Many people unfamiliar with this breed have a stereotypical impression of Siamese cats as being aloof, mysterious, unfriendly and even sinister in nature. Nothing could be further from the truth. This misconception is often perpetuated by unfair portrayals of Siamese cats such as in the famous scene from Disney’s 1995 hit Lady and the Tramp.
In purr-ticular the scene where the two Siamese cats (Si and Am) skulk from within a picnic basket and frighten poor Lady while singing their infamous song, “The Siamese Cat Song”
During the song, the siblings, Si and Am move in complete symmetry, all the while shooting sinister stares at Lady as if she were a delicious meal, or a toy to play with. These two trouble makers sit on the proverbial throne within their owners Upper East Side apartment, giving no care to the havoc they cause therein, cutting up drapes, knocking over vases, and attempting to snag a bite out of whatever delicacies they can find.
The wondrous Siamese has appeared in many other movies such as Bell, Book and Candle and That Darn Cat. Our Siamese friends may get a bad rap from some of their movie portrayals … but we know better! >^..^<
In this post we want to debunk some of the common misconceptions of the stunning and seductive Siamese. But before we have you saying “Siamese, If You Please” … let’s start with a wee bit ‘o history first.
Siamese Cat Breed History
Siamese cats originated in Thailand in the 14th century and are descendants of the scared temple cats of Siam. At that time, they were reserved for the royal families who would then bestow them on visiting dignitaries. Cats with similar pointed markings feature in the Cat Book Poems, a manuscript saved from Ayuda, the old capital of Siam, which was burned down in 1767. It is the best known of a number of manuscripts that provide a record of the native cats, dogs and birds of the region at that time.
They first showed up in the United States some time in the late 1800’s (but more on that later).
Back in the late 1700’s in southern Russia, some pictures of a cat with Siamese markings was found by a man named Mr. Pallas, but it was not until the late 1800’s that anything could be documented.
In 1884 a British-Consul-General was given Siamese cat by the Siamese king as a parting gift. This was considered a great gift as the cat had been bred in the royal palace. This particular cat had kittens, which the then retired Consul-General gave to his sister, Mrs. Lillian Velvey. She entered them in the 17th Crystal Palace Cat Show in England on October 1885. The cats were so extraordinary that they were photographed and quickly became a favorite and in 1902 England formed the first Siamese cat fancier’s club.
No one is certain when the first Siamese arrived in the United States, but in April 1909 the first Siamese Cat Society of America was formed. The first documented Siamese feline to show up in the United States was a gift to First Lady Lucy Hayes. In present-day, Siamese cats rank consistently in the Top 10 for most popular breeds according to the Cat Fancier’s Association.
While the Siamese breed was gaining popularity in the UK and US very few people were breeding them in Siam (Thailand.) In the early 1960’s breeders were becoming bored with the “traditional Siamese” and decided to change the conformation of the breed to the longer, slimmer more exotic cat we see today. This change caused a great deal of unhappiness among the breeders of the more traditional cats.
By 1986 the original Siamese breed was no longer shown in cat shows. Many breeders stopped raising them and it seemed the original Siamese cat was doomed. However, there fortunately were some die hard breeders and several organizations were formed for the preservation of the breed. The organizations put on shows and gave prizes and today the future of the traditional Siamese cat is quite secure.
The original Siamese had tails with “kinks” in them, but this has since been almost bred out of the breed (not fully). There are several stories of how the Siamese cat originally got the kink in its tail and one of our favorite one is:
Once upon a time at one of the Siamese temples a beautiful royal goblet was missing. A search went on and the goblet could not be found. In an effort to help in the search, a young cat and his wife went into the jungle to search on their own. A luck would have it, they found the royal goblet, but had no way to carry it back to the temple. A decision was made by the couple that the young wife would stay and guard the goblet while her husband went back to the temple to tell the priest.
The little cat made herself a nest and wrapped her tail around the stem of the goblet to keep it safe. When her husband and the priest returned four days later, they not only found the cat with her tail around the goblet, but they also found five beautiful kittens.
The royal cat was so conscientious about the safety of the goblet that as a reminder of her loyalty, a permanent kink developed in the end of her tail and believe it or not, all five kittens had one, too.
As the popularity of the “traditional” Siamese grows and it finds its way back into the main show ring maybe, just maybe the “kink” will come back, too.
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Siamese Cat Appearance
Some say that today’s Siamese cat almost looks like it landed here from outer space. They are a short-haired cat of Oriental type with a long svelte body and an alert, intelligent expression. The head is long and wedge-shaped, neither rounded nor pointed, with a firm chin in line with the upper jaw. The ears are large, well pricked and wide at the base. The eye shape is oriental, slanting towards the nose and its deep blue in color.
The body is medium in size, long and svelte, with proportionately slim legs. The hind legs are slightly higher that the forelegs, the feet small and oval. The tail is long and tapering. The coat is very short and fine in texture, glossy and close-lying. The mask is completely connected to the ears by tracings. In all colors kittens may not show full masking, nor the adult color on legs and tail. OK – let’s just say they’re gorgeous!
Siamese Cat Behavior
The Siamese cat is one of the most extroverted and social cats in the world. They are a type of cat that is warm and affectionate and bonds with their human very closely which means that the Siamese is not quite as independent as other cats. Having this close relationship with their human, they prefer and enjoy the inside restrictions of the home with their owners. They are a “people” cat like no other cat for they love to be on your lap, on your bed, at your dinner table, and in your heart!
They are generally very dedicated and loyal to their owners and love to talk. Many cat owners say their Siamese will always tell them what is on their minds and are not shy about making their demands known. The Siamese meow has been compared to the cries of a human baby. The intensity of the vocalization should not be prolonged if you are smart enough to understand what they want. Most of the time the Siamese will talk at conversational levels, and they always have something very important to say. So the Siamese is very talkative. They are also very demanding which may make them unsuitable for some elderly people.
Always playful and loving, the Siamese breed does not entail the normal aloof feline attitude. They are known as the eternal kitten; the cat that never grows up. They display a more social personality than other breeds, even in the presence of other domestic animals. They are a joy to own and even more fun to watch as they play among themselves or with the other cat and dog residents with whom they live. However, they are usually dominant in their relationships with cats of other breeds.
Some cats don’t seem to want anything to do with human beings, but Siamese aren’t this type of breed; if you enjoy cats because they go off on their own all the time and don’t need any maintenance, this is not the cat for you. In fact, the personality of these cats is often described as just the opposite – high maintenance. Be ready to stroke and cajole these guys, hey, for lots of folks that’s what they’re looking for in a cat, in that case, this is your kind of cat.
Siamese are also the type of cat that wants all the little toys and wacky gadgets to play with, in fact, they almost need them. So, we would suggest going out and buying the works for your Siamese Cat – all the toys, the “cat condos”, the “cat gyms”, the fancy cat posts, upscale treats, the works. the cat condo – yeah, we love that one too.
Siamese cats are very comical and can be quite clumsy as well. If you’ve ever owned one of these cats before you’ll know that they are already up to something and that their antics can be quite entertaining. These don’t tend to be the kind of cats that run and hide when strangers walk into the house, they may be shy for a few minutes, but in the end they won’t be able to resist coming up to your friends and brushing their tails across their legs, literally begging for attention – that’s the Siamese cat for you.
Siamese Cat Intellect
In the hierarchy of cat intelligence, the Siamese stands on top. It has been indicated that Siamese and other oriental short hairs are the most intelligent of all domesticated cats. Anyone who has owned one will brag about and the amazing feats that these cats can accomplish. You may want to “cat-proof” your home for a Siamese can learn how to open doors, cabinets, and latches. Actually these cats love the challenge of these feats, and will not give up. They find creative and unusual ways to get into trouble.
Because of their intelligence, Siamese are very lively and entertaining. They can also be very demanding, and can be totally involved in their owner’s life. Siamese do not like to be ignored and always want to be the center of attention. They regard themselves as people instead of cats. One thing for sure, you will never be bored if you own a Siamese cat.
Siamese Cat Common Medical Problems
Unfortunately, just like with all breeds of cats, the Siamese also has certain medical conditions to which it is genetically predisposed. Many people know about the cross-eyed and kink-tailed abnormalities inherent in the Siamese breed, but these problems have been all but completely eliminated through careful breeding. There are two problems, however, that are still present in the genetic code of this breed. These two problems are gingivitis and a liver-destroying disease called amyloidosis.
While gingivitis can be prevented through proper dental care, amyloidosis is a much more serious illness caused by abnormally high levels of amyloid deposited in the liver. Amyloid is a fibrous protein and when high levels are present in the liver, it can cause hemorrhaging and renal failure. Symptoms include yellowing of the skin or eyes, vomiting, lack of energy, enlarged abdomen, anorexia, and excessive thirst in the presence of excessive urination.
We wanted to hear first hand from a Siamese cat expert so we contacted Emily Thompson owner of Thai Treasures cattery who specialize in Siamese cats. Thai Treasures is a family run cattery located in Ontario, Canada who breed Classic Siamese cats in the original four colors only and strive to preserve the look of Siamese cats that was popular in the 1950’s to 1970’s. They are registered with the Traditional Cat Association.
We had the delightful opportunity to speak with Emily and her daughter (Aaliyah) and did our usual interview Q & A for a firsthand perspective. Here’s what they shared with us:
Q: What is it about Siamese cats that made you choose to breed them?
I grew up with a Siamese cat. She passed away when I was 11 at the age of 19. It was hazy memories of her that made me want to add another Siamese to our family. I honestly had no idea what I was in for, but I don’t regret it for a second. I decided to begin breeding Siamese because of how difficult it was to find a reputable breeder when I was searching for my own newest addition. We came across some pretty shady people calling themselves “breeders”. I wanted to give people a trustworthy breeder to adopt their next feline family member from – one that puts the care of their kittens first and foremost and who makes decisions backed by scientific research.
Q: What’s unique or special about the Siamese cat from other cat breeds?
Siamese cats have many of the qualities that people look for in a dog, with a lot less work. They fetch, greet you at the door, and follow you around the house. They are intelligent and quick learners (with the right motivation) and can be easily trained to walk on a leash and to follow commands just like a dog.
Sadly, they have a bad reputation that is completely undeserved. Many people think Siamese cats are vicious and mean. This is so far from the truth. A well-bred, properly socialized Siamese cat is one of the most affectionate felines you’ll ever meet. They have that man’s-best-friend quality, while still retaining the independence and grace that makes them feline.
Q: Best thing about owning a Siamese?
Siamese cats are endlessly playful and they never grow out of it. If someone in my house touches a feather wand they all wake up ready to play. They jump, leap and do acrobatic spins trying to catch the feathers. Or they stalk and pounce with that adorable bum wiggle cats are so well known for. They can keep it up for a really long time, too. Even the cats in my household that are approaching their senior years still play as actively with their favourite toys as they did when they were kittens. They play with each other a lot, too – running, chasing, and wrestling to burn off their excess energy. It’s hilarious just to sit back and watch their antics.
Q: Worst thing about owning a Siamese?
They vomit a lot. Siamese cats’ mouths are shaped a little differently than most other cats and because of this they lap up food like water. This causes them to eat very quickly. When they eat too fast, they are likely to regurgitate their food. Although there are foods designed just for the breed that decrease the amount of regurgitation, it’s annoying and gross to have to clean it up so frequently.
Q: If someone has never owned a Siamese cat before – how would you advise them before purchasing or adopting one?
The best advice I can give is to adopt two. Siamese cats are a very high-energy breed. They are also incredibly social – both with their people and with other animals. It can be hard for some people to keep up with a Siamese cat, especially during kittenhood. Adopting two takes some of the pressure off you. They can keep themselves entertained when you’re away or unavailable for play and snuggles.
I would also advise that you be prepared for a cat that talks a lot and loudly. Not all Siamese cats talk, but most do. Their voice is often mistaken for the cry of a human baby. It can get very annoying if you’re not prepared for it.
Q: Are they more or less maintenance than other cat breed?
Both. They are high maintenance in their need for affection, attention and play time. They don’t do nearly as well when left alone for long periods of time and prefer to have a friend around for company. On the other hand, they are low maintenance in the grooming department. Most shed very little and don’t require much brushing. We rarely groom our cats (other than their claws) – they do a splendid job of taking care of their fur all by themselves.
Q: Assuming Siamese is your favorite breed … what would be your second choice of cat and why?
My favorite breed other than Siamese would be Havana Browns. They are relatives of the Siamese and share some of their personality traits, but they are strikingly different. Havanas are solid brown in colour – the same colour as a chocolate point Siamese, but without the points – and have very green eyes. All Siamese cats have blue eyes and after breeding them for so long, blue eyes are not as eye-catching as they used to be.
Q: Are they good around young children or better in an adult family?
Siamese cats, if socialized properly, are excellent with children. They will tolerate much more from a child than they will from an adult, as long as it’s not cruel. My daughter can do things to the cats, like wear them as scarves, hold them upside down, pretty much whatever she wants. I couldn’t get away with half of what she does. Many will also tolerate being dressed up in doll’s clothes and pushed around in a toy stroller. A friend of mine owns one of our retired girls and her three-year-old son grabs the cat under the front legs, holds her to his chest, and spins in a circle as fast as he can. The cat loves it!
Q: Funniest moment you’ve ever had with one of your Siamese cat?
Hilarious moments happen here every day, so it’s difficult to choose the funniest. Most of our funny moments are due to the clumsiness of some of our cats. The first funny moment we had with a Siamese was with our foundation queen, Sophie. My daughter, who was 8 at the time, was playing with Sophie using a home-made toy on a string. Sophie got so caught up in what she was doing that she flew head-first into a chair. She kept on playing like nothing had happened. We were lucky enough to catch it on video. It has been dubbed “The Smack”.
Q: If you had to describe the Siamese cat in one word…what would it be?
That’s impossible to do. There are so many words that describe them. On top of that, each cat is unique. You could possibly describe one Siamese, in one particular moment, with one word, but never the breed. Here are a few that come to mind: loyal, energetic, playful, affectionate, and intelligent.
Credits: Special congrats to Emily and the Thai Treasures mama cats who just had two new litters of kittens. They have a wonderful, loving and spacious cattery full of delightfully playful kittens and were kind enough to provide us the photos used in this post. They sent us so many paw-some photos it was difficult to pick and choose, so here are a few more for eye candy and a special treat … some photos of their 1 week old kittens!
Be sure to check out our post on The Top 10 Names for Siamese Cats
Please drop us a comment in the “Leave a Reply” section below and share a special experience you’ve had with a Siamese cat.