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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Royal Points: The Siamese Cat

Originating from Thailand (once called Siam) the Siamese cat is regarded as America’s favorite cat. Known for their stunning blue eyes, beautiful markings, and elegant body, the Siamese is one of the oldest domestic cat breeds in the world and boasts a rich and remarkable history. In Thailand, the Siamese cats were so treasured that only members of the royal family were allowed to own them as pets. Called Royal points in that day, these highly regarded felines were thought to inherit the souls of their royal owners and were treated as temple guardians, dining off golden plates and cocooned in luxury once their royal owners died. Thought to possess special powers to intercede for the souls of the departed, these ‘Royal points’ were pampered by the family of the deceased in hopes of bringing blessing and fortune to the royal line.

shutterstock_74454808Although somewhat debated, most records show that the first Siamese cat to live in America arrived in 1878, gifted to cat lover and First Lady Mrs. Rutherford Hayes by US diplomat David B. Sickels. “I have taken the liberty of forwarding you one of the finest specimens of Siamese cats that I have been able to procure in this country,” Mr. Sickels wrote,  “I am informed that it is the first attempt ever made to send a Siamese cat to America.” (http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/manunews/paper_trail_display.asp?nid=65&subj=manunews) Siam, as she was called, relished her luxurious White House life and was given free roam of the estate, charming guests with her regal stature and gentle demeanor.

While not as prevalent as before, some Siamese cats are born with crossed eyes and kinked tales. This was such a strong trait that many legends formed to explain how these features came into existence. One tale is of two Siamese cats who were charged with finding a king’s goblet. Upon discovering the missing glass, one cat went back to relay the news while the other stood guard over the lost treasure, wrapping its tail tightly around the stem and watching it so closely that its eyes crossed—leaving its tail permanently kinked and its eyes crossed. Another account centers around the royal princess who placed her rings on her Siamese cat’s tail while she bathed. The cat would hold the rings faithfully during each day’s bath, bending its tail to keep them from falling off. Eventually, the royal cat’s tail was permanently kinked—a trait she passed down to all her offspring.

Most Siamese kittens are born a creamy white color and later develop points of dark coloration in the cooler parts of their body, resulting in a dark pointed pattern throughout their fur. Generally, their coat will be seal, chocolate, blue, or lilac (or frost) colored, with variations of black, red, and stripes occurring in the Colorpoint lines.

Today Siamese cats are still as treasured as they were when they graced the royal throne rooms and White House chambers. Delightfully talkative, Siamese are said to be truly interactive in their communication style. Their highly social nature makes them a great companion for those who love lavishing care upon their cats and who will approach their relationship with patience and respect.