The Siamese

This breed profile is written by Pet Circle in house veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski, BVSc.

One of the most popular cat breeds globally, the Siamese is graceful, vocal, and affectionate. It's easy to see why humans adore this breed so much, and have done so for centuries. The Siamese has well and truly made its mark throughout history - from ancient Thai folklore to the Hollywood silver screen. Read on to discover what makes this oriental breed so special.

At a glance

Place of origin: Life expectancy: Level of affection:
Thailand (Previously the Kingdom of Siam) 8 to 12 years Moderate to High
Energy level: Tendency to vocalise: Coat colours:
Medium Very high Seal Point traditionally. Other variations include Chocolate, Lilac, Blue, Red, Cream, Fawn, Tabby, or Cinnamon Point.
Coat type: Size: Coat markings:
Short, straight, glossy Female: <3kg, Male: 3 to 5kg Light in colour on the body with dark colours on the ears, mask, legs and tail.
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Eye colour:
Low Low Blue

Skip to a section:

History

Physical Characteristics

Personality

Health Concerns

Siamese Fun Facts

Famous Siamese Cats

Nutrition

History

The Siamese is believed to be one of the oldest cat breeds in the world. The exact origin of the breed is unknown, but it is suspected that the Siamese was recognised in Thailand as early as the 13th or 14th centuries.

The Siamese cat is recorded to be the legendary temple cat of the King of Siam. Legend has it that Siamese were guardians for the King. They would perch on pillars around his palace and jump down onto individuals who threatened the King. Due to their strength, they would knock a person to the floor, and swipe at their face for good measure.

While nobody can say if these legends are true, we do know that the first Siamese cats in Europe were gifted from the King of Siam to the English consulate general of Bankok in the late 1800s. Siamese cats were also imported to North America from Britain, France, Japan, and Siam in the late 1890s and early 1900s. U.S. President Rutherford B Hayes received a Siamese Cat as a gift in 1878 from a US diplomat stationed in Thailand.

The Siamese cat was a relatively rare breed until after World War II, when they rose to the number one most common breed with regards to number of registrations.

Physical Characteristics

Credit: willow_and_ivy_tc on Instagram


In terms of appearance, the Siamese is easily recognisable. They typically have long limbs, a slender body, and a triangular-shaped face with large ears. In terms of colour, Siamese always have a pointed coat with darker markings around the ears, face, limbs and tail. Traditionally the colour was Seal Point, but modern Siamese lines may show other point variations including Chocolate, Lilac, Blue, Red, Cream, Fawn, Tabby, and Cinnamon.

Do Siamese cats have crossed eyes? Siamese cats are often thought of as a 'cross-eyed' breed. Originally, most Siamese cats had crossed-eyes and kinked tails. However, cat breeders gradually tried to eliminate these traits with selective breeding. Today, both cross-eyed and straight-eyed Siamese cats exist.

The reason why affected Siamese cats have crossed eyes is actually quite interesting. The condition is known as 'convergent strabismus'. A genetic abnormality causes their retinas (the vision-receiving surface at the back of the eye) to develop pointing outwards, rather than straight-on. The cat then crosses their eyes on purpose, so that the retinas line up facing forward and they can see straight. It's almost like a natural, feline version of wearing eye glasses!

Personality

Siamese cats are known for being vocal and opinionated. They will happily meow and have conversations with their humans, responding vocally to questions. A quick search of Youtube will yield video after video of highly opinionated Siamese-human 'conversations'. Only consider adopting a Siamese if you're happy to live with a chatty busy-body!

In terms of affection, Siamese are known for being loving, attentive and 'helpful'. They bond strongly with their humans and will follow them from room to room, 'supervising' all activities. At night, they are known for sleeping next to their owner and love curling up on a warm lap. Because of their attachment to their humans, a Siamese is not a good choice if you need to leave your pet alone for long periods.

The Siamese is also known for being agile, full of energy, and an excellent jumper. They love to jump up to high surfaces and survey their kingdom (perhaps this is an instinct left over from their King-guarding pillar-perching days in Siam!)

Top toys and accessories for Siamese cats

Catit Senses Super Roller Circuit

Ideal for playful, intelligent cats like the Siamese, the Catit Senses Roller Circuit is interactive and will keep any clever kitty entertained for hours.

The Catsentials Cat Tree with Springboard

As keen jumpers, the Siamese will naturally seek heights to climb onto. A cat tree will provide mulitple levels for your Siamese climb.

Cat Harnesses

Due to their intelligence and ability to be trained, the Siamese is the perfect cat for teaching how to walk on a lead and harness.

Go Cat Go Teaser Snakey

Teasers can help your active Siamese exercise their body and mind. The fluffy streamers kick in their natural instincts and encourage play.

  • Siamese cats once foiled an espionage plot in Russia. In the 1960s, two Siamese cats at the Dutch Embassy in Moscow suddenly woke up and started clawing at a wall. Their owner suspected they might be hearing a noise inaudible to human ears, and he was correct - investigations revealed 30 tiny microphones hidden in the wall.
  • A siamese cat once produced a litter of 19 kittens. Unfortunately 4 were stillborn, but this is nonetheless believed to be the largest cat litter ever recorded.
  • In Thailand, Siamese cats are called 'wichien-matt', which translates more or less to 'Moon Diamond'.
  • Siamese cats were traditionally believed to be guardians of the King of Siam. Legend has it they would perch on pillars and strike down any person threatening the King.
  • Elizabeth Taylor gifted James Dean a Siamese cat, which he named Marcus. Dean apparently chose to feed his cat an unusual diet, which Taylor had reportedly developed for her own kitties, consisting of a mixture of Karo syrup, evaporated milk, egg yolk, and distilled water.

Where have I seen them before?

Siamese cats have been featured in cinema since the days of the silver screen. One Siamese cat named Syn starred in two Disney films back-to-back: The Incredible Journey in 1963, and That Darn Cat in 1965.

Siamese cats have also been featured in a few animated films, including The Lady and The Tramp (1955) as the villainous twin Siamese cats singing 'The Siamese Cat Song'. A Siamese cat is also in The Aristocats (1970) as a chopsticks-wielding musician during the song 'Everybody Wants to Be A Cat'. He sings the lyrics 'Shanghai, Hong Kong, Egg Foo Yong. Fortune Cookie always wrong!' (... unsurprisingly, this scene is often quoted in modern-day analyses of racism in old cartoons!)

Siamese Health concerns

Siamese may be predisposed to a few health conditions including asthma and bronchial disease, juvenile gingivitis / periodontitis, hyperaesthesia sydnrome, heart defects, and amyloidosis.

Asthma and bronchial disease is thought to develop usually as a result of allergic bronchitis. Siamese cats are suspected to be prone to asthma, possibly due to hypersensitivities to inhaled allergens. Symptoms include coughing and wheezing, gagging up foamy discharge, open mouth panting, and laboured breathing. Learn more about Feline Asthma here.

Feline Juvenile Gingivitis may affect any cat breed, but Siamese are particularly prone. It involves generalised inflammation of the gum tissue around the tooth, and is usually diagnosed between 7-10 months of age. A rarer and similar condition called Feline Juvenile Periodontitis also exists, which involves the attachment of the tooth to underlying bone. Siamese cats are over-represented in both conditions. Learn more about Feline Juvenile Gingivitis and Periodontitis here.

Feline Hyperaesthesia Syndrome is a condition where a cat is overly sensitive to touch or other stimulation of the skin and nerves. Affected kitties may show skin rippling along their back when seemingly light touch occurs, and may cry or run away. Some cats even lick or chew at the area in an effort to relieve the pain. Learn more about Feline Hyperaesthesia here.

Amyloidosis is a disease which involves the deposition of insoluble, fibrous proteins - amyloids - into various tissues of the body, particularly the liver. Over time as more and more liver tissue is replaced, the liver stops functioning normally and this can cause liver failure. Symptoms include excessive drinking and urination, lethargy, inappetance, weight loss, and jaundice. Learn more about Amyloidosis here.

Siamese Nutrition

What is the best food for a Siamese? This intelligent, active breed thrives on a premium, balanced diet rich in omega fatty acids to support a glossy coat. If you're not sure where to start, Royal Canin has a specially designed 'Siamese' dry food, which is the perfect option for healthy adult Siamese.

If your Siamese is less active and enjoys an indoor lifestyle, we recommend an 'Indoor' or 'Light' formulation to prevent obesity. Likewise, if your Siamese is prone to dental disease, a 'Dental' formula might be perfect for them.

A variety of wet and dry food is recommended for Siamese cats. Dry food can help keep their teeth clean, which reduces the risk of gingivitis. And wet food can help increase your Siamese's water intake to ensure adequate hydration.

Top dry foods for adult Siamese

Advance Adult Itchy Cat

This Australian made formula contains nutrients to support the skin, including beneficial ocean fish, while being lower in calories to help prevent weight gain.

Royal Canin Siamese

Formulated specifically for Siamese cats, this diet is tailored with nourishing omega oils to maintain healthy skin and shiny coat, and a special kibble shape to encourage chewing and prevent dental disease.

Hill's Science Diet Feline Indoor Cat

This premium quality, highly digestible formula contains a unique blend of ingredients designed to support the maintenance of a healthy weight in indoor cats.

Canidae Grain Free Pure Sea

This all natural, limited ingredient food for cats is made with salmon and menhaden fish meal, so it's naturally high in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and a shiny, lush coat.

Top wet foods for Siamese Cats

Advance Feline Wet Varieties

Made in Australia, these premium quality canned cat food recipes are packed with nutrition designed to support your adult cat's health and vitality.

Royal Canin Intense Beauty Sachets

With an appealing chunks in jelly texture, this wet food contains targeted nutrition for healthy skin and an extra lush, shiny coat.

Ziwi Feline Canned Varieties

Rich in free range New Zealand meats, sustainably sourced fish and green lipped mussel, Ziwi canned foods are packed with natural, wholesome nutrition to suit all adult cats.

Hill's Science Diet Feline Wet Varieties

These high quality wet cat food formulas are easily digested and contain proven nutrition to support your cat's health and wellbeing.