Thai Cat: The Legend Begins

Thai Cat lying down while is looking at the camera
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

Everyone—even those who are not all that interested in cats—has at least heard of the ever-popular cat breed known as the Siamese. These beautiful, talk-active cats are the queen of the cat world, what with their elegant, slender body and practically legendary colorpoint pattern. The unique, black and white color of their coat has pioneered many other popular cat breeds, such as the Himalayan and the Snowshoe. But did you know that even the Siamese has an ancestor they owe their legacy to? Yes, it’s the Thai cat.

The Thai cat—which is also known as the Old-style, Traditional, or Classic Siamese—is a naturally-occurring breed that’s been around for the last 700 years. These are devoted, affectionate, and attention-seeking cats that will make a perfect addition to any family. This is an extremely healthy and long-living breed that gets along well with other pets. The Thai cat is a low maintenance breed with the exception of their need for attention. These are active and social cats that love to be involved in their owner’s daily activities and will follow your every step in a dog-like manner.

A Thai Cat cat lying down in a studio

In this article, you will learn about the origin story of the Thai cats and difference between this breed and the Siamese breed. We will also tell you more about their personality, exercise needs, and care features. You will find many more important points every new or future owner should know about this breed in this piece.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High

  • Grooming: Low Maintenance

  • Health: Very Good

  • All Around friendliness: Very Good; can even be excessively demanding

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate

Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Natural Breed
Weight8 - 15 pounds
Lifespan15 - 20 years

The Thai cat is an old but newly renamed breed that originated in Thailand as a point-colored breed with blue eyes. They were originally called Wichienmaat, which translates into “moon diamond.” When the first British citizens arrived in Thailand (then called Siam), they were mesmerized with the never-before-seen looks of the Wachienmaat. They brought them back to Britain in 1886 and renamed the breed into Siamese.

The Thai cats were different from the Siamese that we know today. They were more robustly built, with round heads and round eyes. Western breeders wanted to improve the look of the original cats, and soon they started producing cats with leaner bodies, longer heads, and deepened the color of the eyes. These are the Siamese as we know them today. The two breeds started to split up in the 1950s because some breeders wanted to bring back the former round qualities of the original breed.

Close-up image of a Thai Cat

In the 1980s in North America and Europe, various breeding clubs were dedicated in their efforts to preserve the original looks of the old Siamese. In 1990, the World Cat Federation granted the Wachienmaat a championship status and changed the breed’s name into Thai, to discern the old Siamese from the new show-style Siamese as we know them today.

This breed has short hair, and they don’t have an undercoat. Their coat is soft and silky to the touch. Thai cats shed minimally. Their coat is easy to maintain and needs to be brushed only once a week. This breed comes in four basic color points, seal, blue, chocolate, and lilac, but they can also be red, cream, tortie, fawn, and tabby.

This breed has a loving, devoted, affectionate, playful, and funny personality. They are also quite vocal. They are known to follow their owner around the house and offer advice in the form of chirps, meows, and purrs. They demand a lot of attention from their owner. Thai cats love to be active and to play with their owner but will also purr quietly with delight while they are lying curled in their owner’s lap.

close-up image of a Thai Cat with one blue eye and one green

This is a highly intelligent breed. It is easy to teach Thai cats to walk on a leash or even to go on rides in a car. This is also a friendly breed that loves spending time with older children who know how to behave and other pets who will serve as companions while you are at work.

Thai cats have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years, but some Thai cats have reportedly lived for 28 years. Because of the diverse gene pool, this breed is not particularly prone to developing hereditary health conditions, but like all cats, they can be affected by common feline diseases.

Main Highlights

  • Originally from Thailand where it is called Wichienmaat, this is an old breed that was recently renamed as Thai cats.

  • These never-before-seen color-point cats were brought from Thailand (Siam) to Britain in 1886. They were originally round-headed and robustly-built. Western breeders wanted to accentuate the unique features of these cats, and they started to develop cats with leaner bodies, longer heads, and deep-colored eyes. They named the modified Thai cats the Siamese.

  • In the 1950s, some breeders started to yearn for the original looks of the Siamese cats, and the two breeds started to diverge.

  • In 1990, the World Cat Federation granted the championship status to the “original” or old-style Siamese, and the breed was then renamed as Thai cats.

  • Thai cats have an apple-shaped head with highly-set slightly rounded ears, a long flat forehead, a wedge-shaped muzzle, and round blue eyes.

  • Their bodies are slender but muscular with graceful legs.

  • Their single-coated fur is easy to maintain and sheds minimally.

  • Thai cat is loving and devoted to their owner. They will be a loyal companion to every owner who has time to shower the cat with attention.

  • This is a playful and active breed that likes to interact with their owner, other people, children, and other pets.

  • Thai cats are very intelligent and easily trained if started from a young age.

  • Like their Siamese relatives, these cats are very vocal, so don’t be surprised if your cat starts making their wishes known with meows, purrs, chatters, and the occasional growl.

  • Thanks to the gene pool diversity, this breed has excellent health and isn’t vulnerable to hereditary health problems like many other purebred cats.

  • Thai cats on average live for 15 to 20 years, but with proper care, they can live a lot longer.

Breed History

The breed that is believed to be more than 700 years old originated in Thailand, where it was called Wichienmaat. The name means “moon diamond.” When the first British citizens arrived in Thailand (then called Siam) they were captivated by the unique appearance of a Wichienmaat.

In 1886, Wichienmaat arrived in Britain where their name was subsequently changed into the Siamese. Western breeders wanted to improve the original looks of the Wichienmaat, and soon they started to produce cats with finer-boned, slimmer bodies, longer heads, and more intense sapphire blue eyes. By the 1950s, the new-style Siamese became the center of attention; many people preferred their improved new looks.

Beautiful Thai Cat with blue eyes

At this point, the two breeds started to diverge. By the 1980s, the old-style Siamese were no longer seen competing at shows. Luckily, there were still breeders who enjoyed the appeal of the old-style Siamese. The first breeding clubs to dedicate themselves to the old-style Siamese appeared in North America and Europe in the 1980s.

In 1990, the Cat Federation in Europe gave the breed a championship status and changed its name into Thai cat to discern the old-style Siamese from the Siamese breed as we know it today. The International Cat Association awarded a Preliminary New Status to the breed in 2007. In 2009, they promoted Thai cats to Advanced New Breed status.


Thai is a medium-sized cat with a slender but muscular averagely-built frame. Like with other cat breeds, male Thai cats are larger and weigh between 11 and 15 pounds. Females are smaller and weigh between 8 and 12 pounds.

-two-thai-cats sitting next to orange flowers

The main features that set apart the Thai cats from the Siamese are their overall size and shape. Thai cats have a wider head with round edges, highly-set slightly rounded ears, a long and flat forehead, a wedge-shaped muzzle, and round blue eyes. Their body is moderately long and slender but muscular with graceful legs and a tail that is proportional to the body.

Personality and Character

Above all, this is an attention-seeking breed that shouldn’t be left alone for longer periods of time. They require an owner who will shower them with attention and affection every day. If they feel unhappy or neglected, they may act out or become depressed.

Like their Siamese relatives, Thai cats love to vocalize and will “talk” to their owner whenever possible. Usually, they will greet you at the front door and start telling you about their day. The talking will continue with the Thai cat following your every step while you go on with your daily activities.

close-up of two_thai_cat sitting together

This is a highly intelligent breed that loves to learn tricks and play fetch. They can be easily leash-trained, and they enjoy riding in a car. Thai cats are devoted to their owner and will form a strong bond with them; they make an affectionate and loving companion. This makes the breed perfect for people of all ages, multi-pet households, and first-time owners.

Health and Potential Problems

This is a generally healthy breed that can, with proper care, live a very long, fulfilling life. Although they are not as vulnerable to genetic, hereditary diseases as most other purebred cats, you should keep in mind that they may still contract common feline diseases.

Thai Cat lying in her cat bed

Therefore, you should take your cat to regular vet appointments, get them vaccinated, spayed/neutered, dewormed, and also take care about dental hygiene. There are a few health problems that may occur in this breed. It is best to be informed and take the necessary steps in creating a preventive health plan.

  • Crossed Eyes occur when small muscles in the eye are stretched out, and they don’t allow normal movements of the eye. A cat can be born with this condition. If that is the case, this condition isn’t usually life-threatening, and affected cats can live the rest of their lives completely healthy. On the other hand, the cause can be some underlying issue that requires the attention of a vet. If you notice uncoordinated eye movement, lack of movement in one eye, weakness, seizures, or lethargy, take your cat to the vet. Physical, neurological, and ophthalmologic exams will be performed. Causes include genetics, a disease of the inner ear, injury, nerve damage, inflammation, and tumor. Depending on your cat’s underlying condition, treatment may vary from simple antibiotics to surgery.

  • Kinked Tail is sometimes seen in Thai cats. The cause for this condition is a recessive gene, so even if both parents have normal tails, some of the kittens can be born with kinked or curled tails. This is not a painful condition and may only negatively impact your cat if you planned to take them to the shows. Otherwise, affected cats can lead normal and healthy lives.

  • Gangliosidosis is an inherited condition in which affected cats lack the enzyme required to metabolize certain lipids. Excess fats then accumulate within the cells, disrupting their normal function. There are two different types of this condition: GM1 and GM2. Symptoms are usually seen in kittens around 1 to 5 months old. They include uncoordinated walk, tremor, enlarged liver, and visual impairment. There is no cure for this disease. Affected kittens usually die when they are 8 months old. The good news is that DNA testing is available as a measure to improve the breeding program.

Care Features

This is a highly active breed that needs daily exercise in the form of interactive play. You should spend at least 15 minutes every day playing with your Thai cat. They love playing fetch. You can use a small ball or a crumpled piece of paper. Throw that for your cat to run after. This breed is also known for their love of heights, so it is advisable to invest in a nice cat tree or cat shelves.

Thai kitten lying on the sofa

Trim your cat’s nails every couple of weeks. If you are not sure that you can do it safely, take your cat to a groomer. Check the cleanliness of your cat’s ears once a week. If they are dirty, use a cotton ball dipped in a solution of half warm water and half cider vinegar to keep them clean.

Also, it is important to brush your cat’s teeth every day to prevent the development of periodontal disease. It is best to start at a young age to get your cat accustomed to this routine. There is also a variety of dental cat-friendly wipes and rinses available.

Feeding Schedule

The diet of Thai cats should be rich in meat-based protein, fat, vitamins, and fatty acids. This breed has a healthy appetite so it shouldn’t be hard to find the right food for your cat. Depending on your cat’s tastes, you can try dry, canned, or homemade food. You can also mix all three options.

Thai Cat sitting on the sofa with a smartphone near her

When buying food, always read the labels carefully and pick one that is appropriate for your cat’s age and activity level. Also, if your cat is spayed/neutered, it is best to buy food that is specially made for these cats, as they tend to get overweight. In order to not affect their diet, you should only give your Thai cat treats a few times a week.

You can split the recommended amount of food for your cat into two or three smaller meals. Make sure that your cat has unlimited access to fresh water throughout the day. Remember that if you are feeding your cat exclusively with dry food, they will need to drink more water.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Thai cats have a short, single-coated fur that is soft and silky and lies close to the body. This breed sheds minimally if at all and their coat is easy to maintain. You need to brush your Thai cat once a week to remove dead hair and debris as well as to distribute their natural skin oils throughout the length of every hair.

thai-cat sitting outside in front of a building

Thai cats come in color points, which means that their face, legs, ears, and tail sport a darker color than the rest of their body. They come in four basic colors (seal, blue, lilac, and chocolate points) but they can also be creme, red, tortie, tabby, torbie, or fawn. All Thai kittens are born white. Their true color will show when they are about one year old. Older Thai cats grow darker in color as they age, especially around their back.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

This is a friendly and people-oriented breed that likes to spend time with older children who are kind and able to play nicely with cats. Thai cats get along well with other pets if you are able to provide them all with the same amount of attention. If not, well, prepare to deal with a very jealous and demanding cat.

A brown thai cat looking up at something

This breed gets along well with cat-friendly dogs, but remember to conduct the introduction carefully in a safe environment while your dog is secured to a leash. If you have long working hours, it is a good idea to have at least one more pet besides your Thai cat, so they could keep each other company while you are away.

Wrap Up

Thai cats are social, loving, highly intelligent, and active. They form strong bonds with their owner and are suitable for homes with children, other pets, and first-time owners. Above all, this breed seeks a lot of attention and affection from their owner.

If you are not able to worship your cat for a couple of hours every day, then this is probably not the breed for you. On the other hand, people who have a lot of free time will get an attention-seeking but otherwise low maintenance companion with few health problems for many years to come.

close-up image of a thai-cat

Are you ready to dedicate most of your time and attention to these cuddle bugs? If you prefer a cat that’s more subtle in their attention-seeking ways and more independent, consider this other breed. If you are a proud owner of a Thai cat, share your experience of living with this amazing breed with us and our readers in the comments section below.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.