EARLY FOREIGN AND ORIENTAL CATS – NON-COLOURPOINTED KIN OF THE SIAMESE
Most cat lovers are familiar with Siamese cats, which are one of several native breeds originating from Thailand. Siamese cats have pale bodies and coloured limbs, tail, face and ears. Because the early Siamese breed club did not permit non-pointed "Siamese" cats, these were known by a variety of names including Burmese and Chinese. Some of the early reports are frustratingly vague – were the self-brown cats really solid coloured or were they Burmese-pattern i.e. low-contrast pointed pattern? Which of the chocolate Siamese were solid colour and which were pointed?
In spite of the vague descriptions, there is evidence that non-pointed Siamese (in the conformation that prevailed at the time) date back to the infancy of the cat fancy, almost a century before they were gathered together under the "Oriental" name. Some were registered and recognised as Siamese, as can be seen from early studbooks.
EARLY BEGINNINGS IN BRITAIN
In 1892, Mrs Herring had a female Black Siamese named "Lady Curly Tail." In later publications she was referred to as Siamese, with no reference to her colour.
Mrs McLaren Morrison of Kepwick Park imported a pair of "Black Chinese" shorthairs and bred several offspring from them. The parents, Mandarin and Pekin, both won prizes in 1891 at Brighton and York. The Sketch, of June 10, 1896 tells us "It is at Kepwick Park that Mrs. Mclaren Morrison has [...] some Chinese cats with their long, wedge-shaped heads, bright golden eyes and shiny, short-haired black fur," i.e. Foreign Blacks.
The "Swiss Mountain Cat" mentioned in Frances Simpson’s "Book of the Cat" and several other publications have been claimed as early examples of several breeds and the description brings to mind Chocolate (US Chestnut) Foreign Shorthairs. According to Simpson: "The best and most definitely coloured AOC I ever saw was Mrs Davies' ‘Sin Li,’ a deep self-coloured chocolate-brown cat. He was supposed to be one of three Swiss mountain cats imported to this country." According to Harmsworth London Magazine of 1900, "Mrs. Sutherland, who lives among the Alps, has bred some beautiful chocolate Siamese cats." Descriptions are infuriatingly vague. They might have been solid colour "Siamese" or might have had the Burmese pattern, however all sources agree that they were Siamese in conformation.
Master Timkey Brown and his dam, Granny Grumps owned by Mrs French and described as "Siamese with coats of burnished chestnut with greeny-blue eyes." Fur and Feather described Granny Grumps as "an all-brown Siamese with yellowish eyes. Her true value was realised by Mrs French, but Granny was denounced as a freak and ‘not right’, long before any interest could be aroused. " her son, Master Timkey Brown, had been neutered. The self-brown Siamese was abandoned after the 1920s following a statement from the Siamese Cat Club of Britain that "The club much regrets it is unable to encourage the breeding of any but blue-eyed Siamese."
A "copper coloured" Siamese cat is mentioned in the article "Mrs. Brassey at Home," [Normanhurst Court, Catsfield, Sussex] in the Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 22nd May, 1880. "My hostess [has] a copper coloured Siamese cat in [the] gardener's cottage be visited." Mrs. (Lady) Brassey died of malaria in 1887 and nothing further was heard of her copper coloured Siamese.
Harrison Weir wrote in "Our Cats" (1889) "Mr. Young of Harrogate possesses a chocolate variety of this Royal Siamese cat; it was sent from Singapore to Mr. Brennand." Again details are vague as this may have had the Burmese pattern, but it carried the colourpoint gene as it produced pointed offspring when bred to a Royal Siamese. According to Miss Forestier Walker (Book of the Cat, 1903) and several of her contemporaries the chocolate Siamese either had what we now consider the Burmese pattern or the Tonkinese pattern, but with blue eyes. Nevertheless, they had the conformation of the Siamese cats of the time.
There are photos of many of these early "Siamese" cats at Shorthaired Cats Of The 19th Century - Swiss Mountain Cat (And Chocolate Siamese)
It the chocolate Siamese of the past are more like the modern European Burmese, then this "Burmese" cat, which appeared in this photograph in Frances Simpson's 1903 "Book of the Cat", appears to be more like an Oriental ticked tabby.
In Frances Simpson's "The Book of the Cat" (1903), Mrs Constance Carew-Cox described her Blue Siamese: "In 1889, however, I purchased a smooth blue, whose owners declared her to be a Siamese - she certainly resembled a puma-shaped Siamese in her body outline and movements - and I believe I entered her in the stud books as such. 'Dwina' won many prizes at Crystal Palace and other shows in 'Any Variety' classes, was a most faithful creature, reared many families, and lived until June 1901." A male "Blue Siamese" was exhibited at Holland House, London during the summer of 1896. The National Cat Club registered it as "Nam Noi" of unknown parentage imported by Mrs B Spearman in January 1895. He was exhibited as a Siamese and was "Siamese in every detail, shape, tail and eyes. .." but was disqualified for not being a seal-point. Due to the vagaries of the cat fancy, this blue variety from Thailand was eventually recognised as the Korat rather than a Foreign Blue Shorthair, something that saved it from being bred for extreme conformation.
In the American "Cats" magazine in November 1972, Angela Sayer wrote the following about brown Siamese cats and mentioned Granny Grumps and Master Timkey Brown. "Self-colored brown cats have appeared from time to time throughout cat history: [. . .] Cats of this variety were acclaimed on the Continent and even had classes provided for them at some shows but fanciers in England were not sufficiently impressed to start breeding them seriously. At this stage these cats were called Self Chocolate Siamese, and it was not until the 1920’s that several British Fanciers took up the breed once more and, in 1923, a Sister Stockey imported a Self Chocolate called Adastra, believed to be the ancestor of a great many of our present-day Chocolate-point Siamese. A great confusion existed in the early days of the cat fancy between the self brown that is genetically a self-colored Chocolate-point Siamese, and the brown Burmese/Siamese hybrids or 'Tonkinese.' This accounts for the many and very varied accounts of brown cats and their varying descriptions. Chestnut Browns are born brown, but the Burmese and Burmese/Siamese hybrids are born cream or beige, the hybrids later develop slight points. If the two types were indiscriminately mated together, as they doubtless were, by breeders with little or no genetic knowledge, the results would have been most disappointing for them, with predominately Siamese and Black kittens turning up and virtually no self browns at all. These breeders would then have felt that the 'brown' cat was, after all, only a sport, and would then have abandoned their breeding programs and concentrated on easier breeds such as Siamese."
Another early brown self-coloured "Siamese" was imported into England by Mary Russell, Duchess of Bedford. Bogie was a dark brown self-coloured cat and Louis Wain described it as "A whole-colour, very dark-brown cat, is likewise a Siamese." Though again we can’t rule out the Burmese-pattern.
"Cat Gossip," of September 28, 1927, in a column called "Siamese and Their Owners" "Mrs. Croucher, who lived for some time in the Far East came the following interesting notes: There are no true black Siamese; there are chocolate Siamese, dark brown with blue eyes; I brought one of them, as a kitten, back with me from Siam, but he died last Autumn. Then there is the Siamese cat which we breed here, light fawn with blue eyes and there is a brown Siamese with yellow eyes. [. . .] " though again this indicates the Burmese "seal" (sable) colour. The Editor, H.C. Brooke, noted " Can anyone tell me why an ordinary pair of Siamese cats can produce a jet black cat with golden eyes; two such specimens have been born in England; one of them I have seen, and there was no ‘mesalliance’ in the case of either."
Cat Gossip 9 January 1929 has this very brief mention of a self-brown foreign cat: "We deeply regretted to learn that Mrs. French's "Cigar-coloured" Siamese kits are dead."
Cat Gossip October 16 1929 - Mr. H. D. Bassett writes: "My experience, extending over seven years, has proved one very extraordinary thing. In about every fifth generation there will be found a black kitten, and in every case it is a male. I have never known this to fail. Coal black from top to tip, with eyes of a deep golden colour, not yellow, but more of the orange colour. [. . .] Only one (black) have I been able to raise, and unfortunately he was killed after fathering two litters of kittens." Unfortunately Mr. Bassett said nothing about Black Siamese cat’s offspring.
Another account mentions black Siamese being born to a pair of seal points, though the fact that the black kittens were larger suggests the mother also consorted with a black cat. "It is over ten years ago when Yolanda, at six years, was mated to Mrs. Robinson’s Bigabois, the result being six kittens, one white as usual and a female, the others, all males, being black. Unaware that Black Siamese could be correct, I destroyed four; the remaining black reached maturity, possessing real golden eyes." Unfortunately a superstitious local shot the Black Siamese. The breeder mated Yolanda again, but no more black offspring appeared, either from Bigabois or other studs – which strongly suggest Yolanda had mis-mated. Yolanda’s grand-daughter, Goona was mated to seal point Vichnou and produced three white and one, larger, black kitten. The owner wondered if there were any other owners or breeders in England "who have had any of these precious black Siamese. If all goes well I hope to exhibit the kitten with his mother at Croydon in November."
So it is confirmed that Foreign (or what is now called Oriental) cats existed as far back as those early days. They were Siamese in all respects apart from colour. Because the Siamese had not been bred for extreme conformation these early Foreigns did not resemble the cats we now call Orientals, but would be closer to the Maew Boran, the Natural Cat, that continues to exist in Thailand.
DEVELOPMENT OF "FOREIGN SHORTHAIRS OF SIAMESE TYPE" IN BRITAIN AND EUROPE
There were white Siamese bred in France during the late 1920 and early 1930s.
The post-war Russian Blues were very Foreign in type due to crossing them with Siamese during wartime when breeding stock was scarce. Hence the Russian Blues use to create the Havana were closer in type to Foreign Blues than to modern Russian Blues. Early in 1948, Mrs A. Hargreaves decided to carry out some breeding experiments to improve the Siamese breed's stamina and disease resistance. She needed to outcross to a cat that didn't introduce unwanted traits so she chose the Foreign-looking post-war Russian Blue. She mated Siamese queen "Laurentide Ludo" to "Silvershoen Blue Peter," unaware that this would eventually lead first to the Havana (Foreign Chestnut Brown) and then to a whole new breed-group for self-coloured cats - both shorthair and longhair - of Siamese cats.
In 1951, two breeders, Baroness Edit von Ullmann (Roofspringer Cattery) and Mrs A Hargreaves (Laurentide Cattery) began to develop self-brown cats with Foreign conformation. In 1952 von Ullmann mated a black domestic shorthair (Maximilla Unterkatze) to a Chocolate Point Siamese called "Susharo." Meanwhile, the first ever Havana was Mrs Munro Smith's "Elmtower Bronze Idol." Mrs Smith’s black shorthair, "Susanah" (the offspring of Seal Point Siamese female "Tsiu Chow and a black domestic longhair, "Pickles") was mated to Seal Point male "Tombee" and produced a litter of four kittens, including a brown-coloured male ("Elmtower Bronze Idol") in May 1952 and a repeat mating produced the female "Elmtower Bronze Study." Elmtower Bronze Idol was mated to one of von Ullman’s chocolate-carrier Roofspringer females resulting in “Roofspringer Muscatel” (male) and “Roofspringer Shandy” (female) in 1953. “Roofspringer Muscatel” sired “Roofspringer Mahogany” who was later exported to America.
Mrs Hargreaves mated a Seal Point Siamese, "Laurentide Ludo," to a Russian Blue, "Silvershoen Blue Peter," resulting in a shorthaired black female called "Laurentide Ephone Jet." Jet was mated to a Chocolate Point male, "Briarry Saccharin" and some of the "British Black" and "Russian Blue" offspring went to Baroness von Ullman and Mrs Elsie Fisher. Mrs Fisher’s black female was mated to a Russian Blue and produced a Havana male named "Praha Gypka." Then Mrs Hargreaves’ blue female was mated to her sire, Briarry Sacharin and also produced a Havana male, "Laurentide Brown Prior". Mrs Joan Judd (Crossways) was interested in the breed, but was not happy with conformation of the Elmtower cats. She mated her Seal Point Female with Fisher’s “Praha Gypka” to produce “Crossways Velvet Toy” in 1955.
Elmtower Bronze Idol, Elmtower Bronze Study, Praha Gypka and Laurentide Brown Prior became the founders of the new Havana (or "Self Seal") breed. In 1958 the Havana was recognised by the GCCF as the Chestnut Brown Foreign. Because the original Havanas were somewhat cobby, those exported to the USA were developed into the Havana Brown breed, while the British Havanas were known there as Foreign Chestnut (now called Chestnut Oriental). In 1970, the GCCF allowed the British breed to be renamed "Havana." The American Havana Brown has since been developed into a quite different-looking cat, while the British version remained an Oriental cat.
The original American importers of Havanas in the 1950s were Laurentide Brown Pilgrim imported by Mrs Jasmine Peters (Norwood Cattery) and Roofspringer Mahogany imported by Mrs Elsie Quinn (Quinn's Cattery) both of El Monte, California. They knew little of the breed origins prior to the cats bred by von Ullman, Hargreaves and Munro Smith to produce solid brown cats comparable to the Swiss Mountain Cat, and less highly strung than the Siamese. The American importers described their imported Havanas as comparatively small with a muscular, medium-long body and a sleek, glossy, coat of warm brown with rich highlights. The head tapered to a fine muzzle with a slight break behind the brown whiskers and a distinct "stop" at the oval, chartreuse-coloured eyes. American breeders founded unrelated lines using Russian Blues crossed to Chocolate Point Siamese (as “old-fashioned” type as possible) and backcrossing to a chocolate point to eliminate carriers of the colourpoint gene. Meanwhile, the British and European cats were bred back to Siamese (because of inbreeding) and their standard made no mention of a “stop” and required a long whippy tail.
Early terminology in Havana breeding can be confusing. Breeders used the term “blue” (in inverted commas) when they meant “dilution” (known at the time as “the character for blue” or “blue dilution.”) Blue offspring can only be produced from black + dilution gene. The “blue” cats produced by Havanas (genetically chocolate) were actually lilac (lavender), but that colour was only recognised in Siamese and Foreign/Orientals at the time. To be clear to the modern reader reviewing old articles, Havanas did not carry blue, they carried what is now called “dilute”.
In America, inbreeding from British imports had brought out a genetic abnormality – split foot - a dominant gene with variable expression (i.e. not all cats with the gene exhibited the trait). This brought the breeding of the cats in Britain to a virtual standstill because not all breeders were willing to test-mate their cats to eliminate those with the faulty gene. Breeding didn’t pick up again until the self-brown “Scintilla Copper Beech” popped up in Patricia Turner’s Foreign White breeding programme. This cat traced back to Laurentide Ludo x Silvershoen Blue Peter on both her sire and dam’s side. She was mated to lilac-point Siamese and should have re-established the Havana in in Britain, but the lack of pure Havana stock meant they were bred with Siamese and Orientals rather than being pursued as a separate breed.
Fast forward to the 21st Century when the Suffolk Chocolate and Suffolk Lilac (recognised in 2014 by the UK’s GCCF) was developed because the British Havana (Chocolate/Chestnut Oriental) had become too extreme in type. By crossing to American-style Havana Browns from France, the original style of Havana was re-created, but since the name was already taken, the GCCF required them to have a new name. Because the dilution gene was present in both the UK Havana and US Havana Brown gene pools, Suffolk Lilacs (= Lavender in North America) naturally occurred.
In the mid 20th century, cat geneticist Patricia Turner saw an overdeveloped photograph of a lilac point Siamese and was inspired to develop a blue-eyed solid white cat with Siamese conformation. Careful breeding ensured the cats had "foreign blue eyes" and did not suffer from deafness. On 5th November, 1962, cat breeders in England started a "Foreign White" breeding program using dominant white British shorthaired cats and seal pointed Siamese as foundation cats. Dominant white masks all other colours. In 1967 a Chestnut Brown Foreign kitten named "Scintilla Copper Beech" was produced in her Foreign White breeding programme from mating Foreign White female "Scintilla Chu Pao" to a Lilac Point Siamese male, "Scintilla Croesus." "Copper Beech" became very influential in the Foreign/Oriental breeding programme.
In Ireland, a separate breeding programme for Foreign White was started at the same time. Red point Siamese were crossed with white British shorthairs. Unfortunately these cats inherited a number of defects including Waardenburg Syndrome, sterility and several health problems. Waardenburg Syndrome is due to an incomplete dominant gene that causes an unusual pattern of white markings, blue eyes that lack a tapetum lucidum in the eyes and deafness. Although the blue eyes and deafness were no worse than the same issues caused by dominant white, they were not desirable in Foreign Whites. It seemed that mating genetically red, cream, apricot or tortie point Siamese to Foreign Whites was linked to Waardenburg Syndrome.
In England in the late 1960's, Siamese breeder Maureen Silson wanted to produce a white Siamese. She followed the same process that had created white Guinea pigs i.e. breed a red to a Himalayan pattern. She used red (i.e. cinnamon) Abyssinian "Tranby Red Tutankhamen" bred to seal point Siamese female, "Annelida Fair Maid." This gave a chocolate agouti "Kernow Gerza" and a black agouti "Kernow Koptos". Silson bred these litter mates and produced "Southview Pavane" in May 1971. Pavane was registered as a Havana (i.e. self chocolate) but was actually a Foreign Cinnamon. Silson referred to Pavane as a "milk chocolate Havana," but when Pavane matured she was obviously not a Havana! For a while, cinnamon was called pavane in England. Silson continued to breed these cats and found that cinnamon was a recessive allele of black. This breeding programme also produced longhaired foreign type cats that traced back to Kernow Gerza and Kernow Koptos and these cats are the ancestors of most British Oriental Longhairs. Silson continued with her programme to breed white Siamese i.e. Foreign Whites.
Silson's "Tranby Red Tutankhamen" was the litter brother of "Tranby Red Sothis" who gave rise to Mrs Falkena-Rohrle’s Cinnamon Orientals. Silson’s "Southview Unacassiopeia," her son "Southview Duakylin" and daughter "Southview Duaebony" led to another line of Havanas.
In The Netherlands two separate Foreign White breeding lines were established. Both used orange-eyed white cats and Siamese. These programs started in the 1970s after the first difficulties had already been overcome by British and Irish breeders. Klaas van der Wijk (cattery Benvenida) started the first Dutch line of Foreign Whites.
Alongside the chocolate brown cats bred in the 1950's, Foreign Blues and Foreign Lavenders (Lilacs) were produced. Mrs Hargreaves developed a line of Lavender Self Shorthairs. By 1970, Angela Sayer had founded the "Foreign Lavender Group" and the Foreign Lilac (now the Lilac Oriental) was recognised in 1977. Pat Turner’s Foreign White also gained Championship Status in 1977. Meanwhile, in the mid 1970's, Pat Turner had acquired a pair of Siamese x Chinchilla cats, "Scinta Celeste" and "Scintasilva Sue" and began to breed Smokes, Silver Tabbies and Pastels (now called Shaded) in order to study whether chinchilla was an allele of colourpoint as most geneticists believed at the time. This also controversially introduced tabbies into the mix.
As new colours and patterns were produced they were called "Foreign Shorthairs of Siamese Type" before the breed name "Oriental" was adopted. Early on, the self-colour cats were referred to as "Foreign" while the patterned cats were "Oriental." Nowadays, the Havana is conserved the first Oriental. Later on, all of these varieties, both self and patterned, would be pulled together into the Oriental breed group by America’s CFA and most other registries would adopt that terminology to avoid confusion. Older paper pedigrees will describe the cats by the old breed nomenclature, but online databases have tended to rename them retrospectively for consistency.
The equivalent of Oriental Longhair type cats had already existed in Britain under the name "Angora" since the 1970s. They aimed to recreate the look of the Turkish cats that had been supplanted by the Persian. It was first recognised by the GCCF in 1977 and was bred in a wide range of colours. Its voice was similar to that of the Siamese and it was more fecund than the Turkish Angora. The "British Angora" was a Foreign Longhair in all but name and had Provisional status since 1998. In 2002 Britain's GCCF renamed this breed Oriental Longhairs, to remove confusion. In FIFe they were also known as "Javanese" and some other organisations used the breed name "Mandarin." When faster communication made the cat fancying world a smaller place, there was an effort to harmonise breed names. Crossing Oriental Longhairs to Siamese to ensure consistent conformation has tended to reduce the longhair coat so that many now look like shorthairs with plumy tails and a bit of a neck ruff. Perhaps there is room for a truly longhaired foreign cat to be developed!
DEVELOPMENT OF "FOREIGNS" IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
Another early foreign shorthair was the Susuki developed in Australia in 1957. The experimental breed was exhibited during the 1960s. One of the earliest mentions of Susukis appears to be this news item from The Age, Monday March 13, 1961 (Melbourne, Australia): " Mr Douglas Greening, of Box Hill North, has been devoting a great deal of time to the Susukis for three years and the latest news is that, under the description "experimental breed" – which, Mr Greening says, is far less offensive than "hybrids," the word used to describe them until now – they will be exhibited for the first time at the Croydon agricultural show on March 25. The Susukis are the fruits (through three generations) of the marriage of Pluto of Arden, a seal point Siamese, and a white domestic alley cat, who had a touch of Persian in her ancestry. The fruits have taken two forms – both will look, in shape, like Siamese and have Siamese blue eyes, but one will be black all over and the other grey all over. They don’t look quite like that yet; they may be described as being half-way there, and Mr Greening thinks that another three generations may bring success."
Susukis, owned by Mrs Van der Spek (a cat breed judge) were exhibited in Tasmania in the mid 1960s. Susukis used the same mix as the more successful Havana Brown/Havana Lilac, but the breeders' original objective of a solid black cat with blue eyes was a genetic impossibility because the blue eye colour was inextricably linked to the colourpoint pattern of the foundation sire. Mrs Chandler, a noted figure in the Australian cat fancy, always referred to the Susukis as having "hazel" eyes. The foundation sire, Pluto of Arden (a Seal-Point Siamese) was noted for his poor temperament. The founding mother appears to have been a blue-eyed white that carried the recessive long-hair gene. In 1964, Beryl Chandler reported that "Black [Foreign Shorthairs] (now called black Oriental) were shown in considerable numbers."
According to Our Cats, January 1965 in the overseas news report: "In Victoria there is a completely new type of black shorthair cat with hazel eyes called Susukis. These I found to be a mixture of Siamese and black domestic. We in New Zealand have seen the progeny of mismatings between Siamese and the ordinary British Shorthair cat. Some beautiful half-breeds have resulted, with the Siamese-type body, oriental blue eyes and a black shiny shorthair coat. But we had not thought of them as a new breed." In Victoria, several breeders were keen on producing hazel-eyed Susukis. The May 1965 issue of Our Cats added "Eight years of careful, planned and selective breeding was undertaken to produce [Susukis]. They are indeed attractive with their almost fluid sleekness and grace." The breeders involved were Hiljoy Cattery (Mrs Van der Spek and Miss Holding), Suzeraine Cattery (Mrs Carmichael, Miss Thomas, Mrs Buck, Beryl Chandler and Mr Hartnell) and Rothesay Cattery (Mrs Matheson). Mr Greening, who bred the original stock, had retired.
Some of the influential breeders of Foreign and Oriental cats in Australia and New Zealand were Zoe Jermyn (Sarayan prefix), Hilda Jeremiah, Lorna Pratt, Gabrielle Kaufmann, Una Meany and Twink McCabe. McCabe worked with cinnamon Foreigns. Gabrielle Kaufmann's experimental breeding of Foreign-type cats dates back to the 1940s. Una Meany (Sydney, Australia) had at least 3 generations of her own experimental "Chestnut Brown Foreigns" (Lindfield prefix) in 1964. In the 1960's, Foreign whites were being developed by Zoe Jermyn in Victoria, New South Wales, Australia, and she also did some interesting work with red series Siamese. Much later on, when some of the Sarayan lines met up again in other people’s breeding programmes, some throwbacks to other colours turned up as a result of recessive genes carried down through the generation. Cats from some of these long established Australian lines were sent to Europe towards the end of the 20th century.
(With thanks to Lesley Morgan and Liz Claxton for information from Australia and New Zealand.)
EXPORTATION OF "FOREIGNS" TO NORTH AMERICA AND RECHRISTENING TO "ORIENTAL"
The British-bred oriental (albeit not yet having that name) and Foreign cats were exported to America in the early 1970s. They were crossed with American Shorthairs to produce even more colours. Many American Shorthairs at that had unknown backgrounds and some were imported Foreign Shorthairs. The American Shorthair "Black Jack," who was registered as unknown background, was a Foreign Black (US: Ebony Oriental Shorthair) bred from Solitaire Pine Marten (Ebony Smoke Oriental Shorthair) and Solitaire Tyfyny (Lilac Pt Siamese). Black Jack was exported to the USA as an American Shorthair in spite of his Siamese/Foreign/Oriental ancestry! Although the cats are retrospectively described as Oriental Shorthair on modern databases, this was not necessarily the breed name when they were bred.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, solid colour cats with foreign conformation were advertised under their colour name, not yet having a breed name. They were Chestnut Shorthairs, Lavender Shorthairs etc. It would take a while longer for these to be pulled together under a single breed name coined by the CFA.
In the USA, the "Oriental Shorthair" was accepted for CFA championship status in 1977. It was developed to explore the possible combinations of colour and pattern combined with a Siamese-type body. Self (solid), tabby, spotted, ticked, bicolour, tortie, tortie-and-white and silvers are all possible in various combinations.
While British "Angoras" had existed since the late 1970s, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the first cross-breeding between an Oriental Shorthair and a Balinese cat took place in the USA. This created the Oriental Longhair (Javanese or Mandarin in Europe), which had the same physique as an Oriental Shorthair, but with mid-to-long fur. In 1995 the Oriental Longhair it was recognised by CFA.
A little more about the British exports to North America. Kay Hanvey (an American cat judge visiting the UK) obtained some of her first Oriental cats through Angela Sayer (or Sayer’s friends) in Britain, including her original stud Chocind Seti of Chipmunk (Chocolate/Chestnut Classic Tabby born 12-Jun-1983) from Brenda Aylward, an early classic tabby with an EXP registration number. The breeder of one of Seti’s parents was trying to breed longhaired foreign conformation cats i.e the British "Angora. " Seti's grandfather was Rian Chocolate Ripple (also Chocolate/Chestnut Classic Tabby, born 18-Apr-1980 ) and was one of the first classic tabby oriental shorthair cats. At that time, breeders called the patterned cats "Oriental" and the self colour cats "Foreign." Sayer held a lot of the history of this breed group, particularly the self colours and of her contribution to developing the lynx point Siamese and later the tabby Oriental Shorthairs. This was just before Sayer split from GCCF and formed The Cat Association.
(With thanks to Kay Hanvey for additional information.)
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
International trade in breeding stock means that the modern Oriental cats are very consistent in type around the world. Some countries have slightly different breed standards, for example recognising different subsets of the colour range or requiring less extreme-conformation. In parts of Europe, all blue-eyed white cats for breeding require a hearing test and there are legal restrictions on extreme typing (of all cat breeds).