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Tetsu Yamazaki

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Fandex Family Field Guides: Cats

The Siamese:

"I shall see beauty, but none to match your living grace," wrote poet Michael Joseph of his Siamese. To the many lovers of this regal feline, none can ever compare to the Siamese. Legends say that for hundreds of years the breed belonged solely to the kings and queens of Thailand, then known as Siam, and it served to convey their souls after death. A more recent legend says that the first Siamese came to Britain courtesy of a royal governess, who was featured later in "Anna and the King of Siam."

Whatever the legends, the reality is even more interesting. The Siamese cat is probably the most distinctive of breeds: pale-colored with dark tail, ears, feet and lower face. This pattern, called a point pattern, is the effect of a gene that makes the Siamese's coat lighter where its body is warmest. The cooler extremities remain dark. The classic Siamese is a seal point, a fawn body color with darker brown extremities, but today Siamese come in a number of different colors.

The Siamese body under its remarkable coat is poetry in motion-fine-boned and well-tuned. And the Siamese personality is as distinctive as it looks: extroverted, fearless, loyal-and vocal.

No wonder the Siamese have been such popular cats for so long. The first Siamese came to the U.S. as a gift to Lucy Webb Hayes, the wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Although the cat did not live long, in its short life it captured the attention and favor of many cat fanciers. By the early 20th century, the Siamese was well established in America, and the rest is history. So beloved is the Siamese that it has given rise to numerous variations, from the Balinese to the Ocicat to the Tonkinese. But to its many devotees, the Siamese is best as just, well, as Siamese.

Excerpted from Fandex Family Field Guides: Cat. Copyright (c) 1998. Reprinted with permission by Workman Publishing.


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