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Buying a pet

Siamese Cat: Breed info and health advice

Date updated: 17 11 2017

Talkative, playful and totally devoted to their human friends, Siamese will tell you exactly what they want with that raise-the-roof voice and impressive range of miaows.

Your Siamese buddy will follow you everywhere. They’re totally into sharing (especially when there’s something tasty on your dinner plate), and if those jewellery or keys have gone walkabouts, it’s obvious who the main suspect is!

It’s never dull (or quiet!) with a Siamese on board. Not just a pretty face, they’re also one of the most intelligent cat breeds and need lots of interaction and stimulation to keep them active and entertained.

via GIPHY

Stats:

Average lifespan: 15-20 years

Weight: Males: 3.8 to 4.8 kg, Females: 2.0 to 4.2 kg.

Height: Males and Females: 30.48 to 28.1 cm   

Colouring: The classic combination is “Seal Point” (a white body with a dark brown nose, paw pads and ears).

Grooming requirements: Occasional brushing should keep their coat in good shape.

Average purchase cost: £400-£500+ for a well-bred, pedigree kitten.

Bet you didn’t know…
They really are Siamese. They originate from Siam (now Thailand) and probably first emerged at some point during the Ayutthaya Kingdom (1351 to 1767 AD). They first came to Europe in the 19th Century - where cat lovers fell in love with them instantly.

They’re albinos. SIamese have a special modifier gene that stops pigmentation (hence the brilliant white!) But that modifier signal only works when the fur is above a certain temperature, so because a cat’s body is cooler around the ears, paws and tail, you still get darker markings in these areas.

All Siamese used to be cross-eyed. Crossed eyes are natural to the breed; because of a genetic flaw in their eye structure, traditional Siamese cats basically had to cross their eyes to see straight. These days, selective breeding means that most of the Siamese cats you’ll come across won’t be cross-eyed. But in cats classed as Traditional Siamese or Thai Siamese, it’s still pretty common.

A Siamese once co-authored a physics paper. Yep, in 1975 Jack H. Hetherington was about to publish what would become an influential piece of academic writing. The professor had used the royal ‘we’ throughout - even though he was the sole author. A colleague told him he’d need to change it to be accepted, so in these days before find-and-replace, he thought it would be easier to cite a co-author; his Siamese, “F.D.C. Willard”.   

Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Rod Stewart, Liz Taylor: unsurprisingly, the Siamese has picked up some seriously glamorous fans over the years!


Great for…
Siamese love attention, so if you’re on hand for fuss then you and your buddy are going to get along just purrfect. The flipside is when the home is empty all day; anything longer than 4 hours alone and Siamese can get lonely and stressed.

These guys don’t need much space to roam. Keeping your Siamese as a house cat is actually a good idea, because unfortunately they can be a magnet for thieves.

Siamese love people, full stop. Playtime with the kids? Movie night on your lap? Lazy mornings in bed? You name it, your buddy’s in.

Behaviour & temperament

The animal experts call it “frequent vocalisation”. In real life, it means you’ve got a very chatty cat. When it’s dinner time, sometimes they’ll politely remind you with that loud, low-pitched voice. You’ll soon get to know what each of those miaows means.

While some can get a bit nervy when there’s a stranger on the scene, most are extroverts. They thrive on human companionship, and will form a special bond with those closest to them.

They’re sleek and muscular, which makes them great jumpers - so getting onto countertops is a piece of cake. From a young age, teach your buddy what is and what isn’t acceptable. Puzzle toys, cat trees, playtime with the kids: They all help to keep your buddy smart, athletic, healthy and happy.

TLC
Those long, slim legs just aren’t cut out to carry a pot belly around. Diet wise, take advice from the vet on what your buddy needs, how much and how often. Try to resist spoiling them and slipping treats from the dinner table, they’ll thank you for it later! Lots of 10-15 minute play sessions each day can also help your buddy stay trim.

SIamese are moderate shedders; a once-a-week brushing session can save a lot of hoovering and helps keep their coat shiny and bright. But be careful, too much brushing can damage a Siamese coat texture. To avoid this, use the “finger brush” method; wetting your finger tips and rubbing them through the fur.

Once a week, it’s also important to clean your buddy’s ears. Use a moist cotton ball to gently wipe away any dirt from the visible part inside the ear - but be really careful not to probe into the ear canals when cleaning, as this can cause your buddy a lot of problems. While you’re there, take a good look: redness and discharge are signs of infection, in which case, it’s time to phone the vet.

Common health issues to watch out for

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Siamese are prone to this genetic eye problem which leads to progressive blindness. For diagnosis and to help your cat lead as normal a life as possible with PRA, input is needed from a veterinary ophthalmologist.
  • Systemic amyloidosis. This is where protein builds up in various organs, stopping them from working properly, typically resulting in severe liver damage and/or kidney failure. This is a fatal disease. 
  • Mediastinal lymphoma. This form of cancer causes a buildup of fluid around the lungs. From chemo and steroids through to possible surgery, a vet should be able to advise you on the best way forward.
  • Asthma. Siamese are one of the cat breeds most susceptible to this disease of the airway. Treatment options include anti-inflammatory drugs and bronchodilator therapy.
  • Hip dysplasia. Siamese can be predisposed to this form of lameness of the hind leg, caused by abnormal development of the hip joint. It can’t be cured - but it can often be controlled.
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