To those of you who are familiar with Traditional Siamese cats from the 60s and 70s, this may come as a shock: many Siamese have changed their appearance in the past 40 years!
The Siamese always was an elegant cat but now some of its sleek lines have become very extreme indeed. Known as the Modern style Siamese, it has very large ears (sometimes called bat ears by detractors) placed lower on the head, a narrow elongated body and thin whip -like tail. As a result, the typical Siamese of years past has been reinvented.
Why tell you this?
First, to make you aware that this different-shaped Siamese even exists.
Second, to help you decide whether you're leaning towards traditional Siamese cats or their modern counterparts before you buy.
Third, to share some of the debate with you. In fact, a number of people insist that the old-style Siamese is more robust, has fewer health issues and lives longer than the Modern but this is hotly contested within the breed clubs. From personal experience, and generally speaking, I have found the Traditionals more easygoing and easier to live with. A few personal experiences do not replace solid research so rather than take anyone's word about which is the better feline, take your time and research this properly.
How to find Traditional Siamese Cats
If after researching you're still leaning towards traditional Siamese cats, then read on.
These cats are known by many names - Classic, Thai, Applehead or Apple Head, Old Style or Wichienmaat in their original home of Thailand. There are differences in body shape among them but they clearly still look traditional as opposed to Modern.
There are also other traditional Siamese cats. The Traditional Balinese, for example, is a long-haired Siamese. Unlike many long-haired cats their coats don't require excessive care and are all Siamese but with a generally more laid back attitude to life.
Why do all these different names matter?
They give you more search terms when finding local breeders, who might describe their cats as Thai Style rather than Traditional so knowing the different names might help you not only find a breeder but improve your research into Siamese murky history.
Finding a good Traditional Siamese breeder does require homework. Don't assume that all breeders are professionals and have the highest standards. Personal recommendations are a great start but failing that, try to visit breeders and make up your own mind about their cats and their breeding ethics during your visit.
Here's a tip: visit them when they have nothing to sell, for example before the main birthing season in spring. This way you won't be tempted into a rush decision, because all kittens are cute, whether they come from a good breeder or a backstreet charlatan. Buying a kitten for whom you feel sorry perpetuates bad breeding practices.
To get the Traditional Siamese cat of your dreams, you might have to travel some distance to find a breeder you trust. And, don't be too upset if you have to join a waiting list for your kitten. Where would you rather eat, in a bustling restaurant or in an empty one? The same with breeders. A popular one with fewer quality kittens available at any one time is a good sign. Please don't be put out if the breeder asks you lots of questions! The breeder cares about where the kittens are going to live.
Good luck in your search, you know the wait will be worth it!