Facts about Siamese cats

Here are some basic introductory facts about Siamese Cats. The Siamese cat is a purebred cat of great popularity. It is the the second most popular cat breed after the Maine Coon based on my long standing poll of over 5,000 votes.

Siamese cats originally came from Siam now Thailand (there is a map of Thailand below). They were and still are pointed (dark extremities) normal sized moggie or random bred cats in Thailand. But they go back a long way in time. The Siamese cat is one of the most ancient of the cat breeds. There is a long, long Siamese cat history.


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This long history gives the Siamese a reputation, a well deserved reputation. It is one of the original cat breeds. Other early cat breeds are the Abyssinian and Persian.

In the early years of the cat fancy in England the Siamese was considered rare and exotic. This cat breed is now very commonplace. The cat fancy started in England. The phrase "cat fancy" means the breeding and showing of cats at cat shows and ancillary matters.

For thousands of years we had a random bred pointed cat in Siam. In the late 1800s the cat fancy started up and breeders began to selectively breed cats one of which was the exotic Siamese. At this time the cat was the same shape and color etc as the original. There was one color for the points: seal (dark brown approaching black)

Then the breed was exported to the USA in the early 1900s. Breeding began in earnest and the humble yet exotic Siamese was made to look more refined and exotic in the eyes of breeders. To breeders this meant a more slender cat, called "oriental" body shape in the cat fancy.

Modern Siamese - Photo copyright Helmi Flick

This slender Siamese cat, I call the Modern Siamese. There were many people, cat keepers and breeders who preferred the original appearance. They continued to breed what they called the Traditional Siamese cat. This is sometimes referred to as the Applehead Siamese as the head shape is more round unlike the rat-like shape of the modern Siamese head.

Summer evening cat
Traditional Siamese Cat
Photo: by Robert Couse-Baker

At that stage we had two types of Siamese cat, one considerably more slender than the other. Not to be outdone a third set of breeders wanted to breed what they thought was the genuine Siamese cat and they wanted to create another breed - breeders do!

This cat is in between the traditional and modern in cat body type and I call this cat the Classic Siamese. Some breeders bred the classic Siamese and some call it the Thai cat - meaning a new breed. Confused?! The facts about Siamese cats really turn on the breed's history.

Now where does this leave in relation to colours and patterns? Well it is strange. It is the cat associations who register the cats who dictate the standard appearance in the breed standard. The most traditional cat association is the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA). The allow the traditional colours. The seal pointed cat is the original natural colour. To that we can add chocolate, lilac and blue (blue is dilute black and it looks grey!). These colours concern the pointing, the extremities of the cat.

The more adventurous associations allow lots more colours for the points. TICA allow for example lynx pointing which is a tabby pointing - a broken pointing that makes it hard to actually see the pointing. Another popular colour for the pointing can be seen in the flame point Siamese.

Teddy The Bag Cat, meowing
Lynx point traditional Siamese
Photo: by gsloan

The Oriental Shorthair is a type of Siamese cat that has a lot more variety in allowed colours and patterns. It need not be pointed. The shape is oriental unsurprisingly. Indeed some cat associations consider then as Siamese. Confused again? There is an argument that says that the number of cat associations should be reduced and the standard made uniform.

There is a third (or is it a sixth....I've lost track) type of Siamese cat that is called the Balinese. It is the same as the Siamese except with long hair. There are modern and traditional Balinese cats but only slender Oriental cats (no doubt someone will correct me on that).

All these breeds, Siamese and associated breeds are vocal and friendly. They like to be close to their human and Siamese are at the top end of cat intelligence.

As to health the slender Modern Siamese that has had more breeding than most other cat breeds suffers from the most genetically inherited illnesses with the Persian. The health of this cat is not the best in my opinion and people are concerned about the health of the cat that they adopt for obvious reasons. A well known congenital defect is the squint.

Facts about Siamese Cats in brief:
  • Date or origin: before 1700s (maybe thousands of years ago).
  • Place of origin: Siam (Thailand).
  • Ancestry: Moggies - some lived in and around temples.
  • Name sometimes used: Royal Cat of Siam
  • Outcross: None (this means that the associations don't allow the cat to be breed with cats of another breed or moggies.
  • Weight: Mid-range: 6-12 pounds
  • Temperament: Vocal, friendly, loyal and energetic.
  • Registered by major associations.
  • The pointing is caused by the heat. Where the body is cooler it is darker. When the cat is born it is all white.
Hope this helps a bit.
Facts about Siamese cats Facts about Siamese cats Reviewed by Michael Broad on June 17, 2011 Rating: 5

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