In the Thai language, this breed is called วิเชียรมาศ or Wichianmat, which means "moon diamond." There are several different breeds of oriental cats, and the Siamese was the first one to be recognized by breed organizations in the West.
The first Siamese cat to reach the U.S. was a gift to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878 from the American Consul in Bangkok. In 1884, The British Consul-General brought home a breeding pair for his sister. These cats had 3 kittens, and this whole Siamese family was shown in 1885 at London's Crystal Palace Show, where everybody was very impressed with them. Sadly, all 3 kittens died soon after that, but we don't know why, exactly. Another pair of Siamese that already had kittens was imported to the U.K. in 1886. The breed got more and more popular from then on, and in 1901 the British Siamese Cat Club was founded.
The original cats that came from Thailand were muscular and graceful and had long bodies. They were slender and had fairly big ears, but nothing about them was really extreme. But then in the 1950s and 1960s, breeders and judges started liking Siamese that had very fine bones, narrow heads, and long bodies that looked kind of like tubes. The heads on these cats were long and wedge-shaped, with great big ears on top. And the tails were long and skinny, and they were pointy at the end.
Okay, so that's enough history and cat show stuff. I just needed to explain why some Siamese cats are so scrawny and weird-looking, and why others look more like normal cats.
Now I will tell you about "points," because all the cats in this breed have them, and the points can be several different colors. Do you know why Siamese cats have points? It's because they are part albino! I was shocked to learn this. Not only that, but the albino stuff comes from an enzyme that helps produce melanin (whatever that is!). Anyway, this enzyme is sensitive to heat, and it doesn't work at normal body temperatures. But when it gets out to the feet, face, and tail, where the temperature is cooler, the enzyme works just fine, and that's where the color is.
When Siamese kittens are born, they are mostly all white, but by the time they are 4 weeks old, you can start to see what color they will turn out to be. Siamese cats get darker as they get older, and if they live in a warm climate, they are a lighter color than if they live in a cold place.
The first Siamese cats that came from Thailand were all seal points, but gradually some other colors developed and got recognized. In the U.K., any cat that has points in the Siamese style can be registered as a Siamese. In the U.S., only 4 colors are recognized as real Siamese colors, and cats with any other color points are called Colorpoint Shorthairs.
Here are the point colors:
Very dark brown, almost black, like the color of a seal. The body is fawn-colored. The nose and paw pads are dark, like the points. Sometimes there is a lot of contrast between the colors of the points and the body, but other times not so much. This is the color most people think of when they think of Siamese cats.
|Photo @life with siamese cats|
The points are like milk chocolate, and the bodies are creamy white. The nose and pads are cinnamon-pink.
These points are slate blue or gray in color. The bodies are bluish-white, and the paw pads are slate blue.
Pinkish-gray points with white bodies. The noses and pads are lavender-pink. Cats with lilac points are the lightest of the four recognized colors.
Points that are bright, reddish-gold. The bodies are a creamy-white color. The U.K. and Australia recognize this point color. In the U.S., where it might be called "Flame Point," a cat of this color is classified as a Colorpoint Shorthair.
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|© iStockphoto | thepropshoppe|
The points can be any Siamese point color, but they are striped, like a tabby cat. The faces should have well-defined stripes, and there should be an "M" mark on the forehead. The American Cat Fanciers' Association calls this type of cat a Lynx Colorpoint Shorthair. Meanwhile, in the U.K., the exact same kind of cat is called a Tabby Point Siamese.
Siamese cats are affectionate, social, and intelligent. They really like humans, and might bond particularly with one person. If you have a Siamese, you should be ready to give it quite a bit of attention, because it will demand it. Many Siamese are very vocal. They are playful and active, even when they are all grown up.
Siamese cats have a shorter lifespan than some other types of cats. They generally live to 13 or 14, but sometimes they can get as old as 20. Some of the health problems they might have are kidney disease, basal cell carcinoma, diabetes, asthma, hip dysplasia, and hair loss caused by excessive grooming.
The best thing about Siamese cats is that they have an entire song written about them. This song comes from the movie Lady and the Tramp. The first part goes like this:
We are Siamese if you please
We are Siamese if you don't please
Now we're looking over our new domicile
If we like we stay for maybe quite a while.
While the two kitties sing this song, they explore the house, and get Lady, the dog into all sorts of trouble, which seems totally unfair. You can watch a YouTube video of this song by going here. I wish somebody would write a song about basenjis, but I don't think anybody has done this. Maybe I will have to do it myself, but not right now, because right now I'm going to take a nap!