COLOURPOINTED AND MASKED CATS
The colourpoint pattern is a form of albinism and is known as the "Himalayan pattern" although it's more often called "Siamese" pattern by cat lovers. It is found in a number of mammals including rabbits and goats from the Himalayas region. The exact effect of the gene depends on the temperature since its effect is inhibit colour in warm areas of the body and allow colour to develop on the cooler areas such as the ears, face, legs, tail and (in males) scrotum. In warmer climes, there is less contrast between the body colour and the point colour. Colourpoint kittens are born with almost pure white coats on a pink skin because of the uniform warmth in the womb; only after birth does the point colour develop. In cooler regions, the contrast may be very pronounced. The characteristic blue eyes reflects reddish at night because albinism affects the tapetum (reflective layer) of the eye; non-albino cats' eyes reflect greenish.
The most familiar colourpoint breeds are the Siamese and Himalayan (Colourpoint Longhair/Colourpoint Persian), but there are a number of others. Most, if not all, colourpoint cats have Siamese somewhere in the history, or at least have Thai, Asian or Japanese cats in the family tree since this pattern occurs naturally throughout Asia and into Russia. The Burmese has a "low contrast" form of the colourpoint gene andthe Tonkinese is halfway between Burmese and Siamese. There are a series of gene variants and combinations controlling the contrast between body colour and point colour; these are shown in the charts below.
Modern Siamese come in different varieties - one is the "Modern" Siamese with its exaggerated wedge-shaped head, bat ears, a muzzle sometimes referred to as a "banana nose" and an often excessively tubular body. Another is the "Classic" Siamese that resembles the 1950s-1960s Siamese and intermediate between the more robust "Old-Style" that resemble early Siamese imports and the extreme modern Siamese. There is a continuum between the old-style and the modern Siamese, with most people considering there to be two types: old and modern. Personally speaking, I find many of the modern showbench Siamese extremely ugly creatures and many owners, as opposed to breeders, prefer a less extreme style of cat. For this reason, there are also traditional (old) style Siamese (Thai Siamese) being bred, recreating the chunkier shape familiar in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Both originate from the same cats.
The naturally-occurring colourpoints I have seen in Malaysia and Thailand are closer in type to those being bred to the older (non-ultra-typed) Siamese standard. Of the conformation of Siamese cat, Phyllis Lauder wrote in "The British, European and American Shorthair Cat" (1981): "Cats of eastern provenance have not shown long heads: in the 1930s and 40s there was, at the Natural History Museum in London, a stuffed Siamese cat, and this animal’s head was ‘as round as an apple’ to quote one of England’s prominent experimental breeders, the late B. A. Stirling-Webb. The taxidermist’s work showed a large cat of strictly ‘domestic’ type. "
There are many theories about the origin of the Siamese. The Seal Point Siamese was known as the Royal Cat of Siam because it was found in palaces. It seems to have been familiar in the ancient Siam city of Ayudha which was founded in 1350 and was Siam's capital until destroyed by fire during the Burmese invasion of 1767. In Bangkok's National Library there are manuscripts from Ayudha which describe native fauna. "The Cat Book of Poems" depicts pale coated Seal Point Siamese, describing them as having black tails, feet and ears with white hair and blue eyes. No one really knows what the cats of ancient Siam looked like or whether they were bred for body type or purely for colour and pattern with little regard for shape. Another problem is that artists often stylize their illustrations.
The extinct Annamese from Vietnam is also considered by some to be the ancestor of modern Siamese and that the Siamese cat of Thailand arose through interbreeding Birman and Annamese cats. An early description of the Seal Point Siamese in 1676 calls it "Vichien Mas" (meaning "diamond mouth") and drawings depict extreme expression of the colourpoint pattern - dark ears, nose, paws and whiskers. A cat with Siamese markings appeared on an old engraving discovered by the naturalist Pallas on his journey into Southern Russia between 1793 and 1794. It was the opinion of Sir Russell Gordon (who closely studied these cats) and Auguste Pavie (French explorer and one time resident at Bangkok), that the Siamese cat derived from a cross between the Burmese Temple Cat (i.e. Burmese, not the Birman which was known as the "Sacred Burmese Temple Cat") and the Annamite Cat. The Annamite cat was described as a slender, small and gracefully built variety of cat with a short tail. Like so many varieties it was said to have disappeared due to interbreeding with introduced domestic cats.
Although apparently favoured as palace cats, there is no clear record of an distinct Siamese breed until the 1800s. The British became interested in Siamese cats and imported them from Siam. The earliest documented imports were during the 1870s, but these were apparently not bred. In 1884, the departing British Consul-General Gould was given a Siamese cat by the Siamese king. He brought the cat to England and its progeny were exhibited at Crystal Palace in 1885. The early Siamese cats were round-headed, solid and muscular, but even so, their appearance was so extraordinary that they were described as an "unnatural nightmare of a cat". In Ceylon, the Siamese cat was, for a while, known as "Gould's Cat", having been introduced there by Mr Gould. The Burmese Sacred Cat was known to early British cat fanciers as the "Gold Cat". A wild cat of the region was known as the "Golden Cat" (Temminck's Golden Cat) or "Bay Cat". HC Brooke believed these similarities of name to be the reason that Temminck's Golden Cat was claimed to be an ancestor of the Siamese. The first champion Siamese, "Wankee," was born in Hong Kong in 1895 and exhibited in 1898. He was relatively large and round-headed by modern standards, but had a more distinct muzzle and longer body than modern appleheaded (as in the rounded headed "applehead" dolls of the USA) Siamese - more of an intermediate type.
Frances Simpson, editor of "The Book of the Cat" (1903) included contributions from several early breeders of Siamese cats. While acknowledging the existence of blues, blacks, whites and tabbies in Siam, she stated that only the "Royal Siamese" and "Chocolate Siamese" were recognised in England at that time. These were sometimes bred to each other although opinions on the quality of the offspring were contradictory. The royal Siamese was sometimes bred to white short-hairs because the English type was preferred over the foreign type by judges. Because white is dominant and masks other colours, "sports" with "any other colour" points occurred a generation or two later.
Most early breeders considered the Siamese cat to be more delicate than the English cat, having delicate lungs and being prone to disease and other upsets. Many did not risk sending their precious cats to shows. One early breeder noted a rarity of female kittens in a litter, the average being 5 males to 2 females. The kittens were said to be difficult to rear, as they suffered from worms and teething, and it was common to foster Siamese kittens on English cats to make them more robust and healthier. Males were described as extremely powerful, great fighters, had terrible voices and would kill strange cats and fight dogs. "The males are, however, antagonistic to others of their sex, and fight with a terrible persistency. I have heard of a stalwart fellow who, being allowed his liberty, cleared the neighbourhood of all other wandering toms. When made neuter, Siamese become most charming home pets."
Miss Forestier-Walker and her sister, Mrs Vyvyan, had received a pair of Siamese cats from the Siamese Palace in 1884-5; Miss Forestier-Walker wrote "Siamese cats were first introduced into England about twenty-five years ago, but were not often seen until a few years later. Since then they have become fairly common. There are two distinct varieties in the present day. (1) The royal cat of Siam" by which she meant the seal point Siamese, "(2) The chocolate cats are deep brown in colour showing hardly any markings, and have blue eyes. The tails are sometimes straight, which is not a fault; but a knot or kink in the tail is a peculiarity of the breed, and therefore desirable. In England it has been asserted that this is a defect, but in Siam it is highly prized […] In the East a cat with a kinked tail fetches a higher price."
"There is a legend that the light-coloured cats with blue eyes represent silver; the dark cats with yellow eyes, gold; and that the possessor of both will have plenty. This rather gives the idea that originally the eyes of the pure chocolate cat were yellow, and that the present variety has been crossed with the royal cat. It is a great mistake to mix the varieties, as the result after they become adult is a blurring of the markings and a patchy coat." What Miss Forestier-Walker was describing was the range of colours from the brown Burmese (the "Burmese cat" depicted in the 1903 book was an Oriental ticked tabby), through the "blurred" or less distinct markings of the mink range (Tonkinese) to the sharply defined colourpoint of the Siamese.
Champion Wankee was bred in Hong Kong in 1895, the offspring of a female kitten stolen from the Palace in Siam, and imported to England aged 6 months. His owner, Mrs Robinson, wrote "One of the most beautiful of the short-haired cats is undoubtedly the royal cat of Siam, and the breed is increasing in popularity; but is never likely to be common, as the cats are delicate in this country. […] The [standard of] points of the chocolate Siamese are the same as the royal, with the exception of body colour, which is a dark rich brown all over, thus making the markings less noticeable. All Siamese darken with age, and when they get dark there is a tendency to call them chocolates. I know of only one real chocolate - Mr C Cooke's 'Zetland Wanzies' - so consider them more likely to be a freak than a distinct variety."
She also described the different body types: "Of the royals there seem to be two types in England: the one - rather a small, long-headed cat, with glossy, close lying coat and deep blue eyes, and with a decided tendency to darken with age - is generally the imported cat or having imported parents; the other is a larger cat, with a rounder head, a much thicker, longer and less close-lying coat, and the eyes a paler blue (these cats do not darken as much or as soon as the other type, and have generally been bred for several generations in England)."
According to another early breeder, Mrs Parker Brough, "There are distinct varieties of Siamese known to fanciers - the palace or royal cat, the temple cat (chocolate), and there is likewise the common cat of the country, which is also found within the palace. The points of the chocolate cat are identical for shows with those of the royal except body colour, but the imported chocolate is often dark chocolate, with blue eyes, stumpy tail with a marked kink, short legs, and heavy, thick body. There are not many chocolates exhibited, owing to the preference given to the royal variety. It must be understood that there is no definite royal breed as such, but the palace breed seems to have originated by selection." Lady Marcus Beresford wrote that Siamese imported from a Bangkok temple "differed from the royal Siamese, being darker and having a more pointed head and face, and their eyes were larger and fuller."
According to Miss Forestier Walker "This breed is said to be kept very carefully in the palace in Bangkok - hence the title 'royal' - and is by no means the common cat of Siam. One gentleman (a missionary), who had lived there fifteen years, had during that time seen only three. A few years ago there was a pair of these cats in the Zoological Gardens at Bangkok, but they were very poor specimens. […] The first specimens were brought to England about twenty-five or thirty years ago, and Mr Harrison Weir says that among those who possessed them were Lady Dorothy Nevill, whose cats were 'imported and presented by Sir R Herbert of the Colonial Office. The late Duke of Wellington imported the breed, also Mr Scott of Rotherfield.' "
Mrs Parker Brough wrote "Until recently the Siamese was but little known in Europe, but occasionally was to be found in the various zoological gardens. At present there is a fine female specimen to be seen at the Zoo at Frankfort-on-the-Main, having been purchased from the King of Roumania. One or two are to be seen at the Hague. London has the first one it has had for six years, but it is not shown owing to its want of condition. […] A point on which the Siamese fancy is divided is where the ideal cat should have a kink in the tail or not.[…] There is a peculiarity in breeding the Siamese - i.e. the rarity of female kittens in a litter, the average seeming to be five males to two females. […] They have naturally rather delicate lungs."
Some of those early (1890-1902) Siamese were evidently large, robust creatures, for example a neutered male called Attache was described as very large and powerful, with massive limbs, and an unconquerable antipathy to all other cats of any description. Frances Simpson summed up in 1903 by saying "I do not believe that Siamese will ever become common in England, for many reasons. These cats are expensive to purchase, difficult to rear, and fancier are afraid to risk them in the show pen; but in spite of these drawbacks, I think as time goes on and the Siamese Club extends its labours, we shall see and hear more of these really curious creatures, for what we call the royal Siamese bears no resemblance to any other cat, and the distinguishing difference, being so great, tend to make the breed one of our best show cats and a clear class to itself, for the Siamese of the purest blood should not be crossed with other cats. We have heard of 'any other colour' Siamese, but these cats of varied hue claiming to be Siamese are but the offspring of a cross. We have been told of black and blue and tabby Siamese; but the fanciers of Siamese look askance at these freaks, and feel that it is worse than useless to attempt to produce any other variety than that which we have learned by custom to designate the Royal cat of Siam."
A great deal has been written about the origins of the Siamese breed. Sydney W France, editor of "Cats and Kittens" magazine, wrote the book "Siamese Cats" in 1949. This was the first major publication on Siamese cats since 1936.
"The history of the Siamese in this country is a very short one, and it is true to say that they have only been here within living memory, and that the first ones actually were from The Royal Palace of Siam. Even on this point there is much controversy and it is interesting to note that the first Siamese of which there is any record were said to have been brought to England in 1884 by Mr. Gould who was then Consul General in Bangkok at that time. In 1886 a pair of cats and two kittens were brought to England by Mrs. Vyvyan, these had actually been procured from the King’s Palace in Bangkok. In the same year, Mrs. Walker, the General’s daughter, brought over one male and three females. There is no doubt that at that time the true Siamese were kept in the Royal Palaces and Temples, and that few of them ever found their way from there except as gifts, which were then considered as of great worth."
In direct contradiction, Ida M. Mellen, well-known American authority on cats, in her "Practical Cat Book" (1939) writes "Although this cat generally is referred to as the Royal, and even as the Sacred Siamese, it is the common cat of Siam, just as the Manx, equally an aristocrat, is the common cat of the Isle of Man."
France also reproduces a letter Mellen received from Dr. Hugh M. Smith, Adviser in Fisheries to His Siamese Majesty’s Government between 1923 and 1934. In addition to the Siamese cat, he mentions a "mauve" cat which is no doubt the Si-Sawat (Korat) and kinked-tailed cats which were, and still are, common throughout Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore (and in the modern Japanese Bobtail breed).
"I was well Acquainted with cats in Siam, but made no special study of them. There appear to be two races peculiar to the country: the common form with pale fawn colour, black or dark brown feet, tips of ears, tail and muzzle, and blue eyes, well-known to cat fanciers all over the world, and a form of uniform mauve or Maltese colour with yellow eyes. There are no "palace" cats in Siam. There are no "royal" cats, although the strikingly marked creatures would be the natural ones to be kept in palaces. Any person can have a Siamese cat, and as a matter of fact there are many people outside the palaces and many foreigners who keep such cats as household pets. There are no "temple" cats. The Buddhist priests, who do not live in the temples but in special buildings in the temple grounds, may keep cats, as they do dogs. A Siamese prince whom I know very well was visiting in London and was interviewed by one of the thousands of Siamese cat fanciers there. He told her there were more Siamese cats in London than in all Siam.
You probably know about the cat not peculiar to Siam but found over much of South Eastern Asia, which always has a sharp kink near the tip of its tail. It is of various colours but never of the special Siamese cat colour, and is of no interest except for its tail."
There is no doubt that Siamese cats came from Siam (modern day Thailand), but some disagreement in the 1940s as to their "royal" origins. France disagreed about Siamese not being Royal cats. As well as mentioning the various royal legends relating to the tail kink and squint (faults in show cats), he stated:
"This does not bear out my own information on this point, because whilst living in Jersey I had the good fortune to meet and become friendly with Major Walton of Verona House, Grouville, who was until recently, in Siam in connection with the Rice purchasing Commission, when he and his wife, both cat lovers, became friendly with the Prince Regent of Siam. Major Walton told the Prince Regent that he and his wife wanted to bring back some Siamese to England, but had not been able to find any at all in the country that were for sale. Before leaving Siam, Mrs. Walton was presented with a pair, male and female by the Prince Regent, and I actually went and saw them in quarantine in Jersey where they had a litter of five kittens, of which, later on, I bought two; a male and female.
These Siamese cats had coats of extremely fine quality texture, and colour, and very good head and body shape, splendid long whip-like tails, but with eyes which definitely failed in colour according to our standards here in England. They appear to be hazel, whereas there is no doubt that we have enormously improved the eye colour and have cats with beautiful deep blue eyes."
Major Walton’s remarks to France about the Siamese cats of the Royal Palaces were also mentioned in an issue of "Cats and Kittens" magazine, of which France was editor. This prompted the following letter from Mr. A. N. M. Garry of Minehead, Somerset:
"My wife and I are ardent cat lovers, and having spent most of my working life in Borneo, I feel I have some justification for writing to you about Siam and its cats. When I was in Siam in 1930, I was told that there were two distinct types of Siamese cats - apart from the Malay cat and crosses with it. The first is the one we see in England, but I think its points are a shade different, [chocolate] brown instead of seal. The second, which was said to be peculiar to the Royal family and palaces, had the body colour of the first - but not the points; and hazel eyes.
Having been a contemporary at Eton with the then King, I got a special permit to see the Bangkok Palace more thoroughly than the usual tourist does, and I saw one or two of these "Royal" cats, whose appearance was (to the best of my recollection after so long) as I have described. At that time, the export of the first type, except neuter ones, was absolutely forbidden, owing to the fear that they might become extinct in Siam, because so many had been exported.
The second type was absolutely unobtainable, far less exportable, for it was not to be seen outside the royal palaces. But owing to the war, and the various constitutional changes that Siam has undergone, the rules may well have been relaxed. It certainly looks as though Major Walton has been lucky enough to get hold of a pair of the scarcer "Royal type." Incidentally, I hope he is aware of the tendency of Siam born Siamese to chest troubles ~ damp or cool weather. I know of several people even out there, who have lost their pets from this cause.
I am afraid I am quite unable to agree with Mrs. Adney’s friend that a Siamese must have a kinked tail to be considered pure bred out East. In my experience, the .connoisseur out there, just as at home, demands the straight tail; but the fact remains that the majority of so-called Siamese cats in Malaya and Borneo have kinked tails, owing to one of their parents or forefathers having been a Malay cat. They still make lovely pets, and have the characteristics of pure-bred Siamese, such as the deep voice and the love of following their owners like dogs.
The Malay cat, like the British domestic cat, is of varied colours, ginger, black, black and white, tabby and tortoiseshell. Some having Persian forbears, are long haired. Practically all have kinks, and I had one, a beloved ginger, called Peter, who was considered a cat of particularly good omen, as he had two kinks quite close together. They were very tender, and he hated them being touched. He lived to the age of seventeen - very old indeed for an animal in the tropics. He died a few months before the Japanese invaded Borneo."
The first Siamese fanciers club was founded in Britain in 1902 at which time they were apparently variable in type. Possibly the conformation depended on which cats the early Siamese had been out-crossed to, there being few pure Siamese in the country at the time, or to the variability of imported cats and inbreeding from a limited gene pool.
Early photos show differences between the "compact" cats and the "lithe" cats, but the difference is nowhere near as extreme as that between modern "classic" and "old-style" Siamese. Early Siamese are more robust and have more rounded heads than modern classic Siamese, however, they were longer-bodied (less cobby) and more wedge-headed than the British Shorthairs and Persians of the time. The 1892 Siamese breed standard (Harrison Weir) described them as a marten-faced, Oriental type of cat distinctly different from the cobby, round British cats. Weir described the Siamese wedge as beginning at eye level, at the muzzle (in modern cats it begins from the ears downwards).
Based on only a few imported Siamese, early breeders believed that there to be 2 types of Siamese. Judge and Siamese-fancier, Mrs. Carew Cox, said (reported 1903) "There appear to be two distinct types - the compactly built, short in body, short on legs, and round in head; and the long-bodied, long-faced, lithe, sinuous, and peculiarly foreign-looking variety."
An early Siamese breeder, Mrs. Robinson said, "Of the royals there seem to be two types in England: the one - rather a small, long-headed cat, with glossy, close-lying coat and deep blue eyes, and with a decided tendency to darken with age - is generally the imported cat or having imported parents; the other is a larger cat, with a rounder head, a much thicker, longer, and less close-lying coat, and the eyes a paler blue (these cats do not darken as much or as soon as the other type, and have generally been bred for several generations in England)."
The Siamese Cat Society of America was founded in 1909 although the date of their arrival in the United States is not precisely known. Many early Siamese had kinked tails and cross-eyes or a squint; these faults have largely been bred out of modern Siamese.
In 1949, Kit Wilson (Vice-Chairman of GCCF) wrote in the Sydney W France's book "Siamese Cats"
"A few years before World War 2, interest was beginning to be shown in Blue Pointed Siamese. These had caused some considerable controversy among breeders, many of whom were of the opinion that they were "sports" and therefore could not be bred true, but a few, whose convictions based on research refuted these opinions, and "The Blue Pointed Siamese Cat Club" was formed.
Lately particular interest is being taken by some breeders in Chocolate Pointed Siamese. The greatest living authority on this fascinating variety is Miss Wentworth Fitz-William of Slingsby Yorks., one of the most valued breeders and judges of many years standing who has always owned some, and from whose stock most of those in existence to-day have sprung. [...] It is an interesting fact however that there are considerable numbers of chocolate points in France, but their Owners have no idea as to their origin, the strain however must have been good, as they are without exception the only Siamese worth showing over there (or at least they were at the January 1948 show, when I was judging. [...] For those who have never seen a Chocolate they are often smaller in build than the seal or blue point, and their points are of a rich milk chocolate colour.
Blue points are very popular in the U.S.A. many of them winning high awards at shows over there, but, although I am open to correction, I have not heard of any chocolates. I only had one of these in my classes at the Danish (Darak) show in 1946, and this was a very poor specimen and hardly worthy to carry on the breed, and was, in all probability a "sport." It had been bought at quite a high price when a kitten as a seal point, and having met the vendor as well as the owner I am of the opinion that neither of them had the slightest idea that it was anything other than the usual seal.
While writing this an interesting fact has come to light with regard to chocolate points. Mr. Brian Stirling-Webb, the Hon. Treasurer of the Siamese Cat Club has been making a close study of this variety, and he states that practically every chocolate in the country can trace their pedigree back to an imported cat brought into this country in 1896, this may also account for those on the continent. Who knows, perhaps another from the litter was taken over there and that those now being shown are direct descendants."
In that book, Wilson wrote in disapproving tones of cross-breeding of Siamese. Luckily the experiments in breeding Siamese with other breeds (not species!) did continue in spite of early disapproval, leading to a wide variety of attractive Oriental and Foreign varieties.
"From America we have heard of the Black Siamese with orange eyes but to my knowledge no specimen has ever been seen in this country. Then there have been long haired specimens, described as Burmese, they have the same colouring as the seal point, and long fur, which although in no way comparable with the Persian yet is definitely more long than short. Experiments however have proved that in breeding Siamese to other species - varied forms can be made - this practise is not to be encouraged, as it may lead to definite malpractices as have occurred in other livestock."
Her comments show some confusion between Burmese and Birman. The "Black Siamese" is probably the Foreign Black; essentially a Seal Point Siamese without the colourpointing gene.
While they became more popular in the US and Europe, the purebred Siamese was dwindling in its native Thailand. In the 1950s, a breeder obtained 3 Siamese kittens of the robust type from Thailand. While the debate over "2 types" of early Siamese continues to this day, what is certain is that early Siamese cats were far more moderate in type than either of their modern counterparts. During the early 1960s, the "robust" Siamese lost out to the longer thinner type. While owners often preferred a moderate cat, exhibitors preferred an extremely slender cat with a very long, triangular head, almond-shaped eyes, and flaring ears. This look caught on with show-oriented Siamese breeders and judges. A cat called "Fan Tee Cee" was an early example of the increasingly extreme conformation that was impressing the judges. Fan Tee Cee appears many times in some pedigrees, demonstrating his contribution to the new-style Siamese. The growing number of new-style Siamese put pressure on cat fancies to change the breed standard to reflect the changing shape, putting old-style cats at a disadvantage.
The original Siamese cats were Seal Points ("black" points) although Blue Points and Chocolate Points also appeared in Siamese litters and were for many years considered "poorly marked" Seal Points. In the USA at the end of the 1960s, breeders in Britain and the USA were working with different colours of Siamese-type cats e.g. ebonies, reds, chestnuts and lavender. Lynx-points (tabby points) were being bred in Britain. Because blue-pointed Siamese appeared spontaneously in seal-point litters, they were known as "sports" or "freaks". In 1896 Louis Wain, father of the modern cat show, refused to judge a Siamese on grounds that it was blue rather than seal. When the first book on Siamese was written by Phil Wade she wrote, ‘"Even the best blue pointed cannot, I think, equal the beauty of our seal pointed cats and I can see no real object in trying to breed them. Their value at the moment is their scarcity, but I cannot believe there will ever be a great demand for them."
Tabby Point Siamese had been mentioned as early as 1902 in Britain. Between 1944 and 1949, they were bred in Scotland and known as Silverpoint Siamese. They were introduced to the cat fancy at a London cat show in the 1960s and in 1966, the Tabby Point Siamese was granted recognition by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).
By 1986 the old-style Siamese had vanished from the showbench and many people assumed that Siamese cats had always had a long body, wedge-shaped head and disproportionately large ears. Siamese cats had become extreme parodies of the original imports. In Australia, some Siamese appear even more extreme than their American cousins - with larger ears and even more fragile bodies. In Britain they have also become more extreme - and ugly - in type, especially facially. It really is up to judges to do a sanity check and prevent the cat from being taken to ever greater extremes of type.
In the USA, the old-style cat was still being bred in a small way even though it could no longer compete against the modern style cats. It was popular with the general public. There is a separate Siamese breed known as the traditional and recognised as distinct from classic Siamese by some registries in the USA. The term "Old-Style Siamese" is often used.
In Britain, interest from the public wanting to buy old-style Siamese cats has led to a revival of the Traditional style Siamese during the late 1990s. Those would be owners expressed dismay at the wedge-headed Siamese seen on the showbench. On mainland Europe the Thai Pointed is a naturally occurring colourpointed (Blue-point, Lilac-point) Korat variant. The Thai Siamese is a European term for the traditional (round-headed) style of Siamese derived purely from non-ultra-typed Siamese cats. The term Thai Siamese has sometimes been used for colourpointed Korat variants.
In the USA, the Siamese is recognised in seal point, blue point, chocolate point and lilac point. Other colours (red point, cream point, tabby point, tortie point etc) are known as Colorpoint Shorthair (Colorpoint Oriental Shorthair). Elsewhere, these other colours are classed as Siamese. The additional colours were introduced through out-crossing, however they have been so extensively back-crossed with Siamese cats that only the most ardent purist would claim that they are not Siamese! The additional colours are not permitted in the traditional old-style of Siamese which seeks to breed only the traditional colours as well as the more moderate conformation.
Lynx point (UK) 1990.
Lynx point (UK) 1990.
Breakthrough Tabby Pattern in Colourpoints
Cats born of Siamese parents sometimes have a tabby/spotted pattern breaking through so strongly that the cat appears to be a tabby/spotted Oriental or a tabby/spotted sepia (Burmese) pattern. Viewed closely, the pattern colour is heavily ticked on a paler ticked background. This breakthrough pattern is evident from kittenhood and not the same as age-related darkening in Colourpoint cats. It is inherited, possibly due to modifier genes that prevent the colourpoint gene from properly inhibiting the colour/pattern on the normally pale areas of the body.
A stongly marked seal-tabby Siamese with a breakthrough spotted pattern (looked like a Spotted Tabby Oriental with blue eyes) mated to a Siamese produced a litter containing one strongly marked classic tabby that looked more like a Classic Tabby Oriental with blue eyes. The breakthrough pattern has become a problem in some Australian lines. Another example was a lynx-point Siamese female (old-style conformation) in England that looked like a slightly washed out tabby with blue eyes. Her colour raised questions as to whether she was genuinely colourpoint or was genetically mink or sepia pattern from Tonkinese lines.
BALINESE/JAVANESE AND SINGHALESE
As with the Siamese, there are 2 types of Balinese - Balinese and the traditional style of Balinese (Apple- or round-head). In both cases, they are semi-longhaired versions of the 2 different types of Siamese
Semi-longhaired variants have appeared now and again in purebred Siamese litters. There have been various explanations. The recessive nature of the longhair gene means it can be carried for many generations without coming to light - in which case the gene was present in one of the early imports of Siamese. Some say that at least one Chinese tapestry depicts pointed longhairs. Longhair can also occur as a simple mutation; again the gene may be carried hidden for many generations. An unlikely explanation is that it came from the domestication of the longhaired Pallas cat (F manul) of western China although genetic evidence is lacking. More feasibly early british breeders may have outcrossed early Siamese imports to longhaired cats or to shorthaired cats which had a recessive gene for longhair. Possibly they were crossed with Turkish Angoras, another breed popular at the time.
After many years of hiding their existence, a "Longhair Siamese" was registered with the Cat Fanciers Federation in 1928, however they were not bred in earnest until 1955 when Marion Dorsey began breeding and showing the longer-haired variety in the USA. Since long hair is a recessive trait, these long-haired Siamese bred true. To keep it separate from the conventional shorthaired Siamese it required a new name. "Balinese" was chosen to reflect its grace, like that of Balinese dancers, and also because Bali is close to Thailand and this reflects the breed's links with its Siamese ancestors.
In 1961 it was recognized in the USA and accepted for registration in the same point colours as Siamese: seal, chocolate, blue and lilac. Other colours were introduced from outcrossing: red, cream, tabby, tortie, cinnamon, fawn, smoke, silver and more. These were registed in the USA in 1979 as Javanese, but are considered Balinese in other countries since they have been so extensively back-crossed to Balinese that they can no longer be considered hybrids.
The development of the Balinese paralleled that of the Siamese. In the 1950s most Siamese and Balinese cats were less extreme than we are used to today. The more extreme look gained in popularity for the Siamese and its longhaired counterpart followed suit since Balinese were bred back to Siamese to improve the type of the Balinese. In addition, much of the Balinese cat's long fur was lost, leaving it as a more-or-less shorthaired cat with a plumy tail, a side-effect of breeding back to the Siamese. As with the Siamese, a few breeders preserved the older style and it is now becoming more popular in its own right.
In the 1960s, a cat very similar to the Balinese was bred in the USA and Canada. These resulted from crossing Siamese cats to red/red-tabby Angora (presumably the Turkish Angora) resulting in semi-longhairs with Siamese conformation and red or tortie points. The fur was shorter, but fluffier than the Balinese and the tail much fluffier. The temperament was also calmer than the Siamese due to the Angora influence. Essentially these were the red-series equivalents of the Balinese which US registries recognised only in seal, blue, lilac anc chocolate. The Singhalese was allowed to be bred to either Balinese or Himalayan and the progeny could be registered as Singhalese. It was judged to the Balinese standard with allowances made for its different coat type. Over time, it appears to have lost out to the Balinese.
The Birman has the colourpoint pattern with the addition of white bootees/gauntlets. The Birman arrived in Europe around 1920 and has also been known as the Tibetan Temple Cat and the Sacred Cat of Burma. Modern Birmans are descended from a pair brought to Europe by Mr. Vanderbilt. It is also reported that 2 Englishmen, Major Gordon-Russell and August Pavie, then living in France, received a pair of Birmans from the Kittah people in 1919 as gratitude for their part in saving the temple from being overrun by invaders. The remainder of the tale is the same: the male unfortunately died during the voyage, but the female was pregnant. Of her kittens, only a female survived. This meant two female Birmans and no male. To re-establish the type, these cats were crossed to Siamese, Colourpoints and White Longhairs.
In 1927, judge Mrs Basnett reported on the Paris Cat Show held on 14th and 15th of January by the Cat Club de France and wrote "The Sacred Burmese Temple Cats interested me very much, with their long fur on the tail and coat resembling that of a poorly bred Persian; their colouring is exactly like that of the Siamese, but their feet sometimes have white toes. I was given to understand that they are very difficult to rear, only about one in ten survive. I do not think they possess the same quick movements as the Siamese, life to them seems much more dreamy and slow, but they are very loving and intelligent." This clearly referred to the Birman; confusingly the name Burmese Temple Cat was also used at that time for the gold-eyed brown Thai cats analogous to modern Burmese or brown Orientals.
As a result of its early near-loss and re-creation, some say the Birman comes from temples in Burma, while others claim it is a breed entirely manufactured in France using Siamese andblack-and-white longhairs. French breeders had to re-create the Birman not once, but twice since the Second World War caused pedigreed cats in Europe a great set back. Only two purebred Birmans survived and their offspring formed the new post-war foundation of the Birman breed in France. They were bred with other longhairs out of necessity, but by 1955, the Birman was once more recognised as pure bred and there was no more outcrossing. In the early 1960's Mrs Elsie Fisher and Mrs M. Richards imported the first Birmans into Britain from France.
While some claim the cats were created in France, it is interesting that in 1960, a pair of "Tibetan Temple kittens" was given to a North American cat lover and were identical to the Birman cats being bred in Europe. In recent years new point colours have been introduced, including chocolate, lilac point, red, cream, tabby and tortie point. Not all societies recognise the newer colours. It's worth noting that the older style of Birmans tended to develop "hood-type" head colouring.
Early in the breeding of Birmans in the USA, Gertrude Griswold attempted to keep the Birman breed under her control. It was possible to adopt a female Birman from her for breeding, but to actually breed the cat, there had to be a notarized agreement (a contract with the Griswolds) that the sire would be of Gertrude Griswold's choosing and the adoption of the resulting kittens into new homes would be under her jurisdiction. Later on, Ann Baker attempted a similar degree of control over Ragdolls, another colourpointed breed.
Birman variants are known e.g. the "Khmer" being a bootee-less Birman-type cat and the Tibetan being a Birman in solids colours and tabbies. Some of the early Birmans lacked the gauntlets.
TEMPLECAT (BIRMAN SHORTHAIR)
The Templecat is the shorthaired equivalent of the Birman. It is a Birman in every respect apart from the slightly springy short hair. It was developed in New Zealand by outcrossing Birmans to a cinnamon spotted tabby Oriental.
The Templecat began development in 1995 and was originally called the Birman Shorthair. It later became the Tsuncat (after a temple priest in mythology surrounding the Birman cat) and became the Templecat in 2001.
The early colours were seal point, blue point, chocolate point, lilac point, cinnamon point and fawn point It is now also in red point, cream point and in tabby and toritie points.
The Himalayan is a Persian in a colourpoint coat and with blue eyes. In the UK it is known as the Colorpoint Longhair (or Colourpoint Persian). In the USA, Himalayans with tabby or tortie points are known as Colorpoint Longhair in some registries.
Experimental breeding of Siamese and Persians dates back as far as the 1920s. The first recorded deliberate cross between Siamese and longhaired cats was made by Swedish geneticist T Tjebbes in 1924 using white longhairs. However it was not his intention to create a new breed for the cat fancy. In 1931 in the USA, Virginia Cobb and Dr. Clyde Keeler began an experimental breeding programme with the purpose of learning the inheritance involved in producing a Colourpoint Longhair. In 1936, they produced the first Himalayan kitten. They published an article about colourpoint inheritance in the American Journal of Heredity. Having accomplished their aim, the breeding programme was abandoned.
In 1932, the French work "Nos Compagnons ...Les Chats" depicted a colourpointed Persian cat. In 1949, Sydney W France's book "Siamese Cats" also mentioned the crossing of Siamese cats with Persians, a practice which eventually led to the now familiar Colourpoint Persians (Himalayans), though in 1949, such breedings were regarded with a mix of curiosity and disapproval.
"Some curious experiments have been made from time to time in an effort to cross Siamese cats with Persians and even the tabby cat, and at least two treatises have been written on the subject. "Siamese-Persian Cats" by Clyde E. Keeler and Virginia Cobb, "Journal of Heredity" v. 27. No. 9. Sept. 1936, and "Crosses with Siamese Cats" by K. Tjebbes, Journal of Genetics, V. 14. p. 335, 1924. From this we find that Swedish Dr. K. Tjebbes in about 1924 crossed a white Persian female with a Siamese and the colour of the Persian dominated to the extent of seven white kittens and three coloured ones. Back crosses all gave 50 per cent. white. Like Siamese colouring, short hair dominated.
It took Mrs. Virginia R. Cobb five years of experiment working in conjunction with Dr. Clyde E. Keeler of the Harvard Medical School to produce the first successful experiment and breed long-haired Siamese kittens, using black Persians instead of white, as used by Dr. Tjebbes in his experiments. Only pedigree cats were used, and from each litter only the most perfect kittens were selected, to be mated up in due course to carry on the experiments. A black Persian male was mated to a Siamese female, and a Siamese male was mated to a black Persian female. The kittens in every case were black and short-haired. After a time a female of one of these litters was mated to a male of the other, and produced among her kittens a long-haired black female! this female being bred back to her short-haired black father. She subsequently had a litter containing two Siamese-Persian kittens which had the long hair of the Persian and the markings of the Siamese. This mating was repeated and of the eleven kittens three were long-haired Siamese, the other eight being black. These three long-haired Siamese kittens had the blue eyes of the Siamese, and the same voice, which they used just as often as the true Siamese do.
In 1939 when Ida M. Mellen reported these facts in her practical cat book the experiments were still proceeding."
In 1931, Virginia Cobb (Newton Cattery) and Dr. Clyde Keeler (Harvard Medical School) conducted an experimental breeding programme to produce a Colourpoint Longhair. They wanted to study the inheritance of longhair and colourpoints to produce a "longhaired Siamese". They first crossed Siamese with Black Persians. This resulted in black shorthair kittens. They mated the offspring together and achieved the desired longhaired Siamese. In 1936, Keeler and Cobb produced the first Colourpoint Longhair (Himalayan) type kitten, "Newton's Debutante". They published an article and the "formula" for producing her in the American Journal of Heredity and then abandoned the breeding programme. They had accomplished the goal of studying how the factors were inherited (longhair and colourpoint are both recessive), but did not intend to create a new breed.
In Britain, at the Siamese Cat Club Show in 1947, Brian Stirling-Webb was approached by a cat owner, Mrs Barton-Wright, who wanted to mate her "long-haired Siamese queen" to one of his Siamese stud cats. She lived close to his Briarry cattery and was anxious to breed more long-haired Siamese, believing they would make a great addition to the Cat Fancy. Stirling-Webb disagreed and told her that she would get only short-haired kittens from mating her cat with a Siamese. Stirling-Webb had seen the results of Keeler and Cobb's experiments and described their longhairs as having Siamese type (far less extreme in type than modern Siamese). He had felt that Keeler and Cobb's experiments were the worst possible thing that could happen to the Siamese - the Siamese cats' beauty was due to their svelte outlines, which Stirling-Webb felt would be obscured by a long coat. Stirling-Webb therefore recommended either having the queen spayed or mating her to a Black Persian and then mating the offspring together. The owner was "averse to either course" and asked to take the queen to Stirling-Webb for him to see her for himself.
Stirling-Webb later wrote: "When I saw this queen, I was astonished at her beauty. Apart from her colouring, she possessed practically no Siamese characteristics, and was reasonably Persian in type. I was also amazed that nothing was known of her origin due to the fact that she had been a stray living in a country churchyard for about six weeks before being adopted by this lady. The police had been informed of her adoption, and advertisements were placed in the local papers in an attempt to contact the original owner, but without success." The stray queen later became known as "Bubastis Georgina". Unfortunately her habits meant she was "quite unfit to live in a civilised house" and in spite of persevering with her, her adopter offered her to Stirling-Webb as a cattery cat. By then, Stirling-Webb was enthusiastic about producing colourpoint Persians (but emphatically against longhaired Siamese!). He was joined by Mrs SM Harding (Mingchiu cattery) and began to develop the variety further. He repeated Cobb and Keeler's "formula" and also acquired a Black Longhair male who had one Siamese grandparent. This male was mated to the colourpoint queen and they produced kittens close to his ideal.
Getting GCCF recognition for Colourpoint Longhairs (Persians) was harder as he needed to produce 3 generations of Colourpoint Longhairs for it to gain breed status and his stock was becoming inbred. In 1955, the cats achieved breed recognition and to continue outcrossing his breeding stock. He recommended the use of "bad" Siamese (round-headed) in Colourpoint Longhair breeding programmes. From the outset, the variety was considered a colour variety of Longhair (Persian): Breed Number 13B. Side-effects of his efforts were the Self Chocolate Longhair (Briarry Bruno) and Self Lilac Longhair (Minghiu Lilac).
In the 1940s and 1950s, Ben and Ann Borrett bred cattle at their Chestermere ranch in western Canada. They were also lovers of Siamese cats and became aware of Stirling-Webb's experimental breeding programme in England. The Borretts travelled to England to visit Stirling-Webb and to purchase several of his cats to start their own breeding program. Their experience as cattle breeders meant that the Borretts understood the amount of work required to establish the new breed and the need for multiple bloodlines. They built up a large cattery (Chestermere cattery) and developed several different and totally separate bloodlines. Only the very best cats from each generation were bred. In 1957, they exhibited two of their imported cats at an ACFA show in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and were asked to create the "Himalayan" breed standard (Himalayan is the name given to the colourpoint pattern in rabbits and goats from the Himalayan region).
Around the same time, California artist and cat breeder Marguerita Goforth (Goforth cattery) agreed to look after a friend's cat. The cat was a seal-point Longhair called "Princess Himalayan Hope" and had come from the San Diego Humane Society. Goforth gained permission to breed the cat to create a Persian-type cat with Siamese colouring. When seeking acceptance for the breed in the USA, she used the Borretts' breed standard. In the 1960s, Goforth wrote that she regretted the decision to recognise the Himalayan as a distinct breed: "I have felt for many years that the Himalayan cat should be recognized as a colour of Longhair". While the Himalayans were kept separate from Persians they began to diverge in type, becoming a long-nosed, colorpoint longhair.
In the 1950s, the Himalayan was recognised in the same 4 colours as the Siamese of the time: seal point, chocolate point, blue point, and lilac point. Red (flame) points and tortie points are recognised in the USA in 1964. Over the next several years these were joined by blue-cream point, cream point, lynx (tabby) points and tortie points. In 1984, the CFA made the Himalayan a division of the Persian breed.
Left: Flame-point (red-point) Himalayan
Only a few Himalayan breeders will ever breed bicolour Himalayans, using bicolour Persians to introduce the white spotting pattern. Paul Beall, Richmond, Texas is one such breeder. Paula's photo (left) shows a bicolour (piebald) Himalayan, but unfortunately this cat has not produced piebald-point kittens and Paula has decided not to reintroduce the gene from Persians. At present, Paula is working with the cinnamon gene in Himalayans; though the gene should have been present in Siamese cats used to develop the Himalayan, it does not seem to hve shown up in the Himalayn breed and breeders may have to introduce it using out-crosses to Persians.
For a while in the 1950s there was a French breed known as the Khmer. It resembled a semi-longhair colourpoint and was apparently overtaken by the Himalayan. "La Vie a Campagne", 1935 dated Khmers back to the 1920s and the photographs resembled early Colourpoint Persians. The story goes that a pair was taken to Paris and abandoned there by a returned serviceman from Indochina. By 1935, this strain of Khmer had evidently almost petered out. The French Khmer is also been described as a bootee-less Birman-type cat. The Khmer is described in an aside by Fernand Mery in 1966 when he describes the "Colourpoint Longhair" as being "remarkably like a breed recognised in France, the Khmer, which has its own standard in that country, though it is not recognised by La Federation Internationale Feline d'Europe". The term "Khmer" had actually been dropped in 1955.
COLOURPOINT EXOTIC SHORTHAIR
The Exotic Shorthair is a shorthaired version of the Persian. It was developed during the 1950s and recognised in the mid 1960s. The Colourpoint Exotic Shorthair is an Exotic Shorthair with colourpoint pattern and blue eyes.
RAGDOLL AND RAGAMUFFIN
Ragdolls are medium to large boned, fairly long cats and possess the Siamese colourpoint gene and the white spotting gene. The have broad modified wedge shaped head - best described as a large piece of pie, with the corners rounded. Their ears are wide set and slightly tilted forward and the eyes are very blue, but not round in shape.
The Ragdoll comes in seal point, chocolate point, blue point and lilac point although red points, cream points and tabby points are now being bred. The "colourpoints" are exactly that. The "mitted" versions have the colour points but have white mittens, white boots and a white blaze on the nose. The "bicoloured" has additional white on the stomach, chest and ruff. Genetics means that there are three other patterns: "High Mitted" where the mitts extend up legs; "Mid-High White" which is a Bi-colour with additional white in the "saddle" area; and "High White" which is a Bi-colour with even greater degree of white, the "saddle" may be absent.
The colourpoint and white spotting genes interact to produce the different patterns. The three recognised patterns are colourpoint, mitted and bicolour. All Ragdolls are colourpointed and some also have white. Due to the way genes interact, some cats Ragdolls which look identical actually have different genotypes (different genetic make-up). For example, High Mitted, Mid High White and "true" Bicolour can all appear identical, though the exact amount of white is variable (almost infinitely so!) and some High Mitteds display more white than a show quality Bicolour while some Mid High Whites may have so much white on them that they appear to be High Whites! At times like this, only a knowledge of what genes the cat has inherited allows breeders to know what colour their cat really is!
High White is also known as Van pattern or Harlequin in some associations and is a recognised colour in CFA (America).
Ragdolls also produce pet quality variants which are not shown (except as household pets), but which have the same excellent temperament. The variants include white toes on colourpoint Ragdolls, dark toes on mitted Ragdolls, odd white marks appearing in dark areas and dark marks appearing in light areas! The white spotting is hard to get perfectly right!
The Ragdoll originated in California in the early 1960s and is surrounded by myth thanks to their somewhat eccentric breeder, Ann Baker. Ann Baker bred Persian cats. Josephine was a white Persian-Angora cat belonging to Baker's neighbour; she was a semi-feral who produced kittens as wild as herself. After Josephine was hit by a car she had to stay indoors while recovering and she became somewhat tamer.
While Josephine's earlier litters had been half wild like their mother, the litters born after the road accident were very relaxed, docile and social. The exact reason why is not known and later became the subject of wild claims. Since kittens inherit much of their personality from their sire, the most likely explanation is that she was breeding with different males, ones carrying genes for more sociable offspring. Judging by the kittens' appearance, Josephine's suitors were most likely Birman and Burmese. In addition, Josephine was less wild and perhaps did not train her kittens to be quite so fearful of humans.
Baker decided to create a new breed, one which retained the very sociable, relaxed traits, non-matting fur, large size and the property of going limp when handled. She acquired a black Burmese-looking female called Buckwheat and a bicolour female called Fugianna. Fugianna's sire was another of Josephine's kittens, a seal-point Birman-type cat called Daddy Warbucks. There were to be no more founding cats since Josephine and her next litter were destroyed by their owner. Based on the appearance of the two founding females, Baker split their progeny into two groups: Fugianna's kittens were termed "the Light Side"; Buckwheat's kittens were termed "the Dark Side".
Ann Baker formulated a strict breeding policy to preserve the purity of the Ragdoll and charged other breeders (franchisees) a royalty fee for every kitten they sold. She also made wild claims about the cats: their docility was due to changes in Josephine after she was hit by a car (a long-discredited Lamarckian theory), that while Josephine was being treated for injuries she was infused experimentally with skunk and/or racoon and/or human genes (even if done, these genes would not have entered the egg cells in the ovaries), that Ragdolls were immune to pain (they have normal pain thresholds but are remarkably tolerant cats) and even that they are a link between us and space aliens! A more plausible suggestion was that Josephine had a mutation in her ovaries and this mutation was present in the egg cells (a germ-line mutation) and was passed on to her offspring.
Her claims and methods alienated other breeders, some of whom broke away to develop the Ragdoll into a registrable breed using sound breeding practices. Depending on which history you read, the Ragdoll was recognised as a purebred cat in 1965, 1966 or 1967. Also according to many sources, Denny Dayton achieved US recognition for the Ragdoll in 1967, however he didn't buy his first Ragdolls until November 1969. In 1971 Baker created the International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA) and claimed that non-IRCA cats to be fakes, frauds, look-alike, half-bred, not authentic etc while promoting her cats as the only legitimate Ragdolls. In 1975 Baker patented the Ragdoll name; she died in 1997 but her patent remained valid until 2005 and allowed only IRCA breeders to use the name "Ragdoll". Earlier breakaway breeders felt that the restriction did not apply to them because they had purchased and bred their cats prior to the time of the patent. In 1981, Ragdolls were exported overseas for the first time.
According to Kay Hanvey, who was involved at the time, when Denny and GerogeAnn Dayton bought cats from Ann Baker they also had to buy special food from her. Denny, a scientist, had this special food tested by a laboratory found phenobarbitol in it. This was why the cats were so limp and relaxed and had a high pain threshold. When the Daytons broke away from Ann Baker and switched the cats to a normal diet it turned out that the cats were not so laid back and they had a lot of work to do to breed cats with a really nice personality. Denny presented the findings of the food analysis in court. When the Daytons presented the breed to TICA for recognition it was on the basis that Ann Baker could not trademark or limit the breed further and that future Ragdolls from her would not be accepted.
The stories of the two types of Ragdoll ran parallel for many years. Baker's trademarked umbrella term for all of her IRCA varieties was Cherubim Cat meaning "Angels non-fighting cat". In 1985 and 1987, one UK breeder also advertised "Cherubinis" which appear to have been non-colourpointed offspring from outcrossing Ragdolls to other breeds. "Cherubini" was a legally safe equivalent of IRCA's trademarked "Cherubim" name. The IRCA Ragdolls were not recognised by any other registry and upon Baker's death, a number of breeders re-registered their Miracle Ragdolls, Honeybears and other IRCA varieties as foundation stock for the new RagaMuffin breed which is now recognised by many registries around the world. The RagaMuffin is not merely a non-pointed Ragdoll, it also has a different conformation from the Ragdoll. After Baker's death, some breeders tried to sell their IRCA Ragdolls as "rare mink-pointed Ragdolls" or "rare solid colour Ragdolls" to unwary owners/breeders who did not know that there had been two conflicting Ragdoll breeds. These "rare" colour cats, though attractive, were not registrable as Ragdolls in any other cat association.
Throughout her life, the eccentric Baker defended her breeds and claimed that only IRCA Ragdolls were the real article and guaranteed free from genetic defect, while other Ragdolls were half-bred or cross-bred inferior lookalikes trading fraudulently on the Ragdoll name. Quarter-page advertisements to this effect appeared in an American cat magazine in 1992. Periodically, she would send threatening mail to breeders non-IRCA Ragdolls, including a mailshot that contained photos of dozens of dead cats laid out side-by-side along with a claim that someone had broken in and killed her cats (some believe Baker killed her own cats and might not have known what she was doing due to a claimed history of head trauma).
The RagaMuffin is another descendent of the original Ragdolls, but in a more extended colour range. Their similarity to the accepted Ragdoll meant that many registries would not accept them, though the conformation is not the same as the TICA Ragdoll (note: the NZCF accepts "Solid Ragdolls instead). In the days when Ann Baker and IRCA were active, a there were a number of other "breeds" or named breeding lines. IRCA's other named breeds/lines were the Honeybear/Honey Bear (resembled old style Persians), Ragdoll Hobby Cat, Miracle Ragdoll ("a highly upgraded Ragdoll" formerly known as the "Ragdoll Tu", "experimental Persian" or simply "Miracle"), Baby Dolls/Doll Babies, Angels, Shu Schoo, Symoneese/Symonees, Manxees and Fuzz. The named IRCA Ragdoll/Miracle breeding lines included Maximillions (silver tabbies), Minks, Bears (thicker fur, shorter ears, rounder eyes, flatter face, cobbier body) and Catenoids (blue-eyed solids surrounded by claims they could be bred to any cat to produce an IRCA-type Ragdoll!). After the demise of Baker and of IRCA, many of these were absorbed into the RagaMuffin and some were apparently re-registered as TICA Ragdolls.
SNOWSHOE, SNOWSHOE SIAMESE AND SNOW-TOES
Originally, the Snowshoe (or Silver Laces Cat) resulted from crossing Siamese, or Oriental Shorthairs, with American Shorthairs. The white mitts occur natually in some lines of Siamese where they are considered a fault. Today Snowshoes generally result from Snowshoe to Snowshoe breedings although they may still be outcrossed to one of the founding breeds in order to expand their gene pool, introduce new colours, or improve type or colour/pattern. Officially the breed claims no Birman ancestry despite the superficial resemblance in pattern.
Snowshoes were developed in the USA by Dorothy Hinds in the late 1960s when her two Siamese cats produced kittens each with four white feet. White spotting sometimes showed up in early Siamese cats (white toes are occasionally still found). She dubbed them Snowshoes. The variant did not recur so she crossed a Siamese with a bicolour American Shorthair. In addition to the white mitts, this eventually produced the inverted white 'V' on the face.
The Snowshoe was recognised by various American registries in 1974, however in 1977 there was only one registered breeder of Snowshoes. Luckily, interest in the breed picked up and the Snowshoe has become a popular breed in the USA.
It has Siamese style points and blue eyes combined with white paws and white spotting and comes in blue, seal, lilac and chocolate points. The Snowshoe pattern is divided into two categories: Bicolour Snowshoes where up to two-thirds of the cat can be white and Mitted Snowshoes where the white ranges from just the toes to halfway up the leg. Snowshoes have a white inverted 'V' extending from between the eyes down over the nose.
Early on the breed was erroneously thought to be a Birman Shorthair, based purely on its appearance. The Birman Shorthair (Templecat) only came into existence in 1995 in New Zealand.
The Snowshoe conformation is intermediate between the parent breeds and is sometimes described as close to the older (or traditional) and more moderate style of Siamese cat although it is sometimes described as resembling the American Shorthair. The Snowshoe inherits the muscular body from the American Shorthair and the body length from the Siamese/Oriental. The conformation is, to some extent, affected by the outcross breeds permitted in countries where the American Shorthair is not found.
In the 21st Century, an experimental breed called the Snowshoe Siamese has also been announced. Its body type is more extreme and is closer to the modern Siamese, while the original Snowshoe maintains the more moderate body type. Some Siamese cats have appeared with white toes and this was considered a serious fault in the breed.
The Snow-Toes was bred in the late 1960s by crossing Birmans to Himalayans, seemingly with the aim of a mitted Himalayan. Whether this will see a revival alongside the Snowshoe Siamese has yet to be seen!
In 1990, the first Siberians were imported into the USA. However the colourpointed variety with blue eyes was not imported and colourpoint Siberians were not recognised by registries on in American breed standards. However Russian breeders have recognised the colourpointed variety since they began to keep records (in around 1987). According to anecdotes, colourpointed feral cats bred with feral Siberian cats along the banks of the Neva river at St Petersburg (then Stalingrad). The name Neva Masquerade reflects the origins of this masked cat.
The first Siberian cats were imported into the USA in 1990 by Elizabeth Terrell of Louisiana, in exchange for Himalayan cats sent to establish that breed in Russia. The first colourpoint Siberians were imported into the USA in 1997 and registries are have recently accepted it following early controversy.
The Tonkinese is intermediate in type between Burmese and Siamese. Its pointed pattern is less pronounced than that of the Siamese and its shape is less extreme. Long known as a variety in Thailand, it has existed in the West for at least a hundred years. Towards the end of the 1800s, a cat described as a chocolate variety of Royal Siamese was exported from Singapore to England. It was a rich chocolate colour with a darker face, ears and tail; and its legs were darker than the body. It was not, however, recognised as anything other than a brown Siamese and interest in them had waned because it had been hard to compete against the striking coat and eye colour of the Siamese. These cats were either Burmese or Tonkinese, or most likely a mix of both types since some, when bred to the royal Siamese, produced offspring with "poor" markings (i.e. "mink") while others evidently produced offspring had royal Siamese markings. In 1903, the "Burmese Cat" (shown here) would be, in modern terms, an Oriental Ticked Tabby!
The Tonkinese is considered a hybrid of Siamese and Burmese and this has hindered its acceptance in some countries e.g. Australia because "as a hybrid it cannot breed true". The alternative standpoint is that it is that Tonkinese is the naturally occurring intermediate form of a colour range where the two extremes are represented by Siamese and Burmese. The two extreme forms have been selectively bred, but the intermediate form was ignored until relatively recently. Tonkinese type cats have been described for many years: the Chocolate Siamese (Britain, 1880s; generally considered to be Burmese), Golden Siamese (USA, 1950s, Siamese/Burmese hybrids),Golden Chechongs, Si-Burms and Zibelines (the French name for Burmese). These all had tan to brown bodies with seal or almost black masks and points.
The self-coloured Chocolate Siamese (as opposed to the Chocolate Point Siamese) was described by Harrison Weir in 1889 and by Frances Simpson in1903, however the "Royal Siamese" with its greater contrast between body and points was the form that predominated in Britain and the Chocolate Siamese was lost. The Chocolate Siamese is variously claimed to be an early Burmese or an early Havana Brown type cat. The founding female of the Burmese breed, Wong Mau, was a walnut-brown Tonkinese type cat imported into the USA from Rangoon in 1930. She was described as brown with darker points on her face, legs, feet and tail. When bred to a seal-point Siamese, she produced kittens identical to herself and some with a Siamese coat pattern. Over several generations and through mating her to her own sons, three varieties of offspring arose: those with a Siamese pattern, those which were dark brown all over (Burmese) and those with a dark brown body but identifiable darkening at the points much like Wong Mau herself. Wong Mau is considered to be the founding mother of the Burmese breed but was herself a Tonkinese and breeders chose to develop her Burmese offspring.
In the early 1940s, a Hawaiian breeder, Lelia Volk, bred a dark variety of Siamese: its colour was lighter than the Burmese, but darker than the Siamese. In a report in the Journal of Heredity, the colour was said to be close enough to the Siamese that it was unlikely to be perpetuated. Between the 1950s and early 1960s, Milan Greer in New York City bred Golden Siamese. These were Siamese/Burmese hybrids which had a rich mahogany body and dark points. Greer had been told that such cats were normally considered defective and destroyed because they did not breed true. Using Seal Point Siamese and Sable Burmese and cross-breeding their offspring, he produced chocolate brown cats with darker points and claimed to have bred pure "Golden Siamese" for 5 generations. Having proven his point, he stopped breeding, though his cats were popular with pet buyers.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Tonkinese was revived in Canada and the USA by crossing Siamese with Burmese in spite of opposition from breeders of both Siamese and Burmese who viewed them as embodying everything they were trying to breed out of those two breeds. In the mid 1960s, Jane Barletta of New Jersey switched from the increasingly extreme Siamese to breeding the more moderate Tonkinese. At about the same time, Margaret Conroy in Canada bred a female Burmese to a Seal point Siamese as she was unable to find a suitable Burmese stud in her locality. Her tan-bodies cats bred true for 5 generations and were dubbed Tonkanese (with an "a"). The original cats were Sable (US: Natural Mink), but crosses between Blue Burmese and Blue Point Siamese introduced Blue Tonkinese. Later on, the other Siamese/Burmese colours were also bred together to expand the Tonkinese colour range: red, lilac (US: platinum), chocolate (US: champagne) and cinnamon (US: honey).
Though the Tonkinese breed in the USA has been recreated by crossing the Siamese and the Burmese, the variety has occurred naturally in south east Asia for hundreds of years. Rather than being a hybrid, it is a naturally occurring breed and the Burmese, Tonkinese and Siamese represent the two extremes and the mid-point of an overall genetic pattern caused by 2 mutant genes. Recognition in various cat fancying countries came from the 1980s onward. In the UK, it was recognised in 1990. In Australia it was grudgingly accepted in the 1990s despite being condemned as a hybrid and unable to breed true.
The colours of Tonkinese are (the term "mink" is not used by some registries) blue mink, champagne mink (light chocolate), honey mink (chocolate/chestnut), natural mink (seal), platinum mink (lavender/lilac), red mink, cinnamon mink, fawn mink, cream mink. In some registries Burmese are accepted in tortie patterns and this will be reflected in the Tonkinese. Its genetic make-up means that Tonkinese-to-Tonkinese breedings will always produce a mix of patterns: self (Burmese-type) variants, Tonkinese and colourpointed variants. The colourpointed Tonkinese find favour with those who seek a less extreme version of the Siamese. Although most registries don't accept the variants for exhibition, the variants are an important part of the breeding program; bred together they produce Tonkinese-pattern cats.
COLOURPOINT SHORTHAIR (COLOURPOINT BRITISH SHORTHAIR)
The Colourpoint British Shorthair is exactly what the name suggests - a British Shorthair in a colourpoint coat with blue eyes. It was developed in the 1980s by crossing the British with the Himalayan.
OPAL (COLORPOINT AMERICAN SHORTHAIR)
In the 1990s, breeders of appleheaded (roundheaded) Siamese were invited to register their cats as Opals. Little has been heard of the Opal since then although the traditional style of Siamese goes from strength to strength (despite the registry's rather bizarre refusal to allow its actual breed name to be used in articles or reviews in case it erodes, rather than promotes, the breed). The Opal appears to be a Colourpoint American Shorthair.
THAI POINTED AND THAI SIAMESE
The Thai Pointed is a naturally occurring colorpointed (Blue-point, Lilac-point) Korat variant. Korats are related to Siamese and have interbred naturally in their native Thailand.
The Thai Siamese is a European term for the traditional style of Siamese derived purely from non-ultra-typed Siamese cats.
The term Thai Siamese has also been used for colorpointed cats derived from naturally occurring colorpointed variants in Korat litters, but this usage is not encouraged.
Andrea and Beata Brunetti, in Italy, have a Thai (the European name for the less extreme, traditional or old style of Siamese cat) called Urban Hunter with a visible blotched tabby pattern and an interesting dorsal stripe. Urban Hunter has been mated to a red-point Thai called Kasia Ruda, resulting in one male and four female kittens. All of these have dorsal stripes similar to Hunter.
In some lines of old type Siamese, there is less contrast between body and points. The Siamese pattern is caused by an albinism gene, but is partly dependent on temperature, with a darker colour developing in cooler regions. This is unlikely as Urban Hunter lives in a climate where the temperature ranges between 25 and 30 celsius.
Polygenes can also help to allow or suppress the colour. Variable contrast between body and points is seen more often in the older style Siamese, probably due to greater genetic diversity compared to the modern extreme-type cats. It is also possible that a novel mutation has occurred as Urban Hunter has aqua, rather than Siamese blue, eyes. Because of the aqua-blue eyes, I initially wondered if Urban Hunter had Tonkinese in his ancestry (Tonkinese is intermediate between Siamese and Burmese in colourpoint). Genetic testing and test-mating would be required to determine whether Hunter’s colouring is due to a mutation of the colourpointing gene.
The Cloud is an Australian shorthair/semi-longhair bred in mink colors. This does not appear to be a recognised breed, but is a cross-breed from Birmans, Ragdolls and British Shorthairs.
Some photos depict a Ragdoll-like cat, others depict a cat similar to the traditional style of Siamese or a colourpointed British Shorthair (as seen here). The accompanying photo is provided by an owner of a cat bought as a "Cloud".
KUCING MALAYSIA/PIAWAIAN KUCING
Kucing is Malaysian for "cat". The Kucing Malaysia is similar in type to the Tonkinese with a colourpointed pattern similar to Ragdoll and blue/blue-green eyes. A White blaze on face and muzzle is desirable.
A French breed known as the Khmer was described by Mery in 1966. He noted the similarity of emerging colourpoint Persians (Himalayans) to the existing French Khmer, although the photographs of the Khmer suggested a semi-longhair or even a a fluffy, cobby colourpoint shorthair. Although Mery described it in 1966 and noted that it had a breed standard albeit one not recognised by FIFe, the term Khmer had been dropped back in 1955 when Colourpoint Longhairs and Himalayans were being developed in America/Canada and Britain respectively. There are earlier descriptions of the Khmer dating from 1935 (by which time it was close to being lost) and photos from that time depict a longhaired cat similar to an early colourpoint Persian. "La Vie a Campagne" in the late 1920s showed a longer haired Khmer, so possibly the coat length was seasonal. A pair of Khmer cats were supposedly taken to Paris from Indochina by a French serviceman - a tale very similar to that of the Birman. Two Birman were reputedly obtained by Major Gordon Russell from Burmese priests whom he had helped escape to Tibet; when he went to live in France in 1919 he took his Birman cats with him. This suggests that the French Khmer was a Birman that lacked the characteristic white markings of the Birman. This corresponds to the use of the term Khmer to describe bootee-less Birmans - and at one time there were indeed unsuccessful attempts to create"Himalayans" from Birman stock.
This advert from Cats Magazine (USA) in 1977 mention the Luchsie - a lynxpoint longhair cat. At this time, lynxpoint was being bred in Siamese cats and the breed naturally carried a recessive longhair gene. It's possible that the Luchsie was an early lynxpoint Balinese. This is purely a guess base on timeframe as there is no description of conformation.
A variety described by Mery and others in the 1960s, this is not related to Siamese cats but was considered a form of shaded silver (agouti + silver) longhair with a black mask on its face. It is a poorly marked black smoke. Similar cats appear in black smoke (non-agouti + silver) individuals of curly-haired breeds due to the black colour being more intense on the straighter fur of the face and legs.
Martine Sansoucy of Butterpaws LaPerms has seen a number of masked silvers and notes that they appear to be smokes rather than shaded silvers. Butterpaws BC The Crow, known as "Cairo" is a black smoke that meets the general description of a masked silver. As can be seen from the photo, the different textures of fur on the face and the body give the impression of a masked cat.
Historical Masked Silver.
Masked Silver (black smoke) LaPerm.
Historical Masked Silver.
Some authors have written that the masked silver dates back to 1900, but may have been referring to shaded silvers, a variety not recognised in Britain at the time and considered to be a badly bred chinchilla or poor quality smoke. Chinchilla and shaded silver are genetically tabby cats, smokes are genetical solid colour cats; this difference was not understtod in the early 1900s. According to Milo Denlinger in 1947, "Masked silvers are a new variety and very few are bred." Denlinger went on to describe the variety: "The ideal masked silver is a very beautiful animal; in colouring or, I should say, marking, they should resemble the Siamese Cat; that is to say, they should have a black mask, or face, black feet, and legs. The body should be as pale a silver as posible." The eyes were to be deep golden or copper. Several authors have observed that the description of the masked silver resembles that of the Siamese.
In addition to the recognised breeds, the colourpoint pattern is recognised as a permissible colour/pattern in many other breeds. In most cases the cat is simply described as a "colourpoint 'breed-name' ". The colourpoint Japanese Bobtail has only recently found its way into the West although it has existed for decades in Japan and a similar breed known as the Mekong Bobtail (formerly the Thai Bobtail) is known in Russia. Mekong Bobtails also occur naturally among feral cats in Malaysia and Thailand.
In others the prefix "Si" is used e.g. the Si-Rex is a colourpointed Rex and is further identified as Cornish Si-Rex or Devon Si-Rex. It exists unofficially or experimentally in a few breeds e.g. Si-Manx (Manxamese). In the American "Cats Magazine" of June 1965 there was a photo of two Blue-Point rex-coated kittens born to a blue self (Cornish) Rex in August 1964. Their pedigree showed that four generations back, there had been a Blue Point Siamese outcross in the breeding program. In addition, one ancestor was an Oregon Rex mutation owned by Mrs Mildred Stringham of Warrenton, Oregon. A Si-Rex was being developed in England at the same time, by Mrs Ashford (Annelida prefix).
At a Feline Fantasy staged by the Silvergate Cat Club of San Diego, USA. in 1952, a "Sianx" cat was exhibited. This was a Siamese-Manx cross with Seal Point colour and type, sans tail. However, the Western province Cat Club of Cape Town claimed precedence in Sia-Manx breeding. The late Father Fowler's Sia-Manx was exhibited at their show during 1952, some months before the cat at the San Diego show, and resembled a Siamese Seal Point with definitely high hind quarters and complete absence of tail. He was described as a very charming person by Miss P. Ashby-Spilhaus, the Registrar of the South African Cat Union.
The colourpoint trait can be introduced into any breed by crossing it with an existing colourpoint breed, although the first generation kittens will not show the trait. The gene for colourpoint has also entered the gene pool of free-breeding cats and there are many pretty "look-alikes" to be found in shelters and humane societies. Although not registrable as Siamese, Himalayan etc, they are still good pets and can be shown in household pet classes.
An unexpected colourpoint (tabby point) kitten born among a litter of black-and-white bicolours. The mother was a non-pedigree and the father was suspected of being a Birman cat that lived in the area.
Below are some non-pedigree colourpoints. Capi ("Paws") is a male Siamese mix who resembles a Snowshoe. He was photographed by Koraljka Polack on Cherso island (north Adriatic sea) in 2007. There are several "Siamese mongrels" in the area due to a Siamese cat that lived in the area some years ago. This bred with stray and feral cats. The third photo is a random-bred male colourpoint.