One of the oldest cat breeds in the world is the Siamese breed. The breed likely originated in what is now Thailand, but use to be known as Siam. In Thai, their name is “Wichian mat” which means “moon diamond”.
The first Siamese in the USA was named Siam and was a gift to US President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878. A breeding pair was later brought to England in 1884.
Today they are in most parts of the world and are one of the world's most popular breeds of cats.
The breed as it was 100 years ago is very unlike it is today. At one time most Siamese cats had cross eyes and a kink in their tail. Both of these traits have been mostly bred out. The shape of the cats themselves has been altered in the past 50 years, in favor of a more chiseled looking face with more extreme features and a thinner body. These cats are often called the “modern” or “show” Siamese cat, while others are “traditional”.
photo source - a traditional Siamese cat from the 1960's
Siamese cats are often considered to be more trainable than most other cat breeds, and are often listed as one of the more intelligent cat breeds.
As a result of them being easier to train than most cats, Siamese cats are often the breed of choice for television and film when a cat is required.
Gestation for Siamese cats is 57 to 65 days.
In 1970, a Siamese cross cat gave birth to 19 kittens, the average litter size is 4 to 6 kittens.
Some of the lighter colored Siamese cats, such as the lilac point cats, are less likely to cause allergies than some other cats.
The Siamese cat is best known for its distinctive markings, known as color-point. This is actually a mutation of the gene for albino, and is recessive. Siamese cat kittens are born a very light color or white, and over the next few weeks the cooler parts of their body, the legs, tail, ears, and face (cooled through breathing) begin to darken until the cat is mature.
Siamese cats always have blue eyes.
Siamese cats have been used in breeding programs to create other breeds with similar colors, and other physical traits. Some of these breeds are the Burmese, Balinese, Ocicat, and the Himalayan - in which they were crossed with Persian cats.
The average lifespan of a Siamese cat is 14 years.
Health Problems in Siamese Cats
Siamese cats tend to have fewer urinary tract problems than most other cats.
Siamese cats are more likely to be lactose intolerant than other cats, and should not be given milk, or any other dairy products.
Siamese cats seem to have a greater risk of mammary cancer than other cats, note that this can be reduced by spaying the cat at 5 months, before she has her first heat cycle.
Eye problems, including being cross eyed, or having light sensitivity, are common in Siamese kitties.
Read more about health problems in Siamese Cats.