The sophisticated Siamese looks dressed for an elegant masquerade ball in pale evening wear with chic black accessories and tanzanite-blue eyes.
Cats with light-colored coats set off with black mask, ears, paws and tail have been known in Thailand (formerly Siam) for centuries. Ancient manuscripts depict the cats, but they were not seen in the West until the late nineteenth century, when they were exhibited at the Crystal Palace Cat Show in London. Not everyone appreciated their unusual appearance, but they quickly became fashionable pets. By the turn of the century, if not earlier, they were popular in the United States as well. President Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) and his wife Lucy were the recipients of a Siamese cat shipped to them in 1878 by David B. Sickels, a U. S. diplomat stationed at the consulate in Thailand. A letter from Sickels detailing the gift is on file at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio.
At first, only the cats with seal points—a dark brownish-black—were shown, but blue, chocolate and lilac-point Siamese were soon developed and accepted in the show ring. Today Siamese come in many different point colors and patterns, including tabby points and smoke points.
The Siamese itself is a natural breed, meaning its original pointed pattern was the result of a genetic mutation. The breed has contributed to the creation of many other breeds, including the Balinese, Oriental, the Himalayan division of the Persian, the Tonkinese and the Havana Brown.
The breed standard of the modern Siamese calls for an elongated, tubular, and muscular body and a triangular head, forming a perfect triangle from the tip of the nose to each tip of the ear. The eyes are almond-shaped and light blue, while the ears are large, wide-based, and positioned more towards the side of the head. The breed has a long neck, a slender tail, and fur that is short, glossy, fine, and adheres to the body with no undercoat. Its pointed color scheme and blue eyes distinguish it from the closely related Oriental Shorthair. The modern Siamese shares the pointed color pattern with the Thai, or traditional Siamese, but they differ in head and body type.
Siamese are usually very affectionate and intelligent cats, renowned for their social nature. Many enjoy being with people and are sometimes described as “extroverts”. Often they bond strongly to a single person. Some Siamese are extremely vocal, with a loud, low-pitched voice—known as “Meezer”, from which they get one of their nicknames that has been compared to the cries of a human baby, and persistent in demanding attention. These cats are typically active and playful, even as adults, and are often described as more dog-like in behavior than other cats.
Choose a Siamese cat if you look forward to spending time with and interacting with your cat. This is a loyal and loving feline who will pout and pine if given little or no attention. In the right home, however, he thrives for years.