The Foreign White cat breed is essentially a white colored unpointed variant of the Siamese. The breed's designation, however, depends upon which country the cat is in.
In the US this cat would be classified as an Oriental cat. This makes sense, since it has the same physical features as an Oriental, all dressed in white. Foreign Whites, however, must have blue eyes, whereas the Orientals can have green or odd color eyes (one green, one blue).
The British breeders who developed this cat did so by crossing white British Shorthairs with, you guessed it - Siamese cats. The cat shares characteristics with its Oriental breed cousins, including high intelligence, excellent temperament, and loving nature.
Since this cat was developed prior to the emergence of many other colors of Orientals, however, the British retained the original name by which the cat was recognized.
Like the Siamese, these kitties have blue eyes. Many white cats with blue eyes are deaf. This may have led to the myth that white cats make bad mothers, since they wouldn't be able to hear the cries of kittens in need.
According to some sources, including some breeders, these cats do not suffer from the blue eyed-white cat deafness issue, since the blue eyes come from gene of the Siamese ancestor. This is further clarified by information from Blue Moon, a Balinese/Siamese/Foreign White breeder.
It is not allowed to mate two foreign whites, as this could strenghten the Waardenburg syndrome (blue eyes related to deafness). Some breeders also recommend to avoid the mating of foreign whites to red-, creme-, and tortie-points.
According to this page on the Louisiana State University site, there are a number of pure breed cats carrying the white gene (W) that do have blue eyes and suffer from deafness, although not as much as non-purebreds.
Very little information is available documenting deafness in various cat breeds. Deafness can result from effects of the dominant white (W) gene... White cats carrying the underlying cs Siamese dilution pigment gene can have blue eyes without deafness, and it has been suggested that the presence of this gene explains why purebred white cats are less often deaf than mixed-breed white cats (Pedersen, 1991). Data supporting this is not available.
These are lean, strong, muscular cats and are quite striking in looks. If you're looking for a cat that acts like a Siamese (highly intelligent, highly curious, playful, affectionate, attention loving), but is white, then this cat is for you.