Great Britain , and Germany said they had never seen a better one in Europe . Sorelle made some kitten finals and picked up a few grand points before being pulled to be bred.
Our foundation cinnamons were large, heavy boned, deep chested, plush coated, round eyed cats. It took 6 generations of breeding here at Ellian to produce a cinnamon of Sorelle’s quality. The challenge in the coming years will be, to retain the progress we have made, regain the sweeter temperament of our foundation cats, and to lower the ear set, and improve eye shape.
THE RIGHT CLASS
The Oriental Shorthair is the only breed among several breeds derived from the Siamese who have kept the same type standard. Balinese cats were bred from the long-haired kittens born periodically to Siamese cats. Colorpoints, like the Orientals, resulted in a deliberate outcross to obtain new colors. The Javanese is the longhaired version of the colorpoint. Together these four breeds, representing the Siamese type – dominate shorthair classes in CFA. A similar sort of situation exists in the longhair breeds with Persians which are the very oldest pedigreed cat. Himalayans were developed intentionally by crossing to Siamese cats for color and back to Persian for type. The Exotic Shorthairs were created by outcrossing to shorthaired cats and back to Persians for type. Not all possible colors are yet allowed in the Persians divisions, but the Himmy is now (they weren’t always) just a division of Persian and not a separate breed, while long haired cats out of exotics are not yet allowed to compete for championship.
For the first seven years of OSH in championship all pointed Orientals were AOV’s and not eligible for championship competition. On 1984-85 CFA decided that the colorpoint oriental was colorwise, typewise, and ancestrywise, the same feline as the Colorpoint Shorthair and allowed those colors to compete with the CPSH. This, I believe is a completely novel situation. The Oriental Colorpoints have a different registration number series from the CPSH colorpoints and people who breed and grand colorpoint Orientals in the colorpoint class are eligible for OSH breed council membership but not CPSH breed council membership, even if they have never shown a cat in an Oriental Shorthair class!
In 1984-85 CFA’s best Colorpoint Shorthair was an Oriental named Tintadel’s Rose By Any Other Name, a tortie-point bred and owned by Erica Mueller. In 1986-87 both CPSH winners were “real” Colorpoints, but in 87-88 both were Orientals. The best Colorpoint was Glor-ee’s Road Warrior bred and owned by Susan and Gloria Adler and 2nd best was Magpie’s Sparkle Freelee bred by Linda Doty and owned by Ken Northrup. That general pattern seems now to be the rule. Roughly half of the cats shown in the colorpoint class are Orientals as are about half of the cats that earn Grand Champion titles in those classes.
In keeping with this some people whose breeding programs revolve around colorpoints only use Siamese and CPSH cats in their programs while others pay attention to color and type and have Oriental cats in their programs. There are very few problems remaining with this system. One of which is the Siamese to Colorpoint to Oriental hierarchy which causes a colorpointed cat with only one distant Oriental ancestor to be ab Oriental. From competition this poses no problem but it can make it difficult for a breeder to produce Colorpoints with the aim to earn breed council membership so as to have input into the future of their cats in CFA. The only other problem is for the Javanese breeders who are currently limited to Siamese, Balinese and Colorpoint Shorthairs for outcrosses. Without access to the pointed Orientals they are excluded from the large pool of tabby and red genes.
It will b interesting to see how these issues are dealt with in the next few years. Most, but certainly not all, OSH breeders hope for a classification system similar to that that the Persian breeds enjoy, with registration numbers indicating ancestry, allowing for competition based simply on type and color while also protecting the purity of the Siamese and related breeds.
No one would argue that the Oriental Shorthairs are colorful, lively and successful (which could also describe those who breed them). They have been a great success, winning many competitions and many cat fanciers hearts and minds all across the country. May they forever be successfully lean and elegant, sleek and graceful, personable and a bit extreme.
Note from the author: This is an historical account of the Oriental Shorthair from its genesis through 1989. Next year I will continue with more recent events, and associated history as well, such as the stellar careers of Leggs Amapola of Mayflower and Webb-Barrs Beaux, as well as the Orientals of the 1993-1993 season.
Author’s Bio: I was born in Oakland , California in 1957. I grew up in California and Oregon and always had a deep affection for cats although I was completely unfamiliar with the pedigreed varieties. I went to Chicago in the late 70’s to study biology at the University of Chicago . I met a first generation silver ticked tabby Oriental Shorthair there in 1981, but must admit I paid no special attention to her at the time. After I graduated from college in 1982 I moved to New York City where I worked in the laboratory of Dr. S. Alex Stalcup. Alex and his family lived two blocks from me near the hospital in a run-down neighborhood attached to the north end of Harlem , they quickly became good friends of mine. They bred Oreintal Shorthairs which they obtained from Barbara Levitan (Felitan). One blue silver spotted tabby boy (CH Temeluphils Thromboxane of Synergy) attached himself to me like glue so he had to live with me. Within two years I was a certified clerk and had a small silver program. I was at the first meeting of Oriental Shorthairs of America, which I immediately joined. I am now a board member in OSA and the genetics editor and columnist for OSA’s newsletter, Tails of the Orient. I also belong to Empire Cat Club. This article was started in 1987, at which point I had been talked into helping to gather information for the article as I knew and lived near a number of the people who were instrumental in the founding of the breed in CFA. Somehow I ended up, somewhat unwillingly, with the whole article in my lap. Throughout the preparation of this article I was in graduate school at Columbia University . I earned my MA in 1988, my MPhil in 1989 and my PhD in May 1992. I have since moved to Seattle where I hold a post doctoral position at the University of Washington in the Department of Genetics. It was not an ideal time to be writing a feature for the Yearbook. Nonetheless, it has been a voyage of discovery for me, I hope it is for you too. The Oriental Shorthair is a very big breed in CFA right now, and I know I have not covered everything and everybody. Please forgive me if I left you our, and please fill me in for next year.
Litter of Dajen Kittens
NOW ONTO THE GENETICS TERMS:Allele: One copy of a gene, usually referred to by a letter which refers to a visible trait, ie A is tabby, a is solid, B is black, and b is brown. Capital letters are dominant traits, lower case letters are recessive, the letter itself is one gene. In other words B and b are alleles of the color gene.Chromosome: A very large piece of DNA, containing a multitude of genes, inside an animal’s cells which are inherited from the animal’s parents. Every cat (or person) has two of each chromosome one inherited from the mother and one from the father.Dominant: An allele (version of a gene) which is apparent in only one copy. For example, the color black, a black cat can “carry” other colors because black is dominant.Gene: A unit of inheritance technically a region of a chromosome that codes for a single protein.Genotype: The genetic makeup of a living organism.Heterozygous: Having two different alleles of one gene.Homozygous: Having two copies of one allele of a gene.Phenotype: The appearance of a living organism, in the case of dominant genes, such as black in the cat, the phenotype does not indicate whether the cat is heterozygous or homozygous.Recessive: An allele which must exist in two copies to be apparent. For example the Siamese or “pointed” colors, a black cat may “carry” Siamese color, so two black cats bred together can produce a seal point, but two seal points bred together can only produce pointed cats because both parents must have been homozygous for the Siamese color.