Is this a Classic Siamese Cat? – see below
The title of this page is misleading. The page is about the traditional or old style Siamese cat. The selective breeding of this cat is very relevant. There are several types of Siamese cat. The most extreme is the what I have called the ‘modern Siamese’.
Would you like to tell us about your Siamese/Thai/Applehead etc..cat? I’d would like to hear your story..
The Traditional Siamese takes more than one form and this is a dominant factor in the Siamese cat world. Somewhere in between the traditional and the Modern Siamese is, what I would call, the Classic Siamese, which I also believe to be the Thai, the cat above, although there is a wide and continuous spectrum of body types in relation to this cat. Dr. Bird, a breeder, describes these three types as well1.
The Thai cat is a TICA registered cat. Some people will disagree with the above statement – that’s fine. But the evidence is set out in the history of the Siamese cat. The Thai cat is probably not meant to be a Siamese cat (in a strict sense) but as far as I am concerned it is. The appearance is certainly that of a Siamese cat and not a contemporary Siamese cat. The CFA don’t accept the Thai cat. They only accept the Modern Siamese. Would the CFA consider the Thai as a Siamese cat with bad type (meaning of poor appearance by the breed standard)?
Apparently Traditional Siamese cat breeders would like the CFA to recognize the traditional cat breed but the CFA say “one breed one standard”. This means either the CFA have to change their standard (no chance of that despite being a standard that breeds a less attractive and arguably a less healthy cat) or the Traditional Siamese is renamed. The breeders won’t have this understandably. The whole thing is, frankly, a bit confusing to outsiders.
The Siamese cat is perhaps the best known of all purebred cats because of its long history and very particular pointed appearance. In Thailand they are called Wichien-maat (วิเชียรมาศ – meaning “Moon diamond”)2. The Siamese cat is very popular world wide and is third after the Maine Coon in this site’s long running poll.
See an article on the Applehead Siamese cat by Marie Clements a Siamese cat breeder. The Applehead is a traditional Siamese.
Siamese Cat Breeders continue to have diverging viewpoints as to what is the true appearance of a Siamese Cat. For the public, however, it seems that there is no such polarization of views. The vast majority consider the Traditional Siamese a Siamese cat and possibly have little knowledge of the Modern Siamese (certainly in Europe including the UK this would seem to be the case). The ongoing and long running poll on this website (which is checked for authenticity, regularly) strongly indicates a preference for the Traditional Siamese cat (75% prefer traditional). I hope Siamese cat breeders are aware of this.
Click on the following links to read a discussion in the history of this cat and a list some Traditional Siamese Cat Breeders (this takes you to the bottom of the page). But there are quite a few Siamese cat rescue centers (opens a new window), particularly in the States.
In terms of availability of pictures of Siamese cats there are few professional photographs of Traditional Siamese cats for the obvious reason that the associations, for decades, have not accepted the Traditional Siamese cat (except recently TICA). That means less Traditional Siamese cat breeders. It is also why I have used mainly Flickr photographers (nearly always amateurs) and some stock photos. Just below is a little slide show of some Traditional Siamese cats. The first one is by Helmi Flick.
It could be argued that the phrase, “Traditional Siamese” is inadequate to describe this cat breed. The word “traditional” implies old and boring. But these concepts relate to inanimate objects. In my opinion this cat is the Siamese cat. Please read my supporting arguments.
Siamese cats are referred to as “Meezers” by some Siamese cat breeders. As mentioned, between the Modern and the Traditional there is a wide spectrum of appearances. Some Modern Siamese Cat Breeders apparently say that the Traditional Siamese is not really a pure breed as early breeders of the Traditional crossed the cat with non-Siamese to develop a bigger frame.
Above: photo ©copyright Klodjana Dervishi Photography
Recently TICA has accepted the Traditional Siamese, changing the name to the “Thai cat” in order, I believe, to placate the Modern Siamese cat Breeders who wanted to stake claim to the claim that their cat is the true Siamese cat appearance. This is obviously great progress for the Traditional Siamese Cat Fanciers. It’s a bit of shame, perhaps that the name had to be changed. This demonstrates the polarized positions that are sometimes taken in the cat fancy.
Visitors voted on whether they preferred the Traditional or Modern Siamese. Read my thoughts on how the change from Trad. to Mod. happened.
When describing the Modern Siamese cat you realistically could also discuss the Balinese, Oriental Shorthair and Oriental Longhair at the same time as they are closely related (see associated cat breeds). They all have wedge shaped heads and large ears that extend the wedge. There necks are long and their tails are pointed and whippy.
If you get up close to a Modern Siamese cat, the appearance is (for me at least) a little artificial and man made looking. I for one cannot see the Modern Siamese as anything other than a man made version of the original (sorry) and a demonstration of breeding gone too far (extreme ultra-typing). This of course is a personal view and there are those who prefer the Modern.
The experts would describe the Modern Siamese as elegant and sleek on tall slender legs3. I go over some of the important factors regarding appearance on this page: Blue Pointed Modern Siamese Cat. As to character there is also a page dedicated to this: Siamese Cat Personality.
You can click through to some pictures on the various types of pointing generally (i.e. on cat breeds generally) by clicking on this link
The CFA restrict pointing to 4 colors (see below – but this of course only applies to the Modern Siamese as they do not recognize the traditional cat). TICA does and their breed standard does not restrict pointing color). Lynx pointing on a Siamese cat
|Coat color for traditional (no Red) ||Color chart |
(extremely dark brown, almost black)
(lighter brown – genetic variation of seal point)
(a cool grey blue gray – a “dilution” of the seal point)
(pale warm gray, a diluted chocolate)
Siamese cat breeders consider the Modern Siamese the height of modern successful cat breeding. I disagree. I think that the Modern or contemporary Siamese cat is an indication of the wrong direction in which cat breeding has gone in relation to this cat.
Update 29th December 2009:
Mary Alexander has contacted me. Here are some photographs of some kittens from her cattery Blue-Gem Siamese
This cattery is registered with the CFA, TICA and CFF and is in Massachusetts, USA. I can’t add or improve Mary’s comments about her kittens and the Thai cat generally so here they are:
I think it’s important for people to see what a beautiful modified wedge Siamese should look like. These kittens…are sired by my Bacchus, who’s grandfather was a resent import from Thailand. Bacchus grandsire was brought into this country by Dr. Cris Bird. She and a few others, like me, are working to preserve these genetic linage’s, and promote a healthy well balanced Siamese cat. The kittens photo’s are taken at 5 weeks old. All seal points, Thai. Or what some people also call a Classic style Siamese.
The photographs (these are large thumbnails):
Photo above: copyright by Blue-Gem
Mary is one of the Siamese cat breeders who agrees that the Thai could also be called the Classic Siamese.
I believe that selective breeding has compromised health in the Modern Siamese (inbreeding has gone too far resulting in slight inbreeding depression
The appearance of the Siamese cat is a type of Himalayan albinism. Although the body is not pure white but shaded and the eyes are blue rather than pink.
The classic seal point Siamese cat (dark brown points) is a non-agouti black cat with the presence of the Siamese allele (one copy of a pair of genes at a certain locus on the chromosome). The symbol for the Siamese allele is cˢ. This gentoype (genetic makeup) for the Siamese cat coloration is aa B- cˢcˢ D- .The first letters (lower case “a”) indicate a air of non-agouti black alleles, the capital B- means the presence of the allele that creates black pigment, while the dash after the letter indicates the gene is either dominant or recessive. The last letter, the capital “D” indicates the presence of a gene creating dense coloration and once again this is a dominant or recessive allele.
The reason for the dark brown points (and not black) is the presence of the albinism gene (cˢ), which degrades the black coloration
The Traditional (“Applehead”) Siamese is defined by its history and also by comparing its history with that of the “Modern” Siamese. (a thought – don’t you think the term “applehead” is slightly derogatory?). The Modern and the Traditional have similar characters, it’s the appearance that is markedly different.
Other terms for the Modern are “show-style”, “extreme” or “wedgie” or “wedgehead”.
The Traditional Siamese has a robust and for me a “normal” shape and weight, while the Modern has a long, small head, large ears and a light frame with long, thin legs. The body shape, of the Modern, is called “oriental”. This is a cat fancy term that has little bearing on the shape of cats in the orient (Asia). The look of the Modern Siamese resembles the appearance of original Egyptian cats as depicted by the ancient Egyptians (Shynx like).
The appearance of these two groups of Siamese cats has polarized opinion. Of course, there is no right and wrong. The only important consideration is the health of the cat. Siamese cat breeders are of course concerned with the health of their cats.
What follows is a brief look at the history of this cat breed. You can see and read a lot more by clicking on Siamese Cat History (this is intended to be a definitive appraisal).
The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica (see note on copyright) provides useful reading on what it describes as the Siamese cat. In 1911 there was only one official type (the traditional type).
It remained that way until the 1950s-1960s. The Encyclopedia describes the cat as “by far the most remarkable of all the Old World domesticated breeds….the royal Siamese cat, which almost certainly has an origin quite distinct from that of the ordinary European breeds; this being rendered evident not only by the peculiar type of colouring, but likewise by the cry, which is quite unmistakable.” The “Old World” in this context refers to the Malay Peninsula (Burma, Thailand and Malaysia). Siam is now Thailand (changed 1939).
The Encyclopedia goes on to talk of the kinked tail. It states that it is not clear if the kink “belongs of right to the breed” or is as a result of cross breeding with the ordinary kink tailed black tabby of the country. If the kink is inherent the breed is related to kink-tailed Malay cats. If the Malay cats are descended from jungle cats then so is the Siamese. Early imported Siamese cats had the kinked tail, which is now a “defect” and virtually bred out in show cats. It’s at the end of the tail and can sometimes be felt but not seen.
As mentioned the “Modern” has a long and pointed face, the body being elongated with slender limbs. Interestingly this description would be seem to be accurate if describing the royal Siamese of all those years ago. Perhaps Siamese cat breeders have realized this and sought to replicate what they may consider to be a more original look. This thought is re-enforced when the author in the Encyclopedia says this about the Siamese of 1911 “In constitution these cats are extremely delicate”. This runs counter to the reports of a robust cat that is not delicate. However, it is my view that the observation of “delicate” is a relative one. I talk about this in the appraisal of Siamese cat history and it is a key point.
As is the case currently, reference is made in the 1911 Encyclopedia to kittens being born “absolutely white”. The points developing gradually from a week onwards. “The blue eyes and the white coat of the kitten indicate that the Siamese breed is a semi-albino, which when adult tends towards melanism”. Melanism is an increased amount of black or nearly black pigmentation in skin, feathers, hair etc. of an organism. It is the “pointing” gene creates the distinct color pattern.
Here’s some more on the history – this was written before the above and is an outline:
So, where does that leave us? Two distinct appearances of the same breed at each end of a wide spectrum. Is it time therefore that the CFA re-wrote the rules to allow both to be shown at the same time and place? Should there in fact be only one breed of Siamese Cat as was the case many years ago? In February 2007, TICA (The International Cat Association) recognized the Traditional Siamese for the first time in 50 years. This is clearly a step in the right direction.
Siamese Cat Song
Peggy Lee’s famous song for the Walt Disney film “The Lady and the Tramp”.
Siamese Cats and Film Stars
In the heyday of cinema film stars wanted glamorous cats and the Siamese fitted the bill.
Balinese – a long haired Siamese cat
Oriental Shorthair – a Modern Siamese with a wider range of coat colors and types
Tonkinese – a cross between a Traditional Siamese or Classic Siamese cat and the Burmese cat
Snowshoe – a cross between the Siamese and American Shorthair bicolor
Ocicat – a combination of Siamese, Abyssinian and American Shorthair
Javanese – a Balinese with an extended range of coat colors and types
Thai cat photo ©copyright Helmi Flick
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…
The Birthday Cat
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Preserving The Original Cat Breeds
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The Kinked Tails of Siamese Cats
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Real Siamese Are The Ones Everyone Knows
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Alan the Flying Cat and Louie the Pouncer
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Bastet and the Cats of Zagazig
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Siwa Our Siamese Cat
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Our Thai Cat
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Answers to some of your comments and questions
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SIAMESE CATS – 77% OF PEOPLE PREFER TRADITIONAL SIAMESE CATS – ALMOST 500 VOTES
THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN BY VOTING ON THIS WEBSITE IN LARGE NUMBERS IN FAVOR OF TRADITIONAL SIAMESE CATS. This website’s poll on whether people prefer …
These Siamese cat breeders have been selected in the same way as on other pages of this site. I have searched on Google and those breeders that are listed on the first 3 pages are in turn listed here in Google’s order. Note: when I did a similar search for Modern Siamese Cat Breeders there were none listed on the first 3 pages. What does this mean?
Located in San Diego, USA. Breeding Traditional Siamese for approx. 30 years.
Miller’s Shoobox Traditional Siamese & Balinese Cattery
Located in San Diego, USA. Breeding since 1989 (is this the same cattery as the above or is it affiliated?)
Breed “Old Style” Siamese. Small thoughtful cattery located in Florida, USA. Nice website.
Located in Glencoe, Oklahoma, USA. Breeding Trad.S Siamese since 2001.
Royal Siamese Cattery
Located in West Sunbury, Pennsylvania, USA. Breeding Traditional Siamese since 1995.
Located in Milton Keynes, England. This is South East England about 60 miles north of London. Breeding for the past 15 years.
Located in Jasper (Nr. Atlanta), Georgia, USA. They breed other cat breeds as well as the Trad. Siamese.
Shadows Traditional Siamese
Small hobby cattery (as are a large number of catteries). Can’t see location, but it is the USA. Poor Website – sorry. Disagree then post it on the forum.
Purfect Points Cattery – link broken and removed.
Located in Ohio, USA. Breed Balinese and Snowshoe as well.
Located in Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA. Pleasant site carefully produced.
To-Pher Cattery – link broken and removed.
Located Suisun City, California, USA.
Update 14-8-09: Siamese Cat Breeders in Alabama [ LINK ] – an attempt at findind either modern or traditional Siamese cat breeders in this state. As it happens I spilled over in to Florida!
References other than those below:
Siamese Cat Breeders — Sources:
I worked at the Northeast Missouri Humane Society for about seven years as the cat…
There is a bit of concern over the difference between normal domestic kittens, the offspring…
NEWS/VIEWS - THAILAND: My friend Barry who is married to a Thai woman and who…