Appearance and features:
The Thai breed (and native wichianmat specimens) have a much more customary cat appearance, with rounder eyes, face and body, and normal-sized ears, compared to the “new-style” Siamese breed, which is remarkably almond-eyed, thin-faced, thin-bodied, and large-eared, having little in common with the traditional variety other than point coloration.
This is a medium-size cat weighing 8 to 15 pounds.
The Thai cat or Wichien Maat is a newly renamed but old cat breed, related to but distinct from the Western, modern Siamese cat. This natural breed is descended from the landrace of wichianmat cats of Thailand, and as a standardised breed has also been variously called the Old-style, Old-type, Traditional, or Classic Siamese; the Whichian Mat (anglicised from the Thai name); and the Applehead, a nickname that originated as a pejorative used by breeders of the modern-style Siamese. According to The International Cat Association: “The Thai is the breed dedicated to preserving the native pointed cat of Thailand in as close to its original form as possible.”
Thai cats are born in every point color. These include tabby point, tortie point, torbie point, and blue point, seal point, lilac point, cream point and flame point.
The ancestor of the Thai cat, known as the wichianmat which means ‘moon diamond’ or ‘diamonds and gold’ originated in Thailand. The wichianmat, along other cats, is named, described and illustrated centuries ago in the “Tamra Maew” book of cat poems.The first Thai cats were imported to England in the 1800’s where they were known as Siamese or Royal Cat of Siam.
An impressively gracefully looking face of these cats, called “marten-faced” drew attention to the cat fanciers. Because of their unique look and coloring, these cats were very different from other breeds, and because of that, cat fanciers wanted to emphasize these qualities. Through selective breeding, they developed the graceful and elongated, fine-bones body type that the Siamese cats have.
The breed standard for the Thai allowed for the permissible outcross with Western Siamese registered with major registries, and backcross with imported wichianmat foundation stock as it has stayed true over time to the original look of the Thai cat. The distinctive characteristics that separate the Traditional Siamese/Thai from the Western Siamese and the Tonkinese played a major role in the acceptance of the Thai in the show halls.
The Thai has the infamous personality it gives to the Siamese. They are highly intelligent, people-loving, active, talkative, curious, and endowed with a great sense of humor telling their owners just how they feel. They aren’t necessarily loud, but they’re chatty. They need lots of attention and enjoy playing with people, as well as snuggling up in someone’s lap to relax when they are done using up their energy. Thai’s do well in homes with children, as well as pets of other species, such as dogs, but are emotionally high maintenance.You cannot leave them alone for long periods of time.They will act out and become depressed.
Like their relatives, the Siamese, Thai’s can have some genetic issues to be aware of:
- Amyloidosis, a form of liver disease
- Kinked Tails
- Hydrocephaly – Thai kittens with hydrocephaly have a very short life expectancy – just days after birth. So far there are no clues as to the cause of this genetic defect, but it is recessive.
- Retinal wastage, where the retina is gradually destroyed by metabolic disturbances in the surrounding tissue. Eyesight problems tend to manifest in the second year of life.
- The endocardial fibroelastosis that occurs in Thai cats is characterized by a thickening of the inner heart wall. This can also overlap the heart valves and often leads to heart failure.
- Thai and Siamese cats are also susceptible to various cancers, congenital blood deficiency defects and metabolic disorders.