Section 6 – SIAMESE & ORIENTAL – Group 2
A hugely popular breed, the Siamese is a medium sized cat with a long, lithe body that is graceful and elegant but still has a muscular feel. They should feel much heavier than they appear. The body is well balanced and athletic. The hind legs are higher than the front. The legs are slender and the paws are small and oval. The tail is long and tapering and free from kinks.
The most recognised features of the Siamese cat are the coloured points seen on the mask (face and ears), limbs and tail and their mesmerising blue eyes. Together with large ears, the coloured points and blue eyes create the unique look or essence of the breed.
The Siamese originated in what is now Thailand and has been in existence for hundreds of years. 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. They were finally imported into Britain in the 1880s. 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 written in folklore to tell of their origin.
The coat is short, fine and close lying. The main body colour is pale with darker intensely coloured points. The coloured points only extend to the mask area of the face, ears, legs and tail which are the cooler parts of the body. Temperature can affect the colour of the points. The Siamese is bred in an incredible combination of thirty-two colours and patterns; this includes the self-coloured points in seal, blue, chocolate, lilac, red, cream, cinnamon, caramel and fawn and then all the associated tortie and tabby colours. Nothing about the Siamese is round. It is angular in every way. In contrast with all of the long physical features, its coat is very short, glossy and sleek, and lies close to the body with a very fine texture. One of the most striking features of the Siamese is its medium-large expressive almond eyes in a deep rich blue colour. The setting of the eyes in an oriental slant is like no other breed of cat (outside of the breed group); the eyes create the expression that says “Siamese”. The ears of the Siamese cat are large and pricked and are set so that they follow the lines of a triangle.
The Siamese is probably as well known for its loud vocal personality as for its classic looks. They are outgoing, extrovert and can be extremely noisy. They demand attention and to be part of the family. A Siamese is not an ideal cat for someone out at work all day as they do not like to be left on their own but this can be overcome by having two Siamese. They are highly intelligent and need to be kept amused. Toys and scratching posts should be provided for their amusement and they can be taught to retrieve toys. Siamese are immensely loyal to their chosen human and they may not tolerate rivals for their affection!
The Siamese cat’s short glossy coat does not require excessive grooming but the cat will enjoy the attention gained from being groomed. As with most shorthair breeds, the cats look after their coat very well. Male Siamese cats weigh between 10 to 15 lbs, while females weigh less than males at 8 to 12 lbs. Siamese often live well into their late teens and it is not unheard of for them to live into their twenties.
The original Siamese had eye squints and tail kinks which are now considered serious faults. There are, however, a number of conditions that are linked to the breed. Some lines may be predisposed to some cancers such as mediastinal lymphoma and some intestinal tumours. Siamese do also seem to suffer more from chronic coughing (asthma) and to vomit more than other breeds. Some lines of Siamese will ingest strange non-edible items (this is known as pica) such as eating woolen garments, plastic and other materials – the reason for this is not understood. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) has also been identified in the breed and the Siamese may be predisposed to hip dysplasia. Lysosomal storage diseases such as Niemann-Pick disease, mucopolysaccharidosis and gangliosidosis (GM1) have been described in Siamese cats, as has systemic amyloidosis.