The Korat cat is an ancient breed and is as much intriguing and mysterious as the land of its birth, i.e., Siam (now Thailand). This breed has been documented in ancient manuscripts dating back to the 1300s. For centuries, the population of Thailand had revered the Korat as a symbol of good fortune. This is also reflected in its name of Si-Sawat (see-sah-what) given in its native country. ‘Si’ means color and ‘Sawat’ means prosperity or money. Thus, a literal translation would put it together as the color of money.
Although the Korat breed was likely common in most provinces of Thailand, it is probably named after the Khorat Plateau region, a highland in north-eastern Thailand. It was suggested that King Chulalongkorn (1853 – 1910, the oldest son of King Mongkut) was the one who gave the name. He has also commissioned a copy of The Cat-Book Poems, in which the Korat was included as one of the 17 breed of lucky cats, to be done on a special khoi paper. This document, known as the Smud Khoi of Cats can still be found in a secured glass case in Bangkok’s National Museum.
The first Korats that appeared in North America were imported by Breeder Jean Johnson of Gresham, Oregon. She was given a pair of Korats – brother and sister - when she and her husband returned to the United States in 1959. Two more other Korats, a male named Nai Sri Sawat Miow, and a female named Nahajaya Dok Rak, were imported by breeder Gail Woodward in 1961. Yet another female, Me-Luk, were added by Gertrude Sellars to Johnson’s Korats. These cats served as the foundation of the Korat breed in North America.
Interest in this cat began to breed among other fanciers, and the period of 1960s has seen the importation of more Korats from Thailand. However, there was much difficulty faced as the Korat is one of the world’s rarest breeds and has always been in high demand in Thailand. Thus, the number of Korats in America grew slowly. Help came in 1965 when an unaffiliated Korat Cat Fanciers Association (KCFA) was founded to promote and protect the breed. The association allowed only cats there were proven to come from Thailand into its breeding program. KCFA secretary and Korat breeder, Daphne Negus, came up with the breed standard. Concerted effort by other breeders paved the way for the breed to be exhibited and for the Korat association to be recognized. They have been working to fulfill one of the primary goals of preserving the original Thai conformation, which is the form and appearance that the Korat had had for hundreds of years.
All the efforts had led to the CFA accepting the Korat for championship in 1966. Other associations soon followed in step. In 1968, Negus went to Bangkok and brought back to America an additional of nine Korats, which had greatly helped to expand the limited gene pool of Korats. Till date, the Korat is being recognized by all North American cat associations.
Physical appearance and attributes
The Korat is a medium sized cat that weighs an average of 8 – 10 pounds for males and 6 – 8 pounds for females. Distinctively different from the other accepted blue breeds, such as the Chartreux, Russian Blue and Nebulung, the Korat has a body that is neither compact nor svelte. Its firm, semi-cobby body is muscular and supple, giving off the feeling of a well-coiled spring power. The Korats may look small, but both male and female Korats have very little body fat over their well-toned muscles, which means they are a lot heavier than they appear. The sturdiness of this breed can be seen in its broad chest and shoulders, creating a slight curve down its. It has legs that are well-proportioned to the body with the hind legs longer than the forelegs. The tail is medium in length, thick at the base and tapers to a rounded tip.
The Korat has a heart-shaped head; with the eyebrow ridges forming the upper curves of the heart and the sides of the faces curving down gently to the chin to complete the shape. It has a well-defined profile that shows a slight stop between the forehead and nose. Its chin and jaw are both well-developed and strong, neither sharply pointed nor overly square. The ears are large and broad at the base, tapering to a rounded tip. They are set fairly upright to give the cat an alert stance. Also, it is sparsely furnished with tufts on the inside.
Set against the color of its coat is the striking amber color of the eyes with an extraordinary brilliance. The eyes are exceptionally large and well-rounded, being over-sized for its face. An Asian slant is revealed when they are partially or fully closed. Luminous green is also a preferred color, but is often achieved only when the cat matures, which takes about two to four years. The Korat has a single coat that is short, fine and close lying, giving it a beautiful gloss. Definitive of the Korat is its coat that comes only in one acceptable pattern and color of solid blue tipped with silver. The blue of the hair deepens gradually till it reaches just before the silver tip, which comes together to create a striking silver halo effect over the entire coat. Ghost markings might be seen in kittens.
Personality and temperament
The Korat breed had the inherent nature to form exceptional bonds with people. This affection is however usually saved for the one or two persons who have gained its trust. However, the Korat is also able to form new bonds if placed in a new home. It is also willing to receive love from others and welcomes guests readily to the house. The fondness that it has acquired over its favorite humans in the home will bring it to stick close by to them.
Korat cat has a considerably quiet nature that prefers an environment that is less boisterous. It has keen senses and is easily stunned by loud sounds or sudden movements. This is however nothing near to being passive. Its love for companionship will seek involvement in every possible household activity, and it will enjoy any games – especially fetch – to the fullest. It is a constant companion that is generous in its loyalty and love. Even though this breed is not as vocal as other cats, such as the Siamese, it is capable of making many different sounds to get his point across.
Not losing its individuality, the Korat has a mind of its own as well as a sense of its own place in the world. This is evident in its definite likes and dislikes and it tendencies for dominance over other cats in the home. It is highly inquisitive and has an acute sense of awareness to minute details in its surroundings. Such innate characteristics have also marked this breed as one of the most intelligent and sensitive cats of all breeds. The Korat has the ability to manipulate switches, drawers and buttons of gadgets.
Care and health issues
A healthy Korat can have a life expectancy of 15 years or more. This is a generally healthy cat save for one defect. A small percentage of Korats are prone to a rare genetic disease called the Gangliosidosis. This neurological disorder is incurable and fatal. Thus, ensure the Korat is purchased from a reputable breeder that will provide for a written health guarantee.
Korat is a fairly low maintenance cat in the aspect of grooming. Weekly brushing will keep the sheen on its signature silver coat. However, as it might be a little challenging to handle this opinionated breed, it will be good to get the cat use to being groomed in a positive manner. Other grooming practices should also focus on weekly nail trimming, ear cleaning and frequent oral care. Products used should be meant for cats and vet-approved.
The ideal home
The Korat is suitable for both indoor and outdoor living. Ensure that the outdoor area is escape-proof for secured exploration and hunting of the cat. Indoor living should include a safe adventure zone to prevent boredom. Even though Korat is suitable for homes with children, the children will need to be gentle and mindful of the keen senses of the cat. Otherwise, the Korat will be better suited for quieter homes. Also, being a dominant cat makes the Korat a better company of humans than other cats.
This will be an ideal pet for anyone who is ready to form a strong knitted bond with a Korat. Once the Korat is assured of your love, care and attention, it will be unwavering in its devotion, loyalty and affection. Its sharp and action-packed personality will be much life and fun to the home as well.