Siamese Cat: Cat Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Chocolate Point Siamese Cat

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The Siamese cat is medium-sized, svelte, and refined with long, tapering lines. It is lithe and muscular. The most striking characteristic of the Siamese cat is its "points," which are darker color patterns on the ears, face (mask), tail, legs, and feet. Siamese cats, fondly known as "meezers," are popular among those who want a pedigreed pet. Officially recognized by the Cat Fancier's Association in 1906, the Siamese is one of the original breeds of pedigreed cats.

Breed Overview

Weight: 6 to 14 pounds

Length: Up to 14 inches

Coat: Short

Coat Color: Seal, chocolate, blue, and lilac

Eye Color: Blue

Life Expectancy: 8 to 12 years

Characteristics of the Siamese Cat

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Vocalize High
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Siamese Cat

Siamese cats come from Thailand. In 1880, the king of Siam gave two pairs of Siamese cats to the English consul-general in Bangkok; he brought them home to England, and they became the talk of the town. Their popularity zoomed rapidly, as people sought to own one of these beautiful "Oriental" cats. The first Siamese to win a champion title was Wankee in 1898, and the breed developed rapidly thereafter.

Whether Siamese breeders followed the judges in official Siamese show rings or vice-versa, is not clear, but for one reason or another, the Siamese cat gradually attained a slimmer look, with a more wedge-shaped head. This modern breed of Siamese more closely resembled the original Egyptian cats, as history depicts them.

In 1987, a group of Siamese breeders, distressed with the extreme changes in the appearance of the modern breed, and concerned with potential health problems, banded together to form the Traditional and Classic Cat International registry. One of the goals of the organization was to "bring back and maintain the 'Old Style' look of each breed."

People are often confused about the terms "traditional" and "classic" as it refers to Siamese cats. The founder of The Traditional Siamese Cat Association, Sheelagh Le Cocq, explains that the classic Siamese is sort of a cross between the traditional and modern versions, without the extremes of either. She describes the classical age as being between 1945 and 1970.

Famous depictions of Siamese cats come from Si and Am in "Lady and the Tramp," featured in the song, "We Are Siamese If You Please," sung by Peggy Lee for the animated Disney movie. A Siamese was the title star of "That Darn Cat!"

Siamese Cat Care

The Siamese cat has a short coat that needs only standard care. Give your cat a good brushing weekly to lessen the risk of hairballs. Their distinctive point pattern comes from recessive genes that result in producing the dark pigment melatonin only in cooler areas of the skin. This is why you see the darker color on the legs and ears, as well as the face where the skin is cooled during breathing.

Your cat's claws may need regular trimming every 10 to 14 days. Provide a scratching post to save your upholstery and woodwork. Pay attention to dental hygiene, start your cat with regular toothbrushing at an early age, and schedule regular dental cleanings by a veterinarian.

Siamese cats have a distinctive personality that is active, playful, and curious, but also trainable. They like to climb and should have a cat tree or other structure to give them this outlet. They also like puzzle toys and teaser toys to chase. You do not want this cat to get bored when you are away from home, or you may return to find it has been up to some mischief for entertainment.

Siamese are anything but reserved around humans. They bond to humans much like a dog does and will follow you around the house, seeking attention. You will find your cat in your lap as soon as you sit down. They want constant interaction and will get depressed if you leave them alone for long. As such, they are best in a household where you are at home more of the day.

Siamese are one of the most vocal cat breeds. You will find they will chat with you often, chiding you if you aren't paying attention, and talking to you as if you can understand their language.

Siamese cats blend well into families with children and breeds of dog that are cat-friendly. Young children will need to be taught proper treatment of the cat so as not to provoke a defensive response from the cat.

Cats live longer if they are indoor-only cats. This prevents exposure to infections from other animals and the environment as well as injuries from fights and accidents. A securely-fenced yard might keep out predators, but a Siamese is likely to scale any fence and escape. Spaying or neutering will also be beneficial for any pet that is not being bred.

Common Health Problems

The most prevalent health concern for Siamese cats is an eye condition. Cross-eyed Siamese were common decades ago; the same gene the gave them colored points also resulted in faulty vision wiring in the brain. The tendency for crossed eyes was mostly bred out, but it still means that Siamese have less-acute vision than other cats and they are at more at risk of being hit by vehicles when outside after dark.

The other main health problems that this breed is prone to include:

  • Respiratory disease: Siamese cats with wedge-shaped heads are more predisposed to respiratory problems, including asthma and bronchial disease.
  • Liver problems due to amyloidosis, which is caused by an abnormal protein that is deposited in the body's organs
  • Renal amyloidosis, the buildup of the same abnormal protein in the kidneys, which can disrupt normal kidney function
  • Congenital heart defects, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common cat heart condition that can lead to heart failure.

You should provide all of the usual domestic cat immunizations, preventative veterinary treatments, and check-ups.

Diet and Nutrition

Dry cat food can help keep a cat's teeth and gums healthy, while wet food provides fluids for cats that may not drink enough water. Be sure to provide fresh, clean water so your cat doesn't avoid it. While many cats moderate what they eat naturally, some will overeat if they have free access to food. If you see your cat gaining weight, you may want to provide two meals a day and take away any uneaten portions.

Your cat may need a modified diet with advancing age. Discuss your cat's nutritional needs with your veterinarian. Avoiding obesity is the best way to allow your cat to live to a healthy older age.

Pros

  • Strongly bonds to its human family

  • Distinctive, exotic look with blue, almond-shaped eyes

  • Should get along with other cats or cat-friendly dogs and children

  • Active, energetic, and highly trainable

Cons

  • More predisposed to eye, respiratory, kidney, liver, and heart problems

  • Can get depressed if left alone for long periods of time

  • Gets bored easily, needs constant enrichment and activity

  • Has a tendency of being loud and vocal

Where to Adopt or Buy a Siamese Cat

You may be able to find a purebred Siamese cat through a breeder in your area, but if you would rather adopt from a rescue organization, check out:

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

Before you decide whether a Siamese cat is the right one for you, research the breed further by talking to other Siamese owners, reputable breeders, and rescue organizations.

If you are interested in beautiful cat breeds, compare these:

There are many different cat breeds for you to explore before you decide which one is right for your home.