Siamese Cats

History

The Siamese cat is long and elegant, with it's distinctive darker 'points', it has always had great appeal.

Early Siamese cats tended to have eye squints and kinked tails, now regarded as serious faults, but with careful breeding they have been eliminated from the modern cat. Yet, these characteristics were once so prevalent that fables exist to this day 'explaining' how they were acquired.

It is said that Siamese cats were once sacred cats, guarding the Buddhist temples. One day, a valuable goblet went missing and a pair of cats was dispatched to find the stolen treasure. After a long journey, the goblet was discovered and the female cat stayed to guard it while her male partner went back to tell the good news. So worried was she that the goblet might go missing again, that she wound her tail tightly around its stem and it became permanently kinked. For days and nights she sat watching over the prized goblet, never letting her eyes wander away, and by the time her partner returned, her eyes had developed a squint. Later she produced a litter of kittens - all of which had kinked tails and squints, because of her vigilance in guarding the lost treasure.

Siamese kittens have always been highly prized. It was considered an honour for any foreigner to be presented with one of the Royal Cats of Siam, and it was an offence punishable by death for one of these cats to be stolen from the Royal Court, let alone be taken out of Siam. But, westwards they eventually came, and after many generations of selective breeding are now, along with Persian Longhairs and Burmese, among the most popular of pedigree varieties.

Siamese were originally a pale milky colour, with dark seal-coloured points on the paws, face, ears and tail. They have been known in this form for more than 200 years. In the late nineteenth century a Blue-point was recorded in the UK, but it is likely that this recessive colour had been around for some time before this. Perhaps it was not so highly regarded in Siam, and was 'swept under the carpet' as the rich Seal-point variety was more highly prized. Over the years, dedicated breeders have worked hard to produce other colour variations in Siamese, but their names vary between the UK and North America. We now have, not only the Seal- and Blue-points, but Chocolate and Lilac, as well as the Red-, Cream-, and Tabby-points.

Character and Temperament

Siamese cats are typical of the Oriental group of cats and, like their near relations the Burmese cat, are a vocal breed with out-going personalities. They are the kind of cat that you either adore or hate; they can be noisy and demanding and have a real need to be a part of the family. To aficionados, these are plus points and they would not wish for the Siamese cat to be any other way. A Siamese does not like to be left on its own, so for anybody who is out at work all day, and only wants one cat, this is not the breed to select. If you want a cat that will give you life-long devotion, however, then the Siamese cat is for you.

Type and Standard of Points

Regardless of coat colour, the type of the cat should be the same, although standards do vary a little between those required in the UK by the GCCF and those of the various American cat fancies.

In general, the Siamese should be a medium sized cat; long, slim, and elegant, but with definite muscular feel to it. Despite its fine bone structure it should be sturdy and feel much heavier than it appears. At the other end of the scale, it should never be obviously overweight to the point that it feels flabby, although some neuters can be prone to fat and a careful watch should be kept on their diet.

Looking at the cat face-on, the head should give the appearance of a triangle, topped by a large, low set, wide spaced ears, tapering down to a pointed muzzle. In profile, the nose should be straight without any sign of a break or stop. The jaw should be firm without being either under or over shot. The eyes should be almond shaped with the typical Oriental slant giving. Whatever the coat colour, the eyes should always be of deepest blue. The tail should be long, slender and tapering to a whip-like end; any kink is considered a serious fault. The tail should always be in proportion to the length of the cat - a rough guideline is that it should just reach the tip of the shoulder blade.

The quality, texture and the restrictive pattern of the coat are what make the Siamese cat different from other shorthaired cats. The coat should be short, sleek and fine-textured, with the fur lying close to the body. The coloured points should only be seen on the mask area of the face, the ears, legs and tail. It is considered a fault for the cat to be mismarked with light colours in these areas, especially around the eyes; these are commonly called 'spectacles'. Darker shading is frowned upon on the otherwise paler parts of the body.

The Siamese cat coat pattern is restricted to the cooler parts of the body and so, if a cat has had an operation such as spaying, it is quite likely that the post-operational shock will cause the coat to temporarily darken in that area. For some reason, Siamese cats living in warmer climates tend to have paler coats than those living in cooler regions. The pointed areas should always show a uniform colour with no barring or stripes, except in the case of Tabby-points, where rings or stripes are required, and the Torties, which should show a well mixed coat.

Coat Colour - Seal-point

A pale, even cream colour with obvious seal points restricted to the face, ears, legs and tail. The nose leather and paw pads should be a similar rich seal colour.

Coat Colour - Blue-point

Cool, glacier-white is the preferred body colour, with no sign of a creamy tinge. The points should shade to a slate-blue, with nose leather and paw pads the same.

Coat Colour - Chocolate-point

The body should be a pale ivory colour, with points, nose leather and paw pads a pale, milky chocolate colour.

Coat Colour - Lilac-point

Body colour should be a glacial white, with the points showing a pale, pinkish-grey tinge. The paw pads and nose leather should be lavender-pink.

Coat Colour - Cream-point

The body should be clear white, with pale, pinkish-cream points, nose leather and paw pads.

Coat Colour - Tabby-point

These are available in a variety of colours. The body tone should be as recommended for the solid colours, with the nose leather and paw pads similar. For the Torties the colours should be well mixed, the Tabby-point is the only variety of Siamese that allows for stripes on the pointed areas.

Balinese Cats

Balinese are, essentially, a longhaired version of the Siamese, and, in type, they should meet the standards laid down for Siamese. Their temperament and character are slightly modified, however, probably due to the introduction of the longhair gene, so they tend to be slightly quieter and less boisterous. But the main difference is that, because they have long coats, extra grooming is required.

This longhaired version was first seen in a litter of kittens in America. They seemed so glamorous that is was decided to breed two longhaired Siamese cats together to see if they bred true, which they did; al the resulting kittens had long coats. The idea of a Siamese cat with a long, silky coat soon gained popularity, and breeders were encouraged to continue the breeding programme. By 1963, these cats were given official recognition in the USA. In the UK, things move more slowly, and it was not until the early 1980s that Balinese cats were granted preliminary recognition, with championship status given a few years later.

Balinese are allowed in all the colour and pattern variations that are accepted for the Siamese.


 

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