Siamese Cat

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: July 16, 2008
Siamese Cat

Physical Characteristics

The Siamese cat breed has strikingly large ears and attractive baby blue eyes. Their sleek, slim figure is accentuated by their short, fine coat with long tapering lines. The coat comes in four traditional colors: seal, chocolate, blue, and lilac point -- a pale body color with relatively darker extremities; i.e., the face, ears, feet and tail.

Personality and Temperament

This is an outgoing, social cat which relies heavily on human companionship. It is a born chatterbox, loving to communicate with those around it. However, this is not a cat to have if you're not home often, as it gets lonely and sad fairly easily. The Siamese cat needs to be handled carefully, but when it is shown love, patience and care, it makes an ideal companion.

History and Background

This world famous cat has a long and colorful history. As its name suggests, the cat originally came from Thailand (formerly known as Siam). Its interesting appearance and demeanor caused the cat to be adored by royalty. When a member of the royal family died, it was also thought a Siamese cat would receive this person's soul. The cat would then be moved to a temple, spending the rest of its life in luxury, with monks and priests as servants.

Other myths try to explain some of its fascinating characteristics. One such myth tells of how a Siamese cat, having the duty of guarding the royal vase, curled its tail around it and gazed at it so intensely that its eyes became crossed. Yet another tells of Siamese cats guarding rings belonging to a royal princess. The cats slid the rings on their tail, and developed tail kinks to keep the rings from falling off.

The Siamese has also made it to the Cat Book of Poems, a manuscript written between 1350 and 1767. It describes a slim cat with dark coloring on its ears, tail and feet, and a pale body.

It is not known exactly when this fabled cat made its first appearance in Britain. The earliest documented account, however, tells of a pair of Siamese cats given to the sister of a British consul general in Bangkok in 1884. These cats were exhibited the following year in London. Although, there is earlier evidence indicating the Siamese cat was exhibited in the first cat show in 1871 at Crystal Palace in London, where it ultimately received a dismal reception. The attendees were said to have been disgusted with "an unnatural, nightmare kind of cat."

Despite the abrupt and unwelcoming start, the Siamese cat breed quickly began to gain regional popularity. The first British Standard -- an abstract aesthetic ideal for the animal type -- describes the Siamese as a "striking-looking cat of medium size, if weighty, not showing bulk, as this would detract from the admired svelte appearance ... also distinguished by a kink in the tail."

The first Siamese cat in America was reportedly given to Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes (the First Lady to the nineteenth president of the United States) in 1878 by the U.S. Consul, David Stickles, living the rest of its days in the White House. In the 1900s, Siamese cats participated in various cat shows and today, occupies the top place among short haired cat breeds. Due to its popularity, the Siamese cat breed has been used to form many modern cat breeds including the Ocicat, Himalayan, Burmese, Tonkinese, Korat, Snowshoe, and myriad Oriental breeds (Oriental Shorthair, Oriental Longhair, Colorpoint Shorthair, Colorpoint Longhair, Balinese, and Javanese).

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