Planning for Your Move

IMG_4906aSo I get to blog about moving. The woman is writing a book on moving with cats. Yeah, because cats love to move. Sadly, the idea came from the fact that people realize cats hate to move and instead of not doing it, they were giving up their cats to the shelters. Which we think is appalling.

Yes, I will say right now that I hated every moment of it. The fact that I hopped in the carrier as soon as the male started packing up his stuff had more to do with the fact that I didn’t want Ichiro to get the prime spot than any fear that I’d be left behind.

So, the most important thing the woman did was sit down and talk to us and we let her know what our preferences were in order:

1. Don’t move.

2. Don’t move

3. Don’t move.

She kept rejecting that option so she had to consider what might make us most comfortable for the move.

She examined the sorts of things that made us the most comfortable and the things that would allow us to own our surroundings. She considered how Ichiro would be best with other cats and where he could boss us around (I really wish she had thought about how I like my space) and how Gemini doesn’t always like Ichiro but she doesn’t mind him when she’s scared. She considered that we would need our own food, litter box and things that made us comfortable, like my favorite cat bed that got packed at the last minute because it just did not fit in her car.

NOTE: When moving with cats, realize we will take up three times the amount of space that you will. That’s just the way it is.

We will continue with this series of posts on moving. Our next post will be on the types of moves and things you may or may not have to consider for all of them

Choosing a Siamese

If you’ve decided upon a Siamese, you need to think about the Siamese you will bring into your home. Siamese cats are a breed known for longevity. You want the right fit and even though you’ve narrowed down the breed, you’ll need to find that specific Siamese. As you know, I’m taken.

Do you want a pet quality Siamese cat? A show quality Siamese cat? An adult Siamese? A kitten?

Older Siamese can be a delight to adopt. Although Siamese are typically popular at shelters and find homes quickly, adult cats are often harder to place than a kitten. If you aren’t enamored of the idea of a kitten, think about a young adult adoption.

Breeders often “pet out” adult cats. This means they look for a home were it can be cared for as a pet. Some breeders will charge as little as the fee to spay the cat. Imagine, a show quality cat for the cost of the spay. Be sure to get the history of any adult cat you might choose. Some breeding cats are allowed the full run of the house, familiar with the the other cats around and love to have company. Others are much less enthusiastic about other cats.

If you have a dog, you will want to know if the adult cat has been socialized around a dog. Many adult cats that you find haven’t been around dogs and it’s very difficult to socialize a cat to a dog if they haven’t been raised with one, especially if they spent any amount of time as an outdoor stray.

The Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) website offers listings of breeders if you are looking for an adult that might need a home (or for a kitten). The Siamese Cat Rescue also has a great list of Siamese cats that are looking for home. Not all of them are “purebred” but many have the Siamese coloring and the endearing personalities of these cats.

If you go to a breeder, either for an adult Siamese or a kitten, be sure to check them out. Stay away from breeders who seem to be in it for the money or if they offer a cat to you too quickly. A reputable breeder wants to know where their cats are going and will want to check your home out. Check with the CFA, with the veterinarian the breeder uses and with other people who have cats from that breeder.

If you are choosing a kitten, make sure that it’s eyes and ears are clean. It should be bright and alert and playful. It should look interested in it’s surroundings and it’s eyes should follow moving objects (and perhaps it’s paw). Siamese are usually pretty friendly when they are young, so beware the cat who hangs back in the crowd. It could just be an unusually shy Siamese but it could be a sickly kitten.

It’s not a good idea to adopt a kitten before 8 weeks of age and 12 weeks is even better. Although kittens are weaned quite young and can survive on their own, they learn a lot of good social skills from the mother cat. This includes good litter box habits. Avoid taking home a kitten who is younger than this, no matter how cute.

Once home, be sure to have your cat or kitten checked out by your local veterinarian. They can set you up with a schedule of vaccinations. Be sure to take any records you get from the breeder or rescue to give to the veterinarian.

Heath and Care of Your Siamese

Siamese cats are pretty easy to care for. They love their food, their play time and attention. Given free rein, they’d love to have all of these 24/7.
Siamese cats tend to be a long lived breed. It’s one reason we love Siamese. Like all purebreds they have some genetic quirks that can cause problems. For many years the kinked tail was a problem and in the breed standard, it is still considered a fault for a show cat. However, it is unlikely that this would cause a problem for a pet quality cat. Crossed eyes are the same way. Siamese cats tend to have bad teeth. They also tend towards cardiac problems, however as a long lived cat, this could be expected.
Current veterinary medicine says that Siamese tend to begin kidney failure younger than many other cats. However, Siamese tend to handle it far better than most other cats. In other words, their kidneys may show signs of failure at younger ages, meaning they need to have their diet managed a bit more carefully, but it does not progress at the rate it can in other breeds of cats.
One thing that I have noticed as a Siamese cat owner is that Siamese cats vomit easily. They tend to have sensitive tummies. Also at issue is the shape of their face. When they eat and are hungry, the narrow front of their face that would normally be used for tearing their food is not as effective as that of a cat with a wider jaw. When they are hungry and eating quickly, their food often goes straight back and down the throat without any chewing. It then hits the stomach, combines with the waters there and expands. They feel too full and regurgitate the extra food. Cats don’t mind vomiting the way humans do. However, it does cause a mess.
However, as you get to know your Siamese cat, it is important to take any symptom to your veterinarian to have it checked out. Vomiting can be a sign of a serious disease and certainly even the most ravenous of Siamese cats only vomits this way one or twice a week. Any other symptoms combined with vomiting suggest that a veterinarian be called immediately!
Siamese should be vaccinated per your veterinarian’s recommendations. They should also have an annual exam when your veterinarian can check their eyes, ears, tummy and teeth. They will listen to the heart and lungs and then make any recommendations for feeding or medication based on what is seen. Expect that you will be doing a fair number of teeth cleanings, particularly if you have a wedgie headed Siamese.
Common cat problems that your Siamese may encounter are upper respiratory infections and bladder infections. Upper respiratory infections are fairly common and cats may start to sneeze more regularly. They may stop eating. If cats can’t smell food, they won’t eat it. Your cat doesn’t do well metabolically if they aren’t eating for any amount of time. If your cat isn’t eating, this could be a serious problem and they need to see a veterinarian immediately.
Bladder infections can be life threatening to male cats. If a cat is straining or crying in the litter box (or elsewhere) call the vet. Male cats can get crystals which block their ability to urinate. If this is not relieved, their bladder can burst and they will die. This is very painful. Female cats can also get infections but typically they are more uncomfortable than life threatening. Changes in litter box habits can be a sign of infection as can blood in the urine, crying in the litter box or frequent visits. Always have a doctor check your cat any time something changes in the litter box!
With proper care and living a safe indoor cat life, many Siamese cats can live to be twenty or twenty five.

Losing Your Siamese

The loss of a pet can be hard, no matter what the reason. Siamese cats can be very long lived, which means if you’ve had your Siamese for 20 years, then they’ve definitely become as much a part of the family as any human member. With their decidedly distinctive personality and talkative nature, perhaps more so! However, the human life expectancy is an average of 72 years or so and a Siamese is only 16 years or so (officially). There are many Siamese who live to be 20 or 25, but it’s not the average.

At some point you Siamese will age and start looking like an old cat. They may not play as much and prefer to lie in the sun rather than chase after birds. They may not eat as much but drink more water. All of these are signs that their bodies are no longer functioning as well as they could. It is up to you to recognize your cat’s failing health and take the appropriate steps.

Some people want their Siamese to die at home, naturally as they can’t abide the thought of making that decision. Other people may need to make the decision to euthanize the pet. Each choice, like each cat, is individual. If you are thinking of the decision, the most important thing is to think about whether the cat is happy and content or if they are suffering. Suffering should not be prolonged. Your veterinarian is the best person to help you recognize the point at which your cat is suffering.

However, what do you do once your cat has crossed the “Rainbow Bridge”? This can be hard. Often friends and family, though well meaning may attempt to trivialize the loss, saying things like “He was just a cat!” or “Well at least you can get another one,” without realizing that cats are as individual as humans and the bond that runs between you is strong. Other cat owners can be very helpful at this time as they often understand how hard it is to loose a pet.

Your veterinarian may know of local area support groups and it might be helpful to visit one. You can talk to a professional if you feel no one else can understand.

Finding an outlet for your grief can be helpful. Creating a small memorial for your beloved Siamese might help. There are many places that will make a plaque for your garden or a special wall. Often people find planting a special evergreen plant is helpful. Online, you can create a memorial through the Rainbow Bridge. You can puruse other people’s memorials for ideas and perhaps take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in your grief. Other people have found it helpful to make a donation to an animal shelter. Best Friends is a wonderful shelter which accepts memorial donations.

Talk to people. Creating something for yourself or reaching out through online forums and through the Rainbow Bridge can be therapeutic but nothing beats reaching out to those closest to you and talking about your grief. If your family doesn’t undertand, really look around for a group. Again, your veterinarian’s office can be invaluable at this time.

Feeding Your Siamese

What to eat and what to buy for cat food can be a tough choice. There are so many options and so much contradictory information. Siamese, like all cats are true carnivores, which means they must have animal protein in their diets and they do best on a fairly high fat diet.

As a human alternative healthcare provider, we purchase mostly human quality, organic food products. Preservatives and fillers have no place in a regular diet. We feed a variety of foods, although vets typically recommend against this. However as every food is made differently, if one food is deficient in something, the other food may not be.

There are feline nutritionists who believe in an evolutionary diet that is primarily protein. If you wish to do this, you can purchase a quality animal protein from a freezer section and add some vitamin type supplements to the food. The cat is then eating more like the cats of ancient times. There are also some evolutionary diets that are pre-formulated into both canned and dry food for cats, which is also supposed to mimic the diets of ancient cats.

I have read online about feeding cats LIVE food, feeling that such a diet is a more natural diet because cats are hunters. Before you decide this is best, it is important to realize that it is the mother cat who teaches kittens to kill. If a kitten misses this important time frame, they may play with a small rodent or bird mercilessly before killing it and killing may happen more accidentally than intentionally. If you choose this diet, be sure your kitten understands that at the end of a hunt,they kill the prey quickly.

Dry foods and canned foods go in and out of favor. Humans tend to prefer dry foods as it’s more convenient. Cats, of course, love wet food. Cats don’t drink a lot of water and so a diet heavy in canned food offers an easy way to stay well hydrated. This can be important as a cat grows older and needs more fluid in their body.

Diets should be chosen with the age of the Siamese in mind. Kittens need more calories. Elderly cats fewer. Elderly cats also do better on a lower protein diet (though this too has been argued). Most commercial pet foods offer different foods for different stages.

Remember when feeding cats in multiple cat households to be sure that everyone gets food. This may require having several food dishes scattered around so everyone can have their own space. Locking a piggy cat or a slower eating in a separate room can allow each cat to eat at their own pace.

Always feed your Siamese the highest quality food you can afford! Siamese are a highly muscled, athletic cat and need a high quality, high protein cat food. Our favorites are here.

Welcoming Your New Siamese

You’ve chosen your Siamese and are now ready to take him or her home. While Siamese cats are mostly personable cats and like to do what they want to do, experts recommend that you start by confining them to a small area, like a laundry or bathroom. This way your cat is not overwhelmed by a large new area, isn’t afraid of other cats and you can be sure that he or she understands litter box habits.

If this cat is an only cat, then you can gradually start letting them out in the house after a short time. If you have other cats, this process might take a bit longer.

With other cats, it’s a good idea to get the cats familiar with how each other smells. Cats identify friends and foes by smell so if they are familiar with a smell the new cat is less likely to be perceived as an intruder who needs to be dealt with. Some people let the cats smell nose to nose through a screen. Others will trade rooms for awhile–so put the new cat in the main house and the other cats in the room where the new cat was and let them start to smell each other. Do this for short periods each day and then let them meet under supervision.

Our Siamese was thrilled to meet our other cats. She was a very social cat in her first home. In our home, she was quite unhappy until she met our youngest cat, only month or so older than the her last litter. Once she met the other cats, she finally began to settle in. At first she preferred the other cats in the house to the people, but now she has adopted one of us and is very affectionate.

Realize that each cat will have personal preferences. Sometimes cats just don’t like each other. Some cats really just want to be only cats. It’s good to get as much feedback as you can about the new cat BEFORE you bring him or her into your house. Then watch carefully to see how they get along with your current cats.

Many people like having more than one cat. Several cats are good at entertaining each other and keepng each other company if you must be gone during the day. Siamese love attention so if you are gone for more than just work, you might think about another cat. Siamese tend to get along best with other Siamese and equally active breeds, such as Abyssinians.

Litter Box Health

While most people don’t like to think about the litter box, it’s important to know what’s going on in the cat’s litter box. Changes in urination and stool can be the first signs of disease in a cat.

Cats should urinate several times a day. It will vary depending upon the cat, and the amount of fluid they have taken in during the previous hours. However, blood in the urine is a sure sign that something is amiss and should be checked out by your veterinarian. Straining to urinate is equally problematic. Worse, if you have checked the box and there is little or no fluid and/or if your cat is crying while attempting to urinate. Cats who cannot void urine are in life threatening danger and no time should be lost calling the veterinarian. If it is after hours, the emergency veterinary services in the area should be utilized.

Any cat who suddenly stops using the litter box for urination should be checked by a vet. There are many reasons for this change, including behavioral problems. However, a vet should always rule out a physical cause, such as a urinary tract infection before you start working to retrain your cat to the litter box.

Stool volume and consistency should also be monitored. Stool should be firm but not hard and it should have form. If a cat suddenly has a major change in their stool, it may need to see a veterinarian. The only reasons NOT to see a vet if this happens, is if the owner has knowledge that the cat’s diet has changed suddenly or if the cat is taking a medication that the vet has said will cause diarrhea.

Blood in the stool, formed or not, should be checked out. Younger cats who have this symptom are most typically suffering from a high parasitic load. A veterinarian can test for this with a simple test and the treatment is not difficult.

Changes in stool volume should also be noted. If cat is suddenly not having as many bowel movements or is straining they should be checked out. The most common intestinal blockage is the furball but cats have been known to ingest some strange items in their play, so it’s important to know what’s happening. If the cat seems under the weather, is lethargic or vomiting as well as straining, this can be a serious problem that needs immediate attention.

Older cats will often have lower stool volumes and be more prone to constipation. As their kidneys get older, they have a harder time maintaining their fluid balance. The stool gets harder and is more difficult to pass. It is important the older cats be monitored regularly and have plenty of fresh water. A veterinarian can offer suggestions to those cats who suffer from recurring bouts of constipation.

Siamese Breed Colors

Siamese cats come in a four standard colors in the United States. These are

  • seal point
  • chocolate point
  • blue point
  • lilac point.

The first of the point colors was the seal point. The chocolate point is a variation. The CFA defines the differences as the seal point cat having darker brown points and a “fawn” body color. The chocolate point has chocolate brown points and a creamy white body color.

The blue point and lilac point Siamese cats are dilute variations of the seal and chocolate point cats. The blue point was officially recognized by the CFA in 1934 and the chocolate point was recognized after that. Finally in 1955 the lilac point was recognized.

Other coloring points are recognized in Great Britain but in the United States, these are called Oriental Colorpoint Shorthairs. These include the tortipoint and the flame point.

Siamese cats are typically born white. Siamese cats are partly albino. There is a mutation in one of the genes involved in melatonin production. This gene is heat sensitive. It doesn’t work at body temperature but it does work on cooler parts of the body. As Siamese cats age, the points start darkening. Points are usually the face, ears, paws and tail–all parts that tend to get cold easier.

Siamese Breed History

Siamese are an ancient breed. The Siamese breed is considered a “natural breed” which means the breed was not man made. Over the years, they have been bred to certain standards, but the original coloring evolved naturally.

The stunning contrast of the fur colors, rich blue eyes and distinctive personality have made them a hit with cat fanciers. The CFA standard Siamese has a lovely wedge shaped head, almond shaped eyes and a sleek tubular body. Other Siamese cat lovers have bred a heavier set cat, called an Applehead. Many believe the Applehead is the ‘original’ Siamese, but no one really knows for sure.

No one is certain when the breed first appeared. It is believed to be from Southeast Asia, probably Thailand. One of the earliest recordings of the Siamese cat appeared in the Cat Book of Poems which was written in Siam between 1350 and 1700.

The first Siamese cats were introduced in Britain in 1884 by a Mr. Gould as a gift for his sister. He imported the two cats from Bangkok and they are the first two Siamese registered in Britain. Many other Siamese were imported into this country during the final years of the century. All cats imported at this time came from Bangkok and so the modern cat as it is known today, is from ancient Siam.

It is likely that the first Siamese cats came to the United States under the Presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes.

Siamese cats have continued to be wildly popular. Lady and the Tramp Siamese notwithstanding, Siamese are actually very loving, caring creatures who worm their way into the hearts and minds of their people. Once you’ve had a Siamese, there’s no going back.

Breeds Related to the Siamese

The Siamese cat is a “natural” breed meaning that it wasn’t developed by breeding other breeds together to create it. It was found in nature. However, several other breeds of cat have been derived from this natural breed.

  • The Balinese is derived from the Siamese. Essentially this cat is a long haired version of the Siamese. As such, the CFA recognizes only the four main point colors, but other Cat Associations recognize a broader variety of points.
  • The Tonkinese is a cross between the Burmese and the Siamese. Originally the Burmese breed was typically cross bred with the Siamese. However, the Burmese tends to be a solid color cat with a heavier body type than the Wedgie Siamese. Tonkinese cats have points on their body, though their base body color tends to be darker than that of the Siamese. These cats are also much more sedentary than the average Siamese.
  • The Colorpoint Shorthair. This breed is essentially a Siamese cat with the points being outside the range of “recognized” colors on the points.
  • The Himalayan. This breed was derived originally from a cross between a Persian and a Siamese. It typically has the cobby body and full fur coat of a Persian but the point colors of a Siamese. Once the point colors were set, the Himalayan was bred back with the Persian until today’s breed standard was acheived.
  • The Oriental Shorthair is any Siamese style cat without the points. It can be a solid color cat but with the long lithe body that the Siamese is known for.
  • The Ocicat was orginally a cross between the Siamese and the Abyssinian.
  • Javenese is a longhaired version of the Oriental Shorthair.
  • The Snowshoe is a cross between the Siamese and a bi-color American Shorthair. These cats usually have a heavier body and white feet.