Siamese Cats: What You Should Know Before Getting One
Most people like to do some research when deciding whether or not to get a pet. After reading articles from experienced owners, I have talked myself out of owning (for now) pigs, sugar gliders, tarantulas, mice, rabbits, goats, chickens, and horses. I'm not trying to sway your opinion of Siamese cats, but I do want you to make an educated decision and do what's best for everyone.
The Siamese is one of the oldest recognized breeds of Oriental cat, originating from Thailand (formerly known as Siam). Now, I know the lure of big blue eyes might be enough to sucker you into a 15-20 year sentence, but it's important that you're happy so your bundle of kitty will be. Trust me, the last thing you want is an angry Siamese!
If you're someone though who has thought about getting a dog but can't because you don't have time to walk them or your apartment/house doesn't allow them, a Siamese might be a great choice for you since they are very extroverted and some even love to play fetch!
This article sets the record straight and answers some of the most common questions asked about this breed.
They Meow a Lot
Unless this is the first article that you've read about Siamese cats, you probably have learned about the vocalization skills they possess. Please listen––I don't want you to take this lightly. Let me help you understand just how infuriating and wonderful their little voices are.
When we first brought our baby kitten home, we thought she was broken. It had been years since I'd owned a Siamese, and I'd forgotten just how talkative they are. When I would hold her, she would look deep into my eyes and bellow inches from my face, with no regard to her fishy breath assaulting my nostrils. I almost brought her to the back to the vet because I was afraid she was sick.
If you believe cats are quiet and stick mostly to themselves, prepare to be astonished. Siamese cats are regular "Chatty Cathys" and enjoy nothing more than to tell you about their day. Most of them never tire from describing all of the naps they took during the day, all of the kernels of food they ate, all of the bugs they saw, all of the thoughts they had, all of the furniture they destroyed––in great detail.
They genuinely love the sound of their own voices. The good thing about this is that you will always have someone to "talk" with. I know this will make me sound like a crazy cat lady (which I guess I am when it comes to Rain, my cat), but she will carry on a "conversation" until I get bored and wander away. When she is in a good mood, her meows are sweet and subtle. But if she is angry, they are brain-splitting sharp.
And now the truth––the Siamese caterwaul is very loud, especially if they really want something. There is no wall, door, or fence that can effectively block the sound from traveling directly into your ear canals. If you believe that you will be able to sleep through it, you're sadly mistaken. It's more obnoxious than a baby's cry, your neighbor's mower early Saturday morning, or even your mother-in-law's laugh.
They Are Very Affectionate
Quite the opposite! If you want a cat because they are independent and will be happy without you, then a Siamese may not be for you. The ones that I have known (I've owned three) absolutely loved to be cuddled, held, and fussed over constantly. Rain will not go longer than an hour without sitting in my lap or sauntering into whatever room I'm in to make sure I'm still her faithful servant.
Our family's Siamese cat when I was growing up, China, is now 15 years old. Over the years, she has put me in my place many times. But no matter how much I bothered her, she would always sit on my lap and treat me to her thunderous purr. Children are not the gentlest creatures towards pets, so the fact that China still loved me so much is no small feat for a feline.
The idea that they are aloof and standoffish is very wrong. Rain and China do not like being alone. When we get back from vacation, Rain smothers us in affection. She smothers us anyway, but she especially has a difficult time when we aren't there.
If you want a cat that doesn't particularly care whether you exist or not, don't get a Siamese. It seems like they need more love and affection than most dogs I've met. If you aren't willing to give what your cat believes is enough attention, you will certainly pay the price in bad cat behavior.
This breed is also notorious for becoming jealous if you don't pay attention to them, which may be why they've gained a reputation for being mean.
Siamese Cats Need Stimulation
If you work full-time and still want to get a Siamese, think about getting two, so that they'll at least have each other when you're gone.
Because this breed can easily get bored, you'll need to make sure you buy them lots of toys, a scratching post, and some cat-climbing furniture. They sometimes make up their own games and love to climb. They have been known to hide on top of the refrigerator or a shelf and pounce on passers-by.
They Are Difficult to Train
Here is the biggest secret of them all: Siamese cats are extremely difficult to train. I have literally tried everything. Maybe this is a Siamese thing, or maybe it's a cat thing, and I'm crazy for even trying to train an animal that believes it is superior to...well, basically everything. But this breed is known for its intelligence and ability to pick up new skills!
When I tried the water bottle tactic the "experts" advised, she just squinted her eyes and continued doing exactly what I didn't want her to do. No matter how long I "stuck to my guns," she held out longer. I finally gave up, knowing that I'd been defeated yet again by a cat.
I tried swatting at her because I thought if I mimicked her behavior she would get the point in her native language. Nope. She just looked at me like I was insane and learned that it was okay to swat me. Big mistake.
When I began reinforcing positive behavior with kitty cookies, she believed what I really wanted was for her to annoy me as frequently as possible for another treat.
I even tried confining her as a punishment. She just went to sleep and was annoyed when I woke her up to free her.
The only thing I've found somewhat effective is cuddling her when she doesn't want to be cuddled, or in a way that she doesn't approve. That means I give her tons of hugs and sing her songs about how lovely she is. It's guaranteed to win me at least ten minutes of alone time.
While it's possible to train your Siamese to play fetch or walk on a leash, it has to be something that they are at least interested in doing. Otherwise, you won't have any luck. These cats only do what they want.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Siamese
They love to be around people and act much more like dogs than cats.
If you work full-time or are gone a lot, your cat will surely act out and become destructive.
They are easy to groom.
They meow a lot, and their sound is known to be more obnoxious than a baby's cry.
They are loyal and affectionate.
They require a lot of stimulation and can easily become bored.
They May Engage in Compulsive Behavior
It's common for Siamese cats to engage in compulsive behavior, like constantly biting or licking themselves. They may also suck wool or other fabric, or engage in pica, which is the consumption of non-foods. This behavior usually begins before the age of two, so if you notice your cat regularly doing any of these things, it may be time to talk to your vet about it.
A Basic Guide to Caring for Siamese Cats
- One of the great things about this breed is that they are easy to groom. Their short, fine coats can easily be cared for with a weekly combing to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils.
- Brush their teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is best, but weekly brushing is better than nothing.
- Because these cats have long, slim bodies weight gain will show quickly. They can even show a pot belly after indulging in one day of over-eating, so their nutrition must be carefully controlled.
What Are the Different Breeds?
There are a few different types of Siamese cats, and they are distinguished by their points, which refer to the flashes of color on the face, ears, legs, and tail, and should have a sharp definition.
- Breed Standard: The is the standard Siamese that is recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association. They have big blue eyes, a pleasantly triangular head, and a short coat. They are also muscular and have an athletic profile.
- Seal Point: They can be recognized by their fawn body coat, which usually darkens with age. Their points are deep brown, like that of a seal's. Their overall coloring is believed to have come first among all types of Siamese cats.
- Chocolate Point: They have dark brown points and a cream-colored coat. They have a lighter body color than the Seal Point, and their nose and pads tend to be pinkish.
- Blue Point: They are very distinct in that they will have bluish fur on their face, ears, and the tips of their tails.
- Lilac Point: This variation was officially recognized in 1955 and features points that are purplish, grayish or a pale pinkish tone. Their body coat is typically lighter than that of other types.
Six More Facts About Siamese Cats
- The color of their coats isn't just determined by genetics. This breed has a special modifier gene that inhibits pigment from developing in the fur, resulting in albinism. But did you know that this gene only affects their fur when their body temp is between 100 and 102.5 degrees? Once their temp drops below 100 degrees, their color returns.
- They are a very old breed. It's commonly believed that they originated in Thailand around the 14th century when they first appeared in a Thai manuscript, making them one of the oldest cat breeds in the entire world.
- Crooked tails and crossed eyes used to be common traits. While this was the result of genetics, legend has it that a group of Siamese cats were tasked with guarding a royal goblet. The cats stared at the goblet with such intensity that their eyes crossed. And because they wrapped their tails around the goblet for extra security, their tails became permanently bent.
- They were treated like royalty. This breed commonly belonged to royal families in Thailand who treated them like kings and queens.
- The first Siamese cat in the United States lived in the White House: This breed was not seen in the U.S. until the late nineteenth century. One of the first known owners of a Siamese cat was First Lady Lucy Hayes, wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes. She received the cat as a gift from a U.S. diplomat working in Thailand.
- They've appeared in many Hollywood films, including The Incredible Journey, The Lady and the Tramp, and That Darn Cat! In fact, the entire plot of That Darn Cat! is centered on a Siamese named DC (or Darn Cat) who helps stop a kidnapping.
All in all, Siamese cats are wonderful. If they could talk, they would probably tell us they are God's greatest gifts. I wouldn't disagree.