Saturday 31 May 2008

Types of Siamese Cats

Photo: Helmi Flick

To the question, "What types of Siamese cats are there," the answer is, an infinite number. Sounds strange but it is true. You would need to classify Siamese cats by conformation (body shape) and by coat color and pattern. The bigger class is body shape.
Body Shape 

As I have said in other posts (and I apologize if you have seen something similar in another post), the Siamese cat look/appearance used to be exclusively the traditional looking Siamese. Things were simpler in those long lost days more than one hundred years ago, in the years following the first importation of the first Siamese cats from Siam in the late 1800s. The history of this breed is interesting. There is a large body of Siamese cat lovers and breeders who have stayed loyal to the original and genuine appearance. However from the mid 1900s onwards cat breeders developed a far more delicate (some say more elegant) looking cat with the same pointed coat colors and patterns. This became a more "contemporary" looking Siamese cat. I have called this cat the Modern Siamese.

Bearing in mind, as I have said, that many breeders stayed loyal to the old appearance, that left the cat world with 2 types of Siamese cats. However as breeding is an imprecise business and as not all breeders breed strictly to the breed standard or don't wish to show their cats, a large number of cats fell in the middle ground between the two ends of the spectrum. These cats that are less "extreme" than the Modern Siamese but less "cobby" (stocky) than the traditional Siamese, are called "Classic" Siamese. As there is no clear demarcation between the three (it is more a continuous stream) it is fair to say that there is an infinite types of Siamese cats. If you wanted more certainty you'd say there are three types of Siamese cats in terms of body shape. Traditional -- Classic -- Modern. 

Picture in the public domain. This is a traditional Siamese.

Coat colors and patterns 

That leaves the coat colors and patterns to classify. This depends on whether your talking purebred Siamese or not. For the sake of simplicity I'll confine myself to purebred registered cats (pedigree cats). The coat types depend on the cat association. The biggest and perhaps most influential, the CFA limit the pointing to 4 classic types, seal (the original, see heading photo), blue, chocolate and lilac. They also do not accept the Traditional Siamese. The CFA then accept 4 types of Siamese cats. Incidentally, they reclassify a Balinese with non-conventional pointing such as flame or lynx pointing as a Javanese cat, just to complicate matters. TICA have not such restrictions. The accept both the Modern Siamese and the Traditional (called the Thai). 

As to coats they divide this up into 2 categories one is for the traditional colors mentioned above and the other for other more contemporary colors which would include lynx pointing for example or the flame pointed Siamese cat (you'll love these pictures - and see this post too). That makes a far larger number of types of Siamese cats. I'm not quite sure of the exact number, the combinations are almost endless. Click here to see a post on pointed coats (this post has some interesting Helmi Flick photos of glamorous pointed cats) and on this link for more on Siamese cat coloring.

 You can further extend the types of Siamese cats by bringing into the equation the Balinese which is a semi-long haired version of the Siamese (the GCCF do this - see below). The Balinese is also breed as traditional and modern. So, it kind of gets a little confusing. The plethora of types is due to cat breeders desire to breed new types of cat. This is human nature. There comes a time however when you have to stop and the CFA are it seems to me (I have no connection with them) good at this as they tend to limit the breed types to much lower level than the more adventurous TICA. Both CFA and TICA are USA based. Incidentally, the major registry/cat association in the UK, the GCCF has a different classification process for Siamese cats. They classify as, "self pointed" (meaning solid point colors such as seal), tabby pointed (this would include lynx pointing and it also includes tortie tabby), tortie pointed (pointed cat with tortoiseshell effect) and they include the Balinese as a Siamese type cat. Types of Siamese Cats to Traditional Siamese cats

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