Applying the SOP

Applying the SOP






An old-style Siamese should not be thought of as just a pet quality cat with incorrect ear set and poor eye colour.  Too many of the current old-style have upright ears and pale blue eyes - this is pet quality - this is not what we should be aiming to achieve.

The object of the Standard of Points (SOP) is to ensure the type is maintained, and the quality of the breed does not degenerate and lose its distinctiveness.  The eye colour and shape, coat pattern, coat colour and quality and shape of the head were all things that set this breed apart from the domestic breeds originating in the UK. 

In other registries 'old-style Siamese' cats achieve Champion status with what the GCCF, and this club, regard as pet quality cats.  Siamese are Siamese, of course, and are all lovely, but the time has arrived for old-style breeders to seriously look at the type of cats we are producing. 

In the 1880s Siamese were described as a slim, elegant cat with a triangular face and startling blue eyes of oriental shape. This means that the eyes should not be open and rounded but slanted and almond shaped. 

The ear position (ear-set) was to follow the line of the jaw from the point of the chin to the tip of the ear in a straight line (not curve, and without indentations or bulges).  This was in order to define the triangular shape of the head.  In addition there should be no pinch in the jaw (no dip inward behind the whisker pad).  Where this happens the cat is described as 'snipey'. 

By the 1950s breeders were convinced they had achieved excellence.  (Early on when there were insufficient numbers of Siamese to breed with some breeders had outcrosses to domestic shorthairs resulting in a chunkier type of cat which was very wrong, and they described these matings as ‘unsuccessful’.  The look was wrong and reminiscent of some of the ‘Thai Siamese’ seen today which have other cats in their background.)  By the 1950s the eyes were a perfect oriental shape with a deep distinctive blue -- originally called ‘Periwinkle’, but darkening over time to a deep sapphire.  In some modern cats the colour has darkened too far, and the eyes have become very deep set, so they eyes are a dark almost navy blue.  To counter the deep set eyes the current SOP now includes a comment that deep-set eyes are a fault. 

The current SOP description: 

The Siamese cat should be a beautifully balanced animal with head, ears and neck carried on a long svelte body, supported on fine legs and feet, with a tail in proportion.  The head and profile should be wedge-shaped, neither round nor pointed. The eyes should be a clear brilliant blue; the expression alert and intelligent. 

The SOP describes the ideal cat, and although it is impossible to match that standard with every cat, it is possible to meet it in many cats, since it was based on descriptions of real cats.  All cats have a mixture of good qualities and faults.  Judges look at the cat as a whole considering each of their features, balancing each aspect against the rest.  A notional score-sheet is given in the SOP which indicates the relative importance placed on each of the features; head, eyes, coat, pattern etc. This helps a judge to decide how to evaluate cats with different qualities and faults when judging them against each other in a class.  Some judges may consider correct eye colour the most important factor in the appearance, whilst another might place a cat with a perfect pattern but poorer eye colour above the cat with perfect eyes, but a slightly incorrect coat colour.  

The club logo is based on the famous photograph of INWOOD SHADOW, believed in her lifetime to be the most beautiful Siamese ever bred.


The club believes that this should be the model for all old-style breeders.


From the standard: 

The distance from the top of the head to the end of the nose should be the same as the width across the top of the skull.   

If a triangle is drawn from the tips of the ears to just below the nose it should be equilateral.




The triangle can be drawn within the head (as here) or outside the edges, and also on the face only (excluding the ears).  The result should be the same.  Very important in this triangle is the angled set of the ears – a bit higher than 45 degrees, but definitely NOT upright!

If a triangle is superimposed over the picture of Inwood Shadow it can be seen that she has good width across her head, her ears follow the line of her jaw and her eyes are a perfect almond shape.


Figure 1 shows a diagram of a cat with over-large ears. In order to achieve the correct triangle, the nose must lengthen, which leads to the modern look.  Technically it will then still meets the SOP, but the interpretation of the standard has allowed for extremity to come into the type. The horizontal positioning of the ears arose from the increasing length and narrowness of the head, with the resulting horizontal ear set, which was never anticipated, so is not described as a fault in the original standard.





Figure 2 shows a diagram of the type of cat that many people think of as old-style but the ears are too upright and the triangle becomes isosceles instead of equilateral. The elegant wedge shape of the head has been lost.






Try the ‘triangle test’ on pictures of your cat!


Figure 1 and Figure 2 were taken from the document 'Siamese Breeding Policy' which can be found on the GCCF website.


The figure below shows two cats imported from Thailand (Siam) in the early 1920s.  The female on the left is pregnant. Look at their lovely broad skulls!  From the photograph it can be seen that both cats have the correct triangular shape of head and oriental eye shape.