The Siamese is a cat breed native to Thailand. Today, it's considered one of the most popular breeds in North America and Europe. People have always been fascinated by them due to their unique exotic looks and highly intelligent nature. They're the classic "people cat," for they love to interact with their owners, sleep with them, and climb on their lap.
If you're looking for a loyal and sociable cat who would always stay by your side, the Siamese may be the right breed for you.
Characteristics of Siamese Cats
Physical characteristics. Siamese are medium-sized cats that take about a year to reach their full size. They have a lithe, muscular body, which supports a distinct wedge-shaped head and a long, slender neck. However, the feature that might most likely catch your attention would be their slanted, deep blue, almond-shaped eyes.
Siamese cats have a short, soft coat that lies close to their body. You can find them in various colors. These cats commonly have dark color patterns on the cooler areas of their body, though, which include their face, ears, legs, feet, and tails. This color pattern — commonly known as points — is considered the most important characteristic of Siamese cats.
When it comes to the size of Siamese cats, males are generally larger and heavier than females. While the weight of male cats ranges between 10 and 15 lbs, the weight of the females stays in the range of 8 to 12 lbs. The length of this breed doesn't exceed 24 inches, so it's sometimes said that well-bred Siamese generally feel heavier than they appear.
Temperament: Most breeders describe the personality of Siamese cats as highly social, extroverted, and outgoing. They show immense loyalty and, like dogs, form strong bonds with humans. As their owner, you might find them constantly following you around and demanding your attention.
Siamese cats are notoriously vocal and noisy. Due to their loud, low-pitched voice, they're often fondly called "meezers". Many owners report how these cats keep on "talking" with them as if they share a common language and, at times, even scold them if they think they're being ignored.
Caring for Siamese Cats
Grooming. Like other shorthair cat breeds, Siamese are known to take care of their coats by themselves. Brushing their coat once a week should be enough to get rid of any loose hair and lower the risk of hairballs — a small collection of hair formed in the stomach of animals who accidentally ingest hair while grooming themselves.
Since these cats are prone to dental problems, start brushing their teeth daily from the time they're kittens. Also, make sure to trim their claws every 10 to 14 days.
Exercise. Siamese cats are a spirited and energetic breed. You need to engage them in various physical and mental activities to keep them happy and healthy. Having structures like a cat tree can give them a way to climb, jump and run, which will help to keep them in shape.
To keep their agile mind active, you can give your Siamese different kinds of teaser toys and puzzle toys to play with. Doing so might also help to lower the risk of Alzheimer's.
As their owner, you should keep in mind that these cats get bored very easily. If you don't keep them entertained, they might claw at your furniture, climb your curtains, or indulge in other destructive activities to relieve their excess energy.
Training. Siamese cats learn things easily, thanks to their smart and curious nature, but they are also mischievous, which can make it hard for you to train them. For example, if they feel you aren't noticing them, they might start knocking off objects from your table to get your attention.
This is why you should begin their house training and obedience training while they're still kittens. Just like you may do with a dog, you can use commands to teach your Siamese to sit and come when called. This will not only keep them from forming negative behaviors but will also help you to bond with them.
You can train your cat to do fun tricks or fetch a toy by means of clicker-training. This is a positive reinforcement technique in which you use a clicker to tell your cat that they have behaved well. Then, you follow it with a reward, which motivates them to do the right thing again in the future.
Diet. Make sure your Siamese always has access to clean and fresh water. In case you find them not having enough water, add wet food to their diet to provide them with enough fluids. If you also wish to give them dry or canned food, discuss with your vet what kind will suit them the best.
See if your pet likes to overeat. If that’s the case, avoid free-feeding them. Also, limit their meals to two times a day and get rid of any uneaten food if you find your Siamese becoming overweight.
You may need to provide them with a different kind of diet if they become old. You can talk to your veterinarian to understand which food will best suit their age and nutritional needs,
Medical care. Siamese cats are prone to many kinds of bacterial and viral infections like panleukopenia, rabies, feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), as well as many other upper respiratory infections. Your vet can suggest some "core" vaccines — specific to each of these conditions — to prevent such infections.
These cats can also become infested with bugs like fleas, ticks, and ear mites, as well as worms like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and heartworms. You can check for these parasites by getting your Siamese tested regularly and reduce their risk with preventative medications.
Health Issues of Siamese Cats
The average lifespan of Siamese cats is around 10 to 12.5 years.
Per the Swedish insurance data, many of the deaths in this breed occur due to mammary tumors. Besides this serious health issue, there're also some genetic conditions that are commonly seen in Siamese cats, which include:
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: This is a congenital heart defect that can cause the heart muscles of your cat to thicken abnormally. This, in turn, can weaken their heart and eventually lead to heart failure.
- Amyloidosis: In this condition, amyloid protein deposits build up in your pet's organs, like in the liver and the kidneys. While mild cases lead to high blood pressure in cats, tissue damage and organ failure also occur in more severe cases.
- Hip dysplasia: This is a painful condition that can lead to lameness and limping in your pet. It occurs when the ball and socket joints of their hip fail to develop normally.
- Asthma: Siamese cats — particularly those with wedge-shaped heads — are more prone to asthma. Cats with this condition have inflamed and narrow lungs as well as nasal passages. If your pet coughs continuously and has difficulty breathing, it could be a sign that they're developing asthma. In such a case, take your pet to the vet, who can diagnose your cat’s condition using chest radiographs.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): Cats with PRA usually have poor vision quality, as well as blindness in extreme cases. This condition is caused by a group of genetic disorders that result in the loss or wasting of the cells in your pet's retina — the innermost light-sensitive layer of the eye.
Special Considerations for Siamese Cats
Siamese cats make great family pets. Due to their gentle, playful nature and friendly personality, they get along well with kids, as well as other pets. However, some people don't like them for their highly vocal nature and noisy habits. If you too prefer a quiet cat breed, then the Siamese may not be right for you.
These cats crave constant interaction and human companionship. If left alone for a long time, they tend to develop depression. You should think twice before getting them if you work all day and don't have other pets to give them company. It's for this reason that many people get two Siamese as pets.
An important thing to keep in mind is that most cats of this breed have faulty vision wiring in their brain. This means that compared to other cat breeds, their vision at night is less sharp and clear. This is why you should always keep an eye on them when they're playing outside, even if it's within a securely fenced yard. With their playful nature, there's a high chance that they might escape. If it's dark outside, they might not be able to see clearly and may end up getting hit by a vehicle.
You should consider keeping scratching posts in your house, as these cats love scratching against surfaces. This may also help to increase the life of your woodwork and upholstery.
Siamese cats are not hypoallergenic. So, if you're allergic to cats, you should think before getting a Siamese as a pet. Even though they shed very lightly, you could get an allergy from the proteins in their saliva and urine.
History of Siamese Cats
Siamese cats go back hundreds of years. They originated in Siam (now called Thailand), which also gives them their name. According to legend, these cats were used to guard Buddhist temples and were considered very sacred. The fact that they were so highly prized is also proven by their native Thai name — wichien-maat, which means “moon diamond” in English.
In 1878, they made their first appearance in the United States when the American Consul in Bangkok gifted this cat to the American president. Two years later, the English consul-general in Bangkok brought two pairs of Siamese cats to London after he received them from the king of Siam. Soon, everybody in the city came to know about them and wished to own one of these exotic Oriental cats.
However, it was only after the Siamese won a champion title in 1898 that their breed was developed at a rapid pace. Within a decade, in 1906, the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) officially recognized them as an independent breed.
Over the years, Siamese cats have featured in a few animated movies and TV shows and are today considered one of the most popular cat breeds.