Get to know the Siamese
All you need to know about the breed
As the old expression goes, “nobody owns a cat”. But, if they did, it would probably be a Siamese.
Definitely one of the friendlier feline breeds, they revel in being with people and can often bond strongly with a single person. They also thrive on attention and interaction. In fact, in some ways, the Siamese cat temperament is more like that of a dog.
Once known as the Royal Cat of Siam, the Siamese breed has always been closely associated with Thailand, although their precise origins remain somewhat shrouded in mystery. What we do know is that they were brought over to the West in the late 19th century to a mixed reception – as no one had ever seen their like before – but that they soon became popular pets.
Not for nothing were they named the ‘Royal’ Cat of Siam. With their long, graceful body, and extended neck, they wouldn’t look out of place on the Egyptian tomb of a pharaoh. They also have slender legs, an elegant head and striking almond-shaped eyes that are a deep blue colour.
Easy to take care of, their coat is short and smooth, accentuating their lithe, muscular bodies. There are also several types of Siamese cat colours, ranging from tabby and tortoiseshell to smoke, silver and fawn.
Highly intelligent, the Siamese cat has personality in spades. They’ll be interested in everything that you’re doing and often follow their owners like a shadow. They are also surprisingly ‘chatty’ animals and will try to communicate with you in their own unique way – sounding quite unlike any other cat.
A regular fixture in popular culture, the Siamese has been depicted in paintings and books for centuries. On our screens, they have also featured in several Walt Disney films including Lady and the Tramp (1955), The Incredible Journey (1963), That Darn Cat (1965) and Aristocats (1970). More recently, one of the most popular Pokémon species was based on a Siamese cat.
2 facts about Siamese cats
Things to look out for
From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Siamese
Siamese cats don't have the best night-time vision
While they may have some of the most striking
eyes of any cat, with their piercing blue gaze, they lack a physiological
feature that amplifies low light. Many early Siamese cats were actually
cross-eyed, which helped to compensate for the problem, but the trait was seen
as a fault. As a result, it was largely eliminated through selective breeding.
It’s worth knowing all this as their poorer eyesight can make the Siamese more
at risk to night-time dangers such as traffic. On the plus side, unlike some
other blue-eyed animals, their hearing is unaffected in any way.
Antoher common problem in the Siamese is dental issues
These can include conditions such as
gingivitis – inflammation of the gums – which can potentially lead on to periodontal
disease. Siamese cats can also be predisposed to a condition that the
scientists call ‘FORL’ (feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion). This is the
progressive disappearance of the tooth at the level of the neck. While some
cats don’t display any signs, others salivate or show difficulty in chewing. To
confirm the diagnosis, intraoral radiographs are needed. In any event, regular
dental check-ups are recommended for your Siamese. They should also have their
teeth brushed daily – or as often as you can manage.
They can also be susceptible to some specific complaints
Siamese cats have a higher risk of developing a condition called ‘cholangiohepatitis syndrome’. This is an inflammation of the bile duct often caused by a bacterial infection either in situ or nearby in another organ. Anatomically, this duct shares its intestinal connection with three organs (the pancreas, liver and small intestine), so when one goes wrong, they can all get into trouble. The Siamese also has a breed predilection for a condition called ‘amyloidosis’. This is a deposition of insoluble ‘fibrillar’ protein in various organs and tissues that interferes with their normal function. The kidneys and liver are the main affected locations. So, if your Siamese seems off-colour in any way, it’s best to go straight to your vet.