Sunday 26 June 2011

Origin of Siamese Cats

early Siamese cat
Drawing of Siamese Cat
from and old Siamese book

Well as it happens I have a video on this (see below) but I will add some brief words here. The origin of Siamese cats starts in Siam now Thailand. Thailand is in the Far East. This cat was and still is an oriental cat - it is now oriental in shape using cat fancy language. At one stage this cat was not a breed at all. In fact before the late 1800s it was not a cat breed but probably a purebred cat without a pedigree living in Siam with perhaps better off people in that country. The King kept Siamese cats. This gives a clue to us as to how special they were. I am talking about thousands if not many hundreds of years ago in Siam. Let's not forget that wildcats were first domesticated about 9,000 years ago.

So for thousands of years in Siam there were pointed cats. There were also cats that were not pointed. These were random breed cats such as you see now the world over. A genetic mutation probably resulted in the coats of some cats becoming pointed. Pointed cats are born all white and the pointing develops after birth as the production of pigment in the hair strands is heat sensitive. The skin is cooler at the extremities.

The pointed cats stood out and were seen as special in Siam. That is why the richer people kept them.

This cat breed's history in the West started when Siamese cats were first imported from Siam to England, UK. This was in the late 1800s. They were considered exotic then - less so now. Now wildcat hybrids are considered exotic cats. The first imported Siamese was a present to a British diplomat by the King of Siam, a cat lover I suspect. The cat(s) would have endured a long journey by ship to England.

Note: their evidence in a letter that the first Siamese in the West was a cat called "Siam" shipped in a crate to the First Lady in 1878! An ambassador based in Bangkok organized it. The cat died a year later. In fact the first Siamese cats imported were pretty unhealthy it seems to me. Hardly surprising if we are honest.

Siamese cats were shown at cat shows in England during the early years of the cat fancy and then exported to the USA where further selective breeding produced the slender (rather unnaturally slender) modern Siamese cat. This is the Siamese cat to many people but the traditionalists prefer the original more natural shaped cat called the Applehead Siamese a term probably made up by the modern Siamese cat breeders as it is so horrible.

Here is a video and you can read and see much more on this page about Siamese cat history.

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