CFA Oriental Breed Profile

CFA Oriental Breed Standard





In the summer of 1972, my husband, Peter, and I went to England to look for new Siamese lines to bring back home. During this trip we were surprised to find the Siamese type we were looking for in the Foreign Whites, Lavenders, Chestnuts, Spotted Tabbies and Ebonies. We saw these cats at Mary Dunnill’s Sumfun Cattery and at Angela Sayer’s Solitaire Cattery. We very much wanted to bring some of these outstanding cats home with us, but we know that there was no breed to accommodate then in C.F.A.

We found ourselves pondering the problem of gaining recognition for these various colored cats of Siamese type in C.F.A.  The England registration scheme could not be carried over to C.F.A., because GCCF considers every OSH color to be a separate breed (GCCF also treats Bristish Shorthair and Persian in this manner). However, GCCF allows OSH colors to interbreed and allows kittens of several different breeds (i.e. colors) to be registered from one litter.

After returning home, we carefully followed the progress of many colors of Orientals in GCCF and the European Cat registry ( FIFE ). Several articles in Cat World, written by members of FIFE , indicated that cats with Oriental type were being developed: whites, blues, ebonies, and spotted tabbies, and that they would be grouped into one breed. We corresponded with as many overseas breeders as we could track down, and they all, without exception, agreed that these cats should be one breed, and defined in all possible colors. At the same time, we kept close contact with C.F.A. Central Office, and we had frequent discussions about alternate ways to introduce the Orientals in this country. By the summer of 1973, it was clear that the only possibility that made sense genetically and that would remain consistent with CFA’s registration rules was to group all of these cats of foreign type under a single breed classification.

Once we knew the direction that was to be taken, two very important questions were still to be answered: would there be a sufficiently large number of breeders interested in working with the OSH breed? Although CFA required ten breeders to pledge their interest, we felt that twenty would be far better. Without a large number of concurrent breeding programs working toward a common goal, the development is far too slow, and breeders tend to become discouraged. It was also of the upmost importance that the Oriental breeders be able to work harmoniously.

The second question, just as crucial as the first, was whether these cats would have sufficient esthetic appeal to the public, which must eventually provide good pet homes for the kittens. Without these homes for non-show specimens, no responsible or compassionate breeder would want to embark on an ambitious breeding program.

In a nutshell, without a substantial number of experiences breeders devoted to the breeding program, and without interest in the kittens, there was no breed.

On October 19, 1973, the first meeting of Oriental Shorthairs International was held in our home in Yorktown Heights , New York . The meeting was fertile in producing what was to become the standard for the OSH , and defined most of the colors. Two weeks later, the breed was names, and OSA applied for CFA membership.

With almost twenty experiences breeders ascertaining their intentions to work with the Oriental breed, the first question was now answered. These experienced breeders pledge their time, their hard work, their money, their outstanding Siamese stock to a strict selective breeding program. The Charter members of OSI were truly pioneer breeders. And just like all other pioneer breeders they were wiling to work unselfishly without the guarantee of registration status or even more remotely the pleasure of seeing their cats on the show bench. Perhaps the most remarkable fact about the original OSI members is that not a single one possessed an Oriental cat and most of them had not even seen one in the flesh. They pledged their devotion to an abstract concept of beauty.

When the OSH standard was framed, the lack of Oriental cats among breeders was a definite advantage. None of the pioneers had any conflict of interest between defining his ideal and describing his own cats. And now to introduce the charter members of OSI who laid down the foundation for CFA’s Orientals:

            William Eisenman

            Barbara Harr

            Alison Hedberg

            Judith Hymas

            Richard and Barbara Levitan

            Anthony and Barbara Marescie

            Peter and Vicky Markstein

            Jeoffry and Gail Miles

            Robert and Joan O’Brien

            Ann Tacetta

            Lou and Lynn Weiss

            Donald and Dorothy Wilbur

Almost immediately the OSI Club placed advertisements in Cat World inviting breeders with similar interests to join forces. The response was far beyond any expectations. Oriental breeders who were discovered through these ads provided the majority of cays required to apply for registration status. The Lavender breeders, interested in promoting their cats in CFA, reregistered their cats as Lavender Orientals, and joined OSI. By the time OSI applied for registration status there were over 60 breeders and almost 100 cats!

Meanwhile in February, 1974, the English imports purchased by OSI members arrived: Solitaire Keleawe, Chestnut female, Harislau Magnolia and Harislau Myosotis, Spotted Tabby Lavender females, Solitaire Tut, Chestnut Spotted Tabby male, and Scintilla Tangent, Cream male. Prior to these imports, Pauline and Sid Thompson had imported two Chestnut females, Solitaire Tongan Princess and Alice ’s Sakura. Since eight of CFA’s first ten OSH grand champions have imports in their pedigrees, the overseas breeders made significant contributions to the USA Oriental development.

Soon after their arrival, the imports were entered in several CFA shows for exhibition only. After only their first showing at the 1974 Westchester Cat Club Show, the answer to the second question was unequivocal: the cats appealed esthetically to judges, breeders, and pet owners alike. The owners of these first Orientals were getting inquiries on future litters from breeders who realized that championship status could not be guaranteed, and from pet owners who were anxious to know when OSHs would be available to pet homes. Most judges gave lengthy and complimentary descriptions of the OSH to the public. They talked at length with OSH breeders, and their advice indicated interest in seeing the breed het started on the right foot. At each exhibition of these cats, membership in OSI increased. We definitely had a breed!

From that point on, everything went very smoothly. Registration status was granted in October 19974, and provisional status was granted in October 1975, effective May 1, 1976. At that point, OSI doubled its publicity campaign. At several CFA shows, members of OSI entered as many as 20 OSH . The breeders realized that only those specimens which would honor the breed should be exhibited. From the large number of exhibits, the judges were better able to evaluate the Orientals, and in turn gave us valuable feedback. The enthusiasm was high and immediate. By October 1976, the Orientals were advanced to Championship status, in all the proposed colors, effective May 1, 1977.

All of the dedication and unity of the now 80 members of OSI had been rewarded. The CFA Board, by recognizing all the proposed colors, showed its appreciation for the possibilities of this hybrid breed. By this one move, CFA became one of the most advanced registries in its definition of the Oriental Shorthair.

The story of the Oriental Shorthair in CFA is glamorous as the Orientals advanced to Championship Status in minimum time. I believe this to be the result of a large number of breeders all working in unison towards the same goal, the esthetic appeal of the breed, the intelligent breeding programs, and the foresight of the CFA Board to accept all colors. The OSH also had very knowledgeable advisors throughout their development years: Jane Martinke, Dr. Rosemond Peltz, Muriel Slodden, Pat Turner, Angela Sayer, Jean Rose, and Richard Gebhardt. It would be impossible to name the dozens of judges who promoted our breed by their display of enthusiasm, and without whose assistance, the breed would not have advanced as quickly nor as successfully. Certainly today, none can deny the appeal of the OSH breed especially after the splashing results in their first Championship year!


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