The Khao Manee is a “new” breed in North America and Europe, but it is not new in Thailand, its country of origin.
The famous Tamra Maew (Siamese Cat Poems) of Thailand are thought to have been created about 700 years ago, kept alive by oral tradition, and finally published perhaps 200 years ago. The poems described the “good cats” deemed worthy of breeding and preservation, such as the Wichien-maat (ancestors of today’s Siamese and Thai), the Suphalak (ancestors of today’s Tonkinese and Burmese), and the Korat. The Siamese, Thai (also known as the old-style or applehead Siamese), Tonkinese, Burmese, and Korat are all widely known throughout the modern world.
But the poems also described the Khao-plort, which appears to have been a white cat with mercury-colored eyes. (Presumably, “mercury-colored” eyes were light grayish blue eyes.) Some time in Thailand’s history, perhaps during the 200 years after the poems were published, an updated version of the Khao-plort came into favor. The only native breed of white cat in Thailand today is the Khao Manee.
In Thai, Khao manee means “white gem.” Khao Manees are indeed white, just like the Khao-plort of the ancient poems, but the perfect Khao Manee has odd-colored eyes. One eye ideally will be blue and the other eye will be green or yellow. In practice, the nature of the genes involved keeps breeders from consistently producing cats with odd-colored eyes. Many Khao Manees therefore may have two blue eyes, two green eyes, or two yellow eyes.
Like all cats native to Thailand, Khao Manees are shorthaired, a little lither in build than cats of Western origin, and in personality they are lively, highly intelligent, communicative, and people-loving.
As of 2007, the Khao Manee has begun the new breed application process in TICA (www.tica.org). The Khao Manee does not yet have championship status, meaning permanent recognition as a breed, in any of the world’s major cat associations. Major cat associations are registries that are well established and have reciprocity agreements with each other.
For more information about the origins of the Khao Manee in Thailand, see Martin Clutterbuck’s book, Siamese Cats: Legends and Reality. Bangkok: White Lotus, 2004. This book may be purchased online directly from Mr. Clutterbuck, from the Old-style Siamese Club (www.old-stylesiamese.co.uk), or from PREOSSIA (www.oldstylesiamese.com).
HEAD . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Points
Shape . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Forehead. . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Profile and nose. . . . .. . 4
Eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . …..5
Eye color. . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Ears . . . . . . . . . . . . … . 5
Muzzle and chin. . . . . . 5
Neck . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 2
BODY . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Points
Torso . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Legs and feet . . . . . . . 10
Tail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Boning . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Musculature . . . . . . . . . 5
COAT/COLOR/PATTERN . . . . 20 Points
Texture and length. . . . . 12
Body color . . . . . . . . …. . 8
PERMISSIBLE OUTCROSSES: None
Shape: Modified wedge, medium width. Shaped like a flattened papaya or bell. Muzzle somewhat cylindrical and noticeably narrower than upper head, with head widening abruptly at the level of the cheekbones. Cheekbones are high.
Forehead: Long; flat or very slightly convex.
Profile/Nose: Nearly straight, but with slight, straight, downhill slope from brow to just below eyes.
Eyes: Slightly to moderately large. But not extremely large. Not nocturnal or protruding. Plump oval in shape. Set about one eye width apart.
Eye Color: Odd-colored, one blue and one green or yellow. Two blue, two green, or two yellow eyes also permissible. Brilliance of blue, green and yellow colors preferred, but no copper eyes.
Ears: Slightly large, wide at the base, oval tips. Ears should point somewhat more toward twelve o’clock than horizontally. However, ears should be well separated from each other. Allow for light furnishings.
Muzzle: Medium in length, cylindrical, no muzzle break. End of muzzle is slightly rounded.
Chin: Aligned vertically with the nose.
Neck: Medium in length and width.
Torso: Slightly long, high on the legs. Well toned, muscular, but agile-looking, never massive. Stands with weight appearing evenly planted on all fours, rather like an impish baby goat. Underbelly is parallel to the ground and firm.
Legs: Medium to slightly long.
Feet: A wide oval, medium in size in proportion to cat.
Tail: As long as the torso, tapering gradually to the tip.
Boning: Medium to slightly refined (females) or medium to slightly robust (males).
Musculature: Very firm, but cat should look agile and feel flexible and springy, not meaty or heavy. Males should have more muscle than females, but should not be cobby or thick-necked.
Texture: Close-lying, very smooth, little or no undercoat. Smoothness is important; softness is not required.
Length: Short to medium.
Body Color: Very even, snowy white.
The ideal cat of this breed is a medium-sized cat of semi-foreign type, descended from and resembling the native Khao Manees of Thailand. It is a shorthaired, completely white cat with odd-colored eyes, but same-colored eyes other than copper eyes are unavoidable and perfectly permissible. Indeed, the original eye color of the breed may have been limited to blue.
The history of the Khao Manee probably began when the Thai people developed the Khao-plort, an all-white cat with “mercury” colored eyes (most likely gray-blue eyes). The Khao-plort is described in the Tamra Maew, the Siamese Cat Poems of Thailand that are 200 to 700 years old. It is not certain when the cat fanciers of ancient Siam began to favor odd-colored eyes in their Khao-plort cats, but they must have done so by about 100 years ago at latest. The cats at that point came to be called Khao Manees, which means “white gem.” Khao Manee as of the twentieth century had become the preferred name in Thailand for the breed, although the breeders still often use Khao-plort as an alternative name.
Khao Manees are derived from the native race of cats still seen in Thailand today. Like other native cats of Thailand, they should have characteristics suitable for the hot, wet, tropical climate, including a lithe, but not extreme, body, medium length nose (handles hot air better than short noses), a very short smooth coat, and muscular and athletic but never bulky body.
Preserving the resemblance to native Khao Manees includes, for example, preserving the natural sexual dimorphism. (Males should typically be 8 to 12 pounds and may have slightly heavier boning than females. Females should typically be 6 to 8 pounds.) It implies that characteristics more typical of Western breeds, such as very round heads or copper colored eyes, are to be avoided.
The personality of the Khao Manee, like that of all the native cats of Thailand, is communicative, though not necessarily noisy. They are active, playful, curious cats. They love to interact with people and hate to be left alone and ignored. The Khao Manee is highly intelligent. This is not a reserved, self-sufficient, independent breed. But it is a great breed for those who like cats that are all but human in their personalities and needs.
Stud jowls in males. Colored spots limited to the head in kittens and young adults only.