The Siamese is one of the oldest and best known cat breeds. The beautiful light-colored cat with the striking color points in seal, lilac, chocolate and blue made his Western Hemisphere debut in Victorian England, where he was touted as the Royal Cat of Siam, what we now call Thailand. He has been beloved ever since by people who appreciate his good looks and vocal talents.
These cats are known to be intelligent and curious, and are vocal pets which like to play and interact with their owners. There are two primary types of Siamese: applehead and modern ; these can be differentiated by body shape.
Siamese cats are relatively easy to identify through body and facial features, coat, and behavior.
Looking at Physical Characteristics
- Identify a modern Siamese. Modern—or show—Siamese are easy to identify. Their bodies have been bred for extreme qualities: modern Siamese are slim, angular, and have a deliberately skeletal appearance. The modern Siamese cat also has an elongated, thin neck and tail. The cats look elegant, and commonly appear in cat shows and competitions.
- Identify an applehead Siamese. Applehead Siamese, also known as traditional, are much less angular and thin than their modern counterparts. Applehead Siamese have thicker, stockier bodies, and their tails and necks are both thicker and shorter than those of the modern Siamese.Although modern and applehead are the two common types of Siamese cat, there are some that do not fall completely into either of these categories, but display a body type that borrows characteristics from both show and traditional Siamese.
- Look at the cat’s head. As indicated by the name, the head of a traditional Siamese cat is rounded and almost apple-shaped. This is in stark contrast to the triangular, smaller head of the modern Siamese. The traditional Siamese will have a larger, heavier head that sits close to its body.Modern Siamese were bred for decades to have smaller and smaller heads, with increasingly angular features. Modern Siamese with wedge- or triangle-shaped heads are genetically susceptible to respiratory concerns, such as asthma and bronchial disease, and dental problems.
- Look at the cat’s coat. Siamese have distinctive fur colors and patterning, although there is no single coat pattern or color shared by all Siamese. Typically, Siamese have creamy white coats with dark patches or “points” on the muzzle and face, ears, tail, and feet. However, several variations on this pattern exist.These coat patterns are shared between both modern and applehead Siamese; the body shape and coat coloring are independent of each other.Kittens of nearly all cat breeds are born with blue eyes, which later mature into darker colors. The eyes of the Siamese stay blue their entire life, so they can’t be easily identified by eye color as kittens.
- Look at the cat’s ears. Both types of Siamese cat have distinctive, recognizable ears. The modern Siamese especially has a specific ear style: it’s ears are large, and shaped like triangles or wedges. In some purebred modern Siamese, the ears may be nearly as large as the head itself. The ears of an applehead Siamese are more proportional to its body, and less angular and pointed.The ears of an applehead Siamese will also be closer together on the top of its head. Due to their shape and size, the ears of a modern Siamese can be far apart on the cat’s head.
- Spend time around the cat. As you watch and observe a Siamese, you’ll notice that it’s energetic and intelligent. Siamese cats have a close bond with their owners, and are demonstrative and affectionate. When they’re not playing or exploring, Siamese like to sit in people’s laps, and often sleep near their owners at night.If you’re in the same house with a Siamese for any length of time, you’ll notice that it will begin to follow you around. Siamese are curious animals, and want to keep tabs on where you’re going.
- Play with the cat or give it toys. Siamese can be demanding and need frequent attention, and a great way to provide this attention is through play. Throw a ball or fake mouse toy for a Siamese and it’ll likely retrieve it. Siamese also enjoy puzzle toys that require thought to move parts and release a treat.Siamese also enjoy physical activity. They enjoy a game of fetch, and will also chase a piece of ribbon or laser pointer.Avoid giving your cat strings or rubberbands to play with, as these “toys” can be ingested by your Siamese cat.
- Listen to the cat’s vocal sounds. Siamese cats are a very vocal breed, and you’ll soon become aware of this if you spend time around one. Siamese will verbally interact and “talk” with their owners through loud meows, and will have a deep, loud purr when they’re pleased. The voice of a Siamese cat can sound raspy or hoarse, and is a good indicator of the cat’s breed.Siamese owners will describe their cats as “chatty” and may even grow tired of the cats’ talkative behavior.