The history of the Siamese is shrouded in legend. In Ancient Egyptian times, cats were mummified along with their owners as companions in the afterlife. These mummies suggest the distinctive shape and size of the Siamese. In the 1600s, records from Siam (now Thailand) show that only the high-born could own these cats, and that they freely wandered in temple and palace grounds. Siamese cats first appeared in the U.S. in the mid-1880s, when visiting royalty made a present of two cats to President Rutherford B. Hayes. The daughters of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford treasured other White House Siamese cats.
Piercing blue eyes and attractive markings on the ears, face, tail and feet make the Siamese cat an aesthetically pleasing pet. Many centuries of careful crossing have led to four internationally recognized breeds of pure Siamese: Seal, chocolate, blue and lilac, with the color referring to the markings which are called "points." Pure Siamese cats crossed with other short-hair breeds have resulted in new colors, ranging from red and apricot to caramel, cinnamon and cream.
The variety of Siamese colors is determined by the points, which are the colors on their masks, ears, lower legs, feet and tails. These darker points contrast with their paler complementary body color that may be lightly shaded on their backs and sides.
The Siamese gene is temperature sensitive, causing the areas that are cooler to be darker. That is why the external points, i.e., the face, legs tail and ears, are darker in color. The body is warmer, therefore lighter. Many Siamese become darker in the winter months, especially in colder climates. Since Mother’s womb is warm, Siamese kittens are born white and usually obtain their full coat color at about a year of age.
Many Siamese will darken as they age because they gain fat. Fat layers insulate the warmer body parts causing the skin to be cooler, therefore darker.
There are two basic body types
The Modern or Wedgehead Siamese has a long, lithe, slender body, long legs and a whip-like tail. Dainty paws and a wedge-shaped face with tip-tilted eyes distinguish the breed.
The traditional, or old-style Siamese, is also known as the Applehead Siamese. This medium- to large-sized cat has a muscular build and substantial bone structure. The head is rounded rather than wedge- shaped, with medium-sized ears that are rounded at the tips.
Some Siamese cats have a kink in their tails, an original natural feature that today has largely been bred out of the breed.
Personality and Behavior
Siamese cats are boisterous, loving, athletic, highly intelligent and extremely vocal. Their loud cries are varied and can be interpreted as warnings, pleas or demands, depending on their intent. Ironically, Siamese tend to not like loud noises.
They are very social, demand a lot of attention and can be possessive of their humans with their tendency to bond to one person. It is not uncommon for a Siamese to be jealous when their human gives attention to other humans or pets.
Siamese are smart and eminently trainable, especially if handled by owners from kittenhood. Playful and inquisitive, these cats will teach themselves to open doors, cupboards and refrigerators. It is not uncommon to see a Siamese retrieve a toy or walk with its owner in a harness, much like a dog.
Siamese cats love to climb and jump, so time should be set aside each day to release that energy with play. A cat tree is advisable for owners who don't want to become one.
They are extremely social animals, and will bond readily with humans and other household pets and do not appreciate being left alone for long periods of time.
A well-bred Siamese cat usually has no significant health problems beyond those of all breeds. Unfortunately, over the course of many years of tight breeding for desirable characteristics, some inbreeding and genetic problems have occurred. When this happens, the resulting cat may have a weakened immune system that leaves it susceptible to a number of common diseases.
Feline hip dysplasia is one, but can be corrected with proper screening and surgery. Upper respiratory infections, diabetes and feline asthma are also problems for the Siamese. They are also prone to gingivitis, cardiomyopathy (heart disease) and amyloidosis (a type of destructive liver disease).
Females can go into heat as early as 6 months of age, so talk to your vet early about spaying.
Their coats require little brushing, but they love being groomed and petted. A chamois cloth is a great grooming tool for these glossy-coated cats as it helps bring out their natural shine.
A clean litter box, wet or dry food in correct proportion for the cat's life stage and plenty of fresh water are recommended to keep a Siamese cat healthy. With abundant playtime and affection from their owners, these cats can live up to 20 years as fit and healthy members of the family.