A companion worth seeking out
Slender, graceful, the epitome of elegance, the Siamese breed will forever hold my heart as it has many others throughout the ages.
With their striking features, affectionate nature, and elusive gaze, Siamese cats have earned a fascinating history full of mystic and adventure dating as far back as the 14th century. Once highly prized by emperors and royals the pitter-patter of their umber paws now grace even the humblest of abodes across the globe.
One of the oldest known breeds on record, the earliest mention of a cat matching the Siamese appearance and description rests in the pages of the “Tamra Maew” (“The Cat-Book Poems”), a collection of ancient manuscripts from the Ayutthaya Kingdom. In faded ink, the writer addresses the breed as the “Pointed”, a reference no doubt to the distinct markings of darkened points… feet, tail, ears, and masked face. Within this sacred description, it’s also asserted by the monks that the Siamese cat…should be sought after as they would bring great honor and prosperity to their owner.”
The legend begins.
Fast forward to the year 1884. Europe. The British Consul-General Blencowe Gould has just gifted his sister with a stunning pair of Siamese cats from Thailand. She decides to name them Pho and Mia. The beautiful couple soon gives birth to a litter of three- Duen Ngai, Kalohom, and Khromata, beginning the worldwide addiction to a stunning, exotic feline companion.
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My own story of complete adoration for the breed began when I was in my early twenties. I was gifted with a Siamese seal point kitten. Gazing up from the palm of my hand with powder blue eyes of innocence how could I not help but fall in love. I’m now on my third and thoroughly convinced that I’ll never own anything other than a Siamese. Each one I’ve had the pleasure of bringing into my family has been a true joy. My second, Binx, was practically my best friend. I know that sounds a bit sad… but you didn’t know Binx.
Binx was the runt of her litter and I bought her off an ad online for a measly $20. She was small enough to fit into a cup and still had one eye closed. She was a bit of a late bloomer… and yet absolutely full of feist. In fact, I called her my little warrior. A few months old, both eyes finally opened, she stalked about the house, bobble head high in the air. She grew up lean and with an unexplained air of confidence. For some reason, and I still haven’t figured out why, she adored me. Always by my side, Binx watched over me. Once in a heated argument with a friend in my living room she defended my honor by attacking the other person’s foot. It was a well-known fact that she answered only to me and heeded my wishes faithfully. If I were eating and set my plate down she wouldn’t dare touch it. She’d sit quietly at my feet content to be with me.
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Once I scolded Binx for sneaking out onto the back screened patio. She wasn’t allowed outside and she knew it. But she was a sucker for bird watching. I picked her up, set her down in the living room, and locked the screen door. She glared at me through squinted eyes. Did I mention that Siamese are incredibly clever? Binx could open doors and turn faucets on. They learn from watching people. She knew I was now locking the door… and she had an absolute fit. She didn’t speak to me for days. In fact, I couldn’t find her. She was off pouting. I had to bring her a bag of her favorite treats as an offering of truce. She accepted and purred and cuddled me like we hadn’t seen each other for years. When my grandmother passed away Binx cuddled close to me as I sobbed huddled on my bed. She licked my cheek over and over with the care and tenderness of a mother for a child. She never let me hurt alone.
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Siamese are playful.
Binx loved to play paper ball catch. She could hear the crunch of a freshly made paper ball being formed from across the house. I’d toss it, she’d run and retrieve it for me. It’s also worth noting that living up to their legend of guardians, Binx saved me from harm’s way quite a few times. One night I awoke to get a glass of water. I stumbled barefoot across the tile floor in the dark toward the kitchen sink. Binx startled me half to death leaping in front of me and batting at my feet and meowing until I stopped and looked down. Ahead in my path was a huge brown recluse spider… sitting in wait. Binx was at my feet facing the spider almost as a dog pointing in a field.
A second time, Binx saved my house from burning down. I had absent-mindedly left my hairdryer plugged in and gone into the living room to watch a movie. I had no idea that the outlet was faulty and sparking. She started running up onto the couch and pouncing on and off my lap. At first, I thought she was just being annoying. I got up to shush her away and noticed once I stood she immediately ran towards the bathroom and looked back at me. I knew instantly something was up. So I followed her. As I turned the bathroom corner I could hear and see the blue tiny sparks lurching from the outlet where I had left the hairdryer plugged. I wrapped my hand in a towel and pulled the plug.
I’d imagine most people might think stories such as these to be a bit far fetched… but I’ll be a staunch Siamese supporter for life.
With such mounting respect and love for this unique breed, I decided to do a bit of research on their history. I was intrigued by the incredible and almost mystical journey these creatures have led. Here’s what I found.
4 Little Known Legends of the Siamese
Jewel Eyed Beauties
It’s ancient Siam and an angry hoard of Barbarians are invading and attacking the holy temples pilfering the holy jewels and valuables. Chaos runs rampant as the battle ensues. The local Siamese cats hurry in defense and are victorious in fending off the Barbarians. They are so successful that the monks rejoice and praise them. They share the heroic story with their deities during prayers and ceremonies to the extent that the Gods take special notice. As a reward and thank you to the brave Siamese cats the Gods gift them with their very own jewels… to forever be graced with beautiful radiant blue eyes.
A Siamese Tale
One fine morning a beautiful Siamese princess decided to bathe in the palace garden’s cool lake. For safekeeping, she removed her prized golden rings from her fingers and called to her beloved cat. She slipped each ring down his sleek tail gently stacking them there. The cat waited obediently for the princess to return. However, the rings grew heavier and heavier beginning to slip down to the end of its tail. In a clever attempt to secure them the cat crooked his tail at the tip. The hours passed as the cat patiently sat. The princess was surely taking her time relaxing in the lake on such a warm day. It was nearly midday by the time the princess returned to her small companion. One by one she gently slid the rings off his tail. The cat was so very relieved to finally release the rings — but when he tried to straighten his tail, it had become permanently kinked. It’s said that from that time on all siamese were born with a kinked tail.
Cats of a Royal Household
Once revered as guardians of the great ancient temples of Siam, Siamese cats played a vital role in making the cross over into the afterlife. It’s said that when a person of high rank died, a cat was chosen to receive the dead person’s soul. The cat would be taken to one of the temples to live out the remainder of its life in safety and utter luxury. Relatives took great comfort in visiting with the cats. Once deemed a temple cat they would dine on the finest foods, sleep on the most extravagant materials, and be lavished with golden accessories. These keepers of souls were said to be given special powers and were even believed to have the capability to intercede for the soul of the dead.
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Noah’s Ark A well-known story is that of Noah and his arc. The rain began and continued relentlessly until all of the earth became an ocean. Time crept by at a snailish pace for the multitudes of creatures crammed like sardines aboard the wooden arc. Restless boredom swept the air and the monkey decided to explore. Upon stumbling across the mighty lioness he fell madly in love. From their courtship was born the Siamese cat retaining the monkey’s clever ways and the brave heart of the lioness.
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Recognized for their beauty and elegance, therein lays yet more mystery and intrigue. Siamese cats are actually temperature-sensitive albinos. Because of a special modifier gene called allele that mutates the color gene, the fur of a Siamese cat changes color according to temperature! Extremities such as the tail, ears, and paws are farthest away from the main heat source, the body. For this reason, color is allowed to show leaving only the torso pigmentless. This also accounts for the reason why Siamese appear to get a few shades darker in the winter and lighten up in summer.
So in closing, I leave you with this thought. If you’ve not had the pleasure of meeting one of these fine felines in person, you’re missing out! If offered the opportunity, welcome a Siamese into your life. You may just find that the legends are true.