Khao Manee: the “White Jewel” From Thailand

The Khao Manee (pronounced: [kau manie]), once a housemate of nobles, today also delights middle-class lovers of Thai cat breeds with their characteristic beauty. Especially the mysterious look from the often different colored eyes is not easy to evade. For all its beauty, the Khao Manee proves to be a friendly, active velvet paw that inspires its people with intelligence and affection. In terms of care, it is uncomplicated. Find out more about the pristine white Asian!

Khao Manee: Character

The Khao Manee is a real cat friend to her human: she is balanced, communicative, and not very capricious. The velvet paw has a pronounced play instinct and demands attention. Some specimens express themselves loudly but with a melodious voice, the purr of a Khao Manee is a balm for those suffering from stress. However, their liveliness also brings an action to the house, which you should be prepared for.

The animals of this breed are considered to be cuddly and sociable, they specifically seek physical contact and like to be petted. They also show their friendliness to strangers. They like to be the center of attention: the need of the Khao Manee to be present everywhere sometimes requires a little composure from the two-legged friend. After all, the noble fur nose wants to know exactly what the can opener is doing behind closed doors.

In addition, Khao Manee is intelligent house tigers who often surprise their people with their actions and – it seems – even deliberately plays amusing pranks. The cats are curious and constantly examine their surroundings for exciting things.

One thing that the Khao Manee often doesn’t readily cope with is the presence of children. The cat first has to get used to clumsy, loud, and unpredictable little people. Give the animal time to see the offspring as part of the family. The same applies to dogs: with a good-natured nose, which in turn is friendly to cats, there should be no complications.

Husbandry and care of the Khao Manee

The Khao Manee is a cat that, despite its strong bond with humans, absolutely needs contact with other cats: the Asian cat feels really comfortable in a cat group. Keeping them as a single cat is therefore strictly discouraged.

As far as nutrition is concerned, the Khao Manee proves to be uncomplicated: there are no special dietary requirements due to the breed. When feeding, pay attention to quality and calculate amounts that correspond to your cat’s age and activity level. However, the Khao Manee does not usually attract attention due to its gluttony.

Thanks to the short fur, grooming is easy: once a week, it is sufficient to remove loose hair with a soft brush or a damp glove. Depending on the cat’s circumstances, schedule routine parasite treatments.

A special disposition for diseases (apart from genetically caused deafness, more on this below) is not known in the Khao Manee. However, the animals are sensitive to low temperatures due to the lack of undercoats. Therefore, avoid drafts and make sure that your cat always finds a warm place.

The life expectancy of the Khao Manee is around 14 years. The Khao Manee should visit the vet for regular health checks, including the usual vaccinations.

Colors of the Khao Manee

“Khao Manee” is Thai and means something like “white jewel”. That says it all: These cats are only available in snow white. According to the breed standard, any markings, patterns, or other colored areas are not desired. However, kittens have small dark areas on their heads between their ears, but these disappear again in the first year of life.

Due to the simple monochrome and the oriental type, it can easily be confused with other white cat breeds. A look at the structure of the coat then provides information: This lies close to the body of the Khao Manee, has hardly any undercoat, and is very dense. Such fur is optimally adapted to the tropical climate of their country of origin.

The History of the Khao Manee

The Khao Manee is a very old breed of cat – however, its origin cannot be dated exactly. She is explicitly mentioned in several places in the “Book of Songs about Cats” (“Tamra Maew”), which must have been written between 1350 and 1767. So the breed is at least 250 years old. There it says, among other things: “(…) one, called the jewel cat, of white body, with eyes like precious stones.”

The writing documents that the snow-white cats were bred by the nobility. Thus, the Khao Manee has something authentically sovereign about it. In fact, there are stories that King Chulalongkorn (1853 – 1910) kept the bright-eyed white royal cats a secret from foreign guests, and instead passed off the Siamese as the royal velvet paw.

In addition, the cats played a representative role at court: during the coronation ceremony of the king of Siam in 1926, valets carried a Khao many in the procession to the throne room.

In fact, to this day there are only a few Khao Manee breeders outside of Thailand, making the breed something of an “insider tip” among cat lovers at the moment. Until twenty years ago, breeding took place exclusively in Thailand. Then the cat lover Colleen Freymouth from Phoenix, Arizona, managed to export some specimens of the breeding line, which was almost extinct at that time, to the USA. In doing so, she made an elementary contribution to the preservation of the breed.

The beautiful Thai cat is currently only officially recognized as a pedigree cat by TICA (The International Cat Association, USA) and GCCF (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, Great Britain). A binding breed standard is currently still in the process of being created.

If you are interested in a purebred Khao Manee as a pet, you have to dig deep into your pocket: the price is currently between 1,000 and 3,000 euros. In addition, there are always (forbidden) attempts to cross Khao Manee with other white breeds – so you should check the papers of both parents when purchasing.

Peculiarities of Khao Manee

Probably the most striking feature of the Khao Manee is their eyes: These appear conspicuously brilliant, which is due to the particularly light-colored tissue of their eyelids. Another attribute of this breed is the often different eye colors. For example, it is not uncommon for the animals to have one blue and one yellow or green eye. Such “odd eyes” are a desirable and coveted feature.

It has been shown that white cats with blue eyes have a genetic predisposition to deafness. That doesn’t mean all white cats can’t hear, but the odds are higher. Therefore, only animals that can be proven to have a sense of hearing should be used for breeding. In fact, the Khao Manee’s predisposition to hearing problems is less pronounced than some other white cat breeds, which is certainly a credit to responsible breeders.

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