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rec.pets.cats: Traditional Siamese Breed-FAQ
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 27 Jun 1997
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Traditional Siamese Breed FAQ
The Traditional Siamese (aka Applehead Siamese) is one of the oldest
breeds of domestic cats. It preserves the look of the breed much as it
existed when originally imported from Siam - a muscular, athletic cat,
with round head and brilliant blue eyes and the striking contrast
between point and body color which characterizes the breed. They are
very calm, affectionate cats, typically healthy and long-lived - 15-20
years is average, and over 20 is not uncommon.
* Characteristics and Temperament
* Frequently Asked Questions
* Care and Training
* Breed Standards
Characteristics and Temperament
The Traditional Siamese is an intelligent, people-oriented cat which
enjoys human companionship - whether it be as a lap warmer or chasing
a toy. They are inquisitive and friendly, and like nothing better than
to sit in the middle of something you are trying to read. They talk to
their people in an affectionate, conversational way.
With their calm temperaments, they are well-adapted to life in either
a house or an apartment. They are not in perpetual motion - they have
a fairly balanced activity level and are just as happy to chase a toy
as to curl up in your lap for a snooze.
Frequently Asked Questions
_Are Traditional Siamese friendly with other people?_
Yes. They love people, and most will go right up to strangers and
demand to be petted. They have the somewhat perverse nature of most
cats, so are sometimes most attracted to people who either don't like
cats or are allergic to them.
_How are they with children?_
They are good family pets, and are very indulgent of small children -
they will tolerate liberties (not to be confused with ill-treatment)
from them that they will not take from adults. When they've had
enough, they simply make themselves unavailable. Most of them learn to
sheathe their claws when playing with people, and it is rare to be
_Are they good with seniors?_
With their mellow temperament they are very good with seniors - they
are marvelous companions and lap cats.
_How are they with other pets?_
When introduced at an early age, they will usually become friends with
dogs or other animals. An adult cat who is already used to dogs is a
wonderful "teacher" for puppies entering the home as a pet.
_How many cats should I have?_
Single cats in a household do fine, though they can get lonely if left
alone during the day, and will therefore demand more of your attention
in the evenings. Two cats, especially if they are close in age, become
good friends and are often found sleeping or playing together and
grooming each other. But they still crave human attention, too.
_Are they intelligent?_
They are very intelligent - which does not necessarily mean that they
are easy to train. Each cat has a different personality - some, if you
tell them "No" once, will desist from the activity forever, while
those with the more mischievous natures, though they know it's
forbidden, will merely wait until you're not around, and then do it
anyway. :-) Many Traditional Siamese are quite adept at teaching
humans the game of fetch or other tricks. Some cats will readily learn
to walk on a harness and leash. These behaviors are far more
successful if introduced at an early age.
_Do they scratch furniture?_
Not usually - it's very easy to train them to use a scratching post,
and most breeders do this. In general, they prefer a nice carpet or
sisal-covered scratching post to your favorite sofa.
_Are they noisy?_
One of the traits a Siamese cat is known for is its voice. They can be
extremely loud, and sometimes it sounds like your cat is in absolute
torment, when in fact he's just trying to make a point. It's not
uncommon for people on the other end of the phone to ask if there is a
Traditionals tend to be less vocal than the modern cats - though some
have the harsh "you're killing me" voice, others have a rather quiet
meow. Some are non-stop talkers, while others don't talk unless they
have something important to say. The voice and conversational style is
apparent from kittenhood, so you'll know what you're getting into.
_Do they have any bad habits?_
When there are no people around, they like to be up high, and can
often be found on the top of bookcases, refrigerators, or curio
cabinets. If you can't find your cat, look up. It's probably best to
keep any breakables off of high shelves.
Some Siamese cats engage in a practice that denizens of rec.pets.cats
have dubbed "smurgling", wherein the cat holds a piece of material,
usually a blanket or sweater (but sometimes human skin), in its paws
and kneads it, while happily sucking and/or drooling on it. The eyes
are often glazed over, and the cat is usually purring loudly. This is
not a serious disorder. ( :-) for the humor-impaired.)
_What are points?_
Points refer to the face, ears, tail, and paws - the term is generally
used in combination with color. "Seal Point" means the cat has seal
colored (dark brown) points, while a "Blue Point" has blue (gray)
_Will a male or a female make a better pet?_
Sex of the cat makes no difference as long as they are neutered/
_Are they outdoor cats?_
No, no, no, no. Almost all breeders will sell kittens with a contract
stating that they be indoor-only cats, permitted outdoors only on a
leash. Too many outdoor cats end up as traffic fatalities, or are
severely injured by other animals. Breeders are very concerned with
the welfare of the kittens they produce, and usually take great pains
to insure that the kittens are going to good homes where they will be
well cared for. Since most of these kittens have never been outside,
they never miss it.
_What health problems are they prone to?_
Crossed eyes still crop up occasionally within the breed. Though
undesirable, this is not a problem for the cat, and does not affect
its behavior or longevity.
Kinked tails also show up occasionally, but this is merely a cosmetic
Other than that, there are no known defects that are specific to the
Traditional Siamese. As in most purebred animals, there are some
genetic problems that creep in from time to time, but responsible
breeders work very hard at keeping their lines as healthy as possible.
Things to watch for in any cat, purebred or not, include umbilical
hernias, heart murmurs, and kidney disease.
_How big do they get?_
In size, they are about what you think of when you think of an
average-sized generic cat. Males weigh from 11-15 pounds, and females
_Where can I find Traditional Siamese breeders in my area?_
Check the ads in the Siamese section of any cat magazine for breeders'
names. Look for those advertising "Traditionals" or "Appleheads".
The Traditional Cat Association (TCA) offers a kitten referral service
and Breeder's List. This list includes many breeders who are ethical
and offer healthy, purebred kittens. Contact:
18509 NE 279th St.
Battle Ground WA 98604
_How much do they cost?_
They range in price from $200-$500 - registered cats from reputable
breeders are more expensive.
_What's the difference between Traditional Siamese and modern Siamese?_
To be honest, the main difference is largely individual preference.
Some people adore the new look, while others hate it.
As far as personalities go, in general, Traditional Siamese tend to be
a bit more laid-back than their modern counterparts. But individuals
will vary, and you will find very lively Traditionals and mellow
moderns. Either type can be a delightful pet.
_Why do Traditional and modern Siamese look so different?_
_Why don't you see Traditionals at cat shows?_
The Traditional Siamese does not conform to the breed standards for
Siamese cats in most of the cat associations (with the exception of
the Traditional Cat Association (TCA) which wrote its standards
specifically for the Traditional Siamese). As such, they are unable to
compete with modern Siamese cats. Though theoretically there is
nothing in the show rules that prohibits a registered cat from
competing in its breed class, in practice, very few people attempt to
show them as Siamese. They are sometimes shown in the "Household Pet"
class, where breed is not a factor.
The Siamese is considered by many to be a "natural" breed - one that
developed without the intervention of man. Pictures of seal-point
Siamese cats appear in the manuscript "Cat-Book Poems", written in
Siam (now Thailand) sometime between 1350 and 1700.
There are a great many legends regarding the origin of the breed -
especially the crossed eyes and kinked tails. According to some of the
legends, the Siamese cat guarded Buddhist temples and was considered
sacred - and was only kept by priests and royalty.
The first Siamese cats appeared in the West in the mid-to-late 1800s.
Though initially described as "an unnatural, nightmare kind of cat",
they quickly became popular with fanciers, even though these early
cats were delicate and subject to health problems. These first cats
had crossed eyes and kinked tails, characteristics which are now
considered faults, and have almost completely disappeared as a result
of careful breeding. Photographs from the late 1880s of some of the
first cats to be imported from Siam show the thick, round heads and
solid, muscular bodies that distinguish the Traditional Siamese from
today's show Siamese.
As the Siamese breed has developed over the years, some breeders have
preferred the rounder look, while others have preferred a slender look
with a wedge-shaped head. During the 1950s and 1960s, the differences
became even more pronounced: show breeders developed an extremely
slender cat with a very long, triangular head, almond-shaped eyes, and
flaring ears. This look caught on with show-oriented Siamese breeders
and with judges. Other breeders, who did not like the new look,
continued to breed the larger, round-headed cats. These "Traditional"
breeders found that their cats were no longer competitive in the show
ring and stopped showing. A great many also stopped registering their
cats, though they continued their breeding programs with their
existing purebred Siamese stock.
Today, Traditional Siamese cats are somewhat rare, though they seem to
be making a comeback, as the breed is popular with pet buyers.
It should be pointed out that Traditional Siamese _are_ purebred cats,
descended from the original cats imported from Siam. A pointed cat
that you find in the shelter, though it may look Siamese, is probably
not a Traditional Siamese cat. Enough purebred Siamese cats have
interbred with domestic cats over the years that the gene which
creates the pointing pattern is found in a large number of cats, and
some may look Siamese when in fact they have very little Siamese blood
The "pointing" gene creates the distinct color pattern that
distinguishes the Siamese breed. This gene is recessive: two pointed
parents will always produce pointed kittens.
The Siamese kitten is pure white at birth - the gene that produces the
"points" on the face, paws, and tail is heat sensitive, and the point
color gradually develops on the cooler parts of the body. In some
breeding lines, and in warmer climates, the point color may not fully
develop until the cat is over a year old.
Older cats have a darker body color than young cats and kittens,
though there is still a marked contrast between the body color and the
The Seal Point Siamese is genetically a black cat, but the pointing
gene causes the color to manifest almost exclusively on the points. As
the cat matures, the creamy body color will usually give way to a
light shade of the point color, particularly with seal and blue
points. (For this reason, seal and blue point Siamese have relatively
short careers as show cats - it's rare to see one at a cat show over
the age of 2. Chocolate and lilac points don't darken as quickly and
can be shown longer.)
The recognized colors a Seal Point, Blue Point, Chocolate Point,
and Lilac Point. The Red Point is not an accepted Traditional Siamese
color, though it is an accepted Siamese color in some cat
The Traditional Cat Association (TCA)
The United Feline Organization (UFO)
Cat Fancier's Federation (CFF) - provisional status as a new breed.
Some breeders chose not to follow the modern standard, so small
numbers of them are still bred and registered as Siamese in the
American Cat Association (ACA)
American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA)
Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA)
Cat Fanciers' Federation (CFF)
Care and Training
Traditional Siamese are not delicate cats, and typically are very
healthy with very good appetites. Most breeders recommend a
high-quality dry food, and most cats can eat when they like without
becoming overweight. Middle-aged cats (5-10) are the most likely to
have weight problems, which can usually be controlled by switching to
a low-calorie food.
Traditional Siamese require very little grooming on the owner's part -
the cat is able to keep itself clean and well-groomed. Still, most
cats enjoy the sensation of being brushed or combed, and this is a
good way to remove excess fur and keep it from ending up on your
clothes or your furniture. Traditional Siamese do not shed
Most Siamese cats reach sexual maturity at an early age - it is not
uncommon for a female to experience her first heat at the age of 5
months. Spaying is recommended by the age of 6 months, and neutering
at the age of 6 months or even earlier. If neutered at an early age,
males generally do not spray.
Your Purebred Kitten: A Buyer's Guide, Michele Lowell, 1995.
The Complete Siamese, Sally Franklin, 1996.
"The Siamese Cat", CATS Magazine, June 1995.
The Traditional Cat Association
Diana Fineran, Treasurer
18509 NE 279th St.
Battle Ground WA 98604
The Traditional Siamese Cat Association
Sheelagh Le Cocq
2 Sydenham Villas
St. Helier, Jersey C.I.
There aren't many Traditional Siamese breeders in the world. Each
breeder tends to specialize in a different look - some have the very
round, very stocky, Traditional cats, while others have a cat that TCA
calls a "Classic Siamese" which is a bit more refined, though still
retaining the round head, and still others have cats that are more of
a modified wedge. Prospective buyers need to decide what sort of look
they prefer, and talk to breeders about their cats, their health, and
Don't be surprised if the breeder thoroughly questions you about the
sort of environment you will provide for the cat - most breeders are
very careful in selecting homes for their kittens. You will probably
be asked to sign an agreement stating that the cat will be spayed/
neutered, that it will _NOT_ be declawed, and that it will be an
Many Traditional Siamese cats are _not_ registered, even though the
majority are from purebred lines whose breeders have kept meticulous
records over the years. We must admit that some cats advertised as
"Traditional Siamese", though they exhibit all the desirable purebred
qualities, are of questionable lineage, and may have some alley cat
not too far back in the pedigree. If this matters to you, you can try
to find cats that are registered - though difficult, it is not
Disclaimer: These breeders have been recommended in good faith by the
author. However, you are still responsible for verifying that a
particular breeder meets your needs to your satisfaction.
(Condensed from TCA's Traditional Siamese Breed Standard)
_General:_ The ideal Traditional Siamese is a medium to large-sized,
staunch cat of robust type, with substantial, round bone structure,
good muscular development, possessing a solid look along with balance
and proportion. They are not extreme in any way.
The head is rounded, with a clearly defined muzzle that maintains the
rounded contours of the head. The nose has a slight, gentle dip at eye
level. Medium ears, with a broad base and rounded tips, set as much on
the sides of the head as the top. The eyes are almond shaped,
uncrossed, and deep vivid blue.
The body is medium to large in size, solidly built, muscular in
development, and presenting a well-proportioned, solid appearance.
Legs well muscled, proportionate in length and bone to the body. Paws
more round than oval. Tail medium in length but in proportion to the
body: tapering and straight (no kinks).
The coat is short, thick enough to have body, satiny and somewhat
close-lying, but not tight or flat. Plush and soft in texture.
Resilient and firm to the touch.
Body color is even with subtle shading when allowed. Allowance is made
for lighter body color in young cats and darker color in older cats.
_Point color:_ Chin, mask, ears, legs, feet, and tail dense and
clearly defined. All of the same shade. Except in kittens, mask covers
entire face including whisker pads and is connected to ears by
_Penalize:_ Improper (i.e. off-color or spotted) nose leather or paw
pads. Ticking or white hairs except in aging cats. Bars in points.
Crossed eyes. Kinked tail, either visible or invisible.
_Disqualify:_ Any evidence of illness or poor health. Mouth breathing
due to nasal obstruction or poor occlusion. Eyes other than blue.
White toes and/or feet. Malocclusion. Wedge-shaped head with straight
profile. Long, thin, tubular body. Long, thin legs, neck, or tail. Any
evidence of artificial grooming aids. Any extreme.
Copyright (c)1996, 1997, Laura Gilbreath, _
Last updated 5/15/97