Khao Manee

by Michael
(London, UK)

Khao Manee - Photo believed to be in the public domain

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Khao Manee – Photo believed to be in the public domain

The Khao Manee is a very rare breed of cat that I have only recently stumbled upon. It is a native of Thailand as is the Siamese, Burmese and Korat. Although the Burmese is also native to neighbouring countries. On that note is this cat breed also found in other Asian countries? The picture below is claimed to be a cat of this breed, which was taken in Tamsui, Taiwan. The cat has a collar so it is domesticated, although the cat could do with a bath, more an off-white it seems to me – apologies to the owner. The classic odd-eye colours are stunning.

This a pure white cat. The name is translated as “white gem”, which I think is apt as this is a very neat looking gem of a cat. There is a sense of purity about not only the coat but the nice, normal conformation although it is described as being of “foreign” type. This means that it is slender (cat body types). The odd-eyed cat of this breed is considered a good luck cat1.

The word ‘Khao’ is pronounced ‘Kow”1.


There is a club for this breed, the Khao Manee Cat Club. It was founded in 2009 and is the first for this breed. It is based in the UK. They call the Khao Manee, the ‘Royal Khao Manee’. Apparently the numbers are dwindling in Thailand and the work of the club not only involves promoting the bred but preserving it, they say. That means importing cats from Thailand. I also understand that cat(s) have been imported from the USA. There is a breeder there, Vinlands and Odessy who breed Norwegian Forest Cats and the Khao Manee.

I wonder whether it is a breed in the conventional sense in Thailand, by the way. If there are no cat associations in Thailand then it would not be possible to establish a pedigree. Without a pedigree a cat cannot be purebred. Without being purebred a cat cannot be a breed. Perhaps someone can tell me if this cat is a random bred cat in Thailand but a breed (or a breed to be) in the West. All natural cat breeds started life that way and this cat is called a natural cat breed. This is meant to distinguish the cat from created cats or hybrids.

The club is seeking to be affiliated with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), the premier cat association in the UK.

Link:  SORRY LINK BROKWN AT JAN 2014 AND DELETED — Khao Manee Cat Club — link broken.

Link: Khao Manee Yahoo Group


The cat was exclusively bred by Royalty in Thailand1 at one time and for hundreds of years. In the Thai book of cat poems (1350-1767) it is referred to as the Khao Plort (translated as ‘all white’). The Thai book of cat poems is called the Tamra Maew. The word ‘Maew’ is interesting don’t you think? It is very close to the word ‘meow’, the sound a cat makes.

The history of the Khao Manee runs parallel to that of the other breeds that originate in Thailand. It is also interesting that four breeds originate from Thailand yet in Thailand they are not seen as breeds but a type of cat (I am making that supposition and stand to be corrected).

As at April 2010, this cat breed is new in the West. It is yet to be accepted by the associations. Applications have been made, as I understand it, to TICA for registration only status and GCCF.

At April 2010 there is no formal breed standard (TICA) or standard of points (GCCF)1.

Informal Breed Standard

This has not been mentioned by others as far as I can see, but I will suppose that the white coat is caused by the presence of the dominant white gene (W).

As mentioned this cat is foreign type, which means slender. This gives a lithe appearance to a cat. The ears are larger than average but unnaturally so. The coat is short and lies close to the body. This seems to be a single coat, which means there is little or no undercoat1. See cat hair.

The eye colour, which I refer to below, is affected by the same gene that produces the white coat, the dominant W gene as I understand it.

Eyes can be blue, amber, yellow or green and the most prized eye colour is blue one side and one of the other colours on the other side. These are odd-eyed cats. Odd-eyed cats are found amongst all white cats. The white Turkish Angora is another example of a prized type of cat within a breed.


The W gene not only masks (“epistatic”) all other colours but it also affects eye colour and sometimes the inner ear is also affected, causing deafness. If a cat has odd eyes, one blue and one orange/yellow, deafness may occur on the blue eye side. In a survey of 185 cats, 25% had normal hearing and yellow eyes, 31% had normal hearing and blue eyes, 7% were deaf and had yellow eyes and 37% were deaf and had blue eyes2. See Cat Coats White for more on white coats.

Genetic research is being carried out by Professor Leslie Lyons of UC Davis in California on deafness in white cats. The Khao Manee Cat Club is involved with this.

Please note that this section is not intended to criticise this cat breed. I am simply reporting the facts as I know them. If I am wrong please leave a comment. However, deafness must concern the club and possibly places a question mark over the viability of the Khao Manee, I would have thought.

Odd Eyes

The dominant W gene and piebald S (white spotting) gene produce odd eyed cats. 60-70% of odd-eyed cats that are white can hear3. That leaves quite a high proportion who have hearing problems. In Turkey they say the eyes should be as green as the lake and as blue as the sky5.

Breeders (at April 2010)

– link broken – Chrissy Russell – Hampshire, England
Kinabalu Cats  – Mrs Tina Turner – Hampshire, England
Odyessy – Janet Poulsen – Minnesota, USA

The cost of a Khao Manee is between £800 – £1000 approximately4.


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3. Wikipedia
5. Flickr photographer: echo813

From Khao Manee to Fringe Cat Breeds

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Khao Manee

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Nov 22, 2011
Shelter Khao Manee
by: Anonymous

I have a Khao Manee cat that I adopted as a kitten from the SPCA here in Singapore. I volunteer there and I have seen about three of this breed in the past four years. No doubt they have been imported from Thailand as there are no breeders here.

Apr 22, 2011
Khao Manees
by: Chrissy

Hi Peter

I am so sorry to read that of the loss of your Khao Manee. They are indeed amazing pets.

I can assure you that Khao Manee cats can be bought, it was a long time ago that King Rama V kept his KMs and Khun Namdee Witta does not sell his kittens which are reputedly descended from that line,

However, here in England I have 6 Khao Manees, 2 of which were born in Thailand, and the other 4 all recently descended from Thai born Khao Manees exported to the USA. I have a friend and fellow breeder of KMs who lives just down the road to me, who also has Thai born Khao Manees. We both have registrations and travel documents to prove this.

I do hope that you find another Khao Manee and that you spend many happy years with your diamond cat.

Best wishes

Chrissy Russell
Secretary Khao Manee Cat Club

Apr 20, 2011
by: Peter Welsh

The Khao Manee cannot be bought in Thailand, being considered a Royal Cat. It was bred by King Rama 5th and some of the offspring are still kept in Bangkok. It generally has one bright blue and one yellow eye. The Thai language is tonal so many words written phonetically in English can have different meanings depending on the tone used.(eg ‘Mai’ can mean no; burn, silk, new or wood) Khao Manee in this case is translated as meaning ‘Diamond Eye’.
A Khao Manee kitten turned up at our house in Thailand in very poor condition some three years ago and made her home with us and the two dogs. Sadly she died Feb 2011 after a long fight with cancer. We called her ‘Pet’ meaning ‘diamond’ and I still carry her photo with me. She was priceless.

Feb 25, 2011
Khao Manee Standard of Points
by: Chrissy Russell

There is a proposed Standard of Points for GCCF, compiled by the Khao Manee Cat Club. It can be seen on the club website at

Chrissy Russell
Khao Manee Cat Club

Jun 11, 2010
Deafness in white cats
by: Janet Poulsen

There is a lot of misinformation online about deafness in white cats. Particularly, there is a study from 1973 by Brown and Bergsma that included some tables indicating a startlingly large number of deaf white cats in a particular study population. However, very few people who post these “statistics” actually look at the original study. It was not a study about deafness in white cats. It was a study to try to find an analog to the human Wardenberg’s Syndrome, which has symptoms including, but not limited to deafness, lack of pigment in the skin and hair and sometimes odd eyes or bright blue eyes in people who do not carry genes for blue eyes. So, Brown and Bergsma actually chose a population of study cats FOR a high degree of deafness. When they were bred to each other, a high number of deaf kittens were born. What this outcome indicates to me is that if they could select FOR deafness, then there must be polygenes involved in the expression of deafness in cats with Dominant White and it should be possible to select AGAINST deafness. However, the only way to know what the polygenes are up to is to breed white to white. I think it is likely that the long history in Thailand of breeding Khao Manee white to white may have significantly lowered the incidence of deafness in this breed. Of 21 white KM born in my home, all to white parents, none are deaf. (I may have a deaf one in my most recent litter of 4)I am an audiologist and have a profoundly deaf daughter.

Apr 18, 2010
Khao Manee
by: Chrissy Russell

Hi there. Excellent article on the Khao Manee. However I would like to make a couple of comments.

The Khao Manee breed has evolved in the same way that the Siamese, Burmese and Korat evolved. They have been selectively bred i nThailand for centuries. However, the Thais did not keep pedigrees, this is a Western registry idea. The Siamese evolved from the Vichienmat, the Burmese from the Thong Daeng, and the Korat from the Si-Sawat, the Khao Manee from the Khao Plort. Only since arriving to the West have pedigrees been kept from all of these breeds. The mother of the Burmese breed, Wong Mau, was a cat of unknown origin from Thailand. In this capacity, the Khao Manee is as a natural Thai breed as its three other cousins.

On the question of deafness, anecdotal evidence is beginning to show that the Khao Manee seems to produce a much lower incidence of deafness than many other white cats. As you rightly report, we (the Khao Manee Cat Club), are working with Professor Leslie Lyons, a feline geneticist at UC Davis in California, to try to isolate if there is a genetic cause for this. We are appealing for cheek swabs from white cats of all breeds, hearing or deaf. Further information can be found on the club website at

In the interests of responsible breeding. Our UK breeding policy states that all Khao Manees that are to be used for breeding MUST obtain a BAER certificate confirming that they have full hearing.

As far as I am aware, there are only Khao Manee breeders in the US and Europe.

I hope this clarifies things a little.

For further information please visit the club website or contact me (details also ont he club website)

Kind regards

Chrissy Russell
Hon Secretary
Khao Manee Cat Club

Apr 06, 2010
“Khao Manee” cat
by: Rudolph.A.Furtado

As a cat owner from Mumbai i am just confused at the different types of rare “Pedigreed cats” of “Asian Origin” bred in Europe and America. Its very sad that in India there is no “RECOGNISED CAT CLUB” nor any “CAT SHOWS” unlike “Dog Shows” which have become a “Status Symbol’ with some “German Shepherd bloodline’s” selling upwards of Rs 1,00,000(above US$’s 2500 approx), astronomical sum considering the average Indian’s wages.
The “BENGAL CAT”, a totally Indian name is “EXTINCT” in India but a a prized exotic species in other Country’s as also the “BOMBAY CAT”, a miniature replica of the panther.
I am sure the “Khao Manee” might be totally unknown in its native Thailand by the average Thaipet fancier.
I hope that a “Cat show” is started in mumbai where cat pet owners can at least display their pets and meet like-minded fanciers.
In fact , average Indian city living conditions are more conducive for keeping cats as pets, since they are easier to keep in an apartment, unlike dogs,who require regular outdoor exercises and can’t be left alone for long hours at a stretch.
I am just waiting to display my traditional Persian cats “Matahari” and “Matata” at a local cat show, akin to my late dachshund bitch”Lucky”(1984-1994) who won numerous prizes at the local canine club.

Rudolph avatar

Apr 06, 2010
by: Anonymous


I’ve just purchased a kitten, that has the same characteristics that you have mentioned (except that mine has blue and green eyes that are not quite as intense as the ones in the photos, but then again he is only 11 weeks old). But I was a bit confused when you mentioned that they are only breed in the UK and USA, as I live in Australia.

So I just wanted to know if you or anyone else out there might know if these cats available in Australia, or do I just happen to have a cat that looks very similar to the Khao Manee.



4 thoughts on “Khao Manee”

  1. I have adopted a cat from street,all characteristics of khao manee is the same as a bit confuse if he is a khao manee,i dont know how to identify the diamond cut in khao manee eyes..pls help

    • I am not sure where you are. Which country do you live in? That would help answer your question. Thanks for visiting and asking.

  2. My cat had the same characteristics as the khao manee, white with a blue eye and a green eye, she was a rescue cat from the street. Had him 10 yrs. He recently died of Barconelli leukemia. The sweetest cat ever. Sure miss him.

    • He sounded like he was an interesting and unusual cat with a sweet pesonality. Margie, I know how you feel. I miss mine too. Thanks for visiting and sharing. Take Care.


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