Pictures of Early Siamese Cats

I have a sort of obsession with the breeding of the Modern Siamese cat. It somehow summarizes the bad side of cat breeding. I am not saying cat breeding is bad just that there are bad aspects to it and the progressively more extreme breeding of the Siamese during the latter half of the 20th century is an example in my personal opinion. Many will disagree with me and I respect their views.

There is considerable discussion about what the true Siamese cat should look like. I engaged in this discussion myself about three years ago, writing a long page explaining my views on the history of this popular cat breed.

The modern Siamese is probably meant to be a more elegant version of the original. This was achieved by diligent selective breeding over more than fifty years. However some breeders would claim that the modern Siamese is the way the Siamese looked in Siam (Thailand).

Well common sense again dictates that they are wrong. Here is a bunch of pictures of early Siamese cats from the English archives (bar one). These cats were living just post the era of the importation of the original Siamese cats from Siam to Britain.

Early Siamese Cats

Early Siamese Cats. The pictures are in the public domain. The collage is by Michael at PoC.

What I see is Siamese cats that are exactly the way I remember them to be when I was a youngster about 50 years ago. In cat fancy parlance they would now be called “cobby”, meaning stocky and not elegant. They are certainly not elegant from the cat fancier’s point of view. But they are true Siamese cats. The way I would expect this breed to be. Traditionalists would call them traditional Siamese cats. But even the followers of “old-syle” Siamese would not like them. Strange. Old-style Siamese breeders breed to the mid 1900s appearance which is already slightly less cobby than the original cats.

There are two cats in the collage above with squints, one of which was a champion cat (Lady Sonia) and in the past the kinked tail was accepted as a feature of the Siamese. It was almost the hallmark of a Siamese cat. The kinked tail or shortened tail (Mekong Bobtail) of the Siamese cat was entirely natural. Cat breeders believe they can improve on nature. That is an interesting topic for another page.

The tail has been ironed out and the squint straightened out. The modern Siamese face has been elongated and the body followed suit to which was added a greater variety of pointing types and colours. That is about the sum total of the quite radical change to the famous Siamese cat.

Selected associated pages (there are many more please search):

  1. Types of Siamese cats with pictures
  2. Siamese, Oriental SH or Balinese?
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Pictures of Early Siamese Cats — 4 Comments

  1. I recently saw a shelter pic of what they called an ‘Applehead Siamese’ which had wide cheeks rather like a British Shorthair. He had a big head, but he didn’t look like a BSH, they look a bit more like teddy bears 🙂 – he looked like a Siamese with a big apple shaped head and his head was very dark which I believe means he was older.

    • Appleahead Siamese are the opposite end of the spectrum to the modern Siamese. I think the objective of Applehead Siamese breeders is to create a cat that is more cobby than even the original Siamese or it is meant to be a traditional Siamese. But there are so many types of Siamese it is hard to tell.

    • Well, Dan, the cats your describe are superb cats and rare. I like them as well. I am not sure I have seen a ginger female Maine Coons and NFCs. Perhaps we should do a page of pictures of female ginger Maine Coons. I’ll have a go at that.

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