Perhaps the most widely recognised domestic cat for its sleek and fine, boned appearance and distinctive coat patterning, the Siamese cat is also one of the world’s most popular domestic cats. The exact origin of the breed is unclear however the West first discovered them in Siam(Now Thailand). It is possible the cats were initially bred and kept as sacred temple cats in Siam.
In 1884 Mr Owen Gould the British Consul General in Bangkok imported breeding pair back to Britain partly as a curiosity but also as a gift for his sister Mrs. Veley. In a bid with this exotic animal Mrs Bailey embarked on an intensive breeding program and in 1901 went on to co-found the British Siamese cat club. These two initial cats were not the only cats included in the western breeding program in these early days with more Siamese cats imported from Thailand in 1885 and following years to ensure the genetic base for the cats being bred in the UK were sufficiently large to ensure the health of the breed.
There are currently two recognise sub varieties of the Siamese. The original, traditional “apple headed” Siamese which has been bred with the original appearance of the first cats from Thailand being maintained, and the modern more elongated show Siamese. Whilst the two types are not distinct breeds and can both be shown show judges will favour the modern version over the traditional version. The popularity of the show version is now so overwhelming that many people wouldn’t even recognise a traditional style Siamese as being Siamese.
Appearance of the Modern Show Siamese
the modern show Siamese that most people unedifying with the breed has a finger and elongated body with narrow shoulders and hips giving in appearance of near emaciation. They have a Y-shaped head long and high batwing ears on a small face with an extremely long pointed muzzle. Whilst both varieties have the same almond shaped eyes, the eyes of the modern show Siamese are not larger than those of the Apple faced traditional Siamese, because of their small head their eyes appear proportionally larger
The apple headed Siamese has a more regular catlike appearance with and a rounder head, smaller ears, and are broader shoulders and hips and are generally more sturdy appearance. Both versions once had kinked tails, something most of the imported versions seem to have and something seen as a breed trait… it’s now been all but removed from the breed as it was rightly recognized as a fault. Likewise it is very rare these days to see cross eyed Siamese where once they were very common
Temperament of the Siamese
Not only well known for their distinctive, regal appearance, the Siamese is known for the piercing and demonstrative voice. Indeed the voice at times appears halfway between a meow and a howl. They are extremely vocal and desiring of your attention which they will attempt to gain too sure of their voice in crazy antics. They are known to rolling over on their back then springing straight up into the air and then dashing around the house. As with most cats they will rub on their owners legs for attention but in the case of the Siamese it is a rub so demanding to say “pick me up or I will fall down”. They will engage with all members of the family that will tend to bond with one person most closely.
They are very intelligent cats and as a result require stimulation will become bored and destructive. In some ways they can be very much like dogs. Many will love the game as fetch and all will love the game of pounce. Many Siamese cats will act like kittens well into adulthood.
The nightvision of the Siamese cat is not as well-established as in other Breeds and thus they will tend to be more active during the day and sleep more at night than other Breeds.
Siamese cats have a distinctive coat pattern with a white/creamy coat with dark muzzles, paws tails, lower legs and ears – these highlighted darker areas referred to as “points”. There are Siamese that appear to be darker in colouring than the stereotypical Siamese – these darker varieties simply have the points area extending down the back and hindquarters in addition to the above mentioned areas.
The traditional Siamese cats when originally imported from Thailand will all feel pointed the crossbreeding with other Varieties in the United Kingdom throughout the end of the 19th and well into the mid-20th century saw the development of the Siamese into many more colours including chocolate, lilac, blue, red, tabby and tortoise-shell.
The breed standard in the UK and the US differs slightly with regard to colouring is in that all colours are allowed in the UK whereas in the US Army the seal point, chocolate point, lilac point and blue point are allowed. All other colours in the US are considered a separate breed called a ColorPoint short hair.
Curiously the highlighting all points on the coat colour is produced as a result of the heat sensitive enzyme that is neutralised when heated to around body temperature. Those areas of the cats body that darker in those areas that are generally cooler such as the years, face, tail and legs. At birth Siamese kittens have no visible points with only their aquiline bodies and distinctive faces indicating their true nature. At four weeks of age the colour points begin to develop and is possible to determine what colour they will be an adulthood. At three months of age the points should be virtually completely established
The dark coloration on the coat is produced by an enzyme that is heat-sensitive; it fails to work at normal body temperatures, but becomes active in cooler areas of the skin (such as the ears, legs, tail and face (which is cooled by the passage of air through the sinuses). All Siamese kittens, although pure cream or white at birth, develop visible points in the first few months of life in colder parts of their body. By the time the kitten is four weeks old the points should be clearly distinguishable enough to recognise which colour they will be.
The Siamese cat as the founding Cat for other breeds
the striking appearance of the Siamese cat has endeared itself to many Breeders who have sought to cross the Siamese cat with other breeds to combine the colour traits and personality of the Siamese cat across to these other breeds of cats to create new breeds that visually and personality wise show off the best of both types.
Indeed, many new breeds or varieties of Siamese had been created in this way including those listed below
- Colorpoint Shorthair
- Oriental Shorthair
- Oriental Longhair
- Thai Cat
Suitability of a Siamese Cat as a Pet
Siamese cats love attention and company so if you’re looking for a cat bill integrate itself into your life and the lives of your family members then certainly consider a Siamese cat. They require much of your time and attention if they are to be happy such is spent a lot of time away from your home either consider a more independent breed or otherwise get to cats so they can entertain each other whilst you are away.