Siamese Cat Breed Profile – History and Personality

At a glance   History   Temperament   Why are Siamese called Siamese?  Why do Siamese have darker points?   Appearance   Siamese cat colours   Choosing a Siamese cat   Caring for a Siamese cat   Health   Do Siamese cats shed a lot?

Siamese cat

Siamese cats at a glance

  • Origins: Thailand (formerly Siam)
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Energy: Medium
  • Temperament: Talkative, intelligent, affectionate, dog-like
  • Weight: Males 4-6 kg (8.8 – 13.2 lbs), females 3.5-5 kg (7.8 – 11 lbs)
  • Colours: Seal, blue, chocolate, lilac are the traditional colours, other colours vary depending on the cat council
  • Coat: Shorthair
  • Grooming: Requires weekly grooming


The Siamese is a stunning blue-eyed cat with dark points on the face, ears legs and tail, on a light body. Their unusual colouring is a form of partial albinism.

They are a talkative cat, who love to give you a running commentary, they are highly intelligent, extremely loyal and people loving.

History of the Siamese cat

Possibly the most instantly recognisable of all cat breeds, the Siamese cat is an ancient breed of cat with a colourful history and many legends surrounding it. One legend is that Siamese cats guarded the Buddhist temples and were considered sacred. According to Sally Franklin in her book The Complete Siamese Cat, when a high-ranking person died, a Siamese was chosen to receive the dead person’s soul. The cat was removed from the royal household and sent to one of the temples to spend the rest of its days living a ceremonial life of great luxury, with monks and priests as his servants. [2]

The history of the Siamese isn’t entirely known although there are plenty of theories as to its origins.

  • Sydney W. France in his book ‘Siamese Cats‘ claims that the Hon. Russell Gordon gave his considered opinion that the Siamese cat was a cross between the Sacred Cat of Burma and the Annamite cat introduced into the religiously sealed and guarded Burmese Temples, and which were imported into Siam when the Cambodian Empire of Khmer fell to the attacks of the Siamese.
  • German explorer and zoologist Peter Simon Pallas shows a picture of a cat with a Siamese coat pattern which was said to be the progeny of a black cat and had a chestnut-brown body colour, black at the back and paler along the sides and belly, with a black streak running along and surrounding the eyes. [1] This cat was seen in the area of the Caspian Sea.

What we do know is that in 1884 Mr. Edward Blencowe Gould an Acting Vice-Consul at Bangkok obtained a breeding pair of Siamese cats called Pho and Mia. It is said that  King Chulalongkorn gave them to him although this story does attract some skepticism. What we do know is that two Siamese cats arrived in England from Bangkok by Mr. Gould as a present to his sister, Mrs. Lilian Veley. Pho and Mia are recorded as 1a and 2a in the Siamese Cat Register. Mrs. Veley went on to co-found the Siamese Cat Club in 1901.

The following year, Mrs. Vyvyan and her sister of Dover imported two Siamese cats. Mrs. Vyvyan writes to Harrison Weir ‘The original pair were sent from Bangkok, and it is believed that they came from the King’s Palace, where alone the breed is said to be kept pure. At any rate, they were procured as a great favour, after much delay and great difficulty, and since that time no others have been attainable by the same person. We were in China when they reached us, and the following year, 1886, we brought the father, mother and a pair of kittens to England.’

During the next few years, more Siamese were imported into Britain and are the foundation cats of the Siamese we know and love now.

Classic Siamese cat
Image courtesy Barry Mulling, Flickr

Why are Siamese cats called Siamese?

Siamese cats originated from Thailand, which was formerly known as Siam.

Why do Siamese cats have dark points?

Genetically a Seal Point Siamese cat is a black cat, however, Siamese cats have what is known as the Himalayan gene (known as cs) which has a temperature-sensitive expression. This gene causes partial albinism due to a defective enzyme tyrosinase. This enzyme is located in the melanocytes and is responsible for controlling the production of melanin, which gives coat its colour. In Siamese (and other breeds who have the Himalayan gene), the defective tyrosinase doesn’t function as it should at normal body temperature, meaning the cat’s true colour (which is reflected in the points) is unable to

Temperament of the Siamese cat

The Siamese is an extremely intelligent breed of cat. They are the most talkative of cat breeds and enjoy giving their human companions a running commentary. Their voice is rather unique, it is deep and loud.

Siamese are often described as ‘dog-like’ in that they often enjoy to play fetch, but they are also extremely incredibly affectionate and bond closely to their humans. They love to be the centre of attention.

Siamese cats need to be with their human companions almost constantly, they do not do well on their own. They can form close bonds with one particular member of the household, sometimes at the exclusion of others.

Siamese cat

Appearance of the Siamese cat

The Siamese coat pattern is striking. The face, paws, ears, and tail (points) have a darker colouring, the body is light in colour. The coat should be short, fine and silky to the touch.

The ears are large, eyes are a stunning blue and almond-shaped.

The Siamese is an elegant animal with a long, muscular and tubular body, long neck.  The legs are long and slender with small, oval feet. The hind legs are longer than the front legs. The tail is long, thin and whip-like.

Siamese cats have changed quite a lot in the past three decades and have become much more slender than its ancestors. Some breeders are continuing to breed the ‘old style’ Siamese under the name Traditional, Thai, Applehead or Old Style Siamese. I have included both old style and modern Siamese in this article.

Traditional vs modern Siamese cat

Colours of the Siamese cat

The original and most commonly known colours are seal, blue, chocolate and lilac. Different cat associations accept different colours which include red (also known as flame), cream, fawn, caramel, apricot and cinnamon. These colours may also come in tabby (also known as lynx) and tortie point.

Cat Fancy Association in America only accepts seal, blue, chocolate and lilac in Siamese, other colours are considered to be Colorpoint Shorthairs.

Siamese cat

Choosing a Siamese cat

Siamese should be bought from a registered cat breeder to ensure you are getting what you are paying for as well as that, registered breeders have to abide by a code of ethics set out by their registering body. I always prefer to buy purebred cats from a breeder who raises the kittens under-foot, meaning they are raised inside the home and are used to the hustle and bustle of a household.

Where possible, visit the cattery and meet the kittens and parents.

Kittens should not leave the breeder until they are at least 12 weeks old, and they should have received at least two of the required three F3 vaccinations. Some breeders also choose to desex (spay or neuter) their kittens before they go to their new homes.

Write a list of questions for the breeder before you visit the cattery. Be prepared to answer questions the breeder may ask too. Remember, they care about the kittens they produce and want to ensure they are going to a home where they will be loved and cared for.

Always get any guarantees from the breeder in writing.

Siamese cat

Caring for your Siamese cat

Siamese cats are low maintenance, their short coat should be groomed once a week to remove any loose hairs. Claws should be trimmed every few weeks. It is always recommended that you get your kitten used to regular grooming and nail trims when he is young.

Dental care is important for all cats. Your Siamese should have his teeth brushed regularly with a cat toothbrush and toothpaste (never use human toothpaste on a cat). Or you can feed him raw chicken necks or human grade chunks of beef two to three times a week.

Siamese cats should not be allowed to roam free as there are too many dangers out there. If possible, give him access to a cat enclosure which keeps him safe, but allows him to enjoy the outdoors.

He should be fed a good quality diet, preferably wet. Find out what the breeder has been feeding him and give him the same diet, if you would prefer to feed him something different, slowly introduce the new food while feeding less of the old food.

Siamese cat
Image courtesy Deann Barrera, Flickr

Siamese cat health

All cats, purebred or mixed breed can be prone to certain health problems, Siamese may have a higher incidence of the following:

Siamese cat

Suitable for

The Siamese cat thrives on attention and needs to be a part of the family. They are very dog-like in this regard and make an excellent and very loving companion. It is recommended that you adopt two cats if you are out for long periods during the day,  this is especially true with Siamese cats.

Siamese very commonly bond strongly with one member of the household, and can sometimes become quite jealous. If you want a constant companion, who will follow you around, conversing with you, then the Siamese is for you. Another breed may be more suitable if you want a more hands-off type of cat. Siamese cats really do like to be the king or queen of their domain.

Related breeds

Do Siamese cats shed a lot?

All cats shed, the Siamese sheds less than other breeds.


The Siamese can live well into their 20’s.