All About Siamese Cats

Siamese cats have long been favorite breed for those pet owners in the market for a purebred cat. While the Humane Society has many lovable cats available for adoption, some pet owners desire a particular breed for a guaranteed temperament or to compete in shows. Siamese cats are one of the most popular breeds people choose for pets and showing.

Siamese Cats: Appearance

Siamese cats originally came from Siam (which is now Thailand), where they were kept as beloved pets of the royal family. They were originally brought to the U.S. from Great Britain in 1890.

Siamese cats have light colored bodies with darker areas on their legs, tail and face. The dark spots on the tips of Siamese cats are called “points” in cat show terminology. Siamese cats come in a variety of colors (only some of which qualify for showing), but the points are always darker than the rest of the cat’s body. As a Siamese cat ages, the points become less pronounced as the body darkens a bit in color. For whatever reason, Siamese kittens are born completely white and only develop the unique Siamese coloration a week or two into life. Siamese cats always have blue eyes. Although Oriental shorthair cats are direct descendents of Siamese cats, they do not have points and may have green or blue eyes.

Siamese cats have short hair and long, muscular bodies. Their legs and tails echo the long, slender body to make for a very sleek-looking breed of cats. Siamese cats have very triangular faces, so their ears look larger than those of other cats.

Siamese Cats: Personality

Siamese cats tend to be very intelligent and social. Unlike most other breeds, Siamese cats can be taught to walk on a leash and play simple fetching games. In their eagerness to please, they often resemble dogs more than cats in their temperament. Siamese cats bond very strongly to their people and do not do well when left alone for long periods of time. Some Siamese cats will attach themselves very strongly to one person and not think much of everyone else around.

As much as Siamese cats adore people, they don’t do as well in multi-cat households because they tend to be territorial about their space and their humans. Bringing a new baby or pet into a house with an already established Siamese cat will often evoke feelings of jealousy and betrayal, which can then lead to behavioral problems. If a Siamese cat experiences stress from being left alone, it may chew on or eat fabric, particularly wool. In general, though, owners of Siamese cats love them for their love of company.

Siamese Cats: Breed-Specific Health Problems

Because of Siamese cats’ quick rise to popularity in the U.S., there are some genetic health problems associated with Siamese cats because of previous overbreeding.

A couple of genetic “flaws” inherent in some Siamese cats are merely cosmetic. Strabismus is the technical term for Siamese cats that exhibit a squint. Although this “squint” will make a Siamese cat appear cross-eyed, there are no known vision problems associated with it.

Another common genetic mutation in Siamese cats is a permanent kink in the tail, which is caused by a bent tailbone. Although the tail may be bent up to 90 degrees, the cat will experience no pain or discomfort as a result.

As far as actual health problems go, Siamese cats often experience hereditary heart disease that weakens the valves of their hearts. Usually this particular heart disease doesn’t become symptomatic in Siamese cats until later in life

A more rare and serious genetic health problem for Siamese cats is Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS). This usually fatal disease manifests itself when the kitten is between two and four months old, and affects development. Kittens with MPS usually develop bone and joint problems, dwarfism, abnormal facial development, and clouded corneas. Affected cats usually don’t live past the age of three, but often their owners will have them humanely put to sleep before this happens.

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