One of the first distinctly recognized breeds of Oriental cat is the Siamese. It is believed to be from Siam (present day Thailand), where it is referred to as the “Moon Diamond”. It is one of the most popular breeds of cat in North America and Europe. Despite their territory of origin, most of the development of the breed occurred after the breed was imported to Britain in the late 1800s.
These original imports were medium-sized, muscular, long-bodied cats with large ears and fairly wedge-shaped heads. These cats had a size range, but were never extreme. In the 1950s the Siamese breeders began to favor a more slender look. As a result of this the Siamese breed became longer, finer-boned, and narrower-headed. Every aspect of the Siamese of this generation was long and narrow. By the mid 1980s a few breeders insisted on breeding the original style of Siamese cat resulting in two types of Siamese, the modern “show-style” and the “traditional” or slightly more moderate Siamese.
All types of Siamese have a creamy base coat with colored points on their ears, paws, snouts, lower legs and tails. This pointed pattern is a result of a heat-sensitive mutation in the enzyme involved in melanin production. This results in dark coloration in the coolest parts of the cat’s body. At four weeks of age, a kitten’s points should be distinguishable enough to recognize their color.
The Original Siamese had seal points (dark brown ““ almost black), but now their points can be many colors including blue, choclate, lilac, red, lynx, and tortie. However, in the United States the Cat Fanciers’ Association only recognizes the seal, blue, chocolate and lilac points.
They have bright blue eyes that are almond-shaped and short, flat coats. Many early Siamese had kinks in their tails and were cross-eyed, but through selective breeding these traits have become far less common.
Siamese are social cats that are both affectionate and intelligent. They are a very vocal breed with a loud cry which has been compared to that of a human baby, and they have a great need for human companionship. Because of their coat color they are dependent on humans, because their coats are ineffective for camouflage purposes. They are also increasingly dependent because of their blue eyes. They lack a structure that amplifies dim light, and therefore can not see as well in the dark as most other cats. Also, some Siamese, like blue-eyed white cats have reduced hearing ability, thus leaning even more on humans to help them survive.