Cat Breeds 101: The Siamese Cat

Siamese CatThe Siamese cat is one of the most recognizable cat breeds in the world. Their light body and dark face and tail combined with their striking blue eyes have taken the cat world by storm over the past decade. Although the first Siamese cat wasn’t documented in the United States until 1878, the cats have made their way into pop culture, art, and many cat-lovers’ hearts. Here, we’re going to explore the majestic Siamese cat and what makes it such a special breed.

Where do Siamese cats come from?

Siamese cats are native to Thailand, which was formerly known as Siam. The Oriental Shorthair was derived from the Siamese cat. These cats are known for their triangular-shaped head, almond-shaped eyes, and slender body. Siamese cats were imported from Siam to the UK in the late 1800s. The look that is most commonly known for Siamese cats, with the color being restricted to the ears, muzzle, and tail, is a recessive gene that led to the breed standard.

At first, there were some complications with getting the Siamese cats to other countries. U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes brought the first Siamese cat into the United states in 1878. In 1884, the first Siamese cats entered Britian via the British Consul-General. In 1885, these UK cats produced three kittens, although health complications unfortunately ended in their untimely death. Eventually, more and more were imported and bred for cat shows and households.

What do they look like?

The aesthetics of the Siamese cat is all about the triangle-shape. Their head should form a perfect triangle from the tip of the nose to the tip of the ears. Their bodies are long and tube-like, and the cats should remain slender yet muscular. Their tails are skinny and their necks are long. Their coat is less fluffy and more sleek, with short and glossy fur that doesn’t have an undercoat. What makes a Siamese cat a Siamese cat and not simply and Oriental Shorthair is their color scheme and eye color.

cat dandelionTheir muzzle, ears, and tail should be a brown color, with the rest of their bodies being a light cream. This pattern is caused by partial albinism, meaning that pigment is dispersed differently than in other cats. The coolest parts of the cat’s body cause the cat’s mutated enzyme to become active, as it is a heat-sensitive trait. Siamese kittens are all cream colored at birth and only develop these dark spots in the first 3-6 months of life.

These dark-colored points come in four distinct colors.
Seal: Very dark brown and almost black in appearance
Blue: A medium-grey color
Chocolate: Light brown
Lilac: A pale grey

All of these colors are accepted as Siamese cat breed standards. Their tails should be long and straight, contrary to the popular look of Thailand native cats. Many of the original Siamese cats had a kink in their tail, and you can still see this today on the streets of Thailand.

What do they act like?

Siamese cats are known most for two things; their extroverted nature, and their extremely talkative ways. They love human attention, and use their loud and low cries to get what they want. Their yowls have been compared to the cry of a human baby, which can be startling for those who aren’t familiar with the Siamese cat! They are affectionate, active, and smart. Siamese cats have been known to be successfully trained to play fetch time and time again. Since the Siamese cat is so extroverted, it is common to adopt them in pairs since they can get pretty depressed without enough stimulation.

What is their general health like?

Siamese kitten isolate on whiteSiamese cats, like most pure breeds, are prone to some health ailments not common in all cats. Their median lifespan ranges between 10-12.5 years, which is relatively short for a cat. They are prone to neoplasms, gastrointestinal problems, and reduced vision at night. Because of their specific genetic pool and albino trait, their blue eyes are missing a tapetum lucidum. This is a structure in the eye that helps cats see in the dark. Since they are less independent and able to hunt because of the trait, the Siamese cat has become very human-dependent. This adaptation could be viewed as very wise, as clearly these cats are so well-loved in homes all over the world.

The Siamese cat is a recognizable and classic cat breed that has been cherished in a variety of countries and continents for almost 200 years. Having a Siamese cat means having a counterpart that loves attention, is very smart, and ready to just play and hang out any time. If you are interested in adopting a Siamese cat, you can look for Siamese cat rescues online, responsible breeders in your area, or simply keep a look out at your local animal shelter.