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The Siamese is probably one of the most well known and a favorite cat breed among cat lovers over the world. They are the ultimate in feline beauty-with piercing blue eyes and dainty and fine boned build. They are a contradiction in terms of being both elegant with gorgeous coloring and mischievous and energetic.
A Brief History of Siamese
There have been many theories concerning the origin of the breed and there is too much uncertainty as to how they came into being. There is however some evidence that the Siamese existed in Thailand (formerly Siam) somewhere between 1350 and 1767. The legend says that Siamese cats were sacred cats and guarded Buddhist temples. Siamese kittens were highly prized and it was considered a great honour to be given one. Theft of one of the Royal Cats of Siam from the Royal Court was punishable by death.
While the true origin of the Siamese may always be a conjecture, we do know when the breed first began to appear outside of Siam, or Thailand as it is called now. The breed was first seen outside their Asian home in 1884, when the British Counsul-General in Bangkok, Mr Owen Gould, brought a pair of the cats back to Britain for his sister, Mrs Veley who went on to co-found the Siamese Cat Club in 1901, and were shown at the Crystal Palace in 1885. During 1886, another pair of Siamese cats and two kittens were imported by a Mrs. Vyvyan and her sister into Britain. These cats along with several others brought into Britain in the following years comprised the base breeding pool for the Siamese breed. They began appearing in the United States in the early 1900's.
The original Siamese colour was the classic seal brown points with a warm cream coloured body but breeders in the west developed more colours by introducing other breeds of cat into the breeding schedule. The original Siamese had eye squints and tail kinks, which are now considered serious faults but once these ‘faults’ were so common there are fables, so tell of their origin.
One story tells of a valuable missing goblet and two Siamese cats that were despatched to look for it. When they found the goblet one cat stayed to look after it while the other went back with the good news. The guard cat was so worried that the goblet might go missing again that she wound her tail tightly around the goblet and held it so tight that the tail became permanently kinked. All the time she was waiting for the other cat to return she stared at the goblet so it didn't disappear and her eyes developed a squint. Another story tells of a princess who was so scared her rings would be stolen she entrusted them to her Siamese cat to look after. The rings were placed on the cat’s tail but when the cat fell asleep the rings fell off. So the princess tied a knot in the tail of the cat so that the same thing could never happen again.
As a result of thousands of generations of selective breeding and the pressures of competition there are now actually two subbreeds of Siamese - the traditional or 'appleheaded' Siamese, and the modern or “wedgehead” Siamese.
The Wedgehead Siamese is the result of breeder’s intent to encourage an elongated look. This look began to emerge in the 1950's and 1960's, and gained in popularity until this look dominated the show circa. Wedgies have a long, slender, tubular body, long legs, small oval shaped feet, long graceful neck, long whip like tail, a wedge shaped head (hence the nickname) large ears set far apart on the head, and slightly slanted vivid blue oval shaped eyes.
Siamese cats have long, thin and tapering to fine point tails, and often have a kink in their tails, because the original breeders saw that as a unique feature of the breed.
The overall look of the Siamese should be a well-balanced appearance. The coat is always shorthaired although in some groups the Balinese is called a longhaired Siamese.
Character and Temperament
The Siamese are an extremely social type of cats. They want to be with you every minute and will expect you to share your food, your bed, your life with them, and will follow you from room to room. They often will engage themselves in crazy antics to get the attention of their people, and often attach themselves to one human in a household. Siamese are immensely loyal to their chosen human and they may not tolerate rivals for their affection. Siamese are known to be excellent with children as they somehow sense the innocence of a child and will tolerate their prodding and pulling as the child learns proper handling. They will comfort you when you are sad or sick. Because of their terrific personality and affectionate nature, the Siamese have a large following.
The Siamese cannot be left alone for long periods of time. They need companionship whether that is from their owner, another cat or even a dog. They love company, so two Siamese cats will keep themselves content when you are gone.
The voice is one of the traits the Siamese cats are known for. They are outgoing extrovert and can be extremely noisy when they really want to make a point.
They are also known to be dog-like, and tend to settle best with cats of their own type such as Burmese or Orientals but being territorial tend to bully less domineering breeds such as the longhairs.
The Siamese cats are highly intelligent and need to be kept amused. Toys and scratching posts should be provided for their amusement and they can be easily trained to use a cat scratcher.
The gene that is responsible for the pigmentation is heat-sensitive so all Siamese kittens, although pure cream or white at birth, develop visible points in the first few months of life in colder parts of their body. By the time the kitten is four weeks old the points should be clearly distinguishable enough to recognise which colour they will be.
All Siamese have a creamy base coat with coloured "points" on their muzzles, ears, paws and lower legs, and tails. The darker Siamese have a darkening of their back and hindquarters as well. Originally Siamese were all chocolate pointed, but now they have been bred in all of the standard cat colours including red, lilac, blue, chocolate, tabby and torty or tortoise-shell. The Cat Fanciers' Association refers to the red, tortie, and lynx points as Colorpoint Shorthaired, but in all other respects they are the same as the traditional brown, chocolate or black Siamese cats.
Siamese are known to be one of the longest-lived cat breeds. With proper veterinary care, nutrition and exercise a Siamese can live to be anywhere from 13-20 years old. It is not uncommon for a Siamese to even live past the age of 20.
The Siamese is a medium sized cat with the males a bit larger than the females. Males weigh from 10 to 15 pounds and females weight between 8 and 12 pounds.
The average litter size for Siamese is about six kittens but much larger litters of ten or more are not uncommon.
Cares for Siamese cats
Siamese cats are hardy cats with good appetites. They are active cats and will require 80 Kcals of food per kg bodyweight per day. This type of cat rarely overeats and will soon tell you how much food she requires each day. It must be noted that Siamese should not be fat. A high quality food recommend by the breeder is best.
The Siamese cats are not hypoallergenic. Their fur is very short and they only shed about twice a year, but most people are allergic to a cat’s dander and not their fur. Cat dander is actually a mixture of proteins found in the skin glands, saliva, and urine of animals.
Even though they don't shed excessively, they do enjoy being combed or brushed. Grooming is easy due to the short coat. Brushing or combing two times weekly is all that is necessary.
As with any purebred animal, there may be some genetic problems such as heart problems and kidney disease that can show up. From the age of about eight years it is advisable for them to have an annual health check to check teeth and liver, and kidney function.
This breed has several distinctive genetic faults, all of which are cosmetic and require no medical treatment. These include crossed eyes and a kinked tail. These are not desirable traits however they are not detrimental to their health.
Sexual maturity comes at an early age for most Siamese, therefore it is recommended to have them spayed or neutered by the age of 6 months.