There are a bunch of cat breeds that have some Siamese cat in them – the “Siamese family of cats”. It is remarkable how many there are. Unless you know cat breeds well, you probably won’t realize it. Some of these breeds are very similar to the Siamese. Sometimes there is a single difference. The family of Siamese cats reminds us how popular this cat breed is. It is one of the “originals”. When people think of pedigree cats the Siamese probably comes to mind. The Siamese itself has a wide range of body types.
Here is a list:
The first one is the Balinese which is a long haired Siamese cat. From the standpoint of sheer looks and glamour the Balinese beats the Siamese, I’d say. Should they be different breeds? You could call the Balinese a longhaired Siamese and simply treat the long hair as a variation of the same breed like a different colour. One of the best books on the cat breeds – Legacy of the Cat, illustrated by Tetsu – deals with the Siamese, Balinese and Oriental Shorthair on the same pages and together, as one. The author is Gloria Stephens. She treats these three breeds as very similar.
In the same way that there are a wide range of Siamese body types from slender to cobby, there is also the modern type Balinese cats that look like the modern Siamese (slender) but with medium long hair and a plumed tail, and there is also a more traditional version that looks like an old-fashioned Siamese, which is more cobby. In this instance “cobby” means tending towards the normal appearance of a random bred domestic cat in terms of body shape. “Cobby” is the opposite to slender.
For the sake of complete clarity, the Balinese is a pointed cat. It is has to be pointed like the Siamese. Pointing means that the extremes of the cat have dark fur due to a temperature sensitive pigment production process in the skin cells. I make this point because some cats associated with the Siamese are not pointed.
This cat breed always comes in the slender style. There are no cobby Oriental Shorthairs because the name “Oriental” indicates, in cat fancy language, a slender cat. The words “oriental” and “foreign” mean slender if you fancy translating it! The Oriental Shorthair is a modern Siamese with a super-wide range of coat colors and types. I suppose the cat fancy wanted to build on the success of the Siamese. They wanted freedom to create cats with a huge range of coat types rather than being confined to a pointed cat.
The Oriental Shorthair (often referred to as an “Oriental SH”) is popular but less popular than the cat that founded the breed: the Siamese.
The Havana Brown is a solid chocolate colored cat of modern Siamese type but a little less slender, I would say. Breeders developed this fairly rare cat breed by mating black random bred cats that carried the recessive gene with seal or chocolate point Siamese cats to produce a cat with a solid brown coat . The most often used breeding program to produce this cat is a cross between the black Shorthair and Seal Point Siamese with the chocolate gene.
The Tonkinese is a cross between a traditional Siamese or Classic Siamese cat and the Burmese cat. They are sometimes referred to as “Tonks”. Like their founder, the Siamese, they are talkative and intelligent. They are not lazy layabout cats as some breeds are branded.
The Snowshoe is a cross between the Siamese and American Shorthair bicolor (two colors, white and one other). Many years ago, now, when I wrote a page about this cat breed illustrated by Helmi Flick’s photos they excited a lot of visitors. I can see why. Their appearance is striking. Imagine caring for a cat like this and letting her go outside. Anyone and everyone would understand she was a pedigree cat. It is written all over her charming face.
The Ocicat – a combination of Siamese, Abyssinian and American Shorthair. This is a quite well known cat breed but I’d consider it rare. Few people are guardians to an Ocicat. The Ocicat is the odd one out of the Siamese family of cats because it is meant to look like a wild cat while the others are definitively home loving and looking cats. You could mistake the Ocicat for a wild cat hybrid, for example the Bengal cat. But no. There is no wild blood in this cat breed.
The Javanese is a Balinese with an extended range of coat colors and types. You can see how the Siamese breed was extended. While the Balinese gave it long hair, the Javanese extended the range further by opening the floodgates in respect of coat color and patterns.
Thai cats are, for me, controversial because I say that this cat breed is the equivalent of the classic Siamese. The classic Siamese I say is close to being the same as the Traditional Siamese and for that reason the Thai cat is on this page. But, Thai cat breeders will insist that this cat is not a Siamese cat! Well it bloody well looks like one 😉 The Thai is the product of a backlash by traditional Siamese cat breeders who were sidelined by the mainstream cat fancy. Their cats were outlawed and so they created a new cat breed that looks like a traditional Siamese but with a new name. Voilà, problem solved. TICA accept this cat breed.
The Himalayan is a pointed Persian. That is it, really. You could say they should be the same breed.
Note: there may well be more cat breeds in the Siamese family 😉 I am sure Sarah Hartwell will leave a comment correcting me! Thanks in advance, Sarah.