PREOSSIA was established in
January 1999, when two fanciers of the Old-Style Siamese decided that a
club was needed for people interested in preserving the original native
pointed cat of Thailand. They were not interested in the
highly stylized and sculpted, dainty feline that most of the
Siamese breed had become after a century of selective breeding.
But neither were they interested in the opposite extreme, the American
myth of a stocky, heavy-boned, roundheaded, fluffy "applehead Siamese." They were
interested in learning what the pointed cats native to Thailand were
like in the present as well as in the past, objectively documenting the
native cats, and finding a way to preserve them.
Before the end of 1999, the two had grown to a dozen. Fanciers of
the old type of Siamese who had been associated with other clubs found
in PREOSSIA a forum for open, objective discussion and a willingness to
work with the mainstream cat fancy that they felt had been missing
It was the dozen founding members of PREOSSIA who
christened the club. In 1999, a PREOSSIA member, Beverly McGuire, was
the first to suggest the name "Old-Style
Siamese" as the official name of the breed as defined, promoted, and
PREOSSIA. Old-Style Siamese had not previously been used in uppercase,
as the formal name for any breed.
In 2000, PREOSSIA members, who at first were all Americans, discovered
they had much in common philosophically with fanciers of the old
Siamese in other countries.
It was partly to show solidarity with PREOSSIA members
that a British club for fanciers of the old type of Siamese adopted the
name Old-style Siamese Club (OSSC). See www.oldstylesiamese.co.uk.
Breeders from countries all over Europe began joining PREOSSIA.
The internationalization of PREOSSIA proved to be hugely beneficial for
all concerned. The club's members learned a lot from each other about
the status of the Old-Style Siamese all over the world. They learned to
work with each other and were also able to exchange breeding cats with
each other. This was enormously beneficial to the gene pool of a breed
that at one point was nearly extinct in the West. With the imports from
Thailand added to the mix, the breed began to have a bright future.
The ties forged between PREOSSIA's members on two continents were
instrumental in persuading The International Cat Association (TICA) in
2006 to accept the Old-Style Siamese as a Preliminary New Breed independent of the
show-style Siamese. TICA chose the name Thai for the Old-Style Siamese
as shown at TICA shows. This was appropriate because the hundreds of
independent European registries had been calling the breed "Thai" for
sixteen years (since 1990). It was also considered appropriate because
the Old-Style Siamese is the native pointed cat of Thailand. It is the
Thai Siamese, or Thai for short.
2010, TICA granted probationary championship status to the Thai breed.
That allowed fanciers to show the Thais in regular cat show classes,
competing with all the established breeds. In 2013, after reviewing the
Thai Breed Chair's final progress report, the TICA Board of Directors
granted permanent championship status to the Thai breed.
wonder why it is important to be granted championship status by a major
international cat association. There are many reasons. One of the most
important is that it means there is an official definition and
description of our breed that authors of books about cats can refer to
and that has international standing. Also, it means that there is a
well organized system in place for training cat show judges to evaluate
cats of the breed in action at shows. The chief value of a well
executed cat show system is that it allows people to compare their cats
to each other, to learn from each other, and to hold regular
exhibitions of the breeds for the benefit and enjoyment of the general
Achieving championship and participating in a properly
organized cat show system is like having a university for learning
about the breed. It is also a kind of glue that holds the breed
communities together and keeps them focused on the welfare of the
breeds. Without the cat show system and a place in the cat show system,
it's nearly impossible to preserve individual breeds for posterity.
championship status for the Thai in TICA was the realization of a dream
for PREOSSIA members. But there is so much more that still needs to be
done. In a way, it was unfortunate that we reached that first big goal
because the sense of unity that bound the breed community together was
weakened. Many went their own way, stopped working as a team, unable to
see that the need to work together does not end. To keep a breed
healthy and authentic requires constant surveillance of the breed gene
pool, considerable attention to the education of new breeders, and
ongoing education of the international cat fancy and the general public
in many different countries.
The challenge now is to inspire those who love the cats to become active once again.
We who are PREOSSIANs understand this and will continue to work for the preservation and promotion of this ancient breed.
For questions about PREOSSIA, email the Webmaster.
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