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The Siamese cat is one of the world’s oldest breeds, with a unique history worth preserving. Not only does its color pattern make the Siamese easily recognizable, but since the original cats were imported in the 1890’s, the Siamese has been noted for its elegance, refinement, length of body, almond shaped deep blue eyes, and wedge shaped head, as well as for its vocal range and its people friendly attitude. The Siamese breed is often described as a “dog without all the work”, and it lives up to its reputation.
While color is a prominent feature of this breed, structure is also important. From the start the breed standard has called for a long, wedge shaped head and elongated body lines. The muscular, tubular body is supported by long legs and graced by a long neck and tail. The short, close lying coat accentuates the long lines perfectly.
The long Siamese head is delineated by an absolutely straight profile and well aligned chin. From the front, the outline of the face presents a smooth wedge with large ears that complete the wedge.
The outstanding feature of the head is the pair of deep blue almond eyes which are set at a slant. They radiate intelligence and emotion.
This ancient breed, perhaps the oldest of all our cats, is able to communicate like no other. The Siamese voice is legendary. They speak both with their voice and with their body. They are the quintessential “people” cat, for they love to be in your lap, on your bed, at your table - and in your heart!
History and Origin
Siamese have fascinated people since they were first officially exported from Thailand, or as it was known Siam, in the late eighteen hundreds. s make them living art. Combine this beauty with acute intelligence, inquisitive personality and a loving nature and you have the essence of the Siamese cat.
The first Siamese to appear in England were a gift from Siam, now known as Thailand to an ambassador who brought them home in the late eighteen hundreds. With their sleek lines, striking color contrast, finely chiseled aristocratic heads, deep blue almond eyes, and short silky coat they quickly began appearing in English cat shows, and in American shows by the early twentieth century.
Seal points, still the best known variety, were the first to arrive.
With their seal brown, almost black extremities and their pale fawn bodies, were sensational. While chocolate points, with creamy white bodies and milk chocolate legs, tail, mask and ears did appear from time to time, it was the blue point that gained official recognition in 1934.
The blue point has a bluish-white body with slate blue points. The chocolate point was recognized next. In 1955 the lilac point followed and completed the breed. The lilac point has pinkish gray points with a white body which makes it most ethereal and delicate in color.
While color is a prominent feature of this breed, structure is also important. The Siamese is a study in length. From the start the breed standard has called for a long, wedge shaped head and elongated body lines. The muscular, tubular body is supported by long legs and graced by a long neck and tail. Paradoxically the short, close lying coat accentuates the long lines perfectly.
It is said that Siamese cats were once sacred cats, which guarded the Buddhist temples. One day, a valuable gold goblet went missing and a pair of the cats was sent to find the stolen treasure. After a very long journey, the goblet was found and the female cat stayed to guard it while her male partner went back to the temple to tell the good news. The female cat was so worried that the goblet would go missing again, that she wound her tail tightly around them stem of the goblet and her tail become permanently kinked. For many days and nights she sat watching the prized treasure, never letting her eyes wander away from it, that by the time her partner returned, her eyes had become cross-eyed.
Later she produced a litter of kittens - all of which had kinked tails and squints, because of her vigilance in guard the lost goblet.Another story is about a princess who feared that her rings would be stolen, entrusted her Siamese cat to guard them, placing them on its tail for safekeeping overnight. One night, the cat fell asleep, and all the rings fell off her long slender tail and were lost forever. The next night the princess decided to tie a knot in the cat's tail to stop it ever happening again and this is another reason why Siamese cats sometimes have kinked tails.
The Foreign White is basically a Siamese in a white overcoat. However, although the wording varies slightly, the type of the Foreign White is identical to that of the Siamese.
Strict breeding and rigorous selection have produced a white cat with deep blue eyes and without any deafness problems. The reason for this is that the blue eyes of this breed are produced by the Siamese gene, not by the dominant white gene.
The Foreign White cat is a blue-eyed, all-white Siamese without any point colour on tail, face, paws or ears. The Foreign White Balinese is the semi-longhair variation of the Foreign White Siamese
The refined body type is similar to the modern Siamese, which they also resemble in temperament. Like all other oriental breeds, they are very affectionate, have a lovely temperament and are highly intelligent.
It was around 1960 that people in England had the idea to breed a Siamese which would be completely white. Because of the blue eyes and white cats combination, a solution had to be found to prevent deafness of the kittens. They decided to use the blue eyes from the Siamese and Pat Turner, a famous cat geneticist developed a breeding program. In 1962 she started to mate a white British shorthair cat to a Siamese with the darkest blue eyes, the seal-point. Out of this program the modern foreign white cat was developed, which is today accepted by all breeding associations.
After the Balinese breed was recognized as a breed in the early seventies, breeders also started to breed white Balinese out of white Variant Siamese. However, although white Balinese are extremely attractive and always an "eye-catcher", the breed is still rare.
The Balinese is a svelte cat with long, tapering lines and a light but strong body structure. Because of its longer fur, the Balinese appears to have softer lines and less extreme type than the shorthair Siamese. Under the long, silky ermine coat this beautiful cat is all Siamese, and that includes his personality. Despite his regal bearing and aristocratic appearance, he is a clown with a heart as big as a circus tent. To gauge the level of his intelligence, you have only to gaze into those sapphire eyes which sparkle with alertness and healthy curiosity. Although he is every bit as demonstrative and affectionate as the Siamese, he is somewhat less vocal and his voice is softer.
Coat length is the only difference between the Siamese and the Balinese.
The Balinese did not get its name from the graceful dancers in Bali without reason. There is something very special about the graceful and elegant carriage of this cat. The blue eyes and the exquisite coat on the long muscular body adds to the aristocratic expression.
Siamese and Balinese cats are regarded as one of the most intelligent cats. They learn extremely quick, are curious about almost everything and you can be sure that they always have new ideas how to get your attention.
They have a lovely temperament and love to play their whole lives. Often they fetch toys like a dog when thrown and make excellent playmates for children.
All oriental cats are very "communicative" and love to "speak" with their owners. Especially if you come home and a pair of sparkling blue eyes is awaiting you at the door, there is always a lot of things to tell. During the years you will learn the meaning of the many different sounds they can make.
Balinese are easy to care for, because they have a single silky coat that lies close to the body. All that is needed is an occasional brush or comb and routine nail clipping. A good diet and plenty of exercise are essential to maintain the Bali's firm, tubular body and silky coat.
Balinese and Siamese love to live in groups, and if you have a couple or more Orientals, they will often share their whole life in close friendship. Especially if their owner is not at home, you will often found them sleeping entwined around each other. It is always recommended to keep at least 2 of these affectionate cats together. They are generally very good natured, mixing also very well with other breeds or even other pets, and are content to live indoors, if they are used to it and get enough attention.
The Balinese first appeared in America in the 1940s when longhaired kittens regularly appeared in Siamese to Siamese matings. The breeders in America who decided to breed the longhairs carefully preserved the Siamese background and permitted no other breeds in their breeding. Therefore it can safely be said that the Balinese are derived only from Balinese and Siamese bloodlines.
Short-haired Balinese and Oriental longhairs, known as Variants, may also be seen as breeders have constantly bred back to top quality Siamese and Oriental short-hairs to improve the type and eye color of Balinese and Javanese. They have a short plush coat and are invaluable in a Balinese or Javanese breeding program as they carry the recessive long hair gene which they pass on when mated back to a long-haired Balinese or to another Variant.
Balinese/Variant photos courtesy of Melanie Wood