- Lifespan: 10-12 years
- Physique: Muscular, athletic
- Best Suited For: Families with children, singles with other pets
- Temperament: Active, intelligent, outgoing, talkative, playful, warm
Developed in Siam, (now known as Thailand) centuries ago, the Khao Manee was, for hundreds of years, exclusively owned by royalty. They are mentioned in the Thai book of cat poems, the Tamra Maew as the Khao Port or “all white.” The name Khao Manee translates literally to “White Gem,” and they are also called the Diamond Eye cat. Fiercely protected against export, this breed did not leave Thailand until 1999 when the first one was brought to the United States by Colleen Freymuth, who began a breeding program to preserve these unique animals since their numbers are dwindling in their native land. The breed is not yet recognized by any cat registries in the United States, and Khao Manee are still quite rare although they have been approved for exhibition. The Khao Manee Cat Club gained pre-affiliation status with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in October 2011. This is not a manufactured or designed breed, and is native to Thailand.
Even when hearing impaired (often an issue in white cats), the Khao Manee is a playful, active cat that loves attention.
Even when hearing impaired (often an issue in white cats), the Khao Manee is a playful, active cat that loves attention. They are an excellent addition to a family as they get along well with children and with other pets. If owned by a single person, it’s best to have other cats in the house since a solo Khao Manee will get lonely. Be prepared to buy lots of toys and to participate in one-on-one games with this cat. They require stimulation to be happy and, since they are a close relative to the Siamese, they have the voice to tell you when they’re displeased about something! Loyal and affectionate, the Khao Manee is a definite “people” cat.
The Khao Manee is born with a coat of pure white. Some kittens may have a dark patch on their heads, but that disappears within the first year of life. The Khao Manee’s eyes are one of the most distinctive traits of this breed. Individuals can have two blue eyes, or one blue and one amber or green. (The preference is for the odd eye coloration.) Medium sized with the bone structure to match, Khao Manee have somewhat large ears on a wedge-shaped head with prominent cheekbones. They have a very upright stance. Some Khao Manee are born partially or completely deaf, which is typical of white cats with blue eyes. In body conformation, they are athletic and muscular.
The Khao Manee is a low maintenance cat that requires only minimal grooming. Since they have almost no undercoat, they shed very little. A weekly brushing should remove any loose hair quite effectively. It is important to check their skin routinely, however, especially the area around the ears, since all white cats are prone to developing skin cancer, especially if they like to lie in the sun.
Photo credit: peefay/Shutterstock; wasanajai/Shutterstock; sunipix55/Shutterstock