Thai cats 😸

It’s no secret, we are a cat family.

Toddler girl wearing cat shaped shoes and a t-shirt depicting a cat
can you tell?

This is why I’m going to tell you about Thai cats.

Yes, there is quite a lot to tell. If you have visited Thailand you have probably noticed  the many kitties roaming the streets. You may have seen that people are fond of cats in Thailand and feed feral cats willingly and often lovingly. “Feral” probably doesn’t truely apply to street cats in Bangkok (commonly known as “soi cats”, the equivalent of alley cats),  because they are almost always friendly, social and used to people. Most are probably adopted by the neighborhood, receiving some food and perhaps affection, but no lodging, in exchange for pest control. I don’t think this is particular to Thailand, and I’m sure you  can  find this partnership in many other countries.

Thai breeds have been kept alive in the country for centuries and are collectively known as Maew Boran in Thai.  An interesting fact is that those maintaining these very particular breeds were, until very recently, monks in Buddhist monasteries. (*More on this topic later!*)

As of 2015,  thai cat breeds were less popular -inside Thailand-than imported breeds, specially long-haired breeds. Cats too are status symbols, and in Thailand like in a lot of other countries, imported is cooler. Of course a big part of why breeding and buying a Thai cat is not yet as popular as acquiring an imported feline is that in Thailand you can literally pick a kitty off the street any time. And soi (alley) kitties are often gorgeous representatives of Thai breeds. So why would you bother to buy a street kitty? And why would you bother to breed them as a profession? There are now a few dedicated thai breeders that are trying to ignite the passion for local breeds into the thai minds.

The most well known of the thai breeds is the talkative and elegant Siamese. Yes, we saw a lot of gorgeous street siamese cats, and kittens 😻

Toddler girl watching a siamese kitten being exhibited behind glass
Little M and a Siamese at a cat show featuring thai breeds

Then there are the beautiful Suphalak, with an amazing brown-redish coat. Even their paws are brown.

Close-up of a redish-brown suphalak cat
A Suphalak cat. Photo from Wikipedia

The jet-black Konja, with yellow eyes, is very common in temples.

A black konja cat of Thailand
Konja cat- photo from the International Maew Boran Association’s website (TIMBA)

The amazing Khorat or Si Sawat,  with an all grey coat, and yellow or green eyes.

An all grey khorat cat from Thailand
Khorat (Si Sawat). Photo from the TIMBA website

And last but not least, the Khao Manee, with an all white coat, and blue or yellow eyes. Some Khao Manee also have odd-eyes, one blue and one yellow.

Thai cats have distinctive  personality traits as well. They are incredibly friendly and social. They are true velcro cats, for better and worse. You go, they follow. You put a closed door between you and a thai cat and you have an  upset, confused kitty.
At home we have a Bombay, who is not technically a thai cat but he certainly is a velcro cat. We also have a Khao Manee.

A white khaomanee cat with odd eyes and an all black bombay cat with yellow eyes cuddled together
Our cats, a Khao Manee and a Bombay
A thai khaomanee cat in an awkward posture on a couch
Our gracious Khao Manee, Balam. Very laid-back!

For more information on thai cats, check these websites:

TIMBA: The International Meow Boran Association

Martin R Clutterbuck’s website: a Thai scholar from SOAS turned thai cat scholar, that has done extensive work on the thai cat manuscripts, the Tamra Maew.

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