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Type
        by Sheelagh Le Cocq



Many people ask me: 
“What is the difference between Traditional and Classic Siamese?”
I also see adverts for ‘Traditional Siamese’ and hear of breeders offering ‘Traditional’ kittens when all the time they are referring to Classic Siamese.
So what are the differences in types, and how can we make it clear to people what these types are like?

Traditional Siamese
We will start with the Traditionals, which are the most old-fashioned of the three classifications of type.

A Traditional Siamese catTraditionals are the main type of Siamese that first came to this country a little over 100 years ago. I say ‘main’ type because it seems that even then, there were possibly two different types, one slightly less rounded and stocky than the other, if the pictures in Frances Simpson’s “The Book of the Cat”, published in 1901, are anything to go by. However the most common old-type, and the one most people identify with, is the true Traditional or “Applehead” as they are sometimes called in the USA - a term which is used in a derogatory sense by some judges and officials when discussing our type with us, and by certain ‘Modern’ breeders.

Betty White, a breeder of American ‘Moderns’ writes on the efforts to re-introduce the Traditionals in the USA. Predictably, the elegant Siamese [Modern] was nearly loved to extinction as cats with heavy boning, round heads and washed-out blue eyes began to appear in increasing number - a clear indication of mixed ancestry and indiscriminate breeding. Knowledgeable Siamese breeders and lovers coined the phrase “Appleheads”.

Traditionals should be large cats, have a cobby body and a round or apple-shaped head, large eyes, strong, sturdy legs and a medium length sturdy tail. The coat of true Traditionals is short but thick and plush like velvet, not thin and fine like Moderns. It is very hard to find the right coat texture today, many cats have either very fine coats or harsh coarse fur.

Kay Hill writes in The Heirs about her stud cat roaming the Yorkshire Moors in winter, and rolling in the show like a dog. Most Traditionals were like that, oblivious to cold, rain or snow and were far healthier than their modern counterparts.

Although seen in many cats of the past, crossed eyes and kinked tails are not part of the Traditional. These faults were bred out many years ago.

Modern Siamese
Modern Siamese need little introduction, as their type can be seen at most shows. They are at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Traditional. Although Moderns in the UK are on the whole less extreme than those in the USA, I have seen some - particularly red, cream and tabby points - that are not very different and are dreadful to see. 

The best description of Moderns that I can give is from Betty White, who says:

“Everything about a [Modern] Siamese is long, except its coat. A [Modern] Siamese has fine bones, a long tubular body, long tail, long neck, long head, long legs  - long, long, long. Situated on that long head is a long wedge-shaped head with large ears which complete the wedge. The body is covered by a short silky coat which is relatively thin, making the breed an ideal cat to live indoors.”

Modern Siamese often have small, sunken eyes, totally unlike the beautiful large eyes of both other types, and these cause many eye problems and infections. The cats are more delicate, more prone to illness and shorter lived than the more normal Traditional and Classic.

Classic Siamese
The Classic is a cross between the Traditional and the Modern, a move away from the chunky, round-headed cat to a lighter, slightly long headed cat, without going to extremes.

A Classic Siamese catMany of the Classics in the 1960s and 70s were very, very beautiful, and quite a few of our members want only to go back this far: to cats like Gr. Ch. Amberseal Electo and Gr. Ch. Penyrallt Picasso to name but two.

The Classic should have a medium body, neither cobby nor thin; a medium, wedge-shaped head, neither round nor pointed like Concorde; medium sized ears; legs and tail that are neither short or stocky nor thin and whip-like or resembling a piece of string. Above all, this cat should have the large eyes of the Traditional. The coat should be of medium thickness and can be plush, though not many have this coat type, but it should never be fine and thin like Moderns.

In short, the Classic is a medium type of cat, no extremes in anything; a well-balanced, beautiful animal with everything in moderation.

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    Ch. Inwood Shadow, 1949. Champion Inwood Shadow
acclaimed in 1949 as
“the best Siamese bred since the war
   
 

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Last Updated 01/29/2009.
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