Should I be racist against the Siamese? (cats)
April 28, 2007 5:19 PM   Subscribe

Dog person needs cat advice. If I adopt a kitten that has any of the physical attributes of a Siamese (blue eyes, lighter body with dark tails, etc.) or has litter mates with any of these attributes, am I condemning myself to live with a cat with a noisy needy Siamese personality?

I've been warned that as a cat-non-lover who can be bothered by extraneous noise, I shouldn't adopt a Siamese cat. But since I'm looking at shelter and rescue kittens, I'm not likely to find a purebred anything. So what about all these adorable lynx mixes and part snow-shoe, part tabbies I keep seeing? I'm attracted to the interesting markings of cat mutts. If they're quiet, sweet and social as little kittens does that mean they'll be anything like that as adults? Can you predict any of cat's eventual personality by its behavior as a kitten? Help me oh cat people of the internets.
posted by tula to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: we had a very quiet siamese and a very quiet snowshoe. we had a very vocal siamese as well, and a very vocal mutt tabby. purebred siamese tend to be chatty, but so do other cats.

get a cat you fall in love with. i think a mellow kitten will grow into a mellow cat with normal care and attention.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:46 PM on April 28, 2007

The short answer is yes. My girlfriend and I just adopted a 4 year old cat that looks mostly like a tabby, but with the dark tail, light body, blue eyes and demanding, noisy, arrogant, unhinged personality of a Siamese.

She demands attention always, and makes a particularly annoying habit out of constantly rubbing against your legs when you are walking around. If you try to continue moving when she decides to do this, she will certainly hiss, and likely scratch or even bite you, then promptly return to her supposedly affectionate behavior. She will constantly whine if there isn't food she likes in her bowl AT ALL TIMES. She will cry if she is cold, or if she feels it's time for you to pay attention to her. If you open the door for her when she wants to go outside, and she decides it's too cold, she will hiss at you. When she's not doing any of this, she can be found shedding hair on the most comfortable seat in the place, while giving you a look of absolute contempt.

My girlfriend puts it best: "the cat's a jerk."

And to put this anecdote in perspective, I have yet to encounter a siamese or cross with a pleasant demeanor.

If you are not a cat person, don't get a siamese cross. They are jerks.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:56 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

When my vet met my older cat (who is solid black, yellow eyed, and big-boned), she said he must be part Siamese because of his attention-whore personality. You can't tell by looks. It's a crapshoot. Remember, you don't own a cat.
posted by desjardins at 6:03 PM on April 28, 2007

Oh, I love Siamese cats! Some of the gentlest, most friendly cats I've ever had the pleasure of owning or meeting have been Siamese, or at the very least pointed.

The only noisy, demanding, obsessing, unhinged cat I've ever had is a tuxedo cat (who's currently asleep next to me at this very moment).
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:03 PM on April 28, 2007

I've been warned that as a cat-non-lover who can be bothered by extraneous noise, I shouldn't adopt a Siamese cat.

If you don't love cats, maybe you shouldn't be getting one at all? I like other people's cats just fine, I've even lived with a few really great ones, but man, even the best cat is not 1/10th as awesome to me as a random dog. If you're a dog person, get a dog! (If you can't have one right now, wait! The right dog is always worth it!)
posted by lia at 6:05 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had a siamese cross and she was a sweet, mellow, homebody of a cat. The mom was full siamese, the dad was just a lucky tom, and the kitten I adopted had blue eyes, light body, darker tail and paws, but whiter than a full siamese. She did like to sneak under the covers and curl up around your feet, but she never made much noise, not all arrogant- I'd describe her as kind of wussy even.

In this, as in all pet adoptions, YMMV. Good luck.
posted by ambrosia at 6:05 PM on April 28, 2007

Might be obvious but much depends on how you raise it. Cats learn very early whether to trust humans. Spend extra time handling and playing with it early and you'll establish a lifetime of trust with the animal which will make it more interested in a healthy level of interaction (not too much or too little for your liking) and less whiney.

We have a regular-issue alley cat (domestic shorthair tabby) that spent his first year with an 8-year old and is not at all happy being picked up. He's the picture of calm and serenity, appreciating lots of attention and purring happily away, as long as he's on solid ground - pick him up, he gets tense, and the claws come out.

We have an other part-Siamese that we raised to trust us from the beginning. He's a little stand-offish a lot of the time but is quite used to being picked up, through sheer repetition. He definitely has other Siamese characteristics including the odd vocalizations... although that mostly went away when he got fixed... Oh yeah, he also plays fetch with a little foam cat-toy ball, he'll retrieve it from 20 or 30 feet away. Discovering this was an important turning point in his development. It seemed like humans suddenly become more multi-faceted and interesting to him and worth dealing pleasantly with.
posted by scheptech at 6:13 PM on April 28, 2007

I have a cat that the vet told us was part Siamese (blue eyes, light body, dark tail). She's incredibly sweet and affectionate and yes, "chattier" than my other cats, but mostly in an endearing way rather than an annoying one. (I'm saying this as a "dog person," but I do like cats as well.)

Annoying habits she does have--she'll come into the bathroom--the door doesn't close that well--when I'm in the shower and talk to me ad nauseum ("Meow? Meow? Meow?"). She insists on sleeping in my bed and will cry outside the door if I don't let her in the bedroom. While I'm at the computer, she'll sometimes jump up on the desk and lie across the keyboard, repeating this even when I move her.

That being said--I've not met a single person who hasn't been charmed by this particular cat. She's very affectionate but not overly needy--she follows me around a lot, true, but doesn't get underfoot or constantly rub against me or demand to be petted (though she responds well when other people initiate it). I have three cats (she's the only Siamese) and she has the best personality by far. And for what it's worth, all three have had similar temperments since we've had them. The "mean" one has always been aloof, the "fat" one has always been lazy, and the "sweet" one (the Siamese) has always been social and affectionate.
posted by cosmic osmo at 6:14 PM on April 28, 2007

I bred tonkinese cats as a kid, which are half siamese half burmese. Not nearly as vocal as siamese, but still willing to hold a conversation with a person. Most of my cats were very quiet unless "spoken to."

I meow at both of our mutt cats, and sometimes they meow back. My advice: spend some time with the cat before committing, meow at it and see what kind of response you get. Also, find out what it does when hungry, if you can get its people to say, because cats that howl for food drive me bonkers, and I love the little beasts.
posted by bilabial at 6:24 PM on April 28, 2007

There are lots of breeds besides Siamese that can have that coloration, and many of them are breeds that aren't known for vocalization or neediness. Shelters tend to say that a cat is a particular cross based on what someone thinks it looks like. They usually have no idea what it really is. Cats that are exceptionally needy or otherwise wacko probably have some history that explains it, like being separated from its mom too young or being mistreated. The best way to know what you're getting is to get a cat instead of a kitten. If neediness is a particular dislike, a counter-intuitive solution is to get two cats -- who are already bonded. They'll direct a lot less of their neediness towards people.
posted by daisyace at 7:00 PM on April 28, 2007

Response by poster: So it sounds like I should pay close attention to the kitten's behavior as an better indication of adult personality than having or lacking dark ears or blue eyes? And socialize the heck into her? And lia, I'm with ya sister on the dog thing mostly, but the cat lover in my house needs a kitten, and a dog deserves a yard that I can't provide yet---that may or may not be in the works. And daisyace, I should've mentioned we have 2 older cats now, so the new kitten will have pals once they get used to her. I want to get a kitten before the other cats get too old and cranky to adapt and play.
posted by tula at 7:11 PM on April 28, 2007

Balinese owner here (longhaired Siamese -- a bit less loud and demanding, but every bit as needy and neurotic). Siamese and their ilk can get a lot of their attention requirements met from another cat, and for that matter can even be better for them than having to get it all from a human. Cats just do better with other cats, and oriental breeds even more so.

You (and most people) will probably find two cats easier to care for than one cat.

I also have a Birman, which has pointed coloring but is a very mellow breed (although this particular Birman is a scheming mastermind), so it's true that the coloring isn't enough to go on. Coloring and body type, on the other hand... I'd expect a puppycat.
posted by mendel at 8:11 PM on April 28, 2007

I agree with daisyace, get a cat instead of a kitten. Don't worry, they will become very attatched to you. You can get a better idea of what their personalities are like.

I adopted a male tabby from the local shelter. He was a drop off at a church. My vet estimated his age to be around 5 when I got him. I adore this cat, he can be vocal, but in a sweet way.

Several people that have met this cat has offered to take him if I every need to rehome him (over my dead body).

Good luck, please look at the older cats!
posted by JujuB at 9:59 PM on April 28, 2007

Best answer: I had Balinese cats as a kid, and they were wonderful, but definitely very talky and needy (though never fighty, hissy, bitey etc). They had the typically Siamese vocalization -- a meow that goes ooon for a long time: "Mreoooooooooooooooow?" Our neighbors had indoor Siamese cats, and we could hear their cats from inside our house - same meow.

About the vocalizations, I think bilabial has it: spend some time with the cat before committing, meow at it and see what kind of response you get.

If you had meowed at my cats when they were kittens, a nice longish meow, they would have been riveted, and would immediately have responded with a long meow back. Most tabby mutts I have known can only manage a short chirp, by comparison ("Mrup?"), and they won't necessarily respond by meowing if you meow.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:54 PM on April 28, 2007

I miss my Olive (chocolate point Siamese) sooo much. She was my first siamese and yes...they certainly have their own unique 'voice.' However, never have I had a smarter and loving animal.
posted by BigJuiceMan at 9:16 AM on April 29, 2007

Um...I said "had" above. Wifey pointed out that I was Olive's pet, not the other way around. hmm.
posted by BigJuiceMan at 9:19 AM on April 29, 2007

Best answer: There is no answer to this... as I type one Siamese is shoving her nose under my hands, demanding attention... the other one is sleeping peacefully and will come quietly to get attention and leave quietly if she doesn't get it..

It's all in the upbringing, and strange cat stuff we don't understand.

The noisiest cat in the house is a one year old stripy ex-feral cat that talks to me every moment of the day... ( in a language I am beginning to understand)

posted by HuronBob at 10:15 AM on April 29, 2007

one of my cats is what's referred to as a "colorpoint" ... she looks like a siamese in coloring/eyes, but her frame is that of your, uh, average cat, i guess. her mother is a calico, her father is unknown, and her five brothers and sisters all look completely different. she barely talks, and while she likes her attention, she doesn't demand it.

so, i can't vouch for "siamese", personally, but "siamese-looking" ... no, they're not all needy and chatty. but then, most dogs are needier and chattier than my cats, so perhaps i'm not the one to ask.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 3:54 PM on April 29, 2007

I've had a wonderful Siamese mix for nearly 9 years. From day one, he's had a perfect disposition around people. He had a few angry, hiss-filled years after we brought in a female kitty, but he's mellowed into the sweetest cat in the house. He's endlessly friendly to new people while my 11-year-old fat tabby is hiding under the bed. He's a chatty fellow when he wants in/out of the house or wants to be fed, but it's not over-the-top.

I highly recommend Siamese and want to adopt a pair of Siamese kitties simultaneously at some point in my life.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:41 PM on April 29, 2007

Get a Birman. Make that two Birmans.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:42 AM on April 30, 2007

Response by poster: Update: I wound up with an adorable calico who is very social, goofy, and nearly silent.
posted by tula at 2:50 PM on August 19, 2007

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