Last updated: February 18, 2017
Elegant, graceful and quite frankly, downright noisy, the Siamese cat is a popular choice for a household pet. Being full of both energy and brains, they are a good choice for an owner who likes to know they own a cat!
Siamese cats are lean, athletic cats that have a very streamlined appearance. They are not very big with a weight range of 6 to 10 pounds, with males being heavier than females. What this results in is a graceful cat that has long legs, a long body, long tail, basically long everything! Large, triangular ears sit atop a wedge-shaped head. Almond shaped eyes add to the exotic appearance. These eyes are always blue in color. Despite the common misconception that they are commonplace, crossed eyes are a serious fault. The eyes of the Siamese are truly captivating, giving the Siamese its characteristic enduring look.
The coat is short and lies close to the skin. The color is restricted to the extremities, or points. This is where the face (or mask), tail, feet, and legs display color. There is lighter shading on the body, however, there is a clear contrast between the two. The Siamese is able to display this patterning due to a genetic mutation. For the color to be prevented, an enzyme (a natural, biological substance that is a catalyst allowing a biological reaction to happen) has to be activated with the required temperature. This temperature is only achievable on the main body of the cat as this area remains warmer. The outer areas are more prone to the cold, much in the same way in that we lose heat through our hands, feet and head. When the enzyme is unable to work, the color develops. No matter what the color, they are referred as ‘points’.
The Siamese can come in a variety of colors including seal point, lilac point chocolate point, red point etc. However, different governing bodies (the organizations under which cats are shown) recognize different numbers of colors. The Cat Fanciers Association acknowledges just four while the American Cat Fanciers Association recognizes twenty and The International Cat Association recognizes all colors.
While the exact origins of the Siamese cat have been lost in time, there is little doubt that they are from the East. The district of Siam records the presence of a pale cat with dark points (the face, tail, feet and ears) as far back as 1350. Seeing as most domestic cat breeds have been developed in the last couple of hundred years, this is impressive.
Records from the 1600’s stated that only royalty or noblemen were allowed to own them, making them exclusive pets for the privileged. Indeed, they were often thought of as spirit guardians. If a member of the royal family died, then a cat was chosen to receive the dead person’s soul. These cats then lived a privileged existence being looked after by monks in temples. Interestingly, there are many legends surrounding the Siamese which explain everything from their eyes to their ability to protect the king of Siam.
The Siamese first made it to Europe in the 1800’s, reaching England in the early 1870’s and arriving in America just a few years later. They were believed to have been given as gifts to important dignitaries and one such gentleman was the Consul-General in Bangkok, Edward Blencowe Gould. Once he had imported the cats to the UK, he passed them onto his sister Lilian Veley who became a co-founder of the Siamese Cat Club.
Now the first Siamese cat in America had a fairly influential owner, the American President Rutherford Hayes. The little female was actually sent to his wife by the US diplomat in Bangkok, David Sickles. With free run of the White House, the cat was named Siam and became a firm favorite with both the Hayes family and their staff. Later on, other people began importing this exotic looking cat and they started appearing at cat shows up and down the country. They were officially recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1906 and today have consistently featured in the top ten of the most popular breeds in America for many years.
A good breeder should be dedicated enough to only breed from healthy parent cats, yet despite this kittens can still suffer from the occasional problems.
Siamese cats can be prone to bladder stones. Here, deposits of minerals, crystals and organic material lump together in the cat’s bladder. They can then rub against the wall of the bladder causing pain and inflammation or moving to the urethra where they can cause a blockage. Both require treatment, with a blockage in male cats being particularly dangerous as they are unable to pass them without help. Signs include continued straining while failing to pass or producing very little urine, blood in the urine, and increased genital grooming. If you are worried, seek veterinary advice.
One genetic disease (meaning it can be passed on from parents to kittens) is progressive retinal atrophy; or PRA. This condition is very serious as it will ultimately lead to blindness and it is a common problem in many of the Asian cat breeds. In this condition the photoreceptors that are responsible for night vision are irreparably damaged, leading to total blindness by around 5 years of age. However, there are tests available to determine if your Siamese is a carrier, affected by the disease of free from the mutated gene. Many breeders now test for this disease and this will ensure that your kitten will be unaffected.
Cancer can also be prevalent in the breed, yet sadly there is little that can be done to prevent it. While there is believed to be an underlying genetic cause, it has yet to be identified and as such all owners can do is be vigilant against lumps and bumps found on their cats.
The Siamese is the perfect pet for someone who wants to know they have a cat – they can be very demanding! If you are looking for a cat that is laid back and quiet, consider a different breed such as the Persian.
Saying that, they are also a breed that is very loving, very loyal and great fun! They have a real playful size, happily chasing a bit of string or entertaining themselves for hours on end. Siamese cats are entertaining, lively cats that enjoy being with their owners. In fact, they will often play fetch with their owners too, check out this video here.
A defining characteristic of the breed is the fact they are very noisy, it is possible to have an entire conversation with them. They will, however, always insist on having the last word! This incessant meowing may also reflect their long history of domestication, after all, the meow of domestic cats originated to communicate with their owners.
The Siamese cat is very amicable to training, being intelligent, active and curious. They quickly learn to come when called and use a litter tray making house training them a doddle in most cases.
Many owners capitalize on the fact that the Siamese loves to fetch. While using food as a reward can aid training, many Siamese cats will play fetch for the pure enjoyment of it. Due to the intelligent nature of the Siamese, many owners have trained them to perform other tasks such as opening and closing doors or switching on the kettle! In these cases, clicker training has proved highly successful. This way, they are able to understand exactly when they have performed the right task as they learn to associate the clicker with a reward. For more information on how to use a clicker, check out this website.
Buying and Caring cost analysis
The Siamese is a very popular, distinctive breed. As such, it has sadly been abused by backyard breeders who are just looking to make a quick buck and care little about the health, temperament or future homes of their kittens. You should expect to pay between $300 and $700 for a Siamese kitten. If they are substantially cheaper, ask yourself why. It costs money to raise a kitten correctly!
Good breeders will register their kittens, be that with the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), The International Cat Association (TICA) or other governing body appropriate for your country. Registering a kitten does cost money, yet without you have no guarantee you are buying a pedigree cat. A breeder that doesn’t register their kittens should be avoided. Make sure you get the paperwork with the appropriate change of ownership forms on collection.
Your new kitten should be ready to go to his or her new home from around 12-13 weeks old, once they have had their initial vaccinations. While many people keep their Siamese as house cats, others who live in rural, safe areas or those who have a cat proof garden may like to let them outside too. If so, your kitten may need additional vaccinations. The best thing to do is to speak to your veterinarian and check to make sure they are fully covered.
If you are not planning on breeding from your Siamese, then it is advisable to get them neutered. An un-neutered male cat will mark its territory by spraying urine, which is troublesome in a home due to the mess and smell. An un-spayed female cat will call (yowl) loudly to attract a mate and will also try and escape to find her one herself. They are also at risk from getting a uterine infection every time they are in season. This can result in a pyometra developing which can be life threatening and requires immediate veterinary attention. Budget between $50 and $150 to get your Siamese neutered. It is more expensive for the girls as it is a far more complicated and invasive procedure.
In addition to these initial costs, you will need to budget for worming and flea treatment each year. As an outdoor cat is more at risk they will need worming every three months, however, an indoor cat can be wormed every 6 months. Additionally, your Siamese will also need a monthly flea treatment. Available either online or from your vet, these are generally spot-on treatments that are applied directly to the skin on the back of the neck. For these two treatments, allow around $150 per year.
Other expenses to bear in mind are a good quality diet. Cats are obligate omnivores and therefore do best on a high-quality food. Cheaper brands often add carbohydrates to their formulas to bulk them out, yet cats are not designed to eat large amounts of them. Remember to feed according to life stage. Kittens have different nutritional requirements to adults and as such should be fed an appropriate kitten food.
Finally, getting pet insurance for your Siamese is highly recommended. Having pet insurance can help you cope with any unexpected vet bills, as apart from the excess they are covered in most cases. This peace of mind can be invaluable and will cost you around $200 per year. Always read the small print when choosing pet insurance. You want to make sure your elderly cat is still covered (some providers drastically increase the excess at a certain age) and that long-term diseases such as diabetes are covered for your cat’s lifetime.