When I was a kid, we had a tiny grey cat which we figured was part Siamese. One has never met a more opinionated bundle of chilly loathing for anything deemed ‘outside’ the home – most other people were ignored, other pets were loathed and she had a memory that was frankly quite frightening.
She was manipulative, sneaky, smart, and could jump several times her rather diminutive size – when she was young, she ended up on fridges, on the tops of doors (somehow), and many other places she ought not to have been. And she could carry a grudge like nobody’s business.
I thought for a long time that this was just a Maverick thing, but then we took in a white cat when I was an adult who was also part Siamese (or part Oriental anyway) and she was also standoffish, had a good memory, and could carry a grudge.
We never figured out why, but she hated most men (it took until nearly the end of her life for her to sit on my husband’s lap) and she had abandonment issues that never quite went away leading her to hide under our bathtub for days when my sister went to visit our parents.
On the other hand, both cats were insanely loyal to their people, very clever, very healthy, and long-lived, (they both died at roughly the age of 17), and loved to ‘talk’. They were very fun cats, and we still miss them terribly.
So, is that what you can expect from a Siamese? Well, let’s learn more about this breed of cat!
History of the Siamese Cat
Siamese cats are one of the oldest breeds of cats in the world, originally coming out of Thailand in the 14th century, according to manuscripts.
They were seen in the West in the late nineteenth century, starting with the Crystal Palace Cat Show in London. They were viewed as being too unusual-looking, but they soon became quite fashionable to have as pets. By the late 1800s, the Siamese had made their way to the US.
At first, only seal point Siamese (dark brownish-black points) were eligible for show, but other color point variations were developed and accepted. Siamese can come in a variety of point colors and patterns today.
Unlike many other breeds, the Siamese is a natural breed and so its coloration is the result of genetic mutations, not human interventions.
It’s also the source of many other breeds such as Balinese, Orientals, types of Persians, Tonkinese, and Havana Browns. The intelligence and ‘chattiness’ of these cats go straight back to their Siamese ancestors.
Common Characteristics of the Siamese Cat
Siamese cats are quite distinctive in their appearance and their personality (more on that in a moment). Physical attributes of the Siamese are as follows:
- Males and females are fairly small with males weighing between eight and twelve pounds and females weighing less than 8 pounds (check for both my cats)
- Eye color is blue.
- Usually live eight to twelve years
- Short coat in point patterns with colors of chocolate, seal, lilac, blue, red, cream, fawn or cinnamon. Points refer to the darker color on the ears, tail, and feet that blends into the lighter color of the body. There is also a mask of the same deep color. It is quite distinctive.
- Long and elegant body with a long tail and long legs. They often have big pointed ears and a long, pointed head.
Siamese cats are hard to mistake for anything else – the seal point coloration and triangular head alone usually give them away. They also often have blue eyes.
Of course, there are variations on the Siamese characteristics as well. These include more stocky versions (Applehead Siamese), Old Style Siamese cats (the type we think of when we think of a Siamese cat), Classic Siamese (more athletic and taller), and Modern Wedge (Wedge like heads with big ears and slanted eyes). No matter the variations though, they usually have the seal points and the temperament of a Siamese.
All Siamese kittens are born white, and the color points darken as they age! And many Siamese cats used to be cross eyed with a kink in their tail, but this has been largely bred out.
Legend has it that they became cross-eyed, and kink tailed from guarding a golden cup and refusing to stop looking at it while their tail remained permanently wound around their paws, creating a kink.
Most Siamese cats don’t have that anymore. It was also believed that Siamese cats would receive the souls of the royal family and then the cat would spend the rest of their life being pampered by monks and priests.
Siamese cats are fairly common, so you can often find them in shelters, or you can purchase a kitten for a few hundred dollars from a good breeder.
Crossbreeds are even more common. Show quality cats cost a bit more, but even then, you aren’t looking at more than several hundred dollars unless it has a pretty stellar pedigree.
What is the Temperament of the Siamese Cat?
The temperament of the Siamese cat is also a dead giveaway for them.
Siamese cats are very smart and bond strongly to their human(s), to the point where if they are left alone for too long, they get depressed, anxious, and destructive. (As I said, the white cat we owned hid under a bathtub for days when my sister left for a few days… And I’m pretty sure our grey cat plotted revenge if I left for too long, but I don’t have proof).
Siamese cats often require near-constant attention and are quite affectionate. They’re even good with kids and can usually tolerate a bit of rough play, plus they are smart enough to just leave when they’ve had enough.
Siamese cats are also very talkative and will give their opinion on everything. They supervise their humans to make sure things are done correctly and they generally try to take over parts of your bed.
My grey Siamese cross slept on my bed every night and the white one slept on my sister’s bed. They can also be trained to walk on a leash or do other things, so long as they are trained properly, and they choose to learn it.
My grey cat could ‘count’ bowls of ice cream and God help you if you didn’t give her all the bowls to lick. Smart. Siamese cats often do well with puzzle toys and can figure out how to get in and out of things whether you like it or not.
Siamese cats thrive in environments where they can get lots of attention, have plenty of toys and perches to climb, and lots to look at. If you don’t provide entertainment for them, they’ll provide their own entertainment, and you probably won’t like the results.
Because they bond so tightly with their families, some Siamese cats even travel well. Nothing made my grey cat happier than when we were all in a car together and had to stay in a hotel room all together.
She was one happy part Siamese for those couple of days. I also don’t tend to see Siamese cats stray far from their homes even when they are outside since they don’t want to leave their families.
Health and Common Conditions of the Siamese Cat
Purebred and mixed breed Siamese can have some genetic health problems as well as a few strange neurological quirks to keep an eye out for. Physically speaking, Siamese cats are more prone to the following:
- Congenital heart defects such as aortic stenosis
- Asthma and other bronchial diseases
- Amyloidosis is a type of liver disease
Siamese cats are also prone to some very weird neurological quirks. No one has figured out why, but Siamese cats are more likely to engage in compulsive behaviors such as sucking on fabrics, pica (eating things that aren’t food such as sand or dirt), compulsively licking, and compulsively biting themselves.
These compulsive behaviors often start at a young age – around 2 years of age – but can come up later in life too. My grey cat scratched the area above her eyes raw as she got older and nothing we did would stop her (nor was there any physical medical reason for it. It was a compulsive behavior she fell prey to as she got older).
If you notice these behaviors, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet about behavior management so your cat doesn’t hurt itself or make itself ill.
You should be careful not to overfeed a Siamese cat. They can bloat relatively quickly, will quickly gain weight, and their legs are too slender to sustain them if they get overweight. They usually enjoy playing and running around so feed them to match their activity levels but be careful not to overdo it.
In general, Siamese cats have a decent lifespan of twelve to fifteen years, on average, though both my part breeds lived even longer than that. Indoor cats of course have a much longer and healthier lives than outdoor cats.
With Siamese cats, it’s a good idea to keep them indoors not only for their health and wellbeing but also because a lost Siamese cat gets pretty despondent fast since they cannot find their people.
What Type of Owner is the Siamese Cat Best Suited for?
Siamese cats are wonderfully loyal and intelligent cats. It’s often commented that they are more like dogs trapped in the body of a cat! But this means that they do best with a particular kind of owner. Ideal owners for Siamese will:
- Stay home regularly and not leave their cat alone for too long (or be able to introduce another pet to keep their cat company).
- Be able to play with their cat and provide toys, perches, and scratching posts.
- Will be able to provide some intellectual stimulation in the form of puzzle toys or playing games.
- Enjoys carrying ‘conversations’ with their cat and do not mind it following them around a lot.
- Are in it for the long haul of owning a pet for a lifetime. Siamese cats who bounce around houses can develop abandonment issues and be more nervous.
Siamese cats will generally bond strongly with at least one person, though some will bond with a few members of a family, and they are sometimes friendly with other pets too as long as they are introduced appropriately.
They are not well suited for people who won’t be home much or who won’t provide toys and mental stimulation for them because they can become destructive and depressed if they are left alone and bored for too long.
The neurotic compulsive behavior also has to be guarded against or they could inadvertently hurt themselves.
Does a Siamese Cat Sound Good to You?
My grey cat growing up may have been a lunatic in many ways – she would try to chase dogs many times her weight and height for example – but I have yet to meet a more loyal and intelligent cat.
She was definitely not purebred (there was probably some Russian Blue in there as well and a few other things), but the Siamese personality shone out in many ways. And our white cat was also a joy to have, once she decided we were safe to be around, and she was very loyal.
If you want a highly affectionate cat who loves to tag along after you and talk to you, it’s hard to go wrong with a Siamese. They are also quite beautiful cats with lovely coats, bright blue eyes, and a long, dainty appearance.
They are sociable, tend to get along with other pets, and they love to play. They are also relatively easy to take care of and have a pretty good life expectancy.
All in all, the Siamese is widespread for a reason: they are a popular breed!
Do you have, or have had, a Siamese cat? Drop a picture and tell us a story! It’s not fair for me to hog all the storytelling space!
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.