Cat Breeds 101: Khao Manee

Cat Breeds 101: Khao ManeePhoto – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0

The Khao Manee is a relatively new and little-known breed in the Western world, but it is an old and revered breed in its home country, Thailand. Strikingly beautiful, this cat is characterized by close-lying, silky soft, brilliant white fur and large, jewel-like eyes that may be blue, yellow, green, or gold – but the most valuable Khao Manees are odd eyed, that is, one eye is a different color from the other. [1]

The name Khao Manee means “white jewel,” which reiterates just how much the Thai people valued this cat. So highly regarded was the Khao Manee that it was even bred by one of Thailand’s greatest and most respected kings, Chulalongkorn the Great (1953–1910). Incidentally, the Khao Manee is a natural breed, not an engineered one. [2]

One of the reasons why the Thai people held such great esteem for the Khao Manee is an ancient belief that this cat brings good fortune. There is also a legend that the Khao Manee’s eyes hold special powers, so when a Khao Manee passes away, one ought to retrieve its eyes to gain the benefit of their magic. [2]

In the West, we simply like the cat because it is gorgeous to look at, fun to live with, and requires very little care, hardly more than a weekly brushing to keep its undercoat in good condition, and of course, regular nail clipping and tooth cleaning.

Unfortunately, though, there are a few health issues that are characteristic of this breed: First, the Khao Manee is prone to deafness. Apparently, the gene that causes the breed to have a pure white coat also causes a disorder in the animal’s inner ear, which results in partial or complete deafness that is often present at birth. [2] Second, your perfect-looking Khao Manee may produce a kitten or two with a kinked tail, another aberration that tends to appear in this breed. Third, since the Khao Manee has white fur, it may have a higher risk for skin cancer than other darker-colored cats. [3]

If the Khao Manee is neutered, most of these health issues need not become a cause for concern. Those who invite a Khao Manee into their homes find themselves in the company of a playfully sociable pet, a little naughty at times, but always graceful and affectionate. If you’re the type who enjoys giving and getting a lot of attention from your cat, the Khao Manee may be a good option for you. And although we cannot promise that this “luck-bringing cat” will help you to win the lottery, the friendship and trust it gives you will make you feel like a winner nonetheless. [1]

[1] Khaomanee. The International Cat Association.
[2] Khao Manee. Animal Planet.
[3] Khao Manee. Wikipedia.

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1 Comment

  • By Yoswin, May 6, 2018 @ 10:24 am

    Greetings from Thailand. Nice article here but the facts about Khaomanee’s origin here is quite exaggerated. Here are some low-downs. 1. Before the time Khaomanee traveled outside Thailand it was an inexpensive authentic breed alternative to the expensive Korat and Supalak breeds. 2. The King Rama V (Chulalongkorn) never bred the Khaomanee himself but the breed was his favorite and so he just promoted it to the popularity among his vassals. 3. Cats in Thailand was never been that much esteemed, people just have cats for the purpose of keeping away house mice and rats. 4. The story about people retrieving Khaomanee’s eyes on passing away is only true if the cat was a special one having ‘diamond eye’ syndrome of which eye(s) having cataract and became stone like crystal(s) clear like gem (which is where it gains the name “Ta Petch” meaning “Diamond eye”). 5. The story about Khaomanee’s special power is based on the fact that they can gaze at a small creatures and paralyze it for easy prey like lion or tiger does with their preys; I witnessed a Khaomanee gazing a little gecko and had them fall from wall to its snack myself so many times.

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