Popular Siamese cats are one of the most famous and physically distinguishable breeds of cats out there. Descendant from cats native to Thailand (former Siam, hence the name Siamese), the modern Siamese cat breed has been carefully refined by European breeders during the last couple of centuries.
Iconic for their crystal blue eyes, triangular shaped head, big ears, slender and elegant bodies, and point coloration, the Siamese are a highly intelligent breed that’s very social and playful well into their adulthood. Comfortable with both people with other cats, the Siamese cat is a great pet for any household.
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Siamese Cat Breed Information
Everything Future and Current Owners Must Know
General Siamese Cat Breed Questions
Here are some of the most common questions about the Siamese cat breed that most future and current cat owners may be curious about.
1. I’ve seen Siamese cats that didn’t have the typical triangular head and slender body. Yet, they were still officially called Siamese.
How many different variations of the breed are there?
The Siamese cat has gone through a lot of crossbreeding and a lot of the modern cat breeds have less or more in common with it. Many are so close to their Siamese cousins that they are considered “sub-breeds”.
Still, as far as Siamese cats themselves are concerned, there are two main variations:
- The traditional Siamese cat, that’s closer to its wichianmat ancestors from Thailand – with an apple-shaped head and a more well-rounded body.
- The modern Siamese cat – skinny and slender, with a “sharper” muzzle.
Today the second type is considered the more “typical” Siamese cat.
The more traditional body and head shape of the first type of Siamese is often referred to as “Thai cats”. The new breed name “Thai cat” is still strictly considered a type of Siamese. Other names given to this type of Siamese cats are – “Old-style Siamese”, “Classic Siamese”, “Wichienmaat”, which is the original name the breed still has in Thailand, and even “Applehead”, which was initially coined as a mocking term, used by breeders of the modern, skinny Siamese cats.
Other breeds that are closely related to the Siamese due to crossbreeding with other breeds, include:
- Oriental Shorthair
- Colourpoint Shorthair
- Cornish Rex
- Havana Brown
And many others.
2. I’ve also seen Siamese cats with different types and colors of coats. Does the color of the coat reflect the type or subtype of Siamese cat?
Not necessarily. The typical coating of a Siamese cat has point coloration. Point coloration is what we call the coloration of an animal with a predominantly pale body, but also with some dark extremities – usually the face, ears, legs, tail, and scrotum. Which is exactly the type of coat we observe in Siamese cats. Outside of that, there can be different nuances to the color of those extremities.
Originally, the pointed pattern was the result of partial albinism. This was the result of a mutation in tyrosinase – an enzyme that is involved in the production of melanin. This mutated tyrosinase enzyme is heat-sensitive. As a consequence, the cooler parts of the body like the head, legs and tail, receive a darker coloring, while the warmer parts – the torso – remain pale.
Originally, all Siamese cats had “seal points”, which is what we call the darkest, almost black coloring. Occasionally, however, Siamese cats are born with lighter, greyish, bluish, chocolate or lilac points.
At first, such coloration was considered inferior to the typical “seal pointed” Siamese cats, but eventually they were accepted as part of the standard point coloring of a Siamese cat. Today, breeders often intentionally breed Siamese cats for more diverse colors of their extremities – red, cream, lynx/tabby, tortoise-shell (tortie), smoke, and others.
So, as long as the Siamese cat has point coloration, the exact nuance of the darker areas doesn’t make it any less Siamese.
History of Siamese Cat Breeds
With the general questions about the Siamese cat breed out of the way, some pet owners are often curious about the history of this breed of cat. Here’s what to know.
1. The Siamese originated in Thailand. How far back have we traced their history?
As far as human history goes. The original Wichienmaat cat is a natural breed and to this day remains the same as it was the day it was domesticated. The mutation that lead to its pointed coloring is a natural one as well. Ancient manuscripts, paintings, pottery and other sources, depict the Wichienmaat/Thai/Siamese cats exactly as they are today.
2. When were the Siamese cats first introduced into the Western world?
The Western world remained oblivious to the existence of this beautiful breed for a very long time. The first westerners to get introduced to the Siamese cats and actually notice them, were the participants of a Crystal Palace Cat Show in London in the late 19th century. The breed had a lukewarm welcome at first, with many breeders disliking its appearance, but soon more and more Europeans fell in love with it and the Siamese quickly became a fashionable pet in Europe.
By the start of the 20th century, the breed had already made its way across the Atlantic and became famous in the United States as well. President Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) and his wife Lucy received a Siamese cat in 1878. It was shipped to them from Thailand by David B. Sickels – a U. S. diplomat stationed at the consulate in Thailand. The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio has letter from Sickels, detailing the gift.
At first, only seal pointed Siamese cats (ones with darker spots) were accepted as “typical Siamese”, but later on other variations of the coloring became recognized as standard as well.
Personality of Siamese Cat Breed
Here are a few things that pet owners need to know about the personality of Siamese cat breeds, because they certainly differ from many other domesticated cats.
1. I’ve heard people say that the Siamese cat is a “mean” cat, but you said that they are very friendly and social – why have I heard differently?
The myth that Siamese cats are meaner than other breeds exists, but it’s entirely wrong. It would be speculation to say on what it’s based, but most probably it comes from the strange, leaner physique and pointier muzzle of modern Siamese cats – they give the modern Siamese a bit arrogant and cold look, compared to the more traditional shape of Thai cats and other breeds. That, exaggerated and supported by modern pop-culture has easily resulted in the myth about the “meanness” of Siamese cats.
The reality is much different – the Siamese breed, and most of its closely related breeds, are typically very friendly, playful and loving cats. They are also a bit opinionated and demanding of your attention, but unless their owner has treated them badly or ignored them, they won’t be “mean”. Don’t be fooled by pop-culture.
2. What does it mean that Siamese cats are “opinioned and demanding”? Are they a pain to live with?
That depends entirely on you. When people say that the Siamese are opinionated that means that they are a very talkative breed – a Siamese will tell you what it thinks and what it thinks needs to be done, and if you don’t listen, the cat will repeat its advice again and again. Can this be irritating for some people – probably. For other owners, however, this is a great feature – it literally allows you to talk with your Siamese cat and unlike other cat breeds, the Siamese will actually enjoy the conversation (even if neither of you actually understand each other).
When a Siamese gets talkative it is important to not ignore it – pay attention to it, answer it, pet it on the head and the back to show that you appreciate its input. Deprive a Siamese cat of this form of socialization and it will likely become antisocial and possibly even depressed.
A Siamese cat loves to be involved in your love and to be a part of your activities. It will love to not only play with you – the Siamese are very active and playful – but to also just stand by you or in your lap and observe you work. In those cases remember to pet them and talk to them, in order to keep them involved. This personality trait makes the Siamese cat very unique among its feline brethren and is part of the reason why they are such great companions to people.
3. If the Siamese cats are indeed that intelligent and playful, does that mean that I can teach them tricks?
Yes, Siamese are among the most intelligent cat breeds. While teaching them tricks is harder than teaching a dog, it’s certainly very doable, as observed on cat shows and competitions. And as far as a simple game of fetch goes – a Siamese is as happy to play fetch as any dog.
4. The Siamese seems how to train – how do I make sure my Siamese becomes the cat I want it to be?
Siamese cats may be quite opinionated, but they are still a friendly and loving breed – with good care you can easily make sure that your Siamese cat becomes a great pet. Here are the 3 main things you need to keep in mind:
Parents. If you’re curious as to what your Siamese kitty will be when it grows up, take a look at its mother. If given the chance, look at its father and older siblings as well – their behavior is likely to represent a lot of your cat’s future behavior. Additionally, when presented with a whole kitty litter, always choose a kitty that’s neither too big and dominating, nor one that’s too small and ostracized – this will ensure that your kitty will grow up into a healthy and well-adjusted cat.
Training. The Siamese loves to play games, as well as to explore new things. As such, you might want to both train your cat on some tricks and games, as well as to teach it on what not to do around the house. When doing all this, however, always make sure that you use only positive reinforcement training – treats, petting, gentle words, and other rewards. Never hit or punish your Siamese friend – it is both cruel and inefficient, since it will only teach it to distrust and dislike you.
Socialization. A proper socialization is vital for any cat, but even more so for Siamese cats. Extremely friendly and social, Siamese cats need to feel your presence as much as possible. Siamese are even known to “talk” to people – to meow not with the goal of wanting something, be it food, water, cleaning or play, but just for the sake of talking. They love it when you talk back to them or pet them in response to their mewing, as this way you acknowledge their “input”.
Aside from socializing with you, however, it is strongly advisable that you make sure to socialize them with outside people as well. That doesn’t mean taking them out on a leash, but it does mean introducing them to people.
If you have guests way to rarely, the cat won’t be able to learn that visitors are not a problem – it will grow into a shy and frightful animal that will always hide when someone knocks on the front door. Simply having people relatively often will teach your Siamese pet that guests are cool and will turn it into a social and friendly animal.
Health of Siamese Cat Breed
One of the most important parts to cover is the health of Siamese cat breed.
1. If the Siamese are an old breed, does that mean that they have less health problems?
Unfortunately, no. Siamese have a higher than average mortality rate and are prone to quite a few health problems. Here’s a list of a few of them:
- Amyloidosis – a disease that occurs mainly in the liver.
- Asthma/bronchial disease.
- Neoplasms – mainly mammary tumors.
- Progressive retinal atrophy.
- Feline OCD.
- Congenital heart defects such as aortic stenosis.
- Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome.
- Lung infection.
- Vestibular Disease.
- Neoplastic and gastrointestinal problems.
- Feline lower urinary tract disease.
2. What should I do to prevent such health issues?
Ask them for advice and assistance on finding a proper, professional Siamese cat breeder. Such a breeder will always provide you with health clearances on the cat’s parents and ensure that as much genetic issues and predispositions as possible are avoided.
Once you’ve gotten your new and healthy Siamese companion, find a professional veterinarian that you can trust – preferably someone that works 24/7. Consult with them on everything regarding the cat’s health and possible future problems.
Care of Siamese Cat Breed
Caring for Siamese cat breed is similar to your regular cat care of other domesticated cats, but there are a few things that pet owners should know.
1. What care should I provide my Siamese cat with?
Being shorthaired, the Siamese can take care of their coat by themselves. Combing their hair once a week is advisable, to help them remove the dead hair and distribute skin oils.
Brushing their teeth daily is strongly advisable. If daily brushing is too much for you, make sure to do it at least once per week – it will drastically improve their dental hygiene.
Check and clean their ears when necessary.
It’s better to keep your Siamese as a strictly indoors cat and not let it outside.
As far as food is concerned, the Siamese don’t have a need for a specific diet. Make sure that you’re feeding them with high-quality cat food and that you alternate between dry and wet food, with an accent on the dry food, to help them keep their teeth healthy. Other than that, as long as you don’t overfeed or starve your cat, everything should be in order.
Children and Other Pets for Siamese Cat Breeds
1. How do Siamese cats fare with children?
Being a highly intelligent and friendly cat, the Siamese is a perfect pet for any home with children, almost regardless of age. The only possible problem can occur if the kids don’t treat the cat well – if they are too aggressive with it, torment and torture it, etc., the cat will be understandably unhappy.
If, however, you make sure that the children respect the cat’s autonomy and simply play with it in a proper manner, any Siamese will be happy to play fetch, to chase and run, to be petted and carried around, and so on.
2. How about other pets? Does a Siamese cat enjoy the company of other cats or dogs?
Yes. In fact, a Siamese needs the company of another pet, when left home alone. If you don’t spend too much time at home, make sure to get it a second Siamese friend, or a cat of another breed. Dogs can be great friends to a Siamese cat as well, as long as we are talking about at dog breed that’s cat-friendly (meaning – not overly active and not too invasive).
Conclusion on Siamese Cat Breed Profile
The Siamese are not one of the most famous cat breed around the globe without a reason. Exceptionally intelligent and talkative, a Siamese cat is not just a companion, it’s basically a partner – it likes to communicate with you and to be talked back. It loves to play and spend time with you, to play games and learn and discover new tricks and activities.
All that being said, a Siamese can be troublesome and irritating for people that don’t have enough time – if you’re not spending a big part of your day at home, the Siamese is not the breed for you. Even if you take two Siamese cats so that they can keep each other company, it’s still not a good idea to get a social and communicative cat if you won’t spend enough time with it.
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