The Siamese cat is an instantly recognizable breed, thanks in part to its popularity in books, films, and cartoons. But where do these strikingly elegant cats come from? Do they make good pets? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this regal breed.
Elegant and Mischievous! Who is the Siamese Cat?
The Siamese cat is a short-haired, medium-sized cat breed, originally from what is now Thailand. The breed is known for its friendly, playful personality, pointed coloration, lithe build, and beautiful blue eyes.
An Ancient Breed from Thailand?
Siamese cats descend from an ancient breed of Thai cats, and the name Siamese comes from the old name for Thailand, Siam. Similar cats can be seen in ancient manuscripts dating back to the 14th century known as, adorably, The Cat Poems.
These cats were once thought to belong to Siamese royalty and may have been so highly valued that they were even taken as loot by Burmese raiders in the 18th century. However, these reports are not verified and may have been assumed due to the regal appearance of the Siamese breed.
Siamese cats were first introduced to the rest of the world in 1878 when President Rutherford B. Hayes received one as a gift. The beautiful breed caught on quickly, and people in American and Britain began to breed them as pets.
In the mid-20th century, Siamese breeders began to select cats that were more slender in appearance, with larger ears and more almond-shaped eyes. This eventually resulted in a split between the modern Siamese cat, which is now recognized as the breed standard, and the old-style Siamese, also known as the Applehead Siamese for its much more rounded head and blue eyes.
These traditional Siamese cats are still bred today, though they are much less common, except in Thailand where they are the norm. In 1990, the classic Siamese cat was recognized as a separate breed, known as the Thai cat.
Appearance and Personality of this Graceful Kitty!
The overall appearance of the Siamese cat is one of angular elegance. There is nothing rounded or soft about this elegant breed.
Perhaps this cat’s most striking feature is its wedge-shaped head that forms almost a perfect triangle from the nose to the long, wide-set ears. These cats are also known for their striking blue, almond-shaped eyes. The Siamese cat’s neck, body, and legs are all long, slender and athletic, giving an elegant, regal appearance.
Social and Friendly! Temperament of this Breed
The Siamese cat breed is known for its friendly, sociable, and affectionate nature. These cats tend to be loving and trusting towards people, and they will often bond especially strongly with one person.
They are playful and intelligent, needing lots of interaction to keep them entertained. Most Siamese cats are able to live with children and other cats. They can even live with cat-friendly dogs, if introduced properly.
These cats are prone to anxiety and depression if left alone for too long, and can show mischievous or destructive behavior if they don’t receive enough stimulation.
From a Lynx Point Siamese to a Seal Point Siamese: These Kitties Come in Beautiful Colors!
The Siamese cat has a short, soft, glossy coat, with no underlayer. As such, they shed little and are easy to groom. These cats have what is known as “pointed” coloring, whereby the body is very pale, and the face, ears, legs and tail are all much darker.
The pointed coloring in Siamese cats comes in many different color combinations, all of which are accepted under the breed standard in the United Kingdom. These Siamese cat colors are often the result of crossing with other breeds some generations back, and include Seal Point, Red Point, Cream Point, Lynx Point (tabby) and Tortoiseshell Point.
In the USA, however, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) only recognizes the following four coat colors:
- Seal Points: extremely dark brown, almost black. Originally, almost all Siamese cats were this color, and this was the only accepted coloration.
- Blue Points: a light gray body color with cool, steely gray points,
- Chocolate Points: a lighter brown,
- Lilac Point: a lighter, warmer shade of gray than Blue Points.
6 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Siamese Cats
- Many other cat breeds are descended from the Siamese cat, including the Colorpoint Shorthair, Bengal Cat, Oriental Shorthair and Oriental Longhair, among many others.
- Siamese cats, thanks to their distinctive looks, feature heavily in popular culture, including Disney’s The Aristocats and Lady and the Tramp, and in the beloved children’s book, The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. If you’re trying to think of suitable Siamese cat names, try looking to works of fiction for inspiration.
- Almost all cats of this breed once had kinked tails, though this trait has now been bred out. Many cats in Thailand can still be seen with kinked tails, however.
- All Siamese kittens are born pure white or cream, and their pointed coloring only develops at around four weeks old.
- The Siamese breed’s trademark point coloring is actually a form of albinism, where the pigment is heat-sensitive, and only produces shading in cooler areas of the body.
- A Siamese cat’s nose and paw pads will typically match the color of its points.
The Case of a Cross-Eyed Cat: Health Concerns Associated with this Breed!
Siamese cats and the many breeds descended from them, have a number of associated health concerns. The breed is more prone to lung disease, feline OCD, Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, Vestibular disease, progressive retinal atrophy, gastrointestinal and neoplastic problems.
These cats can also be prone to eye and vision problems associated with their blue eyes. Many of these cats had crossed eyes once, due to “crossed wiring” between the eyes and the brain.
However, this trait is now seen as a fault and has largely been bred out. Even those Siamese cats without crossed eyes will still have reduced night vision. However, unlike other blue-eyed white cats, the Siamese breed does not usually suffer from hearing difficulties.
How Long do these Kitties Live for?
These cats typically live for 12 to 14 years, which is about average for pure-breed cats. However, the world’s oldest male cat on record, Scooter, was a Siamese cat who lived to be 30 years old!
Got a Lovely Blue Point Siamese? 5 Tips for Pet Parents Caring for this Kitty
- Siamese cats are very intelligent and playful, even into adulthood. While this can be endearing, it can also result in bored and potentially destructive kitties if they don’t get enough mental stimulation. Toys, puzzles, scratching posts, and even other cats for company cal all help to keep these elegant cats amused. Many people keep Siamese cats in pairs for this reason. Two tails are better than one!
- The Siamese is definitely a people-oriented breed, and as such these cats are not suited to being left for long periods of time, even if you have another cat.
- Due to their reduced night vision, these cats are more likely to get into accidents at night, especially if you live in a high-traffic area. Consider keeping your Siamese cat in after dark for its own safety.
- There’s no other way to put it, the Siamese is a chatty cat! This breed loves to vocalize, and will chatter away at you in its distinctive low-pitched voice. If you have to make important work phone calls all day, this breed might not be the one for you—unless you don’t mind your cat joining it!
- Some people describe Siamese behavior as more dog-like than feline. They are affectionate to the point of neediness, they love to cuddle, and you can even teach them to play fetch! If you’re looking for an aloof, independent kitty, this breed does not fit the bill.
Siamese Kittens will Play with You All Day!
If you’ve decided that a Siamese kitten is for you, always make sure to buy from a reputable breeder.
All responsible traditional Siamese cat breeders will carry out genetic testing on both parents to ensure that hereditary diseases are not passed down. They will also give the kitten all of the necessary vaccinations and treatments, to ensure that the kittens are healthy.
Most kittens will be available from 12 to 16 weeks old, which ensures that they have had enough time to socialize and develop properly before they go to their new homes.
Siamese kittens typically cost from $400 to $600 dollars. Depending on the breeder, this may include proof of pedigree, inoculations, transport, and advice on bonding with your new kitten. The CFA keeps a directory of breeders, and this can be a good way to find reputable breeders in your area.
If you’re looking for a loving, affectionate cat that will remain playful well into adulthood, the Siamese cat could well be the cat for you!