With its stunning good looks and regal nature, it’s hardly a surprise that legends evolved and early folklore told of the Royal Cat of Siam—a cat that was so truly special that only members of the royal family could own one. Fortunately, whether fact or fiction, no such restrictions apply today, and even an average Joe can opt to share his life with a Siamese cat. In return, he can only hope against hope to be this special cat’s chosen person.
So where did this fabulous feline come from? As it happens, the Siamese is one of the oldest recognized breeds of domestic cats, with origins in Thailand (known formerly as Siam). The International Cat Association (TICA) notes that Cat Book Poems, a manuscript dating to 1350 from the ancient capital of Siam, included pictures of, “a pale-coated cat with a black mask, tail, feet, and ears.” The existence of such ancient texts and drawings suggests that the Siamese cat was treasured in its native land.
As is the case with virtually all ancient breeds, exact origins and early breeding records for the Siamese are not available. What we do know is that Siamese cats were imported into England in the 19th century. According to TICA, the Siamese cat first appeared at London’s Crystal Palace Cat Show in 1871. By the 20th century, the breed was being shown in North America and its popularity was soaring. In fact, the Siamese was—and continues to be—so popular that it has served as the precursor for many breeds. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) notes that the Siamese has played a role in the development of the Balinese, Colorpoint Shorthair, Tonkinese, and other cat breeds.
In terms of conformation, the Siamese is a svelte creature, characterized by lengthiness in the head, neck, body, legs, and tail. Its head is one of its most distinguishing features and should be wedge-shaped as opposed to round. Deep blue almond-shaped eyes, dramatic colourpointing, and a short, silky coat contribute to the breed’s look of refined elegance.
Speaking of coat, the National Siamese Cat Club (NSCC) explains that the breed’s earliest available records indicate a sealpoint pattern was present in the cats initially imported into England. Evidence suggests that other coat colour patterns were found in the cats of ancient Siam and, over time, additional colour classes emerged and have gained acceptance in the Siamese breed. The CFA acknowledges sealpoint, bluepoint, chocolatepoint, and lilacpoint coat patterns. TICA’s standard accepts a range of colours, focusing on the pattern of even colour throughout the cat’s body with dark shading on the points—the face, legs, feet, tail, and ears.
So aside from being able to appreciate his stunning good looks on a daily basis, what’s it like to share your life with a Siamese? Well for starters, you likely won’t have to search high and low for your pet. In fact, chances are he’ll be close by, waiting for you to provide a comfortable lap to sit on, or looking to be entertained. You do realize that a Siamese must be entertained, right?
Fanciers describe the Siamese as an affectionate and highly social breed that needs companionship to thrive. Long periods of isolation won’t be appreciated and, if yours is a one-cat household and you leave your Siamese alone for too long, you’ll almost certainly hear about it from this famously-vocal breed. This breed is many things, but quiet is not on the list! Plan on living with a cat that always gets the last word… about everything.
More than one cat fancier has referred to the Siamese as living art—perfectly understandable given the breed’s elegant, refined appearance. These cats are special, and those who share their lives with a Siamese know it.
Prolific writer and cat fancier Compton Mackenzie once said, “People who belong to Siamese cats must make up their minds to do a good deal of waiting upon them.” He and many others since have had no problem making that choice. Rest assured, there is a great deal of pleasure to be found, living a life in the service of the aristocrats of cats.
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