How to identify the different types of Siamese cats

There are probably three distinct types of Siamese cats, although some cat fanciers acknowledge only two. It's important to know that 'type', as used by breeders, refers to a cat's body shape, not its color.

So each of the three types outlined here can also be found in every one of the Siamese cat colors.

Sorting out the distinctions between the different kinds of Siamese cats can be a little complicated, but our descriptions below will help you to identify the main Siamese cat types.

The original look

Pictures of the first cats of this breed to reach the West show that they were bigger and heavier than many of them are today.

They had wider necks, and rounder bodies and faces than the slight-bodied types you're likely to see in shows now.

So just when and why did the look change?

For quite some time, Breed Standard guidelines for show judges have called for Siamese cats to have long slim bodies, long slim legs and tails, long necks, wedge-shaped heads and large ears.

Because of this, selective breeding over the years has altered the body type, taking it away from the look of those original Thai cat types towards a longer, leaner, more angular shape by favoring and breeding from cats that accentuated these characteristics.

One of the early types of Siamese (Thai) cat

The original body shape
photo: Wikimedia Commons

Of course there are many Siamese cat characteristics common to all types that make up the breed, and until the 1980s, when attempts were made to classify the different types of Siamese cats, there was really no distinction made in 'type' despite there being a number of different body shapes.

No two cats are identical, and it can sometimes be difficult to look at an individual cat and say with certainty that it's one type or another. There are many variations in body shape, and they all fall somewhere along a wide spectrum of shapes and sizes.

So the descriptions that follow are a quick reference guide to the three most usually accepted types of Siamese cats, and link to individual pages and pictures of each of the different types.

The Applehead and Traditional types

Applehead Siamese cat

The types of cats first exported from Siam, seen in the picture above, had round faces and rounded, muscular, heavy bodies.

Over the years the trend away from this body type towards a leaner, more angular cat unfortunately led to some serious health problems (probably through in-breeding) and this in turn led to a move by some breeders to try and re-create the look and health of these original cats.

This led to the development of Applehead Siamese cats, a type which was produced through cross-breeding with, in particular, the American and British Shorthair breeds, to produce a cat with a rounder, shorter face.

These cats are also known as Traditional Siamese cats, a name proposed and copyrighted by The Traditional Cat Association, Inc. which was instrumental in promoting and preserving the look of this as well as the Classic Siamese cat breeds in the United States.

The Old-Style or Classic Siamese

Classic Siamese cat

Falling somewhere between the Applehead and the Modern Siamese, the Classic is also referred to as Old-Style ... 'old-style' meaning the look of cats that were popular in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. They are also sometimes referred to as old fashioned Siamese cats for this reason.

Distinctions are sometimes blurred between the Applehead and the Classic. Some people refer to this type of Siamese as 'Applehead', and conversely, there are folks who refer to Appleheads as 'Old-Style'.

However, a Classic, while still quite large-boned, generally has a longer, slimmer body than the Traditional or Applehead. It also has a finer, more triangular face, although nowhere near as extremely wedge-shaped as is found in the Modern Siamese.

The Old-Style Siamese Club in the UK, and the Prestwick-Beresford Old-Style Siamese Breed Preservation Society (PREOSSIA) in the United States, work to promote and encourage the breeding of these beautiful and healthy cats.

The Modern Siamese or 'Wedgehead'

Show-Style Siamese

Modern Siamese, Wedgehead or Extreme Wedge are all names for the types of Siamese cats found in the show rings today. Because of this, they're also called 'show-style'.

They're the easiest of all the types to identify, having the most extreme body shape.

Show-style cats are slight, fine-boned, and long and thin all over, with long thin bodies, necks and tails and sharply triangular heads with large ears. They also have longer muzzles and a straighter nose than the two previous types of Siamese cats.

Cats of this type are very elegant, but breeding towards this body shape led to some quite serious health problems in the past.

The trend towards smaller heads and larger ears resulted in some cases in visible birth defects, with kittens even being born with eyes on the sides of their heads.

There were also cases of organ damage including cardiomyopathy and kidney failure, shortening the lives of many examples of this type of cat.

This doesn't happen in all cases, though, and healthy Modern Siamese may live just as long as either of the other types.

Which do you prefer?

Traditional, Old-Style or Extreme Wedge, the different types of Siamese cats are all beautiful and there's certainly no best or worst. It's all a matter of individual preference.

My particular favorite is the Old-Style Siamese because this is the type of cat that I grew up with.

How about you?

Learn more about the breed


Or go to:

Top of Types of Siamese Cats

Life with Siamese Cats Home Page


More examples of body types

Click the links below and see which types of cat some of our other visitors have.

My Apricot/Red Point Siamese Boy - The Baron 
I'm a newly proud mummy to this gorgeous Siamese boy. He is called Baron by some and 'The Baron' by others, since he decided as soon as he moved in that …

Cry Baby, My Lynx Point Siamese 
I believe Cry Baby is a traditional type, but I know for sure she is half Domestic Shorthair (tortie) and half Siamese. Her father is one of the feral …

What kind of Siamese do I have? 
I adopted my Siamese cat Mesha from the local Humane Society about a year ago and just love her. She plays fetch with me, curls up next to me every night, …

Inferno, the Flame (Red) Point Siamese 
Inferno our flame point Siamese is very social, but not a lap cat. He is always in the same room as everyone else and is also the first one at the door …

Bolshoi Boris 
I met Boris when he was being kept on a bite hold at the local pound (a bum rap; he didn't bite anyone). When his quarantine was up, he had nowhere to …

Jinx. An Applehead Siamese? 
I believe Jinx is an Applehead Siamese. I have had him for four years now and have no idea how old he is. I found him as a stray, and though he was de-clawed …

Old-Style Classic Siamese 
I personally think all three types of Siamese are beautiful in their own way. However, I am partial to the Classic, moderate Siamese. I think they are …

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Information provided on this website is not intended to replace professional advice. If you have any concerns about your cat's health, please consult a veterinarian.

Copyright © 2009-2014 Caroline Haines, All rights reserved.

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