THAI cat and SIAMESE cats have the same roots. The Thai cat is the traditional and original Siamese cat.
The appearance of Siamese cats was first described in the world's oldest book about cats called "Poems of the Cat", published in 1330, currently owned by the National Library in Bangkok.
Pointed cats with fascinating blue eyes and dark points at the tail, paws and ears were shown as pets sitting next to the royal family. (1)
The first mention of a Siamese cat in the province Pensa was published in a travel documentary by Peter Simaon Palls, a German nature and geographic explorer and discoverer during his travels through the south of Russia and Siberia between the years 1793-1794. This description is for the time it was written very detailed and well observed.
„The body, and especially the texture and color of the fur of these cats is exceptional. They are of medium size, have thinner legs than the regular house cat and the head seems to be elongated towards the muzzle. The tail encompasses 3 times the length of the head. The color throughout the body is light nutbrown, like a marten, on the back darker nearly black, especially with the Tom cat, underneath it is lighter. The throat is even lighter and the female has a white spot at the base of the neck. The black color of the snout extends to around the eyes and ends in a point at the forehead. The ears, paws and tail are completely black. The fur is like the fur of the marten less bristly than the cats and the wooly part is grey white as well. The hair of the tail is distributed feathery and flat. (2)
The SMUD KHOI OF CATS (circa 1868-1910)
The eighth picture in the SMUD KHOI "Diamond - Siamese" "The upper part of the mouth, the tail, all four feet, and the ears, these eight places are black The eyes are reddish-gold in colour the cat called Wichianmaad has white fur."
With changes due to trading during the Far East Colonial Wars and the industrial revolution on the different continents, the Siamese cat spread worldwide. As a precious gift from diplomats and merchants the cat appeared first in upper class households and even in the homes of the royal families. The first photographic documentary of a Siamese cat in Russia is a picture showing the son of the czar Alexei Nikolaevich with his pets (a dog and a Siamese Cat named Kotka) in summer of 1914. Kotka was a gift by the commander of the palace General Voeikov (4)
In July 1871 two Siamese cats from Southeast Asia were shown by Mr. Maxwell at the first cat show in the Crystal Palace in London. In 1884 the British Vice-Consul, the brother of Mrs Velez, brought two Siamese cats to England. The male cat was called Pho and the female cat was called Mia. They are the first Cats known by their names which left Siam and later on had a litter. DUEN NGAI, child of 'Pho' x 'Mia', was born 1885. (5)
At the very first cat exhibition in 1871 in the Crystal Palace in London, Siamese cats from South-East Asia were shown. Contemporary records describe the following:
“Among the rarer specimens were two Siamese cats, which are said to be the first of the kind, ever brought to this country. The pair, shown by Mr. Maxwell, are singular and elegant, in their smooth skins and ears tipped in ebony, and blue eyes with red pupils.” (6)
These originally imported Siames cats were, just like today's descendants in Thailand, of medium size, muscular, graceful cats with a moderately wedge-shaped head with long ears in proportion to the head size. These cats were never extreme in their appearance.
Harrison Weir is known as the founder of the modern breeding of cats, organized in 1871 the first exhibition of cats in London. Weir was the first author to write the breed standard for Siamese cats in 1892.
Soon after Mr. Gould brought the Siamese cats to Britain, they became instantly popular because of distinctive marks, cleverness and dog-like behavior. Some rude comments were heard too, such as „an unnatural nightmare of a cat” but, fortunately, most people were impressed.
British illustrator Harrison Weir, who is known as the father of cat fancy, in his book „Our Cats and All About Them“ from 1889 wrote:
„Among the beautiful varieties of the domestic cat brought into notice by the cat shows, none deserves more attention than The Royal Cat of Siam”.
In their early days in Britain, all cats coming out of Thailand were called “Siamese”, regardless of color. Two types of those cats were the most prominent. The cream colored body with sharp defined points and notable blue eyes was called “Royal Cat of Siam” or “Palace cat”, reflecting the legend that they were kept only in royal palace.
And the other type was called “Temple Cat”, also known as “Chocolate Cat of Siam”, with deep brown body and hardly visible points. The Siamese Cat Club was encouraging breeders to distinct breeding of Royal cat and the Chocolate cat of Siam. Photos and illustrations from the first decades of Royal Siamese Cats reveal that they were more robust and had more rounded, wedge-shaped heads than today’s show-style Siamese. This early Siamese were variable in appearance. (7)
In 1892 the first standard for this breed was decided for the Royal Cat of Siam in the U.K. Wankee, born 1895 in Hong Kong, became the first UK Siamese champion in 1898.
Besides direct imports from Thailand (then known as Siam), imports from Burma, Hongkong, Japan and even Tibet are listet.
Already at that time a distinction was made between a round head type ("apple face") similar to today's Thai cats, and the type with an elongated face ("marten face") lighter in color.
The latter type is now the basis for the modern Siamese breeds. The new Siamese breeding standards are: extremely elongated body, strikingly long wedge-shaped head with a super thin whip tail resulting in very extravagant cats which have been awarded at many exhibitions.
The more rounded traditional type was nearly forgotten and did not get good grades at exhibitions, because it was deemed to be antiquated. But some breeders and enthusiasts, who did not agree with the new extremely slim line, continued breeding this type in secret, sometimes even without belonging to an organization of breeders.
In Russia the professional breeding of the new Siamese cat only started in the 1990s. Therefore the traditional type was preserved since there was not enough time to breed the new extreme type. Of course the Siamese cat existed there already earlier. In the 1950s the famous puppet player, producer and director of the Moscow Puppet Theatre Sergei Obraztsov brought Siamese cats from Poland, Hungary, GDR and Thailand (?) into the UDSSR (to Moscow). of course these cats did not have pedigrees, since for the Russians these cats were “only” house cats (and family members) in the colors of Siamese cats. Obraztsov is known to be the founder of the breeding of Siamese cats in the Soviet Union. (8)
"About 25 years ago an exchange of cats with the eastern countries started and it was discussed, that the Siamese cat dating back to the 1970s looked Thai-like. Afterwards the Siamese cats became more and more elongated and slimmer. Especially the heads became very slim with an elongated profile. The ears became larger and the body was very slim and high-legged.
Before all of these features were more rounded. A lot of interested parties did not like this new Siamese type and because of this reason a few people in the USA and Germany got together and started to breed the old traditional Siamese type or even tried to back-breed to achieve the old traditional Siamese type. This was indeed very difficult. It was later a lot easier once cats could be imported from Eastern Europe and the Balkan countries. " (9)
Until the end of the 1980s Russia had a big enough breeding colony with the phenotype of the traditional Siamese Cat.
The first ever cat exhibition in the USSRin 1987 with about 100 cats was a real blockbuster. People were standing in line for five to six hours in order to see ....5 Persian cats, from Czechoslovakia, some short hair cats and a big number of fluffy “Vas’kas” and “Murkas” (most of them were house cats). (10)
In Russian clubs a large number of cats started to appear with color point markings of unknown origin, all of these became Thai based on their phenotype. Only that it was forgotten, that these cats were bred for many years freely with the local European short hair cats, with a little bit heavier build and bigger size than the real Thai cats (10b)
in the cat exhibitions in Moscow and Leningrad during the years 1987-1988 the “Siamese cat” was shown in the novice class under the breeding name “old-style Siamese”. In 1989 the Russian cat club “Feliz” and the St. Petersburg Club “Kotofey” became part of WCF and invited the president Mrs A. Hackmann to visit the exhibitions.
In 1989, after a call by the German journal "Ein Herz für Tiere" (12), German breeders founded a community called "Siam old-style", with the goal to achieve acceptance of the traditional Siamese type. To reach acceptance a request was made through A. Hackmann by the cat association Deutsche Edelkatze e.v. at the WCF.
This was not easy, since a lot of Siamese cats of the old type, showed the right phenotype but at the same time already were old or castrated and therefore were not able to contribute to the continuation of the breed.
The breeders of the old-type wanted to split the Siamese cat breed into two types (old and new), but this suggestion did not get the approval of the breeders of the modern Siamese type.
After sufficient breeding material was accumulated from different areas and groups had been formed, we called this cat - which in USA was called "traditional Siamese cat" - (upon my suggestion) Thai cat. One knew that Thai = Siamese. It is a new breed, even though it corresponds to the old standard, therefore we needed a new standard. Multiple suggestions were made. At the end, based on suggestions from Dr. Rosemarie Wolff (FIFe), suggestions from the USA and based on the cats shown in Europe, a European standard was developed. At that time enough generations were available to present them at the World Cat Federation and to get them accepted. And then an excellent process started, since suddenly in Europe a lot of Thai cats existed. Unfortunately some have not followed the breeding guidelines. In order to obtain the Thai breed, they did not go for the available Eastern pool (where for a long time nothing else was added, and therefore the breed was maintained with the old standards), but instead crossed the cats with e.g. British breeds or others. This was for sure the wrong way. There also have been direct imports from Thailand. The breeders who invested time and effort to maintain the pure breed, deserve thanks for their hard work. Especially since the Thai cat is now a success story. It is one of the most popular cat breeds for the young and the old." (9)
In 1991 the WCF passed new standards for the traditional Siamese cat, which ever since was called THAI. Since then this more rounded type of cat is bred as its own race widely accepted by different associations and organizations such as WCF, EGCA, WACC, LOOF, TICA and more recently it is fully recognized by FIFe.
Submission of the proposal of THAI recognition in the TICA by Carola Hopfe on behalf of the members of the ITC. The official presentation of the THAI took place from 30.8.-1.9.2006 on the occasion of the TICA Annual in Hannover, Germany, among other things by members of the ITC. (14)
Official Presentation of THAI in February 2014 in Italy (Cernobbio) at FIFe – with some Cats of ITC members. Thus, the application for the recognition of the THAI was submitted to the FIFe.
At the Annual General Meeting in May 2014, FIFe decided to provisionally recognize the THAI for the next five years.
Through systematic work and because of a high contribution by members of ITC the requirements for the full recognition by FIFe could be fulfilled and the commission of FIFe suggested the full recognition of THAI for January 1st, 2018 (15)
On May 26th, 2017 the THAI was awarded the full recognition by FIFé.
1990 Recognition as new breed im WCF
(World Cat Federation)
2002 Recognition as new breed in LOOF
(Livre Officiel des Origines Félines)
2004 Recognition as new breed in EGCA e.V.
(European Group Cat Association)
2007 The Thai has reached the first recognition level
in TICA (The International Cat Association)
8.2.2014 Italy: Official Thai Presentation in FIFe as new breed (Fédération Internationale Féline)
31.5.2014 General Assembly of FIFe in Riga: Voting procedure on the admission of Thai in FIFe, the Thai is provisionally recognized for the next 5 years
26.5.2017 full recognition by FIFe (Fédération Internationale Féline) in Bratislava, starting on 30.9.2017
(2) Peter Simon Pallas , Bemerkungen auf einer Reise in die südlichen Statthalterschaften des Russischen Reichs, in den Jahren 1793 und 1794, Band 1 Leipzig 1799, S. 35f
(9) Memories of Anneliese Hackmann : many thanks to Svetlana Lalovic, president of the Club Le petit WCF, Belgrade, Serbia who made these notes available to us.
(10) by Elena Shevchenko - www.siestadream.com/articles_safe/SIBtruth.htm
(12) Ein Herz für Tiere 4/1989, S.24-25
(13) Die Edelkatze 13. Jahrgang, 1/1963, S. 936
Erste Katzenausstellung in London:
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