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Siamese: Everything you've ever wanted to know

It was partially thanks to Disney animations that Siamese cats gained such popularity in the 80s. The reality, however, is that they were nothing new. Today considered the second-most popular cat breed in the world, Siamese are also known to be one of the oldest.

Origins
Siamese are named after their country of origin, Siam (present-day Thailand). Considered at the time to be sacred cats, the honour of ownership was reserved solely for Buddhist monks and royal families. Due to their unique physical features, Siamese became the most commonly used cat breed in the creation of other breeds. In fact, more than a dozen breeds — including Balinese, Himalayans, Bengals, Burmese, Cornish Rex, Sphynx and many others — contain traces of Siamese.


Morphology and appearance
The Siamese of the 1950-1960 period didn’t quite resemble those of the modern era. Certain characteristics were isolated over generations by breeders, which resulted in two distinct variations:

  • Traditional Siamese: Physical form very similar to that of normal cats.
  • Modern Siamese: Thin and elongated body with small, long bones; high on their paws with a thin triangle-shaped head.

Traditional :

Traditional Siamese

Modern :

Modern Siamese

Did you know that all Siamese kittens are born with a gene for partial albinism? This in fact constitutes a genetic mutation of the gene which restricts the colouration of extremities (head, paws, tail). This is where Siamese get their “pointy” look. The mutation affects the enzymes that produce pigmentation in the fur, a phenomenon that is largely influenced by temperature. Because the extremities are always colder than the body itself, the enzymes send colour to these precise areas, hence why kittens are born white: the uterus is warm.

Siamese cats come in the following varieties:

  • Seal Point (the original, darker colour)

Seal Point Siamese

  • Chocolate Point
  • Lilac Point (A diluted chocolate colour)
  • Blue Point

And less commonly:

  • Red or Flame Point
  • Cream Point
  • Tortie Point
  • Lynx or Tabby point

Maintenance
Siamese cats require almost no maintenance at all, save a little brush every now and then.


The ideal family for a Siamese cat
Siamese cats are highly active and require a lot of stimulation — perfect for a family with children who can play with them all day long! Older people, on the other hand, may find a turbulent Siamese to be too energetic for their needs. What’s more, Siamese are known for being particularly talkative, and their meow (lien miaulement chat) isn’t always the most pleasing to the ear.  For this reason, avoid reinforcing any spontaneous meowing and be prepared to live with a cat who just loves to chat.

Looking to adopt a Siamese? It’s best to check with a breeder or shelter [French only link] you know you can trust. A certified breeder from Anima-Québec [French only link] would be your best bet: you know the animal has been treated properly, in a clean and safe environment, and using only the best breeding techniques.


Did you know?
Legend has it that the Siamese developed their squinting habit from years of surveilling sacred vases in the temples and palaces of 14th-century Asia. They watched the vases so closely that they eventually began to squint.


Take care of your Siamese: