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 What Do We Mean By "Old-Style Siamese?"

Old-Style Siamese are purebred Siamese of thoroughly moderate Asian appearance and legitimate pedigree. Breeders of Old-Style Siamese divide the Siamese breed into just two groups: Old-Style Siamese and show-style Siamese. Old-Style Siamese are Asian in style, but are not extreme in any way, whereas show-style Siamese are bred to be as extreme in body type as possible. Old-Style Siamese look like the Siamese in historic photos taken prior to 1945 (see Siamese History). Old-Style Siamese are also known colloquially as "appleheads." By contrast, show-style Siamese are the very long-bodied, triangular-headed Siamese seen today at cat shows hosted by CFA and other major cat associations. Show-style Siamese have no rounding of the head at all.

Both Old-Style Siamese and show-style Siamese are registered simply as "Siamese" by the major cat associations. Only show-style Siamese meet the show standards of the major cat associations, so in practice only show-style Siamese can be shown.

In some media, mostly on the World Wide Web, you see names such as "Traditional Siamese" and "Classic Siamese." These names refer to specific concepts or mental images some other people have had about what the old, moderate type of Siamese theoretically should look like. Some of the pedigreed cats labeled Traditional Siamese and Classic Siamese by their breeders would also be considered to be Old-Style Siamese by the Old-Style Siamese breeders, but only some. Consequently, the terms Old-Style Siamese, Traditional Siamese, and Classic Siamese should never be used as synonyms for each other. Breeders using these terms are listed together in the same sections of many online cattery directories, but that is to enable the general public to make their own decisions and find what they want. It is not because the cats are all the same regardless of what their breeders call them. They are not all the same.

For the official definition of the term "Old-Style Siamese," the public should consult the organization that originally coined the term as a formal breed name. That organization was PREOSSIA.

"Siamese" cats that have dense, fluffy coats, very round skulls, a big dip from forehead to the bridge of the nose, and that are not registered by a major cat association would never be considered an Old-Style Siamese. Unfortunately, there are also some "applehead Siamese" advertised that are registered in prestigious cat associations, but that are known or strongly suspected to have "hung" (falsified papers). I myself have seen some "CFA-registered appleheads" appear on the scene with pedigrees that surprise me. I have been around long enough to know what the cats in certain pedigrees looked like, to have met the original cats in person, and I can see that their contemporary "descendants" in certain catteries resemble the "ancestors" not at all. You should be especially wary when breeders regularly produce longhaired kittens in the same litters as their shorthaired kittens. If the lines are purebred, that should not be happening.

In short, the very round-skulled, fluffly-coated cats classified by many people as Traditional Siamese are in the opinion of the Old-Style Siamese breeders, whether they seem to have registration papers or not, virtually certain to be mongrel cats. They inherited the Siamese "pointed" pattern from a couple of distant ancestors, but most of the ancestors were not Siamese.

For more information about the Old-Style Siamese, including detailed descriptions and photos, see the following North American breed club web pages:
PREOSSIA Old-Style Siamese Breed Standard

In the United Kingdom, see:
The Old-style Siamese Club

Copyright 1996-2011 by Dr. Cris Bird of Sarsenstone Cattery. You may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.