Khao Manee cat breed: the snow-white cat with eyes like gems
László Enikő, 2023. May 5 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary
The khao manee is a naturally evolved, ancient cat from Thailand. It is distinguished by its snow-white fur and beautiful eyes. These are shine like gems and can be blue, gold, green or half-white.
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The name Khao Manee means white gemstone, referring to its colour and beautiful eyes. It is also known as khao plort, meaning all white. In English-speaking countries, it is also known as the diamond eye cat. That alone shows you what a special cat it is!
This beautiful gemstone was rumoured among Thai nobility to have healing powers and bring good luck to its owner. Especially the one with half-coloured eyes. It was one of the most respected cats in the Siamese royal court and could be present at traditional royal ceremonies. It is believed that the breed has a history going back hundreds of years, as a book from the 14th century mentions cats similar to this one. The volume, called Tamra Maeo, is a kind of 14th century standard cat book, with illustrations and descriptions of the different cats. One of these was the cat known today as the khao manee. More than 20 species were mentioned, most of which are now extinct. A total of 5 of these survive: the Thai cat (wichien maat) or, according to some sources, Siamese, suphalak, korat, konja and khao manee.
In the 19th century, the breed was more commonly mentioned and many paintings of them were made in Thai temples. At that time they were known as khao plort, but it was only towards the end of the 19th century that the khao manee came to be known by its present name, khao manee. Although the breed is thought to be hundreds of years old, it has only recently been recognised by Western cat associations. The first specimen arrived in the United States in 1999 (Colleen Freymuth imported 12 specimens) and in the United Kingdom in 2009, and since then it has been extremely rare to see outside Thailand. It is considered one of the rarest and most expensive cat species in the world.
Like other cats native to Thailand, the Khao Manee must have the right characteristics for the hot, humid, tropical climate. Including a lithe, but not extreme body; a medium-length nose (to cope better with hot air than a short-nosed specimen); a short, smooth coat; a muscular, athletic, but never bulky body. Head of medium size, with a modified wedge shape. The face appears oval when viewed from the front. The tip of the nose and the tip of the ears form the points of an equilateral triangle. The nose may be slightly convex. The forehead is moderate. Ears slightly large, broad at the base, rounded at the tip. The ears should point towards 11 and 1 o’clock.
Eyes moderately large, almond-shaped and slightly slanted. The eyes are shining. Colour may be any but should be clean and bright. Trunk of medium length. Body muscular, but the cat should be agile and flexible. The limbs are proportionate to the body and of medium length. Hindquarters slightly longer than the thorax. Paws are moderately large and oval. Tail medium long, proportionate to body, gradually thinning towards the end. Coat medium short, fine and smooth with a sparse undercoat. Colour always pure white. Life expectancy 10-12 years.
Although the Khao Manee is most notable for its snow-white fur and sparkling eyes, it also has a playful and mischievous personality. This breed is an extremely affectionate and direct cat who loves to be the centre of attention. Khao Manee is quickly develops a deep bond with all members of the family. It is curious about everything that is going on and does not like to miss out on anything.
The breed is a bit mischievous, so sometimes he tends to be a bit of a tease. But for such a special cat, it is simply impossible to be angry. It’s intelligent and playful, a pairing that definitely calls for intelligence-building toys! Energetic, not afraid to scour every inch of your home, from under the furniture to the top of the cupboard. When guests arrive, the Khao Manee greets them at the door so they don’t miss its beauty. Family is very important to this cats and they are eager to communicate with the owners.
As it is very affectionate, lively and demanding of attention, it is only recommended for families where it will not be left alone for long hours. Because hitis very mischievous and clever, Khao Manee will quickly find his way around. But its owner will not be happy. It makes a great playmate for children and is typically good with other pets. Highly recommended for indoor use. As this cat is energetic and loves to climb, if the owner does not want to stomp around on the bookshelf. It is important to provide with several high scratching posts, cat ladders or similar facilities where it can show off his great climbing skills.
The beautiful snow-white coat of the Khao Manee is not difficult to maintain. It sheds moderately, so once a week is sufficient to comb through the coat. Claws should be trimmed if they do not shed at the correct rate. The ears and eyes should also be kept clean and gently brushed if necessary.
Common health problems
Overall, the breed is very healthy. However, deafness is more common in white cats, so this can also occur in the Khao Manee. It may affect only one or both ears.
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