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Khao Manee

Other names : Khao Plort, White Gem, Diamond eye

Khao Manee
Khao Manee

Literally the ‘White Gems’ of Thailand, Khao Manees are both rare and mysterious. They are an ancient breed, mentioned in literature dating back to the 14th century. They’re considered lucky, and were once reserved for Siam’s (Thai) royalty.  Khao Manees are named after their immaculate white coats, and their other name, ‘Diamond Eye’ is based upon their sparkling eyes, which resemble two precious stones (ideally of two different colours).

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Key facts about the Khao Manee

  • Life expectancy : Between 10 and 15 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful, Intelligent
  • Type of coat : Short
  • Price : Around £500

Physical characteristics of the Khao Manee

Adult size

Female cat Between 10 and 12 in
Male cat Between 12 and 14 in

Male Khao Manees are larger than their female counterparts. They both reach adult size around the age of 1 year.

Weight

Female cat Between 4 and 11 lb
Male cat Between 7 and 11 lb

Coat colour

White. The only exception to pure white Khao Manees is that they sometimes have a grey patch between their ears. However this tuft of grey hair disappears completely as they get older.
 

Coat patterns

Solid / plain

Type of coat

Short

Eye colour

Odd, varied, clear blue, yellow, green

Description

Khao Manees are semi-foreign type cats. They are sleek, athletic, and well proportioned. Their bodies are long and slender, as well as flexibility and delicate, although they don’t go quite resemble their cousins, Siamese. Their white fur is short, silky and shiny, and they have almost no undercoat. Their head, which is heart shaped, and their prominent cheekbones, form the perfect setting for the two ‘diamonds’ evoked by their eyes. Supposedly, Khao Manees with two different coloured eyes (e.g. one blue eye and one yellow/yellow-green eye), bring the most luck! Nevertheless, cats with two matching eyes (blue, yellow or, in rare cases, green) are still very lovable!

Temperament

Affectionate

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After a busy day of playing, you can expect Khao Manees to show you heaps of love and affection!

Playful

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These cats are very active and energetic, and absolutely love to play. They can even play fetch!

Calm

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These energetic cats balance their moments of madness with more gentle moments of calm.

Intelligent

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Just like other Thai breeds, their curiosity rivals their playfulness, making them very intelligent cats.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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Due to their sociable nature, most Khao Manees will go and meet visitors/strangers.

Independent

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These little rascals want to be involved in all household activities, even those in the bathroom...

Behaviour of the Khao Manee

Chatty

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Despite being only distant cousins of Siamese cats, they share their chatty nature.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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These White Gems, (as they are sometimes known) need exercise to stimulate themselves and to maintain their agility.

Tendency to run away

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They are probably too attached to their humans to want to run away, but do not underestimate their curiosity!

Greedy / Gluttony

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In general, they are not known as greedy cats.

Compatibility

Khao Manee and cats

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Although in general they prefer humans, they can get on well with other cats.

Khao Manee and dogs

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As they are very sociable cats, they can get on incredibly well with dogs if proper introductions are made.

Khao Manee and children

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As long as children are respectful, Khao Manees love playing with children.

Khao Manee and the elderly

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The White Gems’ high energy levels can be a bit much for elderly people!

Price

The rarity of this breed explains their high price! They cost approximately £500 (for a neutered adult with non-optimal competition characteristics) and can cost up a lot of money for a kitten imported directly from Thailand. It will also cost around £25/month to support them.

Grooming

A simple weekly brush is all they need. It is also a good idea to clean their eyes when necessary.

Hair loss

They don’t shed much fur as they have no undercoat.

Nutrition of the Khao Manee

There are no particularities regarding the nutrition of ‘Diamond Eye’ cats. A well balanced, high quality diet will help keep the cat healthy. Interactive bowls are a better way of feeding them than standard bowls.

Health of the Khao Manee

Life expectancy

These ‘lucky’ cats live between 10 and 15 years.

Strong / robust

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As they come from a hot country, they aren’t particularly well adapted to the cold.

Tendency to put on weight

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They have a very low tendency to put on weight. However these Diamond Eye cats are not immune to obesity if their diet and daily exercise are not adapted correctly.

Common illnesses

Periodontal diseases and other ‘alley cat’ diseases and illness are quite possible in this breed, as with all breeds. White cats with one or two blue eyes, often have a higher tendency for deafness than other cats, and is considered a common problem. However, although it is possible for Khao Manees to be deaf, it is less common than in all other blue-eyed white cats. This illustrates the meticulous work of early breeders of these cats.

Reproduction

Breeding White Jewels is not easy. Once jealously guarded in their country of origin, there are still very few breeders in the West. The breed is only recognized by TICA and the GCCF. Despite crossbreeding being forbidden, several tricksters have attempted to pass off ordinary white cats for Diamond Eye cats. Future buyers must be vigilant.

Good to know

White Khao Manee can produce coloured kittens. They are not recognized as Khao Manee, but are still kept in breeding programs. These coloured kittens appear from time to time because the gene responsible for their white coat (W) is a dominant gene, whose function is to mask the true colour of their hair. White is not a colour, but rather an absence of color in feline genetics. True White Gems are either homozygous (WW) or heterozygous (Ww). By breeding two heterozygous parents, a small percentage of kittens will not inherit the (W) gene and their colour will be unmasked. Breeders will then breed these cats with white individuals to get back to the white "colour" of the breed.

Origins and history

In the fourteenth century a Thai collection of poems about cats, the Tamra Maew appeared. Little, completely white cats with mercury eyes are mentioned. This is the first evidence of Khao Manee, then known as Khao Plort. The breed is therefore very old, despite our current ignorance of them.
Legend has it that the King of Siam (Thailand), Chulalongkorn (or Rama V), hid the very existence of these beautiful cats from the prying eyes of British and French travellers. Instead, referring to Siamese as the cats of the kings in their place. Whether this is true or not, the Khao Manee remained confined within Thailand's borders until 1999. At that time, it was threatened with extinction. An endangered species specialist, Colleen Freymouth, imported the first individuals from Thailand to the United States and set up a breeding and conservation program. Even today, very few catteries breed Khao Manees. 

Names

Good names for a Khao Manee: Elisha, Kola, River, Winter