Siamese (cat) is a breed of shorthaired cat that originated in Thailand (formerly Siam) more than 200 years before the first specimen was shown in England in 1871. The distinctive Siamese coloring—a light body with darker points (face, ears, tail, lower legs, and paws)—is due to a recessive gene. The formation of pigment varies with the temperature; fur on cooler areas of the body, such as the ears and paws, is darker than the fur on warmer areas such as the belly. Siamese kittens are born nearly white, and the points darken as they get older. Siamese in cool environments tend to be darker than those in warm climates. As the cat ages, its pale body color may darken considerably due to poorer circulation. Originally, the Siamese came in only one color, seal point, in which the points are a deep brownish black. The modern Siamese can be found in a wide variety of pointed colors, including blue, chocolate, lilac, red, cream, and tortie points, as well as lynx, or tabby, point variations of these colors.
The ideal Siamese is elegant and svelte, with hard, dense musculature. The tail is long and thin. In contrast to the round-headed Siamese of the early 20th century, the modern Siamese has a long head tapering to a fine muzzle. The ears are strikingly large. Although the blue eyes slant toward the nose, squinted or crossed eyes, like kinked tails, are considered defects. Among the distinctive characteristics of the Siamese (cat) are its great leaping ability and its loud voice; it loves people and will often carry on a running conversation with its owner.