The Siamese is perhaps the most recognizable of all purebred domestic breeds. It has been treasured for centuries because of its winning personality and beautiful, exotic, aristocratic physical characteristics. These are slender, graceful cats with finely-chiseled muzzles, elegant necks and long, svelte bodies. Their hind legs are noticeably longer than their front legs, and their paws are small and oval-shaped. The tail of the Siamese is long, quite slender and tapered and must have no trace of a kink. This is a very fine-boned, refined animal that should exude breed type in appearance and confidence in attitude. They have been described as "living art," with their combination of great beauty with acute intelligence, sociable curiosity and loving nature.
Most breed fanciers and authorities prefer a great deal of contrast between a lighter body color and darker but matching points. The deeper and more intense that the blue eye color is, the better.
Siamese cats were described by a German explorer, Peter Simon Pallas, as early as 1793. This was one of the very first domestic breeds exported from Asia to Europe. The first breeding pair reportedly reached England in the 1870s or 1880s, as a gift from Siam to the English ambassador. They were seen in British cat shows almost immediately thereafter, although some experts believe that they made their debut in Europe in 1871 at the Crystal Palace Cat Show in London. Other Siamese were gifted by the Royal Court of Siam to British and American diplomats around the end of the nineteenth century, and they were seen in American cat shows in the very early part of the twentieth century. Some reports suggest that the first Siamese came to America in 1879, as a gift to the wife of President Rutherford Hayes from the US Consul in Bangkok. The early examples of this breed were much stockier and had rounder heads and faces than today's Siamese. They were referred to as Traditional Siamese, Apple Heads, Opals or Thai Siamese and had much smaller ears, a pronounced squint and often a kinked tail.
The Seal Point is the most traditional color of the Siamese, first reportedly seen in Europe in the 1880s. It is also the darkest in terms of body color. The first Lilac Point Siamese may have been a cat exhibited in 1896 in Britain that was described as being "not quite blue," and therefore was disqualified from finishing the competition. The traditional Blue Point Siamese began to acquire a strong following among cat fanciers in the 1930s, which continues to this day. The Red Colorpoint Shorthair caused some controversy when it was first exhibited at cat shows in Great Britain in 1934, because they did not conform to a traditional or even recognized Siamese coloration. Chocolate Point Siamese were not recognized fully in the show ring until sometime in the 1950s. The Lilac Point was recognized around 1955. The Seal Lynx Point reportedly occurred from an accidental breeding of a Seal Point female in 1960, which resulted in one kitten from the litter having tabby markings. Lynx Point Siamese were recognized in Britain in 1966.
While the Siamese has historically been one of the most popular of all pedigreed cats, it has lost some of its popularity to the newer modern breeds that have descended from it in recent years. The British GCCF and CA recognize all pointed, short-haired cats of Asian type as Siamese, as does the FIFe. The Cat Fanciers' Association of the United States only recognizes the four original naturally-occurring colors.
This is a long-lived and healthy domestic feline breed with a life expectancy averaging 15 years or more. Crossed eyes were once a common trait in Siamese cats, but this trait has almost been eliminated due to selective and conscientious breeding practices by responsible breeders. Siamese tend to mature rather earlier than most cats. Females can become sexually active by six months of age, although most breeders would not breed a female of any breed until much later. As with other breeds, Torties are almost always female.
Siamese cats are known to be affectionate, friendly, loyal and bold. The Blue Point Siamese is said by some to be the gentlest and most affectionate of all the Colorpoint Shorthair varieties, although certainly many fanciers of the other Siamese color varieties might dispute that characterization. Siamese have been described as precocious, gregarious, intelligent and outgoing. They are extremely friendly with people and other pets that they know and like, and they thrive on companionship and affection. They form extremely close bonds with their primary caretaker and do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. They often do better kept in household pairs or small groups, so that they can entertain each other while their owners are away. Some Siamese can have a nervous personality and most do not like sudden changes in their living environment. Siamese can be aloof toward strangers and are often skittish around newcomers to the home.
Siamese are agile, active, athletic cats. Despite their refined appearance, they are hard-bodied and muscular and can be quite lively and playful. They do well with lots of toys, a scratching post and some cat climbing furniture. This is a good breed for people who want a cat that gives them lots of attention and interaction. Siamese can entertain themselves with toys for hours on end. They also are natural fetchers.
Siamese always have a lot to say, and they usually always have the last word. One of their most well-known characteristics is the legendary ability to vocalize. Siamese are the most extroverted and vocal of all domestic felines. They will hold conversations over almost anything, with food and human attention being at the top of the list. Their loud, long meows sometimes sound like a human baby's cry. Intact female Siamese (and almost all Torties and Tortie Points are female) have a particularly renowned noisy call when they are interested in finding a breeding partner. In a nutshell, these are cats with loud voices that match their big personalities.
Another behavioral trait of this breed is their tendency to thrash their tail when bored. They can be a bit demanding of attention. They are fastidiously clean and easy to care for as an indoor companion. They crave warm places and are fond of piling up with people or other animals. This is a breed of many extremes and makes a unique, wonderful companion.
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