Let’s talk about a seriously rare and treasured breed– the Khao Manee. These cats are a highly valued and treasured feline breed from Thailand, the former Kingdom of Siam. Khao Manee is legendary not only for its looks and revered ancestry but also because it may be the world’s most expensive cat.
You may come across them by another name: the Khao Plort or an English variation – The White Gem or Diamond Eye cat. This sounds pretty exotic, but it’s part of the mystique.
Let’s look into what makes this cat so special. Here are 13 things you need to know about the Khao Manee.
13 Things to Know About the Khao Manee Cat Breed
As a novice, it may be tricky to figure out how to identify a Khao Manee from the litter. But fret not. These 13 facts will guide you to decide what to expect from Khao Manee kittens and what to know before buying this expensive breed.
1. Khao Manee Is a Royal Cat From Thailand
Like most animals that have an exotic background, Khao Manee is said to be a royal cat breed. Often, this description infers that they were adored by royalty – like Corgis are by Queen Elizabeth.
In Thailand, the Khao Manee is respected as an ancient cat breed. They also bring good luck to those who love and revere them (don’t all cats do that?)
2. Khao Manees Are Snow White
They’re not just white: they’re snow-white and have short hair that runs smoothly over their bodies.
Khao Manees is a unique cat breed in that they have a trait where they are sometimes born with black spots or markings. Over time, these spots fade away. And, when a Khao Manee reaches two years old, they should be completely white.
Regarding the rest of their physical features, the Khao Manee also has big ears. Almost comically, they point outwards and away from each other. They are slim, athletic, and have longish legs. At most, they will weigh 8-10 lbs fully grown.
3. Khao Manee Features
One of the most striking features of the Khao Manee is their eyes. True aficionados look for the most exciting eye colors – the odd-eyed! Also known as heterochromia, it means eyes of different colors.
Khao Manees generally have oval-shaped green, gold, or blue eyes. But the most valuable cats (in terms of cost) have a combination – sometimes blue and green, occasionally blue and gold. To see a cat with two different colored eyes is always mesmerizing.
As far as studies can tell, the condition does not impact the quality of their eyesight in any way. Technically, all cats have the genetic potential to develop the condition, but it is more common in favorable genetic contexts like selective breeding.
Something to note: Most cats will display the condition after a few weeks. If you notice your cat keeping one eye closed or their eye suddenly changing color when they are older than three months, it may be advisable to check with a vet.
4. The Breed is Officially Recognized
Sometimes exotic and designed breeds like Minskin cats struggle to acquire recognition from the breeding associations.
The Khao Manee has no such difficulties, as it is not a designer cat per se. The breed is natural, with breeding only existing to isolate certain existing traits. Both the CFS (Cat Fanciers Association) and TICA (The International Cat Association) accept the breed.
5. Khao Manees Are Fun And Social
Khao Manees aren’t shy at all and are fairly playful. They love to explore their environments and are active during their play sessions. They are also social and will gladly play with owners, whether with a fine set of cat toys or a piece of string.
They are attached to their owners and will comfortably sleep next to or on top of them. And who knows, if they do indeed bring good luck, it’s great to have such a positive talisman close by.
Make sure to provide plenty of high spaces. These cats are very curious and will grab opportunities to climb and explore. Investing in a fine cat tree for your cat to call its own is one way to keep them busy.
The Khao Manee also has one other quirky trait: it is quite talkative. It will happily tell you about its feelings whenever the need strikes. Some owners insist that they have fully interactive conversations much of the time. Whatever the case, a good chat over a play session with a cat toy will likely be good for both of you.
6. They Get Along With Children and Other Pets
Pets and children are always a two-way street. As much as a cat can be trained or conditioned to be friendly, children also need to be guided on the treatment of pets. This will ensure a harmonious relationship between all members of the household.
If you take the time to socialize your Khao Manee with the kids from early on, you’ll enjoy the naturally playful and outgoing cat to the fullest. It’s still advised to supervise the interactions between children and pets.
The same can be said when introducing the cat to other pets. In general, Khao Manees are a friendly breed and get along well with others, including dogs.
7. They Like Stay-at-Home Humans
These are one of those pets that don’t do very well when left alone for long stretches of time. Separation anxiety comes from leaving your cat alone, feeling neglected, and, ultimately, being bored. This may manifest in unwanted behavior or even physical signs of stress.
On the other hand, a busy house with many people around, who can pay some attention to them, seems quite suitable for the Khao. This is a social cat, so if everyone in the house takes turns spoiling it with affection, it won’t mind at all.
8. Khao Manee Price
A pure-bred Khao Manee can sell for 2000 USD. However, if they have the key combination of traits, a Khao Manee price can be as high as 7000 USD to 11 000 USD on average.
One unconfirmed story alleges that a cat was once bought in Thailand for 4 million USD. The funds were apparently used to build a monastery.
Another story reported in the New Indian Express tells of a man who found what appeared to be a stray Khao Manee in the jungle. The man alleges that he has been offered Rs 3-4 Lakh for the cat. That translates to more than $5 000.
9. Some Khao Manee Kittens Are Not White
Looking after a kitten of this royal stature isn’t too tricky, but what may surprise you is their odd coat colors. Did you know that although Khao Manees are white, sometimes kittens are born with a different color?
White isn’t technically a color, but the gene that makes Khaos white is dominant, masking the cat’s actual color. However, from time to time, the gene recedes, and the kitten is born with its true color.
So it’s not uncommon to spot a Khao Manee with black spots or markings between a litter from a Khao Manee cat! Unfortunately, these color-coated kittens are not classified as Khao Manees. They can, however, be used in breeding, in which case many of their kittens may be born white.
The genetic principle is as follows: A cat arising from two cats carrying the appropriate recessive gene might not be born with the masking gene.
At the high end of the scale, a cat with odd-colored eyes, a pure white coat, and an official breeding pedigree is pricey. On the other hand, several “defects” like age, health concerns, or deafness (many white cats are deaf) can devalue a cat.
10. It May Be the Rarest Cat Breed in the World
When it comes to Khao Manees, you’re talking about what may be the rarest bred cat in the world. The Khao Manee was said to be treasured by royalty in Siam (present-day Thailand). It is a breed partly shrouded in mysticism and positive cultural mythology.
Outside of Thailand, they are quite rare in the western world. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that the cat was introduced to the west. The first cats were brought to the US in 1999 for breeding, while a second group was introduced to France in 2004.
Because the cat has such a storied and revered history, it was likely always going to be considered an expensive breed to acquire. Therefore, the initial breeders put special effort into recognizing the breed to legitimize it and its value in the west.
11. Khao Manee Health Considerations
Khaos have a decent average lifespan of 10-12 years. As with most pedigree cats, there are often questions about whether they are prone to specific defects and illnesses. Here are some potential observations that have been noted in the breed.
While they are not any more prone to gingivitis and gum diseases than other exotic breeds, owners may want to keep an eye on the dental health of the Khao Manee. Gums can become swollen and may even bleed when gum disease goes untreated.
It may lead to more severe health problems. Thus a vet checkup once a year is recommended to identify problems.
For reasons not totally clear, some strains of the US breeding program have produced cats with a kink in the tail. However, it is not normally health impactful or life-threatening. A kinked tail is often passed down from a parent cat.
As mentioned, all-white breeds have a statistical proneness to deafness. And the Khao Manee is no different. The condition can be more prevalent in Khaos with blue eyes. With all that said, studies show that well-bred, blue-eyed Khaos are still less likely to be deaf than other blue-eyed white breeds.
12. Khao Manee Care
In general, a well-balanced cat diet will suffice for a Khao Manee. A high-quality brand of cat food and regular visits to your animal health specialist can help keep your cat in top shape. Chances are this cat will enjoy visiting the vet since they are outgoing and friendly.
A Khao Manee cat’s coat is fairly short and smooth. This makes them easy to groom and care for. Like the aristocrats they are, they do a good job grooming themselves, although an occasional brush will help to get rid of any additional loose hairs.
13. They Are Mentioned in the Cat-Book Poems
Legend has it that an ancient book from old Siam, the Tamra Maeo, mentioned several special breeds.
The age of this book is unclear, but it’s certainly old enough to earn the Khao its description of an ‘ancient breed.’ Luck, longevity, and wealth are associated with this beautiful cat – and if an ancient text mentions them, there must be some truth to the legend!
The Tamra Maeo (Treatise on Cats or Cat-Book Poems) is a collection of texts on cats and cat breeds, initially written in secular Thai script. It has a very exclusive list of cats within its pages. Only 17 cats were listed as “auspicious” or special, and the Khao Manee was one of them.
Would You Get a Khao Manee?
If you happen to have a few thousand dollars to spend on a cat, would you consider a Khao Manee?
If you do, you’d be part of an elite club with Siamese royalty and rare cat breed owners. Besides this, a Khao Manee’s characteristics are also sure to tug at your heartstrings. They are playful, friendly, and love attention and pampering (possibly due to their royal blood?)
You’d also own and name a gorgeous white cat, possibly with odd-colored eyes and a tendency to want to meet and greet everyone at the door.
This Khao Manee cat post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through and make a purchase I will most likely receive a small commission. This won’t affect the price you pay. Just wanted to make sure you knew.