KORAT - A GOOD LUCK CAT
Written by Eva Krynda
for the Australian Magazine "
Pets & Vets" (issue n. 8/1999)

 

History

As one of the earliest known breeds in the world, the Korat (pronounced Koh-raht) is also probably the purest. Even today this silver-blue short haired cat with luminous green eyes is very similar to its native ancestors which were known to have lived wild in the jungles of the Malay Peninsula. The Korat name originated when King Rama V of Siam was presented with the cat. He asked what kind of cat it was and was told it came from Korat, a high plateau in northeast Thailand. A breed of great tradition and history, the Korat remains one of the few pure bred cats in existence today. It was first recorded in the "Cat Book Poems" or "Smud Khoi of Cats" dating from the Siamese Ayudhya kingdom (1350-1767). In this book, presently located in the Bangkok National Library, the Korat is presented as one of the 17 "good luck" cats of Thailand. Known to the Thais as the Si-Sawat cat (pronounced see-sa-what) because of is colouring, bound in Thai catlore to be silver from birth until death, a cat of any other colour is never a Korat. The book gives a colourful description of the Korat: "The cat "maled" has a body colour like "Dok Lao" The hairs are smooth, with roots like clouds and tips like silver. The eyes shine like dewdrops on a lotus leaf" Translation: Dok means flower, and lao is a herb, like lemongrass, with silver tipped flowers.

As the good-luck cat of Thailand, the Korat has long been cherished by the Thai people and originally could only be given as a gift to someone who was deemed worthy of such a valued present. Legend has it that the silver-tipped coat signifies wealth to the tradesman and merchant, rain clouds to the farm dweller and a happy marriage and home to the bride. The breed was first seen in the west in the late 1800s and the Korat's modern bloodlines date from as recently as 1959, when an American breeder obtained a pair. Throughout the 1960s, more cats were acquired from Thailand by the growing circle of Korat fanciers in the United States. Daphne Negus, an important pioneer in the breed, journeyed to Thailand to import nine Korats as this number is believed by the Thai people to bring good luck. In 1965 the American Korat Cat Fanciers Association (KCFA) was established to protect and develop the breed, as well as to preserve its heritage. A standard was written based on the appearance of the original native cats, and the Korats were accepted by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) in 1966. Now Korats are kept by cat fanciers around the world.

The first pair of Korats was brought to Australia from the USA in 1969. Eight more American cats followed in the 1970s, then a few more in the 1980s. The Korat gene pool in Australia was boosted by new bloodlines from the UK during the 1990s. To protect and preserve the traditional appearance of the breed, every Korat's pedigree has ancestors which can be traced directly back to Thailand (as Siam became in 1939). This is why the Korat is sometimes referred to as "the silver-blue cat with a Thai passport". In acknowledgment of its history and uniqueness, the Thai government has officially recognised the Korat as a national treasure, making importation of the cat extremely difficult. The Korat is a recognised breed for championship status by all Australian cat associations.

Temperament

Active and intelligent, Korats love to be the centre of attention: some fetch toys until you are tired of throwing; some are trained to walk on a leash; some go sailing; some "help" you curl up and read. If you don't want to play then a Korat will join in whatever you're doing instead. They want to be with you, near you, and helping out all the time. They aren't in your face but like to be involved in your activities. Favourite Korat pastimes include supervising events such as bed-making, helping with the washing up, opening closet doors and drawers and spending some private time in the bathroom with their owner, preferably when their owner is having a bath or shower. They are entertaining, but they also love to be entertained. The true Korat temper is mild with a will of iron! A Korat is not afraid of anything, is convinced that it may do anything it has not previously been told not to, adapts quite easily to new situations, has a good self confidence, its feeling of self worth is not impaired in any way and it usually has its own opinion about the people who come to the house. Korats crave their own kind and expect to set their own hierarchy within their feline and canine families. They are not destructive by nature and move with cautious dignity, preferring to remain close to their owners. Korats vary greatly in their vocalisation, from a quiet questioning chip to a full voice roar. They generally "speak" only when they have something to say, or to alert you to their needs. At the same time, Korats are very loving and loyal. When a Korat kitten or adult chooses you as a human part of its territory you can be sure of a special, constant closeness and understanding. Korats are ideal pets for people of all ages - even small children - who have room in their lives for a lasting bond with a faithful, affectionate companion. Mrs Elaine Vincent, of Ratchasima Cattery in Darwin, had first hand experience of this when she placed a two year old male Korat with a family of six children, the youngest a two-year-old boy with Downs Syndrome. The bond between boy and cat was immediate. The cat allowed himself to be used as a pillow, pushed around in the child's toy cart and the older children wrapped him up in nappies

Not just another blue cat

The Korat is an elegant silver-tipped blue cat which has a unique colour that appears to absorb light, resulting in an intense sheen often described as a halo effect and best appreciated in the sunlight. Where the coat is short, the sheen of silver is intensified. With eyes of such infinite beauty, expressive and oversized for the face when fully open, a depth of intelligence and gaze that is unmatched, Korats enslave the heart and imagination.
POWERFUL, MUSCULAR BODY. Although only small to medium in size, the Korat is heavier than it looks. It has the strength and energy of a well-coiled spring, yet its smooth curved lines give it grace.
LUMINOUS EYES
. Like dewdrops on a lotus leaf according to the ancient text. Korat eyes are distinctively large, luminous, translucent green or amber. The colour intensifies as the cat slowly matures.
SILKY SILVER-TIPPED FUR. A single coat gives korats a luxurious silky sheen and means minimal shedding. Short, soft and glossy, it gives off an aura, or a shimmering effect. The fur is a paler shade at the base, darker mid-way, then tipped with silver - a combination caught in a Thai metaphor as "clouds before a thunder storm".
HEART-SHAPED HEAD. Follow an imaginary line from the rounded tip of a Korat's chin to the top of its ears and back to the top of its head, and you will see the heart that has captured so many others.
Korats are slow maturing cats. They can often take up to five years to reach their full potential. The coat will always be silver-blue, but the silver tipping will become more pronounced as they mature. The eye colour, a vivid traffic light green, also appears and intensifies as the cat matures. The Korat is a cat that gets better and better as it ages.

Health

Korats are a robust breed and are not prone to any particular illnesses. Some rare cases of the genetic disorders known as GM1 Gangliosidosis and GM2 Gangliosidosis have appeared in Korats in the US and in Europe but there have been no known cases in Australia. These are neuromuscular degenerative disorders and a blood screening test exists to identify carriers of these disorders. Affected kittens are never placed in homes and any genetic carriers of this disorder are always spayed/neutered and live completely normal lives showing no signs of the illness.

"When a Korat chooses you as a part of its territory you can be sure of a constant special closeness and understanding."

Care and training

Korats are easy cats to take care of because they will usually tell you what they need. They are not finicky eaters, but it is recommended that their owners feed them only high quality dry food and a combination of fresh and canned food. It is also recommended to include egg yolks, grated cheese and bones (other than chicken) in their diet. Most Korats also crave grass, and if this is not available, powdered alfalfa, chopped raw spinach or watercress mixed in their food may be substituted.Korats have a low fat percentage, but they can become overweight. If fed too much, a Korat will develop "fat pads" along their underside. When having your Korat spayed or neutered, or in performing any operation that requires anaesthesia, it should be remembered that Korats have little body fat to absorb the anaesthesia. Non-fat soluble varieties should be used when operating on Korats. This is the same as other "low fat" animals like Greyhounds, Whippets or Siamese.

Training a Korat is relatively easy. Fetch, using a toy or a paper ball, is a game that most Korats readily adapt to. Training a Korat can be done with both negative and positive reinforcement. Negative incentives should be limited to a loud "NO", a clap of the hands, snap of the fingers, or a squirt bottle of plain water. Positive reinforcements are the usual games and treats and a simple petting session for something well done.
Korats are a long lived breed and it is not exceptional for a Korat to live 15 years or more given good care.

Being owned by a Korat

The Korat is possibly the cat that most closely resembles its original look - more than any other breed. Comparing a Korat from the earliest pictures to one from today, one finds little or no difference in the cats; they are without a doubt both Korats. Breeders of Korats around the world and in Australia are dedicated to the preservation of the Korat in its ancient, natural form and will require that a pledge is signed by the new owner.

The Korat owner's pledge:
- You will give the cat love and a good home.
- You will not let it run unprotected or mistreat it in any way.
- You will not sell it to a pet store, and you will have it spayed or neutered by the age of six months (unless it was sold to you as a breeding cat).
All responsible breeders will insist that you sign this pledge and accept its restrictions if you want to share your life with a Korat. You will be allowed to collect your kitten when it has developed the physical and social stability to adjust to a new environment - usually older than ten weeks. At twelve weeks, kittens have had their basic inoculations. Older Korats can be a welcome addition to a home where good manners are needed from the outset. The price of pet and/or show quality Korat kitten in Australia generally starts at $300, but this varies depending on each kitten's bloodlines and type. Occasionally older kittens or adult cats may be available for placement in approved homes for a nominal charge.

For additional information on Korats contact a registered breeder in your State or Territory or check out the Australian Breeders website at http://www.users.bigpond.com/doklao/ozkorats/

FACT FILE

Origin: The Korat is one of the first cats mentioned in history. It originated in the province of Korat in Thailand.
Temperament: Affectionate, intelligent, playful, busy and profoundly aware of everything around them. They enjoy "helping out" joining in whatever activity is at hand. They can read your moods and act accordingly.
Environment: They adapt easily to their environment but prefer to live indoors. Because of their acute sense of hearing they do not like street noises or a hectic household.
Activity: Korats are vigorous and active in their play and remain fun-loving throughout their adult life.
Coat: Soft, silky, glossy, close fitting with no under coat. Silver-blue is the only colour of these felines.
Grooming: Occasional brushing to remove any loose hair.
Life Span: 15 years or more.
Health: A robust breed and not prone to any particular illnesses.
Trainability: Relatively easy. Korats are a natural retriever and will often bring you an item to toss in a game of go fetch.
Attitude towards children: Korats love human company and bond with children as well as older people

For further information about Australian Korat Breeders
CLICK on the graphic below


Visit the AUSTRALIAN KORAT BREEDERS HOMEPAGE