The Siamese is considered to be one of the oldest of the Oriental/Asian cat breeds, and it is believed that the origins of Siamese cats originated from Thailand, formally known as Siam. This ancient Asian land is the source of the breed’s name and its more flattering, legendary reference, “The Royal Cats of Siam”. Known as Royal Points, these cats were honored in such high regard that no one except the king and members of the royal family were permitted to own them.
There seems to be some mystery on how the Siamese made it into Western Culture. The Siamese is also (arguably) the most recognizable breed on the planet. This feline is considered by many to be a “natural” breed, one that developed without the interference of man. Pictures of a Seal Point appeared in the manuscript “Cat-Book Poems”, written in Siam (now Thailand) sometime between 1350 and 1700. Early stories and myths involving the Siamese are plentiful, including fanciful tales that account for the cat’s physical traits.
One such story tells how sacred Siamese temple cats, charged with guarding a valuable vase, curled their tails around the vase and stared at it with such intensity that their eyes became crossed. Another storey tells of Siamese cats appointed to guard princesses’ rings: The cats kept the rings on their tails and the tail kinds developed to keep the rings from sliding off.
No one is sure exactly when the Siamese was imported to Britain or to America. The earliest documented account tells of a pair of Siamese cats given to the sister of the British consul general in Bangok in 1884, who exhibited the cats the following year in London. However, Siamese cats were exhibited 13 years earlier (in 1871) in the first modern-style cat show at Sydenham, London’s Crystal Palace, where they were disparagingly described as an unnatural, nightmare kind of cat.’ Despite the unfair, bad press, the Siamese rapidly became popular among British cat fanciers. At that time, the Siamese were noted for their crossed eyes, and kinked tails; these did not become conformation faults until a lot later. The first British standard, written n 1892 and re-written in 1902, described the Siamese as a ‘striking-looking cat of medium size, if weighty, not showing bulk, as this would detract from the admired svelte appearance, also distinguished by a kink in the tail.’
As stated in “The Book Of the Cat”, by Francis Simpson (1903), Adele Locke founded the Beresford Cat Club, and owned the first registered Siamese “Stockehaven Siam”. Mrs. Locke owned several Siamese, showed them in cat shows, and was well traveled. Pictures of her and her Siamese cats can be found online by using her name as a search keyword.