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Where are Siamese Cats From? Facts, Origin & History

blue point siamese cat lying by the window

Introduction

Siamese cats are some of the sweetest and most loving cats that you’ll find anywhere. They’re outgoing and fun-loving, and they can instantly brighten up a room with their goofy personalities that belie their elegant appearance.

In fact, many people describe them as being dog-like in temperament. They’re not aloof and standoffish like many other cat breeds, complete with their window-rattling vocalizations when they feel they’re not getting the attention that they deserve.

Despite their agreeable personalities, Siamese cats are quite misunderstood compared to other well-known breeds. This guide will change all that.

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The Earliest Records of Siamese Cats in History

Siamese cats are an ancient breed; the first known reference to them comes from around the 14th century CE, but it’s believed that they had already existed long before that reference appeared.

There’s a legend that when Burma and Siam were at war in the 18th century, the Burmese king read a poem that described Siamese cats as being rare as gold, while also promising that anyone who owned one of these cats would become rich. The king then supposedly ordered his army to bring all the Siamese cats in the land back to Burma with them.

Ultimately, all we know for sure is that the breed developed somewhere around Thailand many centuries ago, but they didn’t find global popularity until the 19th century, when British and American enthusiasts began breeding the animals and taking them along on worldwide adventures.

close up Flame point Siamese cat
Image Credit: Juudou, Shutterstock

How Siamese Cats Gained Popularity

In the late 1870s, one of these cats was given to Lucy Hayes, the wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Having a Siamese in the White House gave the breed immediate notoriety, and they quickly exploded in popularity.

They were developing quite the following on the other side of the pond at about this same time. In the U.K., a club dedicated to the breed was established by the turn of the 20th century, and it wasn’t long before the breed had a dedicated fan base.

Hollywood did its part to make the breed stand out as well. A Siamese had the title role in “That Darn Cat!”, which made the breed look adventurous and cute at the same time.

Related Read: How Much Does a Siamese Cat Cost? (Price Guide 2021)

Formal Recognition of Siamese Cats

Formal recognition for this cat came in 1906, as that’s the year that the Cat Fanciers’ Association declared them an independent breed.

However, there had been several clubs and organizations dedicated to the breed formed in the decades prior to their official recognition, so that title was mostly a formality.

By the time the middle of the 20th century rolled around, the breed was beginning to change a bit, as slender, narrow-headed cats became en vogue. This “modern” look was accepted by governing bodies, such as the World Cat Federation, around that time, and today’s cat shows will often feature Siamese with both modern and classic features.

siamese thai blue eyed cat
Image Credit: catinrocket, Shutterstock

Related Read: Seal Point Siamese: Facts, Origin & History

Top 3 Unique Facts About Siamese Cats

1. These Cats Once Had Crossed Eyes and Crooked Tails

Originally, the Siamese breed was known for their crossed eyes and crooked tails, as virtually every cat in the breed shared those features.

The folklore around the breed stated that a Siamese was entrusted to protect a golden cup for their king; the cat was dedicated to their ruler, so they held the cup so tightly that their tails bent and stared at it so intently that their eyes crossed.

Nowadays, it’s rare to find a Siamese with those traits, as they’ve been bred out of them. However, you’ll still occasionally encounter a bent-tailed or cross-eyed cat.

2. Their Tips Are Darker for a Reason

Siamese cats are known for having lighter-colored bodies with dark “tips” — that is, the tips of their paws, ears, and other features are usually a darker color. The color of their tips can vary, as usually they’re dark brown, but they can also be lilac, blue, or chocolate.

The reason they have these dark tips is that they have special enzymes in their bodies designed to help keep them cool. The enzymes cause their extremities to be dark in order to trap heat, while their lighter-colored bodies manage to stay nice and temperature-controlled.

3. Most Siamese Cats are Lactose Intolerant

The stereotype that cats love lapping milk out of a saucer doesn’t hold true for Siamese, as dairy usually gives them diarrhea.

To see if your Siamese is lactose intolerant, give them a tiny bit to drink and then monitor their bowel movements for a day or so afterward. If everything seems fine, slowly increase the amount that you give them. However, they’ll never need much milk, so don’t go overboard even if they can tolerate it.

siamese cat lying on grass outdoor
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

Do Siamese Cats Make Good Pets?

Not only are Siamese cats excellent pets, but they’re also one of the best breeds for those who aren’t necessarily “cat people.

They’re outgoing and goofy, so they’re likely to approach you first to initiate a play session. They’re demanding of attention, which can be both a good and bad thing. It’s great to have a lovable cat on your lap, but you may get tired of being an “affection on demand” machine.

The breed tends to suffer from separation anxiety when left alone too long, so they’re not ideal pets for anyone who’s gone most of the day. At the very least, they should be provided another feline companion if you can’t be there for them.

They’re also known for being quite vocal. Their vocalizations have been compared to the cry of a human baby, so if you want a sneak peek at what parenthood is like, bringing home a Siamese may give you a glimpse into the future.

You might also be interested in: Flame Point Siamese: Facts, Origin & History

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Conclusion

The Siamese is a gorgeous and elegant breed, but their general demeanor is often anything but sophisticated. These are playful, fun-loving cats, and it won’t be long after you bring one home that you find that they’re permanently attached to your side.

Despite being one of the oldest domesticated cat breeds on the planet, many people are relatively uninformed about these felines. Hopefully, this guide helped remedy that.

You might also be interested in: Siamese & Manx Cat Mix


Featured Image Credit: Lucie K, Shutterstock

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