The Siamese

Affectionate, demanding, vocal and high energy, the Siamese has a rich, long history. The Siamese cat, like its Oriental brothers, is a tubular, lean cat with a long, whippy tail and wedge shaped head, set off by a pair of beautifully flared, large ears. They have almond-shaped deep blue eyes, a straight profile and a strong chin and long neck and come in a large variety of colours distinguished by the himalayan pointed pattern.

Their personalities are also very similar to the Oriental. Siamese are social, intelligent, and active cats, some say the ideal companion as they are eternally seeking affection and approval from their human slaves. They often remain playful into adulthood, with many enjoying playing fetch and chasing each other around the house at 3am for entertainment. Despite their slender appearance, they are athletic, lithe and muscular and can leap into high places, often getting themselves into precarious situations. They generally prefer to live in pairs or groups and also seek human interaction. Siamese, like Orientals are a highly strung breed, prone to stress and are highly attuned to their environment.

Siamese are extremely curious, much like their Oriental brothers and sisters and may get into situations where they are unable to defend themselves. For this reason their territory should be limited to the home and a secure outdoor area where they can exercise but not escape your property.

 

History & Origin

The Siamese originated from the local pointed cats in Thailand, formerly known as Siam. The breed was first recorded in the Western world in the mid-1800s. Today’s Siamese look far different from their ancestors, bred to be lithe, angular and elegant, rather than the rounder-headed earlier examples of the breed. 

The modern Siamese has been around as early as the 1960’s where their apple head counterparts have been renamed the Thai and developed as a separate breed entirely in more recent times. Siamese come in many different colours that are accepted worldwide, namely, seal, chocolate, blue, lilac, caramel, red, cream, apricot, cinnamon and fawn as well as many patterns such as tortie, tabby, bicolour, calico, silver, shaded and self.
There are many theories about the origin of the Siamese. The Seal Point Siamese was known as the Royal Cat of Siam because it was found in palaces. “The Cat Book of Poems” depicts pale coated Seal Point Siamese, describing them as having black tails, feet and ears with white hair and blue eyes.

Although apparently favoured as palace cats, there is no clear record of an distinct Siamese breed until the 1800s. The British became interested in Siamese cats and imported them from Siam. The earliest documented imports were during the 1870s, but these were apparently not bred. In 1884, the departing British Consul-General Gould was given a Siamese cat by the Siamese king. He brought the cat to England and its progeny were exhibited at Crystal Palace in 1885. The early Siamese cats were round-headed, solid and muscular, but even so, their appearance was so extraordinary that they were described as an “unnatural nightmare of a cat”. In Ceylon, the Siamese cat was, for a while, known as “Gould’s Cat”, having been introduced there by Mr Gould. The Burmese Sacred Cat was known to early British cat fanciers as the “Gold Cat”. A wild cat of the region was known as the “Golden Cat” (Temminck’s Golden Cat) or “Bay Cat”. HC Brooke believed these similarities of name to be the reason that Temminck’s Golden Cat was claimed to be an ancestor of the Siamese. The first champion Siamese, “Wankee,” was born in Hong Kong in 1895 and exhibited in 1898. He was relatively large and round-headed by modern standards, but had a more distinct muzzle and longer body than modern appleheaded (as in the rounded headed “applehead” dolls of the USA) Siamese – more of an intermediate type.

There is no doubt that Siamese cats came from Siam (modern day Thailand), but some disagreement in the 1940s as to their “royal” origins. The first Siamese fanciers club was founded in Britain in 1902 at which time they were apparently variable in type. Possibly the conformation depended on which cats the early Siamese had been out-crossed to, there being few pure Siamese in the country at the time, or to the variability of imported cats and inbreeding from a limited gene pool.

Early photos show differences between the “compact” cats and the “lithe” cats, but the difference is nowhere near as extreme as that between modern “classic” and “old-style” Siamese.

The Siamese Cat Society of America was founded in 1909 although the date of their arrival in the United States is not precisely known. Many early Siamese had kinked tails and cross-eyes or a squint; these faults have largely been bred out of modern Siamese.

Tabby Point Siamese had been mentioned as early as 1902 in Britain. Between 1944 and 1949, they were bred in Scotland and known as Silverpoint Siamese. They were introduced to the cat fancy at a London cat show in the 1960s and in 1966, the Tabby Point Siamese was granted recognition by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).

By 1986 the old-style Siamese had vanished from the showbench and many people assumed that Siamese cats had always had a long body, wedge-shaped head and disproportionately large ears. Siamese cats had become extreme parodies of the original imports.

Additional colours were introduced through out-crossing, however they have been so extensively back-crossed with Siamese cats that only the most ardent purist would claim that they are not Siamese!

(Reference: MessyBeast.com http://messybeast.com/colourpoints.htm)