The Khao Manee (pronounced Kow Manee), also called the Khao Plort or the diamond eye cat, is an ancient breed of cat originating in Thailand. The name Khao Manee means "white gem" in Thai. These striking, all-white purebred cats with jewel-toned eyes certainly live up to that description.
While other Thai breeds like the Siamese, the Burmese, and the Korat are well known in the West, the Khao Manee remains a relatively rare breed outside of Thailand.
The striking appearance of the Khao Manee is rumored to have been beloved by Thai royalty, and in a 14th-century book of Thai Poetry, the breed is said to bring "long life and title" to their human families.
Read on to learn what you need to know about a Khao Manee to decide if this cat is the right breed for your family.
Characteristics of a Khao Manee
The Khao Manee has a wedge-shaped head, moderately large eyes, and relatively large ears with oval tips. These cats are bred to do well in hot tropical weather and have lithe, muscular bodies with a short coat of hair.
Khao Manee Colors
The Khao Manee has a striking all-white coat and jewel-toned eyes. Their eyes can be the same color, or they may have a different color for each eye. While their original eye color may have been blue, the modern Khao Manee may have blue, green, or yellow eyes.
Khao Manee Size
The Khao Manee is a medium-boned cat. Males typically weigh 8 to 11 pounds, while females weigh 6 to 8 pounds. Males have slightly heavier bone structure than females.
Khao Manee Personality
The Khao Manee is an intelligent, curious cat known for being devoted to their owners. They're particularly people-loving and do not do well when left alone or ignored for long periods.
The Khao Manee is an athletic cat with an active, playful temperament. They enjoy playing games with their owners, and their lively disposition makes them good companions for children or other pets.
In summary, common Khao Manee characteristics include being:
Caring for a Khao Manee
Khao Manee Grooming
The Khao Manee has a short-haired coat that's easy to care for — they only require brushing once a week. Like most cats, the average Khao Manee can groom itself very well and rarely needs bathing.
If your Khao Manee does need a bath, consider tiring them out with a play session first and trimming their claws to prevent scratches. Brush your cat before bathing to remove loose hair and fill the bathtub or sink with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a shampoo formulated for cats, and avoid using shampoo on their face, ears, and eyes — a gentle wash with a water-soaked washcloth is generally sufficient. Praise and reward your cat after bathing to help develop a positive association with grooming.
It would be best to brush your cat's teeth daily using a toothpaste formulated for cats and a toothbrush designed for cats. More than half of cats over age three have periodontal disease, leading to pain and tooth loss. Regular brushing helps to prevent these dental problems. Consult your veterinarian if you have questions about providing dental care for your Khao Manee.
Like all cats, your Khao Manee needs regular nail care. Using cat nail clippers, clip only the white part of your cat's claw — the pink part, called the quick, contains nerves and blood vessels and will bleed if accidentally cut. You can stop bleeding with a styptic powder, but it's better to err on the side of trimming too little rather than over-trimming your cat's claws.
Declawing your Khao Manee is not recommended — declawing can lead to chronic pain and behavioral problems. To discourage inappropriate scratching, trim your cat's nails every 2 to 4 weeks and provide scratching posts, a cat tree, or other scratching surfaces for your Khao Manee.
If your Khao Manee is reluctant to use their scratching post, try:
- placing the scratching post in the area your Khao Manee likes to scratch
- rubbing the post with catnip
- petting your cat while putting their feet on the scratching post
- rewarding your Khao Manee for scratching appropriate surfaces
Khao Manee Tick and Flea Prevention
You can help prevent ticks and fleas by giving your Khao Manee a regular tick and flea preventative. Tick and flea preventative products come in various formulations: chewables, sprays, topical treatments, powders, and flea prevention collars, which are available both over-the-counter and by prescription. Your veterinarian can help you choose the right flea and tick preventative for your Khao Manee.
Khao Manee Medical Care
Like all cats, a Khao Manee must visit the veterinarian every three to four weeks during the first four months of life. Annual wellness checks are necessary after they reach one year of age.
All cats need core vaccines. Your Khao Manee kitten will likely receive their first vaccines between 6 and 8 weeks of age.
Core vaccines cover:
- Feline panleukopenia (FPL), also known as feline parvovirus or feline distemper
- Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), also known as cat herpes
- Feline caliciviral disease
Your Khao Manee might need non-core vaccines as well, depending on their risk of exposure to these diseases. Talk to your veterinarian to determine if any non-core vaccines are necessary for your Khao Manee.
Non-core vaccines may cover:
- Feline chlamydiosis
- Feline leukemia virus
Veterinarians generally recommend that all cats receive year-round heartworm prevention medication. Heartworms are parasites transmitted through mosquito bites. Heartworm larvae infest the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries and can cause respiratory failure and death.
While cats are less likely to get heartworms than dogs, recent studies have shown that more cats are infected with heartworms than previously thought. Heartworms are also more challenging to diagnose in cats, and there's currently no effective treatment for heartworm-infected cats. While outdoor cats are more likely to contract heartworms, heartworm infections can and do occur in both indoor and outdoor cats.
Khao Manee Health Issues
The average Khao Manee lifespan is 10 to 12 years. The Khao Manee is a generally healthy breed. However, purebred white cats like the Khao Manee can be prone to congenital deafness in one or both ears. Congenital deafness is a lifelong condition that cannot be reversed.
If your Khao Manee is deaf, you'll want to take a few extra precautions, such as:
- Keeping your cat indoors
- Avoiding approaching your cat from behind or startling them
- Using vibrations to signal your presence, such as stomping your feet on the ground
Diseases common in all cats that you should be aware of include:
Like humans, cats can have both Type I or Type 2 diabetes, though type 2 diabetes is most common. Cats with diabetes will typically need insulin therapy.
Risk factors for diabetes include:
- Older age
- Low activity levels
- Male gender
- Steroid use
Symptoms of diabetes in cats include:
- changes in appetite
- weight loss
- excessive thirst
- increased urination/urinating outside the litter box
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your Khao Manee may have diabetes.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
A cat infected with the feline immunodeficiency virus may not show any symptoms for years, but it will eventually weaken the cat's immune system and make them susceptible to infections.
Symptoms of FIV include:
- weight loss
- dental disease
- wounds that won't heal
- behavior changes
If your Khao Manee has FIV, they may need to be kept indoors and have more frequent visits to the veterinarian. Talk to your vet if you suspect your Khao Manee may have FIV.
Khao Manee History
The Khao Manee is an ancient Thai breed featured in the Tamra Maew, a collection of cat poems from 1350.
The first Khao Manee was imported from Thailand to the U.S. in 1999. The International Cat Association gave the breed full recognition in 2012.