Take a moment to picture a Siamese cat. What characteristics come to mind? Likely, you imagine a long, elegant cat with a colorpoint coat, a wedge-shaped head, large ears, and vibrant blue eyes. Famous depictions of the Siamese include the Siamese cats in films such as Lady and the Tramp and That Darn Cat! (1965) and various pieces by renowned artist Andy Warhol. The Siamese breed has even made it to the White House, including the first Siamese cat to arrive in the United States—Siam—given to President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife, Lucy, by an American consul in Bangkok. You’ll notice that Siamese does appear to look different throughout history.
While the modern Siamese is associated with a svelte, tubular silhouette, this look is relatively new to the breed. The traditional Siamese cat was a larger, muscular feline with an apple-shaped head, round eyes, a natural-looking muzzle, and large, pointed ears. Also called the Thai cat, Old Style Siamese, Classic Siamese, or Wichien Maat, the term “Applehead Siamese” was once used as an insult but today is used by breeders to pay homage to this ancient cat’s roots.
As one of the oldest breeds still around today, the Siamese is believed to be descended from sacred temple cats in Siam, known today as Thailand. A Siamese cat first appeared in a Thai manuscript during the 14th century, making it one of the most ancient cat breeds worldwide.
Legends tell the tale of Siamese cats guarding Siam royalty. One such legend says Siamese cats protected the King of Siam, perching atop columns around the king’s throne and attacking anyone who dared harm the king. Another story says a group of Siamese cats was assigned the duty of guarding a golden goblet. The vigilant cats were so watchful that their eyes crossed and tails bent from wrapping the appendage securely around the goblet. While it is true that for many years, Siamese cats displayed crossed eyes and kinked tails, these Siamese features were selectively bred out of the breed over time.
In 1871, Siam’s King Chulalongkorn sent seal-point Siamese cats to Europe to promote his kingdom. The Siamese debuted at the Crystal Palace Cat Show in London that same year. It wasn’t until the late 1870s that the Siamese breed made its way to the United States when a Siamese cat was gifted to Lucy Hayes, the wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes. As the breed gained popularity, so did interest in diversifying the breed. The 1940s and 1950s saw breeders experimenting with coat colors and patterns.
This breeding led to the development of the modern Siamese, sporting a more slender look and a wedge-shaped head. By the 1980s, the traditional Siamese was no longer competitive at cat shows, with mainstream breeders preferring the extreme look of the modern Siamese.
The appearance of the modern Siamese wasn’t the only change for this breed. With selective breeding for specific physical characteristics came additional health problems. We began to see more Siamese cats with health issues, including eye, ear, kidney, and cardiovascular problems. Trying to remedy the error, some Siamese breeders returned the cat to a more-traditional appearance; thus, the Applehead Siamese became popular once more.
Feline organizations have chosen different paths when creating a standard for the Siamese. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) recognized the Siamese breed in 1906 as one of its original pedigreed cats. For the CFA, both the Applehead Siamese and Wedge-head Siamese fall under the same category; however, the modern look is preferred in competition.
The Applehead Siamese earned its own breed distinction within other organizations. In 1990, the World Cat Federation (WCF) granted championship status and a new breed recognition to the old-style Siamese, naming the breed the Thai Cat. Other associations followed; The International Cat Association (TICA), Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe), Livre Officiel des Origines Félines (LOOF), and the European Group Cat Association recognize the Applehead Siamese cat as the Thai breed.
Size & Appearance
The Applehead Siamese is a medium-to-large cat. Adult females range from seven to nine pounds, with adult males slightly larger at nine to 12 pounds. The head and body type are crucial to distinguishing the Thai from other shorthaired, pointed cats. Unlike the modern Siamese, the Applehead cat has no extremes in appearance.
The feline is moderately long with medium boning. TICA defines the Thai breed as having a short, flat coat that feels soft and silky. As their name suggests, the Applehead Siamese has a round head. The forehead is long and flat, but there is rounding to the sides of the face.
Coat & Colors
One of the defining characteristics of any Siamese cat is their colorpoint coat. Acromelanism is a genetically-determined temperature-dependent hypopigmentation pattern that gives the Siamese cat the beautiful coat we know and love. Also known as Himalayan coloring, a colorpoint coat starts as white—thanks to the warmth of the mother cat’s womb—and slowly becomes pigmented as a response to the change in temperature. Those warmer body areas will stay devoid of color, and the legs, face, ears, and tail will become pigmented.
Like all Siamese, the Applehead Siamese truly shines when it comes to their personality. Appleheads are friendly, loving, highly intelligent, curious, and active. These cats love to follow you and want to be your best buddy. Thai cats are expert communicators. They are chatty and always have something to say. These cats require daily attention and will act out without it. Siamese are high-maintenance kitties in the emotional department. If you want a loving friendship and constant companion, this cat is for you.
Applehead Siamese are easy to groom and can maintain their coat unless they become too curious and get into a mess. While not required, consider grooming with a soft-bristle brush to encourage oil distribution for an extra-healthy coat. Trim your cat’s nails every two weeks. Check your kitty’s ears regularly, and clean them as needed. As with all felines, dental care is encouraged by middle age to maintain good health.
The Thai breed is very active and athletic. Some would even consider this curious kitty on the mischievous side. They are fantastic jumpers and have energy for days. Give them plenty of playtime with wands, lasers, and other toys to keep them happy and out of trouble. This cat is a great candidate for an exercise wheel or wall steps.
Applehead Siamese cats are highly intelligent and will likely enjoy learning new tricks. Training keeps a cat active and engaged, preventing behavioral problems while you’re away. The Siamese will pick up on basic training easily. This cat is a great candidate for clicker training and may learn to sit, stay, high-five, spin, and more. Always use positive reinforcement when training your kitty, and have treats on hand to reward a job well done.
Health & Lifespan
The Applehead Siamese is generally healthy if they stay within their recommended ideal weight. Unlike the modern Siamese cat, the Applehead has no breed-specific health issues. Overall, Siamese cats are prone to specific health issues, but most can be prevented or managed by implementing a healthy diet. Common issues include:
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
- Liver problems
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
The life expectancy of a Thai cat ranges from late teens to early 20s. Some Appleheads can even live up to 25 years. Ensure a long, happy life by feeding your cat a quality diet and keeping them fit and active.
Applehead Siamese adjust to most diets. However, like all cats, the breed thrives when fed high-quality, premium cat food from various sources. Kittens must be fed three times daily, while adults may be fed twice daily. We don’t recommend free feeding your cat—leaving food out throughout the day—as this prevents cats from drinking enough water and can promote weight gain.
Like all cats, ensure you provide your Applehead Siamese with fresh, clean water daily. Your cat may hesitate to drink water. If this is the case, consider moving their water dish to a different area or using a filtered drinking fountain instead of a water bowl.
Breeder & Kitten Costs
While the Siamese is a popular breed, the Applehead variety is still gaining popularity. As with the CFA, some organizations and people still view the Applehead Siamese as a less-desirable version of the modern Siamese. For this reason, you may expect to pay less for an Applehead Siamese than a Wedge-head Siamese.
As with any pedigreed cat, you must find a cattery specific to your desired breed. Look for a breeder who specializes in Applehead Siamese cats and ask the breeder to provide paperwork for both parent cats and any health tests that have been done. Visit the facility, meet the parent cats, and speak with other buyers. In the end, expect to pay between $800 to $1,500 for an Appleahead Siamese. If the price seems too good to be true, the cat likely isn’t fully Siamese or has some health concerns.
Rescues & Shelters
Are you looking to adopt an Applehead Siamese? You may be able to find one at a shelter or rescue. Due to the popularity of this cat, there are many Siamese-specific rescues. Before bringing a rescue into your home, remember that these cats are demanding and require much attention. Rescue cats come from unknown backgrounds and may require extra love and care. Be prepared to work through quirks and behavioral issues with patience and understanding.
As Family Pets
Applehead Siamese cats love to be loved and will get along with the whole family. While Siamese cats tend to develop a preference for one “chosen” person, they will demand attention from everyone and anyone. These cats will make great playmates for kids and other pets; however, they may become territorial when sharing their space with another cat. Be cautious when introducing a new cat into your home environment.