Getting to know the Siamese cat breed doesn’t just mean learning about his personality, daily needs, typical health issues, and exercise requirements. In fully understanding why a breed acts a certain way, discovering first its origin is the best place to start unraveling the mystery behind its general temperament and looks.
To answer the question, yes, the Siamese breed is indeed Asian. It’s one of the most popular felines all over the world, but its population mainly flourished in the Eastern world. Nowadays, you can easily find a cat of this breed anywhere as they are growing in vast numbers. With their peculiar habits and behavior, anyone who is inclined to own cats will certainly end up falling in love with a Siamese.
Where Do Siamese Cats Come From?
The actual source of the name of the Siamese breed is known to be Siam or present-day Thailand which is also its place of origin. Without a doubt, this cat is deemed to be one of the oldest breeds that paved the way for many others to emerge Like the Tonkinese, Burmese, and Himalayan.
To mention, its history has two distinct points which are its actual ancient genesis and the emergence of the modern type.
Siamese cats were labeled “the royal cats of Siam”. True to how they look, they indeed appear to be majestic, elegant, and dignified. Before, they were only exclusive to the royal family members or people in the upper echelons. These were highly coveted furry pets that a decree was set out for the public saying anyone who steals one will have to face death as a punishment.
It was also commonly believed that Siamese cats are what any dead royal family will become after incarnation. A Siamese cat will be placed in the tomb of a deceased king. If the cat gets out of it, it’s assumed that he already carries the soul of the dead leader. The feline is set to have a pampered life whilst living with monks and priests. Certain superstitions are no longer new to many of us. Even the Egyptians believe that cats are the guardians of the underworld!
How Old Is the Siamese Breed?
To exactly determine the right date concerning when the first Siamese cats were bred and domesticated, then that would be entirely impossible. What we know of, however, is that the breed is a very old one. Several manuscripts and documents dating between the 14th and 18th centuries are manifestations that the Siamese breed is already around for quite a long time.
Thailand boasts of its classical literature called Tamra Maew which roughly translates to the Cat-Book of Poems. This was written when the Ayutthaya Kingdom ruled Thailand. The book mentioned quite a few times the word “Wichienmaat” (Siamese Cat) and other more breeds such as the Konja cat, Korat cat, and Suphalak.
When Was the Siamese Cat Introduced to the Western World?
Particularly in the UK, records suggest that the first Siamese cats were imported around 1884 when then British Consul-General Edward Blencowe gave a pair of Siamese cats from Bangkok to his sister Lilian Jane Gould. The cats were named Pho and Mia and they successfully mated and produced three kittens.
If we are to determine when the Siamese cats were known in the western world, researchers admit that they are unsure about it. It’s also unclear whether the first imports were brought first in the UK or the US. Regardless of which country received the initial batch of Siamese imports, the popularity of the breed surged in a jiffy after a family of Siamese cats was exhibited in the London’s Crystal Palace Show.
This event, along with many others, prompted cat fanciers to import several cats of the same breed from Thailand. The fact that the traditional Siamese felines mostly have kinked tails and crossed eyes did not make people get discouraged about getting one for themselves. They instantly fell in love with the Thai breed.
Traditional Siamese vs Modern Siamese
If we ask once more the question “Are Siamese cats Asian?”, the general answer would be yes. But, if there is a specific type of Siamese mentioned, then the answer will vary. This is because there is what we call the Traditional Siamese and the modern one.
They have contrasting appearances and have different beginnings. The other variation was most likely the result of the 1950s to the 1980s breed development presumably done in America. Breeders who aim to eliminate the “faulty” bent tails and crossed eyes of the Siamese ended up with a Thai cat that has an obviously distinct look.
The Traditional Siamese cat has three other subtypes: the Classic, the Old Style, and the Applehead. No matter what subtype the Traditional Siamese is, it does not diminish the idea that all of them resemble closely their ancient ancestors.
To be able to identify which is which, let’s look at their distinct details below:
|Has a long and athletic body||Resembles the ancient ancestors the most||Has a longer, fluffier coat|
|Has two large ears||Has almond-shaped eyes||A bit quieter than others|
|Considered to be an advanced breed||Has an elongated face and an athletic body||Has a round, apple-shaped head|
Reiterating that the Modern Siamese is the outcome of tedious selective breeding, it’s to be expected that the features are further altered. This type of Siamese now has a longer body with a triangular head. Sometimes, it can be wedge-shaped. The eyes are slanted to an extent and the ears are quite larger than the traditional.
Due to these changes, some modern Siamese cats are now highly prone to heart and kidney problems. Thankfully, the population of cats who are vulnerable to such illnesses is low.
Are All Asian Cats Vocal?
Not all, but some are. Indeed the most vocal of them all is the Siamese breed. Others on the list would be the Japanese bobtail and the Oriental Shorthair. Owners who like to have conversations with their pets must consider going for Asian cat breeds due to how expressive they can be, but also quite demanding at times.
Did Any Movie Portray an Asian Cat Breed?
There is! Perhaps the most famous appearance made by the Siamese breed is in the Lady and the Tramp movie. There you’d see two Siamese cats named Si and Am who harassed Scamp, an American Cocker Spaniel. Their personalities include being mischievous, mean, and somehow chaotic. The song they sang was so catchy that anyone can easily remember the lyrics: “We are Siamese if you please. We are Siamese if you don’t please. Now we lookin’ over our new domicile. If we like we stay for maybe quite a while” is the first stanza to their song.
Even though the movie came out in 1955, it still remains to be a popular animated film. Hence why the portrayal of this magnificent Siamese breed is now drawing mixed reactions from the public. Some were amused and entertained by their peculiarity, while others think that it represents racism due to the protruding buck teeth, slanted eyes, and accent.