Move over, rabbit’s foot. The Korat cat is a living good-luck charm in his home country of Thailand, where he is also known as the Si-Sawat cat. The silver-blue cats with the emerald-green eyes are said to date to the 14th century based on their depiction in ancient literature. They were popular gifts, always presented in pairs, and had special meaning when given to brides because of their association with prosperity and fertility. The name Korat comes from the region in northeast Thailand where the cats are thought to have originated.
It’s unclear when Korat cat first came to the West. A cat that resembled a Korat cat was exhibited at a show in England in 1896, but whether it was truly a Korat (pronounced ko-raht) or simply a self-blue Siamese—meaning solid-colored—is not known.
The first known Korats imported into the United States arrived in 1959. Appropriately, they had been given as gifts to an American couple who were returning to the U.S. after the husband had retired from the Foreign Service. The Cat Fanciers Association recognized the breed in 1967, two years after Korat car breeders founded the Korat Cat Fanciers Association to promote the breed.
Wherever they are found, all Korats can climb their family tree all the way back to Thailand. They are a natural breed and have never been outcrossed to any other breed as part of their development or to create another breed. They are recognized by all the major cat associations.
The smart and opinionated Korat is possessive of his people. He likes to stay close by and won’t desert them for visitors. He gives his heart to one or two people whose company he prefers, or with whom he spends the most time, but he’s certainly willing to accept affection from others as well.
Be aware of this propensity before you get a Korat cat, just in case having a cat follow you around all the time would drive you crazy. A Korat is not a loner. He does best with companionship, whether that is someone who works at home or another animal. There’s a reason, it seems, that traditionally they were always given in pairs. A Korat who is frequently left alone or ignored may develop behavior problems such as aggression or separation anxiety.
That’s not to say that adult Korats can’t switch their affections. Cats placed in new homes quickly adapt and bond closely with their new family.
This is an energetic cat who enjoys learning tricks, playing fetch and even walking on leash. It’s easy to teach household rules to the Korat if you reward him with petting, a happy “Good cat” or a treat. Limit corrections to a loud “No!” or hand clap.
If you have multiple cats, be sure you have plenty of toys to go around. The Korat did not learn to share in kittygarten, and he can be stubborn about giving up toys or other objects that he views as his.
Although he can be bold with definite likes and dislikes, the Korat is generally a quiet cat who likes a quiet environment. Although he’s not known for being talkative, he is capable of making many different sounds, from a chirp to a scream, when he wants to get his point across.
Choose the Korat if you enjoy having a lap cat. He will be pleased to fulfill this desire any time you like.
Both pedigreed cats and mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic in nature. Korats are generally healthy, but they have a couple of issues buyers should be aware of. A genetic neuromuscular degenerative disease as well as low body fat, which can make them sensitive to anesthesia.
GM1 and GM2 gangliosidosis occur when cats lack particular enzymes that are necessary for proper functioning of the nervous system. Fortunately, tests are available to identify cats that carry the diseases, so the condition is uncommon.
Korats typically have a low percentage of body fat, so veterinarians should take this into account when determining how much and what type of anesthesia to given when a Korat is undergoing any type of surgery.
Be sure to ask a breeder about the incidence of health problems in her lines and what testing has been done for any that are genetic in nature. In the case of GM1 or GM2, both parents should have been tested, and if one is positive or a carrier, the kittens should be tested as well.
Actually, the Korat’s short single coat requires little grooming. Comb it weekly to remove any dead hairs. A bath is rarely necessary.
Brush the teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is best, but weekly brushing is better than nothing. Trim the nails every couple of weeks. Wipe the corners of the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge. Use a separate area of the cloth for each eye so you don’t run the risk of spreading any infection.
Check the ears weekly. Avoid using cotton swabs, which can damage the interior of the ear.
Keep the litter box spotlessly clean. Cats are very particular about bathroom hygiene.
It’s a good idea to keep a Korat cat as an indoor-only cat to protect him from diseases spread by other cats, attacks by dogs or coyotes, and the other dangers that face cats who go outdoors, such as being hit by a car. Korats who go outdoors also run the risk of being stolen by someone who would like to have such a beautiful cat without paying for it.
Coat Color And Grooming
With his silver-tipped blue coat and huge green eyes—“as sparkling as the dewdrops on a lotus leaf”—the Korat is one of Thailand’s most beautiful exports. He is noted as well for his heart-shaped head, large ears and alert expression.
A Korat’s eyes are blue at birth. As he matures, the eyes turn to amber, the pupil surrounded by a fringe of green. By the time the cat is two to four years old, the eyes have become the brilliant green for which the breed is known.
The short single coat has hairs that are a light blue at the roots, then deepen, ending in a silver tip, producing a halo effect. Unlike some breeds, the coat has its silver-blue color from the time kittens are born, although kittens may have what are known as “ghost tabby” markings. These should disappear with maturity. The Korat’s nose leather, lips and paw pads range from dark blue to lavender.
Children And Other Pets
Korats will appreciate the attentions of a child who treats them respectfully, and they enjoy playing and learning tricks. With proper supervision, they can be a good companion for children.
Like many cats that originated in Southeast Asia, Korats tend to prefer other Korats. They can get along with other cats, and with dogs, but they expect to have pride of place. This may or may not go over well with other animals. The Korat likes to have company. However, and if he spends a lot of time with another cat or dog, they will likely become close friends.