A truly classic breed, the Siamese originated in Siam, modern-day Thailand, many centuries ago. The National Library in Bangkok has a set of manuscripts dated 1350, The Cat Book Poems. It includes a drawing of a cat similar to the Siamese, with a pale coat and colour restricted to the mask, ears, legs, paws and tail.
First cat show
Siamese were present at the first cat show in London in 1871. In 1885 the British Consul General in Bangkok took a pair of Siamese named Pho and Mia to England. The first show standard for this breed was established by the British Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in 1892.
In South Africa organised cat clubs and shows only started in the 1940s. British cat magazines of the early 1950s reported a record litter of nine Siamese kittens bred in Durban. Today it is a well-established breed in this country. The Siamese Breeders’ Group of South Africa was founded in 1983.
In recent years Siamese lovers in different parts of the world revived the traditional or ‘old-fashioned’ Siamese of yesteryear. A number of cat breeders are now breeding Siamese cats the way they looked a few decades ago. These cats have a much ‘softer’ look with slightly rounded heads, broad skulls and medium-sized ears.
Colour develops with age
Siamese kittens are born white. By the fourth day colour starts appearing on the extremities, first on the nose leather and edges of the ears. By the age of one to one and a half years old, colour development should be complete.
Siamese come in a rainbow of colours, 34 to be exact. The colour descriptions refer to the colour of the points.
Purrsonality and devotion
Be prepared for a lifetime of giving and receiving unconditional devotion. Siamese are people-oriented cats. They primarily bond with their family rather than with a house. They can for example be taken with on holiday.
They are generally affectionate cats and dependent on human company. They do not like being ignored or left alone for long periods at a time.
The well-known seal point description indicates that the points are the colour of a seal, very dark brown. Chocolate points have points the colour of milk chocolate. In all cases Siamese have pale-coloured bodies and blue eyes. Most Siamese colours have full-coloured equivalents among other breeds and non-pedigree cats. Red points, for example, are the Siamese version of the ginger. Siamese breeders have also developed pointed equivalents of the tabby or stripy cats. They have tabby markings on their points, including an ‘M’ mark on the forehead and rings on the tail.
Text: Elizabeth van Renen