The Siamese Breed History
The Siamese cat is one of the first distinctly recognized breeds of Asian cat. Derived from the Wichianmat landrace, one of several varieties of cat native to Thailand (formerly known as Siam), the original Siamese became one of the most popular breeds in Europe and North America in the 19th century. The carefully refined, more extreme-featured, modern-style Siamese is characterized by blue almond-shaped eyes; a triangular head shape; large ears; an elongated, slender, and muscular body; and various forms of point coloration. Other than coloration, the modern-style Siamese bears little resemblance to the original stock, and the more moderate, traditional, or “old-style” Siamese, with a much rounder head and body, has been re-established by multiple registries as the Thai cat. The International Cat Association (TICA) describes the modern Siamese as affectionate, social, intelligent, and playful into adulthood, often enjoying a game of fetch. Siamese tend to seek human interaction and also like companionship from other cats.
The Siamese (sometimes in the traditional form) is among the foundation stock of several other breeds developed by crossbreeding with other cats; some examples are the Oriental Shorthair and Colorpoint Shorthair, developed to expand the range of coat patterns; the long-haired variant most often dubbed the Himalayan; and hair-mutation breeds, including the Cornish Rex, Sphynx, Peterbald, and blue-point Siamese cat. The Siamese cat comes in two distinct variations: traditional, with an apple-shaped head and a slightly chubby body; or the modern Siamese, which are very skinny and have a wedge-shaped head. The long-haired Siamese is recognized internationally as a Balinese cat. Siamese cats are one of the more common breeds to have different colored irises.
Fast forward to the 1950s–1960s, as the Siamese was increasing in popularity, many breeders and cat show judges began to favor the more slender look. As a result of generations of selective breeding, they created increasingly long, fine-boned, narrow-headed cats; eventually, the modern show Siamese was bred to be extremely elongated, with a lean, tubular body, long, slender legs, a very long, very thin tail that tapers gradually into a point and a long, wedge-shaped head topped by extremely large, wide-set ears.
By the mid-1980s, cats of the original style had largely disappeared from cat shows, but a few breeders, particularly in the UK, continued to breed and register them, resulting in today’s two types of Siamese: the modern, “show-style”, standardized Siamese, and the “Traditional Siamese”, both descended from the same distant ancestors, but with few or no recent ancestors in common, and effectively forming distinct sub-breeds, with some pressure to separate them entirely.
In addition to the modern Siamese breed category, The International Cat Association (TICA) and the World Cat Federation (WCF) now accept Siamese cats of the less extreme type, and any wichianmat cat imported directly from Thailand, under the new breed name Thai. Other, mostly unofficial, names for the traditional variety are “Old-style Siamese”, “Classic Siamese”, and “Applehead” (originally a derogatory nickname coined by breeders of modern-type Siamese).
You can see a more detailed History of the Siamese Cat on Wikipedia and TICA.
Personality & Traits of the Siamese
The Siamese is the perfect pet for someone who wants lots of interaction and activity. They are wonderful with children and other pets. They are very loving, loyal, intuitive, demanding and social. It has been said by many who have owned Siamese that one should have two – so that they can entertain each other while their owners are away. Otherwise, one must be prepared to drop everything upon returning home in order to spend half an hour or more “hearing about the day”. Siamese are very intelligent and have a lot to say…they always have the last word.
They are very playful, entertaining themselves for hours. They have their favorite toys and never tire of playing throughout their lives. They are natural fetchers and will fetch as long as someone is there to toss! They are very amusing pets.
They love to pile up in a heap, whether it is in a lap or in front of the fridge to soak up the warmth or in a kitty kozy. They are as likely to crawl under the covers and snuggle as they are to curl up in a warm windowsill. They LOVE warm places.
There are 3 recognized types of Siamese (head/body type and style). The Applehead (aka Traditional, Old style, Original), the Classic and lastly the Wedgehead (aka Show Style, Extreme, Modern).
Applehead (aka Old Style, Traditional, Original)
The shape of the Old Style Siamese head is the most important feature of the cat. Old Styler breeders refer to these cats as Applehead Style, therefore the shape of the head is of an apple round preferred but oval is acceptable, with no evidence of a ‘wedge’. The muzzle enhances the roundness of the head. The length and width of the muzzle is wider than long, neither pointy or blunt. In profile, the nose has a gently dip, located at eye level. The ears are medium in size broad at the base with rounded tips. They are set as much on the top of the head as the side and are titled forward. The top eyelid is slightly slanted. The bottom eyelid is slightly rounded. Eye placement should be an eye width apart.
The Classic Siamese has a moderate wedge shaped head and face, with more definition to the muzzle than the applehead, with longer legs and a slimmer, more muscular, strong body. Their coat is smooth and lies flatter and tighter to the frame but it is not as fine and then as the ‘painted on’ coat observed in the Wedgehead. The Classic Siamese is also substantial in size comped to the Wedgehead. The ear tend to be larger than the Applehead but smaller the the Wedgehead’s. The body type is not cobby or thick, but rather muscular and toned.
Modern (aka Wedgehead, Show Style, Extreme)
The ideal Modern Siamese is a medium sized, svelte, refined cat with long taperilng lines, very lithe but muscular. The head is a long tapering wedge. The total wedge start at the nose and flares out in straight line to the tips of the ears forming a triangle, with no break at the whiskers. No less than the width of an eye between the eyes. When the whiskers are smoothed back, the underlying bone structure is apparent. The skull is flat. In profile, a long straight line is seen from the top of the head to the tip of the nose. The ears are strikingly large, pointed, wide at base; continuing the lines of the wedge. The eyes are almond shaped. Medium size. Neither protruding nor recessed. Slanted towards the nose in harmony with the lines of the wedge and ears. Uncrossed. The nose is long and straight. A continuation of the forehead with no break.