1. THE SIAMESE CAT BREED IS ONE OF THE OLDEST CAT BREEDS.
Like most cat breeds, the Siamese’s true origins are cloaked in mystery. Some people say the cats were the pets of royalty, while others believe they were raised by Buddhist monks.
However, a Thai manuscript called the Tamra Maew, or ‘The Cat Book Poems,’ provides an early depiction of the country’s dark-pointed cats.
The work was produced sometime between the 14th and 18th centuries. This suggests that the Siamese is a very old breed– even if we don’t quite know where it came from.
2. A U.S. PRESIDENT HAD A SIAMESE CAT.
Cat lovers brought the Siamese to America in the late 19th century, but there are mixed reports about when– and how– it traveled across the pond. Some say the Siamese first appeared in the U.S. courtesy of an American naval officer, who picked up two cats while on a tour of duty in Southeast Asia.
Others claim an American friend of the King of Siam was given Siamese cats as a gift, or that renowned opera singer Blanche Arral brought them back to America after touring Siam. And from 1889-1890, a Chicago cat club lists several registered Siamese cats, one of which was “imported from Siam” by its founder.
But what really put Siamese cats on the map was when U.S. Consul David Stickles, a diplomat at the consulate in Bangkok, gave President Rutherford B. Hayes’s wife Lucy a Siamese cat named Siam in the late 1870s.
“I have taken the liberty of forwarding you one of the finest specimens of Siamese cats that I have been able to procure in this country,” he wrote to the First Lady. “I am informed that it is the first attempt ever made to send a Siamese cat to America.”
Sadly, Siam fell ill and died after less than a year in the White House. According to legend, the president’s steward requested that the cat’s body be preserved.
However, no stuffed kitties were ever discovered, suggesting that the tale might be more fanciful than fact-based.