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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
Alan Robinson, Animal Photography
One of the best-known cat breeds, the Siamese is curious, smart, vocal and demanding. If you want a cat who will converse with you all day long, the Siamese may be your perfect match. The Siamese weighs six to 10 pounds and has a distinctive coat with dark “points” on a light background.
The Siamese is a clever, active cat and is known for his willingness to play fetch and walk on a leash.
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.
The Siamese comes in two types: show and traditional. The show Siamese is a work of modern art, all lines and angles. He has a tubular body on long legs, a wedge-shaped head with large, triangular ears, and a long tail. The traditional Siamese, also known as the apple-headed Siamese, has a rounded head and chunky body. Both types have bright blue eyes that demand the worship due to all cats. Whether you choose a show Siamese or a traditional Siamese, they should share the same wonderful personality.
Siamese are endlessly curious, but inclined to be smart and demanding. If you want a Siamese just for his looks, think again. This is a cat who has a passion for his people and will involve himself in everything they are doing. When they’re not around, he will entertain himself by turning on faucets, opening cabinets, seeking out new hideaways to frustrate anyone who might be searching for him, and watching television with clear interest. He may even be willing to walk on leash and play fetch with the same enthusiasm as a certain other four-legged animal to which he disdains being compared.
Nicknamed Meezer, the Siamese may be more famous — or infamous — for his voice than for his looks. He will “talk” to you all day long and well into the night, expressing his opinion on what you’re feeding him, what you’re doing, how much (or how little) attention you’re giving him, and what the dog next door is doing. If you appreciate his sculptural looks and don’t mind his sometimes bad language, he may be just the cat for you.
The beautiful light-colored cat with the striking color points in seal, lilac, chocolate and blue made his Western Hemisphere debut in Victorian England at London’s Crystal Palace Cat Show in 1871. He was publicized as the Royal Cat of Siam, what we now call Thailand.
It’s no surprise that the first Siamese to come to the United States arrived as a dignitary. In 1879, the U. S. consul in Bangkok sent one of Thailand’s unusual cats to Lucy Hayes, wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes. The breed’s other turns in the spotlight have included representation in family favorite movies "The Incredible Journey," "The Aristocats" and "Lady and the Tramp." Today the Siamese is one of the most popular cat breeds registered by the Cat Fanciers Association.
Siamese are endlessly curious, but inclined to be smart and demanding. If you want a Siamese just for his looks, think again. This is a cat who has a passion for his people and will involve himself in everything they are doing. When they’re not around, he will entertain himself by turning on faucets, opening cabinets, seeking out new hideaways to frustrate anyone who might be searching for him, and watching television with clear interest. He may also be willing to walk on leash and play fetch with the same enthusiasm as a certain other four-legged animal to which he disdains being compared.
To keep your Siamese entertained and out of trouble, provide him with puzzle toys that require him to think and move to release treats or kibble, use a clicker to teach him tricks, toss a small ball for him to fetch, train him to run an agility course (really!), place a bird feeder in your window for his viewing pleasure, or teach him to walk on a leash and take him for a stroll.
The Siamese loves people of all ages, including children, and asks only that you spend a lot of time with him, talk to him, play with him and just generally keep him entertained. He likes to be the center of attention, but he can get along fine with dogs and other cats. In fact, it’s a good idea to have a second Siamese or other animal to keep him company if you will be gone during the day.
All cats have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Any breeder who claims that her breed has no health or genetic problems is either lying or is not knowledgeable about the breed. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.
The modern Siamese cat with his wedge-shaped head may be more prone to respiratory and dental problems than cats with a less extreme head type, and some Siamese occasionally have problems with crossed eyes or a kinked tail. Other problems reported in the breed include bladder stones; eye problems like glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy; heart problems; and certain types of cancer.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new kitten into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Siamese at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to protect his overall health. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier cat for life.
The short coat of the Siamese is easy to groom. Comb him weekly with a stainless steel comb. Trim the nails as needed, usually every 10 to 14 days. Cats can be prone to periodontal disease, so brush the teeth at home with a vet-approved pet toothpaste and schedule regular veterinary dental cleanings.
You want your Siamese to be happy and healthy so you can enjoy your time with him, so do your homework before you bring him home. For more information on the history, personality and looks of the Siamese, or to find breeder recommendations, visit the website of the National Siamese Cat Club. You may also obtain breeder referrals from the various cat registries such as the Cat Fanciers Association, the Fanciers Breeder Referral List, The International Cat Association and American Cat Fanciers Association.
A reputable breeder will abide by a code of ethics that prohibits sales to pet stores and wholesalers and outlines the breeder’s responsibilities to their cats and to buyers. Choose a breeder who has performed the health certifications necessary to screen out genetic health problems to the extent that is possible, as well as one who raises kittens in the home. Kittens who are isolated can become fearful and skittish and may be difficult to socialize later in life.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include kittens always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any kitten, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your feline friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and unhealthy catteries can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick kitten, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy kittens. Put at least as much effort into researching your kitten as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Be patient. Depending on what you are looking for, you may have to wait six months or more for the right kitten to be available. Many breeders won’t release kittens to new homes until they are between 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Before you buy a kitten, consider whether an adult Siamese might be a better choice for your lifestyle. Kittens are loads of fun, but they’re also a lot of work and can be destructive until they reach a somewhat more sedate adulthood. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health. If you are interested in acquiring an adult cat instead of a kitten, ask breeders about purchasing a retired show or breeding cat or if they know of an adult cat who needs a new home.
A breeder is not your only option for acquiring a Siamese. Although Siamese kittens are almost never found in shelters and rescue, adult Siamese, both pedigreed and mixed, are not so fortunate. You may find the perfect Siamese for your family through the Siamese Cat Rescue Center, the NSCC’s rescue page, or by checking your local shelters or the listings on Petfinder or Adopt-a-Pet.com.
Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “pet lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the cat from both understand your rights and recourses.
Kitten or adult, take your Siamese to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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