Siamese Cat: Cat Breed Information, Characteristics and Facts
The Siamese cat is stunning! And probably the inspiration for ‘cat-eyes’ in the beauty industry. Which can be seen from their most outstanding feature – an enchanting pair of captivating slanted pale blue almond-shaped eyes with a piercing gaze.
A lot of people may find it difficult telling one hairy cat apart from the other, but the Siamese cat is quite easily identified by it’s usually darker colored points. Plus it would probably follow you around trying to start up a conversation.
Today’s ‘modern’ Siamese cat is a medium-sized feline, with a strong athletic body made up of sleek tapered lines. Unlike its predecessors who were known to have a softly rounded stocky frame, a sleeker body is more desirable now. This unique breed has survived for more than 10 centuries and currently holds the 12th most popular kitten position in the USA, according to the CFA.
The Asian cat breed averagely weighs between 6 to 14 pounds and can live up to 15 years. And can also reach a height of 15-20 inches (which does not include its tail). The lithe body conceals a well-developed muscle which accounts for its agility.
The Siamese cat has striking features which include long distinctive ears (fairly large for its head), wedge-shaped head and large almond-shaped eyes. Other prominent features are the darker patches on their legs, tails, ears and face branded as points.
They are the ultimate people’s cat. Friendly and talkative, they love the company of their human companions and can be quite demanding. These chatterboxes would not hesitate to communicate their approval or displeasure with both their voices and bodies. Siamese cats are also quick, strong and very sure-footed.
History of the Siamese Cat
This ancient cat has a long and interesting history. Earliest records suggest the existence of Siamese cats in Thai temples. According to legend, these sophisticated felines were guards of the King of Siam, perfectly taking their enemies by surprise with their exquisite beauty and calm temperament. It is known that upon provocation, these cats would jump from their high perches on the pillars to defend their king. The threat deftly knocked down and scratched in the face too.
Siamese cats were ‘discovered’ in the late 1800s when they were first exported from Thailand. The king of Siam( which is modern-day Thailand) gifted two pairs of well-bred Siamese cats to the English consul-general who was then stationed in Bangkok and who also gifted to his sister. Upon their arrival back home in England, these fur balls created quite a sensation. Everyone cooed over the oriental cats and wanted one for themselves. Their popularity surged after Wankee, a Siamese cat, won his first championship title in 1898 in a cat show.
Gradually and after several appearances, their bodies began to take on a sleek slimmer look with a prominent wedge-shaped head. These new looks were said to closely resemble the original Egyptian cats, according to history. Unfortunately, new looks were not so fashionable in 1978, and so a group of concerned Siamese breeders came together to form the Traditional and Classic Cat International. Aside, their aim which was to “bring back and maintain the ‘Old Style’ look of each breed”, they were also worried about possible health problems associated with such extreme changes.
Quick Facts About the Siamese Cat
Aside they being vocal loveable felines, here are some interesting facts about Siamese cats.
- Once upon a time, a Siamese was the world’s fattest cat
This is according to the Guinness World Records – although they hate to encourage obese animals. Nevertheless, some animals do tend to grow huge on their own. And a Siamese was known to have topped the category at a whopping 50 pounds at 5 years old. In 2003, Katy the Siamese cat was dubbed as the world’s fattest cat despite most modern-day Siamese cats feature a more athletic build. Found in the Ural Mountains of Russia, Katy was said to have been given hormones to prevent her from mating. Which caused her to develop an insatiable appetite initiating an incredible weight surge.
- Siamese cats thwarted an espionage plot
According to records, two Siamese cats once uncovered spies in an embassy. In 1960, these kitties of the Dutch Embassy based in Moscow Russia, exhibited uncommon behaviors which lead to the discovery of hidden spy surveillance.
The cats were asleep in Heri Helb’s study when they abruptly woke up and began clawing at the wall frantically. This caught Helb’s attention who suspected that the agitated ‘meezers’ might have heard something the human ear could not. His suspicions were confirmed when an investigation revealed that multiple miniature microphones were lodged into the walls of his study.
Instead of confronting the Russians, Heri Helb chose to play a trick on the surveillance team. So he began to complain loudly about domestic issues that were of great concern to the Dutch Embassy. Mysteriously, all the things they talked about got solved without issuing a formal complaint.
- Needy Cat
A Siamese is the real definition of a needy cat, and all they need is your love, attention, and affection. Having a busy schedule (especially one that keeps you away from the house) and a Siamese cat is not such a good idea.
These cats are so dependent that they may even get depressed when left alone for a long time. You must make time to play with them and engage them in long chatty conversation or they would easily get bored and sad. They also love to follow you everywhere in the home which can become a bit awkward when you have to use the washroom. They take their guard duties very seriously.
- They are as old as one can be
The Siamese cat is known as one of the oldest pedigree cat breeds. Like most primeval creatures, its true origin is shrouded in mystery. Some believe this ancient cat was raised and worshiped by Buddhist monks. Others also trace them to back to being royal pets serving as guards in throne rooms.
But an uncovered ancient Thai manuscript, The Tamra Maew (The Cat Book Poems), depicts records of these cats which dates far back as the 14th and 18th centuries. This suggests that Siamese cats have been around for a long long time.
- Temperature – controlled color points
Did you know that the dark color points of a Siamese cat are temperature controlled? Yep, it is very true. Siamese kittens are born white all over. No colored paws, face, tail or ears. They develop these dark points when they are several weeks old.
What causes it? First off, don’t be too alarmed because it’s not a disorder. Rather it’s just a pleasant surprise from a genetic makeup. A temperature-sensitive enzyme found in its body causes it to develop color on its cooler parts of the body. Whilst the warmer upper body stays relatively pale.
Plus these points are not only dark brown (seal point) in color. Other color variations include milk-chocolate brown (chocolate point), pinkish-gray (lilac point) and blue (blue point). Isn’t it such an exquisite breed?
- How many kittens can a litter hold? 19 it seems!
Back in 1970, on a glorious summers day in a quaint little town of Oxfordshire, a heavily pregnant Burmese/Siamese cat delivered 19 kittens in one litter. This has been the highest count so far and remains the highest domestic kitty litter recorded by the Guinness World Records. But don’t panic because this is truly an exception to the rule as ordinarily, Siamese cats normally deliver 5 kittens on average.
- Most Siamese are lactose intolerant
Who would have thought the milk is such a bad thing for a cat? Unluckily, a Siamese cat’s body is unable to properly digest lactose, a type of natural sugar found in dairy products. So you should never give milk, cheese, yogurt or any dairy product to your Siamese as it may suffer from diarrhea.
To be certain if your cat is lactose tolerant, run a small test with a small amount of milk. If no diarrhea occurs then you are good to feed your feline some milk.
- The legend behind cross-eyes and kinked tails Siamese cats
In earlier times, many Siamese cats were cross-eyed and had kinks in their tails. But cat fanciers deemed these traits unattractive and gradually bred them out through selective breeding.
But there is an interesting fable to these undesirable qualities. According to folklore, two Siamese cats (a male and female) were tasked with protecting the temple when Siam went to war. So as the warriors were defending the kingdom, the cats guarded the golden goblet of Buddha.
Whilst waiting for the men to return, the two cats fell in love and Chula (the female) got pregnant. So Tien (the male) went in search of a priest to help them guard the temple leaving pregnant Chula behind.
She, in turn, took her role so seriously that she never for once took her eyes off the precious goblet and her eyes began to take on the funny shape. Also, she wrapped her tail around the goblet stem to prevent it from being stolen. Alas, Tien never returned and when she gave all her kittens have kinks in their tails and funny looking eyes.
Things You Should Know
You may be enchanted by their social nature and good looks at first glance but don’t forget that owning a pet comes with responsibilities. Here are a few things you should know before acquiring one of these pedigree cats.
Cross-eyed, kinked tails Siamese were quite common decades ago before selective breeding made them rare. Like these dark-colored points, their genetic makeup also caused a less desirable faulty vision. Although cats are thought of as nocturnal animals, the Siamese can see about as much as you can in the dark. Therefore you should be cautious letting them wander about at night.
Their ‘oriental’ wedge-shaped heads seem to come at a cost as Siamese are prone to be asthmatic including other respiratory diseases such as bronchitis. You should also be prepared to face liver problems ad congenital heart defects with your Siamese.
Some lines may be susceptible to cancers such as mediastinal lymphoma and some kinds of intestinal tumors. They may also be more likely to vomit as compared to other cat breeds.
Some Siamese cats have also been known to eat non-edible materials like plastics and woollen fabrics. This strange eating habit is called Pica and the reason for it is yet to be found. Other hereditary conditions to look out for include Niemann-Pick disease, Systemic amyloidosis, Gangliosidosis (GM1), Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and Mucopolysaccharidosis.
A balance between dry and wet cat food is greatly encouraged. Dry cat foods work magic on the gums and keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy. But you may need to increase your wet foods if your cat is not drinking enough water. On the other hand, be sure to provide clean drinking water to encourage your cat to stay hydrated.
Their nutrition must also be carefully controlled as records show a tendency to get overweight and obese. Usually, you would notice a slight potbelly after a day of overindulgence and no exercise. Moderation is very key here.
Rich cat foods are not the best options for them as their sensitive stomachs will likely make them vomit it out. It knows the love is deep already, just don’t try to work it into fancy foods.
Just like every other cat breed, brushing your Siamese cat’s teeth once a week will check periodontal disease from destroying their gums. Besides, a yearly veterinarian visit for professional cleaning will safeguard against periodontal diseases.
A regular claw trimming every 10 to 12 days would also do a lot of good. Plus get a scratching post to save your furniture and sofas – you are welcomed for the tip.
Fortunately, the Siamese cat does not need any special care, unlike other cat breeds. Good food and water, regular grooming and a truckload of love are all you need to take care of these fuzzy balls.
Their short-haired sleek coats wouldn’t give you much trouble at all. A good brushing once a week should work magic on their sleek coats.
Although they hardly shed and thus do not need frequent brushing, Siamese casts associate brushing with affection. So you may end up spending long hours brushing whilst they nettle snuggly in your laps. A wipe down with soft leather-like chamois would leave their coast glistering and shiny.
Their weekly grooming schedule changes slightly when they are molting with frequent brushing. This usually happens early spring and autumn.
Siamese cats are popularly known as the cat version of dogs because of their energetic playful attitude. Active, engaging and very curious creatures, a Siamese likes to play fetch which is quite interesting for a cat.
They are loyal and very intelligent cats. These snuggly cats need no invitation to crawl into your lap, bed or head. They also love warm places.
Even though they can be quite stubborn which can be frustrating at times, they are also trainable. But don’t expect any great miracles overnight like a tap-dancing cat.
Leave them alone for a few hours and they are bound to find some mischief to entertain itself. They are extremely affectionate and would rather sleep in your bed than theirs. Keeping you up all night with chatty long conversations.
Other Notable Characteristics
- High spirited, Siamese cats are lovers of height and great jumpers. To solve this problem, simply provide a high perch or preferably a cat tree. Also, don’t forget to make available cat toys for gnawing and exercise.
- Try bouncing a ping pong ball off the table or floor and watch them chase it around. This activity comes close to their version of fetch which you would have played with a dog. Other games which you can play with them include shadow games and bubble bursting.
- They are not only family-friendly, but they also get along well with other family pets especially dogs. But be sure your dog is a cat lover too or you may have a difficult time bonding them.
The Siamese cat makes great companions and is usually recommended for the introvert in nature.
To get the best of breeds, it’s always advisable to get your Siamese cat from a responsible breeder. You may request for registration papers to be sure of the breed quality. Getting your Siamese the right way provides a health surety against most of its prevalent health conditions.
Their calm and gentle nature makes them a great choice as a family pet. Watch your Siamese help young kids vocalize at a very early age due to their talkative and chatty personality.
How does Gatsby, Champagne, Lancelot, Mocha, Cleopatra, or Opal sound for your new regal Siamese cat pet?