Eight Generations for the Siamese Breed

Breed Council Secretaries' Meeting, June 2004

The eight-generation pedigree is very important for breeds whose breed councils need more information regarding the genetic makeup of new material being considered as an addition to a breed. More disclosure means more information is available to CFA breeders on the most important of all issues: health. It enables them to make better informed decisions as to what they are adding to their breeding programs and to the gene pool of a breed, and can help avoid unhealthy lines that may go unnoticed by looking at only the most recent generations.

The eight-generation pedigree is of even greater importance to the Siamese breed, as nowhere else in the world is the Siamese recognized as a separate breed any more. For a breed that has contributed so much to so many other breeds, it has been sorely neglected and under valued in other associations. It is in the best interest of CFA's registry to keep as protected as possible a breed that so many others find indispensable as a genetic resource.

There are specific issues that arise from the prospect of introducing AOV cats (either pointed ORS or AOV CPSH) into the Siamese genetic mix. One is related to the short fine-textured, glossy coat of the Siamese, which translates into a silkiness that is distinctive. As you know, coat textures are often related to color in other breeds, and the introduction of different genetic material could allow for the possibility for Siamese color to be compromised. The coat is strongly tied to color in this breed, as not only texture but length is important in producing quality of color. In the best Siamese color, the coat will be slightly thicker and longer, keeping the body lighter, as Siamese color is partially responsive to temperature. Pattern is also a factor, with the clearest body color coming from the use of the ticked tabby pattern, not the mackerel pattern found in lynx point backgrounds.

Siamese color is more complicated than it would appear. Good color in this breed consists of the following factors: depth of color, evenness of color, lack of pattern in the body and restriction of dark color to the points of the cat. The introduction of different genetic material may modify the ability to produce the entire spectrum of the color genes that contribute to the entire color picture. And while we all know that the Siamese cat is not just color pattern, in the eyes and ears of the world this breed is very much defined by its distinctive color pattern. Lose color and coat, and you have effectively lost the breed.

The Breed Council stands firmly behind keeping the eight-generation pedigree for our breed. In an informal poll mailed out by Central Office, there were 74 replies. 60 voted to retain the 8-generation, 13 to drop it to 5 generations, and 1 was unsure. All 13 people who voted to change to a 5-generation pedigree had breeding programs that focused mainly on either CPSH or ORS.

I have asked Dr. Leslie Lyons if tests are available to determine if a pointed cat is an Oriental or Siamese. Currently there are not genetic tests available like this; however, they can now identify which ORS carry the pointed gene. This appears to indicate that genetic testing is improving for cats, and that eventually we may be able to test for many of the things that we want to avoid introducing to a breed gene pool, including any number of health related genes as well as color and coat factors. In the future we may be able to substitute this kind of testing for the 8-generation pedigree. Right now the 8-generation pedigree is the best tool the Siamese breed has to inform us on what is being brought into our gene pool. It helps us avoid unhealthy lines, and also helps us protect and preserve the most identifiable traits of this breed.

Respectfully submitted,

Debbi Stevenson
Siamese Breed Council Secretary