Guest Star: Silence of the Siamese

Hi everyone,

Today’s guest story comes from Casey Karp.

I’ve been lucky.  I mean in a way that goes beyond the sheer number of cats who have agreed to share my life.  You see, as far as I’m concerned, a Siamese cat is as essential to a house as a kitchen.  Sure, you could get along without one, but why would you want to?

As a result of that prejudice, I’ve shared living quarters with a succession of meezers and part-meezers–and that’s where I’ve gotten lucky.  Consider the three things “everyone knows” about Siamese cats: they’re insane, they eat wool, and, most disturbing*, they’re loud.

* Unless you have a wool fetish, of course.

There’s a lot of truth in all three of those stereotypes.  Are they crazy?  Absolutely.  Every Siamese cat I’ve ever met has been nuts.  But let’s be honest here.  Can you tell me you’ve ever met a cat that wasn’t crazy in some way?  Neither have I.  Every cat is crazy.  (That said, I should point out that at least 95% of humans are crazy as well.  That’s what makes them interesting.)

Do Siamese eat wool?  Absolutely.  Not all of them, but a good percentage of meezers can’t resist chewing on a wool sock or drooling on a wool blanket.  But they’re massively outnumbered by the fleecivorous felines of every other breed.

As for the third stereotype, well, one needs look no further than MM, the feral Siamese who visits the public food bowl in our yard.  We’re pretty sure that she isn’t a purebred, but you certainly couldn’t tell by listening to her.  She talks constantly, a string of peremptory quacks, irregularly interrupted by a demanding blatt* when she thinks the bowl isn’t being filled quickly enough.

* She really does sound goose-like when she gets going.

So with that mental audio image in mind, step over here and meet the Siamese and Siamese crosses who have co-occupied my home over the past quarter-century or so.

Nimmao

Nimmao–her name is an Americanization of the Thai words for “soft, fluffy cat”–was a shelter cat, so her ancestry is a matter of guesswork.  Based on her markings, the shape of her muzzle, and her luscious, long fur, I believe she was a Siamese/Himalayan cross.

Ms. ‘Mao was one of the most even-tempered cats I’ve met, taking plane trips, feral kittens, and two international moves* with equal equanimity.  OK, she was usually totally stoned for the plane flights, but she never once said anything about the pretty, colored lights she was watching.

* First from Austin to Manhattan–if you try to tell me Texas and New York aren’t in different countries, I’ll laugh in your face–and then on to the San Francisco Bay Area, which should really be considered an interplanetary move, not just international.

Nimmao had a voice, I’m sure.  But I don’t actually remember her saying anything.  Purring, sure.  A very occasional growl when the kitten got a little too aggressive with her ears, absolutely.  But meows, squawks, or yowls?  Nope.  Can’t recall a single one.

Hamachi

Hamachi, on the other paw, had a voice–oh, did he ever!–but with two exceptions, he was sparing in its use.  He hated to be confined, so he turned car rides into a non-stop litany of complaints.  And he hated being kept away from his humans.  He’s the reason I learned to sleep with cats draped all over my body: if the bedroom door was closed, ‘Machi made sure nobody got any sleep.

Some friends found him lurking around their new house–he had been abandoned by the previous owners–and arranged an introduction.  He did not take the car trip home well.  He escaped his travel box and quite literally bounced around the car, yowling at frequencies and decibel levels calculated to crack the windshield.  But once he was inside the house, he settled down to life as a lap fungus.

Mr. Yellow Tail was never happier than when he had a lap to sleep on.  He’d say a word or two to get someone’s attention, ask them to sit down, or direct their strokes to the best spots, but that was the majority of his talking–until it was time to get him in a carrier for a trip to the vet.

Kokoro

Kokoro is another shelter cat, though unlike Nimmao, there’s little doubt about her breed.  She is usually shy and reserved, but she Has Opinions and she will express them.  She considers herself Empress of All She Surveys*, and if the Universe doesn’t conform to her expectations, she chastises it.  However, her normal speaking voice is quiet and sounds like a small car’s horn–a very small car and a very small horn–earning her the nickname “Ms. Meep”.

* In truth, she is.  Cats being cats, though, not everything she surveys acknowledges her supremacy.

She does have a classic Siamese yowl in her repertoire, but she saves it for earth-shattering emergencies.  Once or twice a month, I’ll be reading in bed, a mere handful of steps away from her perch on the stairs.  Suddenly, she’ll realize she doesn’t know where Her Human is, and she’ll crank up the volume to announce to everyone within five blocks that she’s lonely.  When I accuse her of being a pity-kitty, she runs into the room, glares at me and meeps in quiet admonition for hiding from her, and then goes to sleep in my lap.

Sachiko

Our newest semi-meezer is Sachiko.  She’s MM’s daughter, and the reason that “MM” now stands for “Meezer Mommy” instead of “Ms. Meezer”.

Sachiko doesn’t say much, and when she does, it’s a tiny squeak, not loud, but it does carry well up the stairs.  She cranked up the decibels once, the second night after we kittennapped her.  By the next day she had decided warmth, regular feedings, and no coyotes were pretty nice, and she stopped complaining.  After a few more days, she decided that humans might make adequate Mommies, and added a purr to her repertoire.  The purr is louder than her squeaks.

She’s still young–a bit over seven months–so she may yet develop a more assertive voice and start talking like her mother.  I’m not prepared to rule it out: she isn’t more than half-Siamese at most, but her bone structure is pure meezer.  If her voice develops along Siamese lines, it’ll be a splendid opportunity to explore the “nature vs. nurture” controversy: will the example of her adoptive sister Kokoro override the genetic urge to yowl?

There you are.  Four randomly-chosen meezers, none of whom display a stereotypical Siamese voice, and only one (Sachiko’s mother) who does–and she lives outside, where she can only be heard at dinner time.

Lucky.

Casey Karp blogs regularly about cats, baseball, food, technology, and whatever else is on his mind.  Follow him at http://koiscribblings.com.

And we hope you all are looking forward to more lovely photos and posts <3  @KatzenworldBlog and don’t forget to sign up to our Newsletter by clicking here.

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41 thoughts on “Guest Star: Silence of the Siamese

  1. My family used to raise Siamese cats (or should I say they raised us!!!). We started off with a stray who stayed and our love of this special breed grew from that lovely lady. This post brought back sweet memories of my time with those never-silent, always adorable Siamese cats! : )

  2. I’m pretty sure you have those percentages reversed. It’s all humans that are crazy and 95% of cats (of which I am in the lucky 5% – I can’t speak for my siblings, though ;-)).

  3. Our Siamese, Holly Elizabeth, was loud and crazy. I don’t remember her having a thing for wool, though.
    She was one of those cats who could go from angel to demon in half a blink with no advance warning. I was her person. And she loved me with a passion that was sometimes painful. She loved to sleep next to me, her face on my pillow and her paws cupping my face. And then when I least expected it she’d clamp her teeth down on my chin. Ow! Ow! Double ow!! I’d gingerly u clamp her jaws and we’d go to sleep. This happened every nigh.

      1. I don’t know! A friend thought that Holly was treating me as a nursing kitten would her mom. I guess my chin was a teat in her mind. Weird, eh?

  4. Absolutely ALL beautiful cats; STUNNING wonderful guest post and story which I love and appreciate!!

  5. One of our Siamese was a wool eater – actually, he ate more than just wool and spent a few night at the vet’s office when he got plugged up!

    During one of our moves, my husband drove them 10 hours to our new house. One of them screamed so long and loud he actually lose his voice! I’d never heard of a cat losing his voice before, but my husband had quite the headache by the time he got to our new house and gave me the cats.

    I had to take that same cat to the veterinary oncologist every month and I used to take two Advil before I got in the car with him because of his screaming.

    Nancy

  6. There’s a book I just read that you might appreciate – *The Maine Coon’s Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers* by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Lee White. It has 20 Haiku (and corresponding illustrations). Each Haiku is about a specific Breed. So that’s twenty poems and twenty breeds. At the end of the book is a description/background on each breed. Rather nifty, this book!

    This is one of the poems —

    *Norwegian Forest Cat*

    *caught among branches* *fog descends the trunk headfirst* *one foot at a time.*

    🙂 Personally, I love that.

      1. Hmm. I just wrote one for my local library. They have an Adult Reading Club in the Summer – five books, five reviews. I’ll share it with you. Hmm. How do I do that?

          1. I have NO idea how to link back to my page! I looked at the review since we last talked. Just to let you know — I go for short but sweet.

  7. My purebred Ragdoll cat, Otis, is the absolute mirror image of Nimmao—and I’m told that Ragdolls have Siamese in them? If so, I would guess that he’s more Siamese than anything else, thought I had thought that Siamese cats were short-haired. Otis has several different vocalizations, and calls out to us often when he’s bored and wants attention. He also LOVES playing with string.

    1. My understanding is that Ragdolls are part Burmese, rather than Siamese. As I said, we don’t know anything about Nimmao’s ancestry, so it’s certainly possible that she could have some Burmese–or even Ragdoll–genes.

      Interesting to think that if you could only trace it, you might find out that ‘Mao and Otis are distantly related.

  8. Your writing is such fun! You play with words like you play with your cats. Loved the description of Austin / NY and SF….you tell it like it is. And your photos are wonderful. Nimmia is gorgeous. Oh how I miss my Sasha Siamese beauty.

    1. Thank you for the compliment, Kathy.

      I find photography to be the hardest part of blogging about the fuzzies.

      ‘Mao and Hamachi passed away many years ago, but they’re still in our hearts. Virtual ear scritches to Sasha.

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