Today in our Getting to Know Your Breed series, we are featuring the Siamese Cat. The Siamese is high on the list of favorite cats per Cat Fancier’s Association and many of us are familiar with the Siamese from the Lady and the Tramp movies.
Life expectancy: Siamese cats have a good life expectancy and can live up to 11-15 years.
Size: The Siamese is a thin, elegant cat typically weighing between 8-12 pounds with a long neck and long legs.
Color: They are short-coated and have specific colorings dependent upon which Cat Association’s guidelines you follow. Coloring can range from a pale fawn color with deep chocolate brown markings to white with frosty pink or rosy colored markings. Markings are typically found on the face, ears, paws and tail.
Origins: The Siamese can be traced back to Siam, or Thailand and is one of the oldest Oriental/Asian breeds. They were known as the Royal Cat of Siam.
Personality: Siamese are talkative, nosey and likely to be quite bossy. They love their people and like a dog, will follow you around, supervising your every move, and likely providing their opinion as you go. They are quite intelligent and curious and will find things to entertain themselves if not properly stimulated. They are good with children and loving and affectionate with their families. You need to spend a lot of time with a Siamese or they will loudly make you aware of their displeasure.
Health Issues: The Siamese’s wedge-shaped head may make them more prone to respiratory or breathing issues and dental issues if not cared for properly. They were once thought to be frail and delicate but tend to be much more robust through good breeding programs.
Siamese cats are prone to central nervous system diseases and may succumb to the feline obsessive-compulsive disorder called psychogenic alopecia, which causes them to groom themselves so excessively that it causes hair loss. This is thought to be stress related, so keeping your Siamese active and well-loved and in a predictable environment will help alleviate the condition.
Fitness/energy level: Siamese are agile and athletic. They can be taught to walk on lead which is good for overall health and to provide some intellectual stimulus. Providing them with stimulating toys and acceptable climbing trees will keep them in shape and content.
Grooming: Siamese are short-haired, so grooming is easy. Once a week combing or brushing, the occasional nail trim and regular teeth brushing is about all they need.
Native foods for the Siamese: Native proteins found in Siam (Thailand) would include loach (fish), water buffalo, dolphin, deer, weasel, and ferret. Fruits and vegetables native to Thailand include mangos, pomegranates, bananas, rice, corn, peas, radishes.
Fun facts about the Siamese:
- A diplomat at the consulate in Bangkok gave President Rutherford B. Hayes's wife Lucy a Siamese cat named Siam in the late 1870s. It was the only Siamese to make an appearance in the White House.
- The Siamese markings are a result of a temperature sensitive enzyme in their body. The darker ‘points’ develop on the cooler parts of their body and the warmer torso stays pale. Siamese kittens are born all white (or cream) and only develop these markings after a few weeks.
- We mentioned the Siamese star turn in Lady and the Tramp, but a Siamese also played major parts in The Incredible Journey (1963) and That Darn Cat (1965).