Let’s talk about a seriously rare and treasured cat – the Khao Manee. The Khao Manee is a highly valued and treasured feline breed from Thailand, the former Kingdom of Siam. These cats are legendary not only for their looks and their revered ancestry but also for the fact they may well be the most expensive cat in the world.
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, really. Let’s look into what makes this cat so special; here are 13 things you need to know about the Khao Manee.
- 1 13 Things to Know about the Khao Manee Cat Breed
- 1.1 1. Khao Manee Is a Royal Cat From Thailand
- 1.2 2. Khao Manees Are Snow White
- 1.3 3. Khao Manee Features
- 1.4 4. The Breed is Officially Recognized
- 1.5 5. Khao Manees Are Fun And Social
- 1.6 6. They Get Along With Children and Other Pets
- 1.7 7. They Like Stay-at-Home Humans
- 1.8 8. Khao Manee Breeding Is Serious Business
- 1.9 9. Some Khao Manee Kittens Are Not White
- 1.10 10. It May Be the Rarest Breed in the World
- 1.11 11. Khao Manee Health Considerations
- 1.12 12. Khao Manee Care
- 1.13 13. They Are Mentioned in the Cat-Book Poems
- 2 Would You Get a Khao Manee?
13 Things to Know about the Khao Manee Cat Breed
1. Khao Manee Is a Royal Cat From Thailand
Like most animals that have an exotic background, Khao Manee are said to be royal cats. Oftentimes, this description infers that they were really adored by royalty – like Corgis are by Queen Elizabeth.
In Thailand, the Khao Manee is respected as an ancient breed of cat. They also bring good luck to those who love them 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 possess a unique cat trait where they are sometimes born with black spots or markings. Over time, these spots fade away. By the time a Khao Manee reaches two years old, they should be totally white.
In terms of the rest of their physical features, the Khao Manee also has large 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 of all the eye colors – the odd-eyed! Also known as heterochromia, it means the cat’s two eyes are different colors.
In general, Khao Manees can have oval-shaped green, gold, or blue eyes. But the most valuable cats (in terms of cost) have a combination – sometimes blue and green, sometimes 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 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 a cat’s eye suddenly changes 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 the Minskin 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 a natural one, with breeding only existing to isolate certain already-existing traits. The CFS (Cat Fanciers Association) and TICA (The International Cat Association) both accept the breed.
5. Khao Manees Are Fun And Social
Khao Manees tend to be fairly playful and are not shy. 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 quite attached to their owners and will sleep comfortably alongside or on top of you. 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. Because these cats are so inquisitive, they’ll take opportunities to climb and explore. Why not invest in a fine cat tree for your cat to call its own?
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 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 being 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 lots of people around, who can pay some attention to them, seems to be quite suitable for the Khao. This is a social cat, so if everyone in the house takes turns to spoil it with affection, it won’t mind at all.
8. Khao Manee Breeding Is Serious Business
The Khao Manee was said to be treasured by the royalty in Siam. It is a breed partly shrouded in mysticism and positive cultural mythology. 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. The initial breeders, therefore, put special effort into getting the breed recognized, in order to legitimize the breed and its value in the west.
A pure-bred Khao Manee with the key combination of traits can sell for between USD $7000 and $11 000 on average. Even those without the iconic markings can sell for USD $2000. There is one unconfirmed story that alleges a cat was once bought in Thailand for USD $4 million. 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, roughly, to more than USD $5 000.
9. Some Khao Manee Kittens Are Not White
Although Khao Manees are white, sometimes kittens are born with a different color. This is a product of genetics. 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 true color. So you may spot a black kitten in a litter from a Khao Manee cat! 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 with who both carry 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 Breed in the World
When it comes to Khao Manees, you’re talking about what may be the rarest bred cat in the world – and definitely rare in the US.
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 serious health problems. 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. The Khao Manee is no different, and 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 combined with regular visits to your animal health specialist can help keep your cat in top shape. Chances are this cat will enjoy a visit to 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.
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13. They Are Mentioned in the Cat-Book Poems
Legend has it that an ancient book from old Siam, the Tamra Maeo, mentioned several breeds considered special. The age of this book is unclear, but it’s certainly old enough to earn the Khao its description of ‘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 related to cats and cat breeds, originally written in secular Thai script. It had 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 did, you’d be among an elite club that includes Siamese royalty. You’d also own and name a gorgeous white cat, possibly with odd-colored eyes, and possessing a desire to meet and greet everyone that comes in the door.
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