I strongly believe that a cat doesn’t have to belong to a specific cat breed (or any breed) to be a great pet. After all, all of my cats were moggies, cats without breed or with unknown origin. They were just as cute and loving as purebred cats, and each one of them was unique and simply adorable.
However, I fully understand people who prefer purebred cats, and I really enjoy learning about different cat breeds. Each cat breed is uniquely beautiful, and many of them have fascinating origins.
One such cat breed is the Khao Manee cat breed. These cats are so beautiful that they almost look unreal, but they also have a fascinating history and cultural significance for their country of origin. If this sounds interesting, keep reading to learn more!
Khao Manee Cat Characteristics
|Eye color & shape||Blue, green, gold, copper, odd-eyed|
|Weight||Males 8-10 lbs|
Females 6-8 lbs
|Expected lifespan||Up to 12 years|
|Temperament||Playful, curious, friendly, outgoing, devoted to their owners. Intelligent cats with a hint of mischief.|
|Kids and other pets||Highly friendly towards children and other pets.|
|Sociable and cuddly||Extremely sociable cats that love to play and cuddle with their owners.|
Requirements & Traits
|Feeding||Kittens and juvenile cats should eat 3-4 times a day, while adult Khao Manee cats should eat 2 times a day. Food should be meat-based and rich in protein.|
|Grooming||Recommended brushing once or twice a week and bathing every few months. Nail trimming, ear cleaning, eye cleaning, and dental hygiene are also important.|
History and Origins
Khao Manee is an ancient cat breed that occurred naturally without selective breeding and other human interference. The country of its origin is Thailand, and even today, you can rarely find Khao Manee cats in any other country.
The Royal Life Of Khao Manee Cats
The first mentions of cats that could be Khao Manee ancestors were books about Siam cats that mentioned white cats that lived in Ayutthaya Kindom, today’s Thailand. These books date back to the 14th century.
After the fall of the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 18th century, the Thonburi kingdom rose, and in the ruins of old Buddhist temples, historical records mentioning Khao Manee cats were found.
In the 19th century, Khao Manee cats became more popular, and paintings of these cats could be found in temples throughout the country. However, that was only a fraction of how much Khao Manee cats were popular during that time period.
Khao Manee cats were considered royal cats, and not everyone could own or even see one. For example, when the king of Siam, Rama V, had visitors from England and France, he ordered his servants to hide all of the Khao Manee cats from the foreigners to prevent them from being stolen. Additionally, anyone who tries to steal one of these cats would be sentenced to the death penalty.
Breeding Of Royal Khao Manee Cats
Later, king Rama V gave his 9 Khao Manee cats to his son, Prince Chumphon Khet Udomsak, who bred them and increased their number to 18. Then, Prince gave his cats to his daughter, Princess Ruang Jit Jarang Apakorn, who managed to further breed Khao Manees and increase their number to 40.
In 1957, Princess entrusted another family member to take care of her cats, and further breed them. At one point, there were 300 royal Khao Manee cats, but that number later declined. In 2011, there were around 50 royal Khao Manee cats, and they could be seen by the public, but since then, the public was not allowed to see them.
Currently, Namdee Witta, a descendant of the royal family, takes care of royal Khao Manee cats and breeds them as king Rama V used to do. He refuses to crossbreed these cats with any other breeds, and his cats aren’t for sale. At one point, a sheik from Saudi Arabia offered an astronomical sum for one royal Khao Manee cat, but Witta refused to sell it.
It was 1999 when the first Khao Manee cats left Thailand to save them from extinction since their numbers were declining. Colleen Freymuth, an American cat breeder, got permission to take one female Khao Manee with her four kittens to the USA. Later, she took a male Khao Manee cat and then a few more cats, so in total, she took 12 Khao Manee cats to breed them on American soil.
In 2004, a French poet and breeder of Korat cats, Frédéric Goedert, got interested in Khao Manee cats and traveled to Thailand to get one for himself. There, he got a female Khao Manee, brought her back to France, and named her Pai Lin, which means “Blue Saphire.”
When Freymuth heard about Goedert having one female Khao Manee cat, she sent him six other Khao Manee cats so that he could start his own breeding program. In 2005, Freymuth had to give up on her Khao Manee cats breeding program due to health reasons. She sent all of her cats to Goedert, and the same year, the first Khao Manee kittens were born in France.
Today, Khao Manee cats remain one of the rarest cat breeds, and they are constantly in danger of extinction. Hopefully, some ongoing breeding programs will be able to increase Khao Manee’s numbers.
Khao Manee Cat In Thailand Culture And Folklore
Khao Manee cats, sometimes called “White Gems,” are considered to be good luck charms in Thai culture and folklore. It is believed that these cats can bring wealth and prosperity to their owners, as well as long life.
Also, since most people in Thailand are Buddhists, they believe that cats are holy creatures and that the soul embodied in the cat’s body is in its final stage before reaching Nirvana.
Khao Manee Cat Personality
Khao Manee cats have beautiful personalities, so it makes no wonder they were believed to bring luck and prosperity to their owners. These cats are devoted to their owners, loving, and affectionate. They are friendly and outgoing, even towards children and other pets.
Khao Manees are also quite intelligent and curious animals that love to explore their surroundings. Their curiosity and playfulness can sometimes evolve into mischief, but that’s part of Khao Manee’s charm.
Khao Manee Cat Appearance
Khao Mane cats have a unique and elegant appearance, which is probably another reason why the royal family adored this cat breed. Here are some of the most outstanding Khao Manee features:
The first thing you will notice about Khao Manee cats is their fur. Snow-white, soft, and silky, Khao Manee’s fur is truly something special. The only acceptable fur color is white, with no specks of any other color. Since Khao Manee cats originated from a warm climate, their undercoats are sparse and thin.
Naturally, the fur is short since there was no need for these cats to develop larger coats. Also, since these cats only come in white color, their fur is always solid, with no possibility for other fur patterns.
Another striking feature of Khao Manee cats is their eyes. The eyes can be blue, green, gold, copper, or different colors.Khao Manee cats’ eyes are almond-shaped and slightly slanted.
The breed is also known for its “diamond eye” coloring, which refers to the blue-green hue of the irises. This unique coloring is the result of a genetic mutation and is thought to be exclusive to the Khao Manee breed.
Khao Manee cats are small to medium cat breeds. Males are slightly larger than females, with a body length of 10-12 inches and weight of 8-10 pounds. Females are usually 8-9 inches long, and they weigh 6-8 pounds on average.
Other Body Characteristics
Although they are slender and small when compared to other cat breeds, Khao Manee cats are muscular and strong. Its legs are long and elegant, with small, oval paws. The tail is also long and proportionate to the rest of the body.
The head is also oval and wedge-shaped. The ears are large and pointed at tips, widely set apart. The muzzle is rounded, and the chin is strong. The neck is long and slender.
Daily Life With Khao Manee Cat
Cats with royal history might sound like they are high-maintenance, but quite the opposite is true! Khao Manee cats are actually low-maintenance, but there are some requirements you need to follow to keep them happy and healthy.
As with other cat breeds, you should feed Khao Manee cats with a meat-based food rich in proteins. Both wet and dry commercial cat food are good options, and you should offer both food types to your Khao Manee cat.
Avoid feeding your Khao Manee cat with raw meat, as it can avoid various pathogens. Or, at least keep the meat in the fridge for several hours before giving it to your cat. Additionally, you can cook the meat and then give it to your cat.
When it comes to meal size and feeding frequency, the less is better in this case. That doesn’t mean you should starve your Khao Manee cat, but you need to be careful not to overfeed it because it can become obese.
For adult cats, it is enough to feed them twice a day, while kittens and juvenile cats need to eat more often, 3-4 times a day. Consult your vet for the exact meal size, as they will be able to tell you how much food is enough for your cat.
Another great thing about Khao Manee’s fur is that it is low-maintenance despite how beautiful and precious it looks. Brushing once or twice a week is enough to keep it free of tangles and matting.
However, it is recommended that you wash your Khao Manee cat once every few months to keep the coat soft and snowy white. You can look for specialized white cat shampoos that clean and brighten the cat’s fur.
Like with other cats, you need to trim your Khao Manee’s nails every two weeks or at least once a month. Gently clean their eyes and ears with damp cotton pads when they get dirty. If possible, brush your Khao Manee’s teeth every day, and if not, give your cat teeth-cleaning snacks.
Khao Manees are energetic and playful cats that love to explore their surroundings. They need exercise and play to stay happy, healthy, and entertained. Make sure your Khao Manee has plenty of toys, cat scratching trees, towers for climbing, and your attention. Keeping it entertained and busy with playing is the only way to prevent it from becoming naughty and mischievous.
Letting your Khao Manee play outside may seem tempting, but you need to be aware of all the dangers that could bring. A much better option is to buy a leash or harness and take your Khao Manee for a walk instead of letting it play outside.
If you still can’t keep up with this cat’s activity levels, you should consider getting another pet that’s just as active and playful. If you have small children, they could play with your Khao Manee cat, and it would be a great exercise for both your children and the cat.
Most Common Khao Manee Cat Health Issues
Khao Manee cats are relatively healthy, but there are still some health issues they might experience. Knowing about potential health problems is a good way to prepare yourself to provide the best care possible for your Khao Manee cat. Here are some of the most common conditions that affect Khao Manee cats:
In general, white cats are more prone to lose their hearing than other cats, especially if they have blue eyes. This happens because the same stem cells that contain melanin also contribute to ear development.
Since white cats don’t have melanin, they also lack those stem cells, and they are more prone to their ears not forming properly and later malfunctioning. Such is the case with Khao Manee cats, especially those with blue eyes. Still, Khao Manee cats are less likely to be deaf than other white cats.
There are a few things to look for if you think your Khao Manee cat may be deaf. First, they may not respond to their name or other vocal cues. They may startle easily or be less responsive to movement around them. Also, they may meow more loudly than usual or make strange vocalizations. Finally, they may seem disoriented or confused in new environments.
If you notice any of these signs, you should take your cat to the vet, where their hearing will be assessed. Treatment options are available but vary depending on the cause and severity of the deafness.
For still unknown reasons, several Khao Manee strains from the US breeding program produce cats with kinked tails. Fortunately, this condition isn’t life-threatening and it doesn’t reduce the life quality for Khao Manee cats.
Still, if you notice your cat showing signs of discomfort and pain around its tail area, you should take it to the vet.
If you don’t maintain your Khao Manee cat’s dental hygiene, it can experience gum issues and even periodontosis. This happens when plaque builds up on your cat’s teeth and slowly gets between the gum and the tooth.
When ignored, this can lead to the creation of air pockets between gums and teeth. These pockets get filled with more plaque and bacteria, which then leads to gum infections, swelling, redness, and various other dental problems.
If you notice your cat has trouble chewing, refuses to eat, acts lethargic, or has bad breath, you should take it to the vet as soon as possible.
Sometimes, Khao Manee cats develop ear infections that are barely noticeable and can go away without treatment. However, if you notice any of the common symptoms of this condition, don’t wait for it just to go away.
Some of the common signs that your Khao Manee cat has an ear infection include loss of balance, ear discharge, and your cat frequently rubbing its ears and showing signs of discomfort. If you notice any of these signs, take your cat to the vet as soon as possible because ear infections are quite painful.
Just like with other cat breeds, Khao Manee cats are affected by various heart diseases, one of the most common being hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This condition occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t develop correctly, and its walls are abnormally thickened.
Some cats with this condition will lead seemingly normal lives, but in many cases, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy reduces the heart’s efficiency, leads to increased heart rate, and causes oxygen starvation. In more severe cases, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure and, eventually, death.
Khao Manee Cat Name Suggestions
Enough with negativity; let’s move on to a happier subject: choosing a name for your Khao Manee cat. Many owners tend to hommage these cats’ origin by giving them Thai names. Of course, you can name your cat however you like, but here are some of the most popular options:
Buying or Adopting a Khao Manee Cat
Given how rare and valuable these cats are, you can forget about finding one in a shelter. However, you can maybe check out some online pet marketplaces, maybe you find an owner that’s selling their Khao Manee.
Even when you try to buy it, you will see that not many breeders are specialized in Khao Manee cats. You might even have to import it from abroad because this cat breed could be difficult to find in the entire US.
To learn more about your options for buying Khao Manee cats, you can visit the Cat Fanciers’ Association’s website. There, you can contact someone who will have more info about buying Khao Manee cats.
Once you find a reputable breeder, keep in mind that these cats are expensive, regardless of whether you buy them from a US-based breeder or somewhere abroad. A Khao Manee kitten typically costs $7000-$11000, and it will be more expensive if it is odd-eyed.
Khao Manee Alternatives
Khao Manee cats are quite rare in the US, which can be a problem if you want to get one. Fortunately, there are some other cat breeds that look similar to Khao Manee cats in one way or another.
If you are fascinated by the white fur of Khao Manee cats, you can always look for a white domestic shorthair cat. Even though these cats are not that common, they are much easier to find than Khao Manee cats.
Alternatively, if you want a cat with a pedigree, you can always get a Turkish Angora cat. Turkish Angoras are usually white, and many of them have odd-colored eyes, just like Khao Manee cats. The biggest difference is the fur length because Turkish Angoras have long furs; everything else is quite similar.
Siberian cats and Oriental Shorthairs are also often white, so consider getting one of these breeds. Finally, breeds like Balinese cats, Siamese cats, and Birman cats are also great choices. They aren’t as snowy white as Khao Manee cats, but they have an exotic appearance, which still makes them similar enough.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, not all Khao Manee cats are deaf, in fact, most of them have perfect hearing. It’s just that white cats such as Khao Manees are more prone to experiencing hearing loss than other cats.
Their lifespan is, on average 10-12 years, but it can be significantly longer or shorter, depending on the individual cat, its health, and the way you take care of it.
Yes, all Khao Manee cats are white.
Khao Manee means “White Gem” in Thai, and it is pronounced “Kow Manee”.
Khao Manee cats are among the most expensive cat breeds, and their price ranges between $7000 and $11000
Khao Manee Cat Fun Facts
- Although it is an anomaly, odd-eyed Khao Manee cats are actually more valuable than those that have both eyes of the same color.
- Along with Siamese, Egyptian Mau, Turkish Angora, and Abyssinian cats, Khao Manee is one of the oldest cat breeds in the world.
- Khao Manee cats are quite loud and vocal, and they have high-pitched voices. However, if you don’t mind a little noise, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Do you ever wonder how it feels to be royalty or how it is to be extremely lucky and fortunate? Well, owning a Khao Manee cat can offer you a part of that experience, and it will certainly offer you an experience of having a gorgeous and adorable pet.
If you don’t mind having a highly energetic and sometimes naughty cat (and the money isn’t a problem), you should consider getting a Khao Manee cat. It will be a unique and beautiful experience for both you and your family!
Featured Image Credit: Lunile, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons