Last updated: February 18, 2017
The Korat is a rare breed with a long history as a symbol of good luck in his native Thailand. With his silver blue coat and luminescent green eyes, he is not only good luck but also very beautiful.
This is a small to medium sized cat with females weighing 6 – 8 pounds and males weighing 8 – 10 pounds. The body is semi-cobby with a square appearance. The Korat has a deep, broad chest. The front legs are very slightly shorter than the rear legs. Bone is moderate and the overall impression should be of strength and elegance.
The head is heart-shaped. The Korat is the only cat breed with a heart-shaped face and it is described as a heart within a heart. The first heart is formed going from the top of the skull, over the ears and down to the chin. The second heart goes from the brow ridge, over the eyes and down to the mouth. The hearts are a key feature and part of the reason that the cats are frequently given to brides as a symbol of love and good luck in marriage.
The ears are large with rounded tip and a flared base. They are relatively high set on the head. The eyes of a mature Korat are peridot green. The Korat is a very slow maturing cat, taking up to five years to reach maturity. The eyes are blue in newborns and can be one of the last features to mature. They go from blue to an amber colour and then eventually to the trademark luminescent green of the breed. Young cats may still have amber eyes but they should be green by the time the cat matures.
The Korat is one of the few breeds that comes in only one colour. He is always silver blue in colour. The coat is short and glossy with a silver sheen. It’s a single coat that tends to lie close to the body. It needs very little grooming although an occasional brushing doesn’t hurt. It does not shed extensively either.
The Korat comes from Thailand and is named for a region within that country. It is one of the oldest known natural breeds. There are references to the Korat as one of the good luck cat breeds in the Smud Khoi of Cats, a book of cat poems that dates back to the Ayudhya period of Siamese history (1350 – 1767). The Korat appears in pictures and literature dating back to the 14th century.
Some cats may have made their way westward and appeared at cat shows in the 1800s as a blue Siamese but they did not become popular and although there are a few references to them, they are considered anomalies that may have come back with travellers.
They first came to North America in 1959. Nara and Darra, a pair of Korats, were imported by Mrs. Jean Johnson. They were given to her as a gift at the end of a period of employment with the Foreign Service in Thailand. In an attempt to get a gene pool going in North America, Mrs. Johnson bred them to Siamese and then eventually bred the Siamese traits out of them.
All Korats can trace their relationship back to Thai cats. Today, the breed is no longer that common in Thailand and even less common elsewhere. They remain a symbol of good luck in their native land and are still gifted to brides. The silver of their coat is said to represent wealth, the green of their eyes a good harvest and the heart shaped head a good marriage.
Most Korats live long and healthy lives with late teens not being an uncommon age. They are prone to a pair of genetic diseases known as GM1 and GM2 gangliosidosis. These diseases are lysosomal storage diseases that cause severe neurological issues that ultimately lead to death before the cat is a year of age. They are two separate diseases and they are both inherited through autosomal recessive genes. This means that in order to have the disease, a cat must inherit one gene from each parent. Cat’s that carry only one gene are carriers but will never develop the disease. However, they should not be bred as they can pass the gene on to their offspring.
There are gene tests for both diseases and responsible breeders make use of the test to ensure that they do not breed carriers to other carriers and produce affected cats. It is very important when buying a kitten to ensure that you have written proof that the breeder makes use of the test. There is no reason for an affected kitten to be born when the test can prevent it and the needless suffering the kitten experiences when it becomes ill.
The Korat is a lively, intelligent, and imperial cat. They have a tendency to rule their homes with a velvet paw. They expect to be worshipped and loved just as they deserve. While they will get along with other pets that respect them as rulers they have a definite preference for other Korats. They can be vocal although that tends to vary on an individual basis. Korats have no problem telling you that you have failed to live up to their expectations.
They love to play and make devoted and affectionate pets. They want to be involved in everything you do and do not like to be left or excluded. They don’t warm up to strangers as readily as some other breeds and have a definite desire to stay with their families. As a result, they do not like to be left alone for extended periods of time. Doing so can result in the Korat becoming withdrawn and developing issues like aggression and separation anxiety. If you wish to have a Korat and are away from home for extended periods each day, it is better to have two Korats.
They do well with families with children and will play quite gently with them for hours on end. The Korat is an excellent choice for a family pet. They will not only keep you entertained but will also reward you with years of devotion and love. The only caveat is that they really do need company, whether it is yours or that of another Korat.