Many legends surround the Siamese cat, and there is one particularly endearing myth which associates the creation of the Siamese with the journey of Noah's Ark.
In a story from a book entitled Animals and Man, by George Cansdale, a description was given of the boredom of the animals in the Ark during their long journey, and of their ways of alleviating it. The Siamese, it says, originated through interspecies mating, with the ape falling in love with the lioness who then produced the first cat. This type of mating leaves much to imagination but, so the story goes, it gave birth to the character of the Siamese, which is said to have the "attributes of an ape and the bravery of the lion".
Artist Enid Groves
Written records reveal that Siamese cats, in their country of origin, were venerated as guardians of the temples. When a person of high rank died, it was usual to select one of these cats to receive the dead person's soul. The cat was then removed from the royal household and sent to one of the temples to spend the rest of its days living a ceremonial life of great luxury, with monks and priests as its servants. These cats were reputed to eat the finest foods from gold plate and to recline on cushions made of the most opulent materials, which had been provided by the departed one's relatives in an attempt to receive good fortune and blessings. Once they became temple cats, they were supposed to have special powers and could intercede for the soul of the dead person.
Years ago features such as crossed eyes and kinked tail were looked on as characteristics of the breed and many legends exist as to their origin.
It was said that a Princess of the Royal House of Siam used her cat's tail as a ring-stand while she was bathing. The kink in the tail prevented the rings from falling off and being lost. Another legend accounts for both the cross-eyed feature as well as the development of the kink. Once, when all the men of Siam left their homes to defend their kingdom, just two cats - one male Siamese, Tien, and one female Siamese, Chula - remained in order to guard Buddha's golden goblet in the sacred temple. The male cat became pretty restless and, after mating the female Siamese, left her in order to find another priest to look after the temple. The female, apparently, was so overwhelmed by the responsibility of guarding the Buddha's treasure that she never once glanced away from the goblet, wrapping her long tail around its stem to prevent theft in case she should fall asleep. As time passed waiting for Tien to return with a new master, she could no longer forstall the birth of her kittens, who all arrived with the physical characteristics that she herself had acquired during her period as watchguard - a kinked tail and crossed eyes. Just occasionally, even today, kittens are born with these features - so the legends are kept alive.
Between 1884 and the end of the century, a considerable number of Siamese cats were imported into England and are recorded in the British Siamese Cat Registers. Miss Forestier Walker, one of the founder members of the original Siamese Cat Club in England, owned Tiam O'Shian, an ancestor of Tiam O'Shian IV, who was a prizewinner at the the London Crystal Palace Shows of 1900 and 1901.
Mrs. Robert Locke founded the Beresford Cat Club in 1899 and was its first president. Mrs. Locke owned the first registered Siamese cats in America, Lockhaven Siam and Sally. Calif and Bangkok were bred from Siam and Sally Ward. It was said that Calif and Siam "carried all before them" at the Chicago show in 1902.
Probably the first Siamese cat in America arrived during the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) as a gift from the American consul in Bangkok to the President's wife, Mrs. Lucy Webb Hayes. Mrs. Hayes was notified that a Siamese cat consigned to her had arrived from Hong Kong on January 3, 1879. It was transported to San Francisco on the steam-powered SS Belgic, with charges prepaid by the consul in Bangkok. The cat had been placed in the charge of the ship's purser until San Francisco and thence was sent by express to Washington. After the cat's safe arrival at the White House, she was named Siam, and soon became a much-admired favorite.
Siamese cats have been featured in films, one of the most notable being the Walt Disney film, That Darned Cat starring Hayley Mills, and the cartoon film The Lady and the Tramp.
Siamese cats have also been used extensively in commercial ads over the years, they are pictured below in an old ad for Puss 'N Boots cat food. Siamese cats have also been depicted on many postage stamps around the world.
Fairy Dust History
Fairy Dust as a cattery began in 1998. Some people have asked how I came up with the cattery name "Fairy Dust"...I had tried several names with CFA... the one I really wanted was "Fairy Tale" but that was already taken, so I compromised with "Fairy Dust" Siamese. To me it conjures up images of fairies sprinkling "fairy dust" on my kittens and making them extra-special. I have loved the Siamese breed since I was a little girl, and always knew that I would someday be more involved with them.
Fairy Dust breeds the "wedge" type of Siamese. This type of Siamese is more streamlined and elegant looking than the traditional applehead type. A lot of personality is packed into that slender body. Siamese used to be known for crossed eyes and kinked tails. These are now considered faults and have generally been eliminated from the breed. Click here for breed standard.
The Siamese personality is very outgoing and loving. They are also known to be very demanding for attention. Siamese can be very vocal, perhaps not a breed for you if you don't like noisy pets. They will hold long conversations with you. Siamese are extremely intelligent. Most Siamese are known for fetching their favorite toys. They do not need to be taught this, they will usually teach you! Siamese love to cuddle, and if allowed to sleep in your bedroom they will usually opt to sleep under the covers with you. Siamese are climbers. Mine can ALWAYS find the highest point in the room. Don't get a Siamese if you find the idea of big blue Siamese eyes peering down at you from the top of the refrigerator disconcerting! Siamese will follow you from room to room, they always want to be with their favorite human.
Have you ever heard that "Siamese are mean"? That is a MYTH. These are the most loving cats I have ever owned. Siamese as a breed are very loving and affectionate.
At Fairy Dust, we handle our kittens from birth for proper socialization. Our kittens are raised uncaged and underfoot. Our kittens are well-adjusted and love people! All the breeding cats are also our pets and are treated as such, with full run of the house.
Excerpts and photos from "Siamese Cats" by Mary Dunnill,
"Animals and Man" by George Cansdale,
and "The Complete Siamese" by Sally Franklin