Regal, stunning, and, of course, ridiculously cute, Siamese cats are immediately recognizable by their crystal blue eyes, pointed coats, and large ears. If you’ve had the chance to meet one in person (in cat?) you might know they’re some of the most vocal and friendly cat breeds around.
So what more is there to know about Siamese cats?
A lot, as a matter of fact. This guide will take you through the history of the breed, from its ancient origins to its modern variations, and discuss the common characteristics and little-known facts along the way. For the ultimate, exhaustive guide to these majestic kitties, read on.
Let’s take a look at a few traditional Siamese cat basics:
- Weight – 6 to 14 pounds
- Length – Up to 14 inches
- Coat – Short, in colors of seal, chocolate, blue, or lilac
- Eye color – Blue
- Life expectancy – 8 to 12 years
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Graceful and muscular, the traditional Siamese breed is known for its elegance and agility—but aren’t most cats? Actually, Siamese cats come in a variety of shapes and sizes—from the rounder and chunkier “traditional” style to the slim, long-tailed “show” style, known for their wedge-shaped head.
While there’s plenty of variety and no distinct breed standard within Siamese cat breeds, there are some unique characteristics present in most, if not all types of Siamese cats. These definitive characteristics include:
- Blue, almond eyes – These striking little bulbs of light look straight into your soul, and demand to be loved. But really, Siamese cats have a genetic condition that makes them essentially part albino—giving them bright blue eyes in contrast to many other breeds’ green or hazel eyes.
- Color-changing fur – The peculiar ‘pointed’ coat is usually characterized by a light-colored body with darker color points on the face, paws, and tail. Siamese cats’ fur actually changes color in relation to external temperatures. The warmest points on their body are darkened by a genetic chemical process. Pretty wild, right? Welcome to the world of color-changing cats.
- Mid-sized felines – Male Siamese cats weigh between 8 and 12 pounds when fully grown, placing them precisely in the Goldy-Locks zone of medium-sized cats. Females are a little bit smaller, usually weighing under 8 pounds. Both male and female Siamese cats are often heavier than their similar-sized counterparts because of their highly muscular frame—which leads us to ask, what does your cat bench?
- Low shed count – For all the mildly allergenic readers, rest assured that Siamese cats don’t usually shed all that much. If your allergies are only bad where there’s excess dander, you may be in luck, and with regular care, you won’t have to worry about vacuuming up after Siamese cats on a daily basis.
As we mentioned, the main difference between the “traditional” and “show” cat is body type—but it’s also worth stating that there are lots of variations and blends between the rounder Siamese and the lankier breed. That said, we think all Siamese cats are gorgeous felines.
Common Behavioral Traits
Despite their refined looks, Siamese cats are anything but standoffish. If you’ve ever met one, you’ve probably seen just how sweet and friendly they can be.
Siamese cats score exceptionally high in categories like:
- Energy Levels
In our book, that puts them at the top of the class when it comes to the best breeds for any situation. Behavior-wise, Siamese cats are known for:
- Vocalization – Siamese cats are great talkers, singers, and, occasionally, screamers. They enjoy grabbing your attention with a throaty meow, begging for an extra helping of food with a high-pitched whine, and chatting with you whenever you’re in the same room. Pretty soon you’ll be fluent in modern Siamese.
- Trainability – You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But you can teach Siamese cats a thing or two. From “shake” to “fetch,” Siamese cats can do an assortment of impressive tricks. Due to their high intelligence, these clever cats can be easier to train than some dogs. Teach your Siamese cat to be your obedient friend or your talented show cat—they’ll succeed at either.
- Sociability (with humans and other animals) — On the opposite end of the spectrum, when compared to the indifferent loner cats, Siamese cats are basically the life of the party. They love to hang out with humans, other cats, and even dogs. They’ll also follow you from room to room, sit next to you at your desk, and lay with you in bed. A Siamese kitten is a truly social animal.
- Playfulness and curiosity – This is par for the course when it comes to cats—right? Well, not exactly. While plenty of cats are fine with low stimulation and time alone, Siamese cats are always looking to play and are constantly curious about everything in sight. That means if left alone for too long, they might go looking for some mischief. If you’re going to be out for more than a day, we encourage finding a pet sitter.
If you’re a cat lover looking for a cat to be your constant companion, look no further than Siamese cats—some people even call them the “dogs of cats.” Siamese cats are always up for a game, a chat, or some serious snuggles.
The History of Siamese Cats
The history of the Siamese kitty began long before its arrival to the United States. In fact, their origin dates back to 13th century Southeast Asia.
The earliest records of Siamese cats can be found in manuscripts dating back between the 13th and 18th centuries. The origins of Siamese cats go back to Thailand, although the country was called The Kingdom of Siam until 1939—hence the name the breed is known by today.
Their name in Thailand actually translates to “Moon Diamond,” a likely reference to their striking blue eyes.
It’s no real surprise that Siamese cats were originally the pets of royalty in Thailand—the cats were rumored to guard Buddhist temples and palace gates.
When this Thai cat was brought to the west, they were paraded in front of aristocracy and royalty and became highly prized for their exclusivity and exoticism. Few cats outside of ancient Egypt have ever gotten such royal treatment.
Siamese Cats Introduction to the U.S.
Introduced to the United States in 1878, the Siamese cat was inducted into western culture when a U.S. diplomat presented the cat as a gift to President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy, after shipping it from Bangkok.
The cat’s name was Siam, and she became the favorite cat of President Hayes’ daughter, Fanny. However, Siam only lived for a few months in the White House before passing.
Fun Fact: Siamese cats ended up in the White House on a few other occasions, too, including:
- The Ford White House – Susan Ford, the daughter of President Gerald Ford, was the proud owner of a Siamese cat named Shan. Both Shan and Susan were on the cover of People Magazine in 1974.
- The Carter administration – Misty Malarky Ying Yang was the name of Amy Carter’s pet Siamese cat.
Of course, by the time Siamese cats were roaming the White House, they’d already won their ways into the hearts of thousands of Americans and were a sought-after breed for many households—one look at them and you can guess why.
Siamese Cats Today
Since becoming a pedigreed animal in the early 20th century, Siamese cats have enjoyed consistent popularity as a choice breed for domestic cats in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Today they’re known for their:
- Longevity, living up to and beyond the ripe old age of 15
- Nickname, “Meezers”
- High intelligence, sometimes being recognized the smartest domestic cat breed
Siamese cats are available in most major metropolitan areas in the U.S. today. You can adopt from shelters and rescues, as well as directly from a breeder.
In many ways, Siamese cats are the perfect housecat for pet parents looking to come home every day to an excited animal who’s eager to play.
Siamese Cats in Popular Culture
Since their introduction to the wider world, Siamese cats have remained prevalent in all corners of popular culture. Perhaps it’s their striking eyes or their non-stop meowing, but something about these cats makes them a ubiquitous image for many artists.
You can find references to Siamese cats in:
- Music – Both Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones make references to Siamese cats in their songs—talk about classic rock royalty.
- Film – From The Wizard of Oz to The Aristocats, Siamese cats have been on the big screen for almost as long as there have been movies. Even Nermal in The Garfield Movie was depicted as a Siamese cat. They certainly do have a noticeable on-screen presence.
Siamese cats are also known for having celebrity owners. Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, Kesha, and Taylor Swift have all had Siamese cats. They make such great company, it’s no wonder the world’s most popular people choose to hang out with them.
Siamese Cat Care Tips
Every cat needs a little care to live a long, happy life, and Siamese cats are no different. Most of their daily care needs are fairly routine and won’t require any major time or financial investments.
Be sure to keep up on:
- Brushing – Because of their short fur, Siamese cats don’t require anything too special when it comes to keeping their coats clean. Give your Siamese coat a brushing at least once a week to alleviate their hairballs and keep your rugs clean.
- Dental care – Cats, unfortunately, can’t use toothbrushes themselves. That’s why you’ll need to give them a little help when it comes to dental care. A healthy diet can assist with your cat’s dental health but regular cleanings will fight dental disease like gingivitis and periodontal disease. Get them started young when it comes to teeth brushing and by the time they’re fully grown, they’ll have no problem saying “ah”—or something close to it.
- Claw trimming – Don’t wait until your couch is a wreck, your rugs are tattered, and your favorite chair has become a scratching post—start cutting your Siamese cat’s nails when they’re a kitten. Since Siamese cats are known for their intelligence, don’t try to trick them—train them. Make claw trimming a non-stressful affair and reward good behavior with tasty treats.
- Regular veterinary visits – As much as we can do for our cats at home, there’s no comparison to real veterinary professionals. Too many Siamese cat owners wait until emergencies occur before finding a vet to get treatment. With regularly scheduled vet visits, you can make sure your cat is always in purr-fect health.
Health Risks Associated with Siamese Cats
Different breeds of cats are predisposed to different health risks. A long line of breeding and genealogy led to the blue-eyed Siamese, so it’s helpful to be aware of what illnesses they’re more susceptible to.
Siamese cats are more likely than some breeds to develop:
- Dental and respiratory problems – Typical to the modern variation of Siamese cats, their wedge-shaped heads can make them more likely to experience dental issues as well as respiratory problems such as asthma. This is one reason dental care can be particularly important for Siamese cats.
- Eye problems – Crossed-eyes were at one point a highly prevalent problem among Siamese cats. While this genetic issue has been mostly bred out of Siamese cats, it’s still a possibility in a modern Siamese cat. Instances of glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy are also reported more frequently in Siamese cats, so keep an eye on your cat’s ocular health.
- Obesity – This is the most common problem for all house cats. Over-feeding combined with low activity can lead to an unsafe weight for your precious Siamese kitty. Keeping your cat’s weight at a healthy level is one of the simplest things you can do to protect their overall health, so avoid over-feeding—your cat doesn’t count calories.
There’s a lot of responsibility when it comes to being a cat owner—you’re the guardian of your Siamese feline’s health. Stay vigilant and informed to protect your little furball from whatever nature throws at them.
Pretty Litter: The Best Choice For Every Breed
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NC State Veterinary Medicine. National Siamese cat day facts. https://cvm.ncsu.edu/national-siamese-cat-day-facts/
Cat Health. Siamese Color Points Explained. https://www.cathealth.com/breed-characteristics/physical-traits/2462-siamese-color-points-explained
Britannica. Siamese breed of cat. https://www.britannica.com/animal/Siamese-breed-of-cat
VCA Hospitals. Cat dental care and hygiene. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/cat-care/promoting-wellness/cat-dental-care-and-hygiene
Fetch by WebMD. Cat nail clipping: how and when to cut cat’s nails. https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/cat-nail-clipping-care#