It’s no secret, we are a cat family.
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 😻
Then there are the beautiful Suphalak, with an amazing brown-redish coat. Even their paws are brown.
The jet-black Konja, with yellow eyes, is very common in temples.
The amazing Khorat or Si Sawat, with an all grey coat, and yellow or green eyes.
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.
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.