Cat Breed Spotlight: The Korat

June 29, 2018

Cat Breed Spotlight: The Korat

KYC: ”Know Your Cat”

Ahh, Lady Luck in a feline form? Sign me up for that! When you have a Korat cat around, you don't need a rabbit's foot or a golden Feng Shui waiving cat anymore. The Korat is a living, breathing furry good-luck charm and is named after the Nakhon Ratchasima province of its home country of Thailand.

Where It All Began

The silver-blue cats with a heart-shaped head and rich lime-green eyes are said to date to the 14th century based on their depiction in ancient literature, such as the Thai Tamra Maew (The Cat-Book Poems), believed to have been written in the Ayudhya Period of Siamese history (1350-1767).

King Rama V (1869-1910) commissioned the monk Somdej Phra Buddhacharn Buddhasarmahathera to copy the book onto special Khoi paper and it was called The Smud Khoi of Cats, between the 19th and 20th centuries. It described the Korat named Mal-Ed in an excerpt "The hairs are smooth with roots like clouds and tips like silver. The eyes shine like dew drops on a lotus leaf" and listed the Korat among 17 other cats. It is also written in the Smud Khoi that the Korat is one of a group of cats created by skilled hermits, for the purpose of bringing fortune to their human owners.

The Korat is a natural breed, and one of the oldest stable cat breeds in the world. Originating in Phimai, Thailand. In his home country, the breed is known as โคราช, มาเลศ (Si-sawat, meaning "color of the sawat seed"). Traditionally, they are given in pairs to newlyweds or people who are highly esteemed for good luck as a symbol of prosperity, health, and good luck. Another tradition that still holds for true for the breed is that one cannot generally buy a Korat, but must receive one, or a pair, as a gift.

It is still up for debate on when Korats first reached the west. There is also a report that in 1896, A cat that is closely similar to a Korat was exhibited at a show in England. But no one can really tell if that cat is a genuine Korat or just a self-blue Siamese.

One early import, "Dwina", owned by a Russian Blue breeder named Mrs. Constance Carew-Cox and mentioned in Frances Simpson's The Book of the Cat (1903), seemingly produced a large number of allegedly "Siamese" kittens; the other, Mrs. B. Spearman's Blue Siamese male named Nam-Noi, was disqualified as a Siamese, but recognized in the Russian or Any Other Blue class in which he placed first (WR Hawkins, "Around the Pens", July 1896). Spearman tried unsuccessfully to import more of these "Blue Siamese".

The first officially recorded Korats imported into the United States arrived in 1959, when cat enthusiast Jean Johnson received a pair of Korats kittens (which she named Nara and Dara) sent by a friend from Bangkok, Thailand, as a gift.

After knowing that Korats belongs to the upper classes of Thailand together with the nobility, high ranking official and kings, Johnson outcrossed them with her own Siamese blue point and removed kittens with Siamese traits from the breeding program, and therefore creating the first family of Korats in the United States.

Soon, more Korats were brought in to the US and in 1966, the CFA (Cat Fancier' Association) accepted the Korat for championship competition and fully recognized the breed in 1967. Since then, all cat registries and major cat associations recognized the Korat as a separate breed.

Korats are covered with a short, tight gun-metal blue coat with a silvery sheen. No other breed has the sweet heart-shaped head of the Korat and that is the reason why they are considered as a good luck charm for brides in Thailand.

There's no changing the color of the breed. Korats are silver-blue and a cat of any other color is not a Korat. Weighing around 6 to 10 pounds (2.7 to 4.5 kilograms) for females and 8 - 10 pounds (3.6 to 4.5 kilograms).

Korats are medium-sized with muscular but compact bodies. The breed is slow to grow up and will only reach his full physical and emotional development when he reaches 5 years old, and usually kittens have that blue eyes and will only get that lustrous green coloration in their eyes when they reach 2 to 4 years old. Like fine wine, the Korat gets better with age. You may also like to check out Cat History Facts.

Temperament and Personality

Active, smart, and loving are all words used to describe the Korat (you may describe them as elitist since they prefer the company of other Korats). They will accept other cats but expect them to establish their superiority beside you to others on day one, telling them that he is the boss and he means business. Just like other cats, Korats have incredible senses of hearing, sight and scent but are gentle cats that tends to move gracefully and dislike loud or harsh noises. (To know more about your cat please visit Cat Behavior.)

They form strong bonds with their owners and are known to be very possessive of their people.

He likes to stay close by and won’t abandon you in favor other people, especially visitors.

He gives his heart to one or two people whose company he chooses, or to people who spend most of his time with (that’s not to say that adult Korats can’t switch their affections, sometime Korats placed in new homes quickly adapt and bond closely with their new family), but he’s certainly willing to accept affection from others as well.

It also seems that Korats knows and understands that. Korats are active cats that love to play but they are very gentle when they are playing with children. They do, however, know that they have been cherished for centuries in Thailand and expect that tradition to continue wherever they are-and they expect "their" human to understand and cater to their strong likes and dislikes. Korats need your companionship and do not like to be left alone for long periods or ignored when you are home. If they are ignored, they are likely to become withdrawn.

Korats are notorious for their Attention-seeking attitude and clingy attitude (they will follow you everywhere, I mean literally EVERYWHERE). A Korat is not a loner (and he hates being called one too).

He does best with companionship, whether that is someone who works at home or another pet, preferably another cat or a dog (although sometimes he tends to get jealous if you are giving attention to other pets too, just make sure he doesn't feel inferior or underappreciated compared to others). There’s a reason, it seems, that traditionally they were always given in pairs.

A Korat who is frequently left alone or ignored may develop behavior problems such as aggression or separation anxiety.

Korats are also known to be stubborn and sometimes a bit selfish. They tend not to share their toys and other possessions to other cats and it is a good idea to have a separate cat toy (or toys) for him only (sometimes, this is the reason why he always gets involved in fights with other cats inside the house).

It is also a great idea to have a separate cat condo or cat tree exclusively for him. As for playing, it is essential to practice your Korat's mental acuity by providing him puzzle toys, like some great ones at activefelinesolutions.com.au that rewards him with a treat every time he solves it, and to exercise his hunting skills by playing with him using a cat mice toy as a bait.

Drag the toy along the floor (using a strong yarn) and let him pounce, bit and jab at it. It is also a good idea to play with him using a laser pointer (be careful not to point it to your cat's eyes).

Although he can be bold with definite likes and dislikes, the Korat is generally a quiet cat who likes a quiet environment. Although he’s not known for being talkative, he is capable of making many different sounds, from a chirp to a scream, when he wants to get his point across. Korats are intelligent enough to memorize the actions that he do that rewarded him with treats or affection, so it is highly suggested to discourage any negative or undesirable behavior. Visit Cat Breed for more information about your loved pet - Korat.

Health

The Korat is prone to a fatal genetic condition that comes in two forms: GM1 and GM2 gangliosidosis. Gangliosidosis contains different types of lipid storage disorders caused by the accumulation of lipids known as gangliosides. There are two specific genetic causes of the disease.

Both are autosomal (pertaining to a chromosome th at is not a sex chromosome) recessive and affects both males and females equally. Gangliosidosis is a lethal autosomal recessive genetic disease of Siamese, Korat and Domestic shorthair cats which causes neurological diseases, including Tay-Sachs disease (TSD) and Sandhoff disease (SD).

Although both types of gangliosidosis cause fatal progressive brain disease, they are caused by entirely different genetic errors of two different lysosomal enzymes (lysomes are a vital part of the cells that is involved in diregestion and waste removal, while lysosomal enzymes are used by lysosomes to for digestion).

Therefore, a genetic test must analyse each disease separately. GM1 Gangliosidosis is due to an inherited deficiency of the enzyme beta-galactosidase and has been studied and characterized in Siamese and other cats, but has been recognized only very recently in Korat cats. GM2 Gangliosidosis is due to an inherited deficiency of the enzyme beta-hexosaminidase and has been observed in Korat and Siamese cats.

The GM2 mutation in Korats is different than the one causing the same disease in non-Korat cats. Both disease have the same symptoms that includes:

Ataxia 

is a neurological sign consisting of lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements that includes gait abnormality.


Dysmetria 

refers to a lack of coordination of movement characterized by missing the intended position with the hand, arm, leg, or eye. It is a type of ataxia. It is sometimes described as the failure to judge distance or scale.


Tremo R

is an unintentional, rhythmic muscle movement involving to-and-fro movements of one or more parts of the body (commonly in the hands or feet).


Nystagmus

is a vision condition in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled movements. These movements often result in reduced vision and depth perception and can affect balance and coordination.


Hepatomegaly 

another word for the enlargement of the liver.


Possible Facial Dysmorphism

abnormal growth of any part of the face. (like having a flat brad head or small skull)
Visual impairment or Cataracts may develop
Kittens who are affected by the disease may bee student, preventing their normal growth

    It is advisable that if you see these signs on your Korat cat, rush your kitty to the nearest vet for immediate medical attention.

    Grooming

    Korat's coat have a short, shiny and fine single-layered coat. Good thing is that unlike other cats, it is very easy to groom, just a simple brushing will do or even just brushing it using your fingers is already enough. (and that will make your pet very happy too)

    Grooming your Korat's coat seems to be the easiest part in grooming him, so you need to focus your attention more on trimming his nails (or instead have a tall cat scratching post where your cat can "file" his nails while stretching), cleaning his ears to remove accumulated wax, gunk, or other residue using a cleanser which is gentle for your cat's skin and is recommended by your vet, and also brushing his teeth regularly (thrice a week will do) using a fine toothbrush designed for pets and a pet-friendly toothpaste.

    Bathing your Korat is pretty easy due to his short coat, just make sure that your cat is already familiar with bathing or else, you will have a bad time convincing him to do it. (I mean, Korats are strong cats and may even inflict bad scratches or bits to you so it is also advised to have somebody to help you with this task.) And also to preserve his shiny gray coat, you can apply cat conditioner every after shampooing.

     Korat cats are unique, with their "emperor-like" demeanor and luxurious characteristics. It is definitely a lucky charm once he deemed you as his beloved master.