Thai is newly classified cat breed, similar to but distinct from the modern Western Siamese cat.
There is little dispute that the cats that were imported from Siam to Western countries in the 19th and early 20th century were broader in features than today’s Western Siamese. While the Thai, known in Thailand as the Wichien-Maat, has common ancestry with the Western Siamese, generations of separate breeding of these two cats have spearheaded the development of two distinct breeds.The International Cat Association (TICA), approved the look of the Old-Style Siamese to be shown as Thai in the Preliminary New Breed category, February 17, 2007. This approval was for a cat that represents the early 20th-century Siamese and can still be found in Thailand catteries (in Thailand this cat has been called called Wichien-Maat) and was shown beginning in 1993 in Europe. Around the world, registered Siamese and imported Wichien-Maats have played a pivotal role in the development of the Thai cat. Breeders internationally banded together to save the old-style look and promote the authentic cat, whose roots can be traced directly to Thailand and early Siam. As of May 1st, 2010, the Thai has Championship status in TICA, enabling it to compete along with the other breeds of pedigreed cats.
The Thai/Old Style Siamese and the modern Western Siamese share a commonality of distant relatives, the pointed gene and the outgoing, people-loving, vocal personality made famous in the West by the early Siamese imports. But on careful examination, the evidence makes it apparent that the recent Thai bloodlines are not commonly seen in the Western Siamese lines of today and Thai cats maintain a look distinct from that of the Western show Siamese. Thai bloodlines are a conglomeration of Siamese and/or imported Wichien-Maat.
The preferred Thai cat is 100% imported from Thailand and has a pedigree establishing origination from Siam or bloodlines that are not commonly found in the Siamese pedigrees. The primary features of the Thai are that it is a moderately built cat, has a registered pedigree or imported documentation, has no domestic short hair ancestors, and does not carry the long-hair gene. The premise of the Thai cat is to help preserve the old look, yet provide a future that focuses on healthy diversified lines that genetically maintain the pointed (CSCS) gene and the authenticity and personality of this Old-Style Siamese.
Thai Cat History
In Thailand this elegant cat is known as the Wichien-Maat which means "moon diamond". The Wichien-Maat, along with other cats, is named, described and illustrated centuries ago in the "Tamra Maew" book of cat poems transcribed by Martin Clutterbuck in the book Siamese Cats: Legends and Reality (2004) . Over the years, the Wichien-Maat has stayed true to its original breeding, which is still seen today in Thailand, and it remains a popular cat.
Starting in the late 1800s, the Wichien-Maat was first imported to the West, starting with England, and the cats became known as "Siamese" or the "Royal Cat of Siam", after the name of the ruling dynasty in Thailand at that time. Cat fanciers were impressed with the graceful, "marten-faced" cats so very different from the cobby, rounder native breeds and longhairs. Western breeders wanted to emphasize and augment the qualities that made the cats so different and through selective breeding, they developed an increasingly elongated, angular, finer-boned type of Siamese. This "modern" or "show-style" type of Siamese dominated in the show halls beginning in the latter half of the 20th century. As the new look increased in popularity, some breeders in England, Europe, and North America continued to preserve the look of the old-style Siamese first imported, and the cat still commonly seen today in Thailand as the Wichien-Maat.
In the early 1990s a pioneering German woman introduced a Siamese cat that represented the classic look of the old-style Siamese to the show halls in Europe. She called the cat “Thai.” Her dedication to revitalizing the old look using Siamese bloodlines inspired European breeders to begin breeding and showing a cat called “Thai.” As a result, numerous independent clubs developed their own breed standards so their members would promote these cats. Across the Atlantic in North America, another breeder worked passionately to preserve old bloodlines that were not seen in the show-style Siamese. This breeder traveled to Thailand to import new bloodlines. Together, American and European breeders began sharing bloodlines and working cooperatively through a small breed club called the Prestwick-Beresford Old-Style Siamese Breed Preservation Society (PREOSSIA).
In 2006 a proposal went forward to recognize the Old-Style Siamese as “Thai” in The International Cat Association (TICA) and proponents of the old look met in Hannover, Germany, to introduce the Thai breed proposal. From 2007-2010 this very old breed moved through the New Breed process in TICA, requiring documentation of active breeders, registration of cats and litters and showing cats in many different regions. On January 20, 2010, the TICA board voted to advance the Thai to Championship status beginning on May 1st, 2010. On that date, the Thai began competing along with the other breeds in TICA Championship classes.
The uniqueness of the Thai breed is that it not only is a moderate-looking pointed cat, but also has the potential to produce healthy and genetically diversified show cats that will likely continue inspiring generations of Siamese enthusiasts. The breed standard for the Thai allowed for the permissible outcross of both Western Siamese registered with major registries and imported Wichien-Maat. The distinctive characteristics that separated the Thai from the Western Siamese and Tonkinese played a major role in the acceptance of the Thai in the show halls.


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