Korat Cat – Always a Silver Lining Breed Cat
Korat cat – During the Nixon and Ford administrations, one of the more popular television programs was a quiz show called “To Tell the Truth.” Panelists on this program tried to determine, by asking a number of questions, which of three individuals purporting to be the same person actually was that person. Before this show, along with Gerald Ford, was sent to the Neilsen boneyard, it gave birth to one expression that qualified for the American Dictionary of Trite Phraseology. That expression is, Will the real … please stand up?
Korat Cat – Deja Who?
Imagine that “To Tell The Truth” has been revived with a two-contestant format that includes animals as well as people. Then imagine that tonight’s first contestants are two handsome cats. Contestant number one is a biscuit-colored gentleman with dark, double-fudge-brown coloring where his face, ears, legs, and tail reside. Contestant number two is a shimmering fellow whose coat, it has been said, has “roots like clouds, and tips like silver” and whose luminous, green, stop-your-heart-dead-in-its-tracks eyes “shine like dewdrops on the lotus leaf.”
“I am the cat of the Siamese people,” says the first contestant with great conviction.
“I am the cat of the Siamese,” says contestant number two.
In the interest of space and the carrying capacity of the current metaphor, we shall fast-forward to the end of the segment – to the part where the announcer says, “Will the real cat of the Siamese people please stand up?”
Contestant number one, the two-tone entry, flicks an ear as if he’s about to move (a standard ploy on this show), but ultimately the sea-foam-and-silver cat stands up. Contestant number one, after explaining that he is, indeed, a Siamese cat, but not the cat of the Siamese people, is excused for the evening. Meanwhile, contestant number two, who introduces himself as a Korat Cat, reports that even though he and the other cat are indeed natives of Siam (which became Thailand in 1939), the Thai people regard the Korat as their national cat.
Korat Cat – We Are Siamese
Although the Korat Cat is believed to have made its way to Siam from the Malaysian jungles, no one knows exactly when that migration took place. According to Daphne Negus, former editor of Cat World magazine, the earliest known picture of a Korat appears in The Cat-Book Poems, an ancient volume of painting and verse that was produced during the Ayudhya Period (1350-1767) in Siam.
A founding member of the Korat Cat Fanciers Association, Negus explained that although the Korat Cat was named after a province in Thailand, the cat is found in most of the other municipalities in its native country. There the Korat Cat is called the Si-Sawat, a compound word that means “a mingled color of gray and light green.” Because the root word Sawat means “good luck,” the Korat Cat is also known as the good luck cat.
In 1896 a blue-colored cat was entered in the Siamese class at the National Cat Club show in England by a gentleman named Spearman, who was recently home from Siam. When the judge rejected the cat because its body was blue instead of biscuit-colored like the other Siamese, Spearman protested that his cat was, indeed, from Siam, and that he had seen others like it when he was there.
Sixteen years later one writer declared that Spearman’s cat had been the first bluepoint Siamese ever exhibited; but there is also reason to believe that Spearman’s cat was, instead, the first Korat Cat to be exhibited. For Korats Cats and Siamese – and Burmese, too – are all common to Siam.
We have this on the authority of the anonymous author of the aforementioned Cat-Book Poems, which is preserved in the Thai National Library in Bangkok. This illustrated work, rescued from the Siamese city of Ayudha when it was destroyed by Burmese invaders in 1767, describes several kinds of “Siamese” cats.
One – a white-haired variety with black tail, feet, and ears – resembles the modern Siamese. Another is a chocolate cat that could be the ancestor of the Burmese (and/or the Havana brown). A third is a blue cat, quite possibly the forebear of the Korat Cat. Since Ayudha was 417 years old when the Cat-Book Poems was rescued, it is reasonable to assume that the Korat Cat is more than two centuries old, and perhaps much older. (It is not reasonable to assume, however, that the Korat was found only in the province after which it was named.)
Whether that “Blue Siamese” exhibited in England in 1896 was a Korat Cat or a bluepoint Siamese is not certain, wrote former Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) president Richard H. Gebhardt, “but it has been established that the seal point Siamese … carries the gene for blue color; and there surely had to have been some cross-breedings between Siamese and the self-colored blue cats in Siam, for it has also been reported that bluepoint kittens appeared in the litters born to the earliest Korats cats imported to this country. Thus it is safe to assume that the Korat Cat began life in the United States as an established hybrid, which is how [CFA] classified the breed when it was first recognized.”
Korat Cat – Baskin’ in Mr. Robins’
Although a gentleman named Robins living in New York City in 1906 asserted that blue cats then existed in the province of Korat Cat, little else was known about the breed in this country until a pair of Korats Cats was shipped to Jean Johnson of Gresham, Oregon, from a friend in Thailand. The cats – a brother and sister named Nara and Darra – reached Portland, Oregon, on June 12, 1959.
Johnson and her husband Robert lived in Thailand from 1947 to 1953. During that time she asked her Thai friends where she could find a Siamese cat, which she described as cream-colored with a dark face, etc. Her friends looked at her as though something was getting lost in translation.
Johnson was thinking of the basic seal point Siamese, and eventually, she obtained one; but when she did, her Thai friends told her that while this was, indeed, a Siamese cat, it was not the cat of the Siamese people. That honor belongs to the Korat Cat. Even in the dark, they explained, the initiated could tell the difference because the eyes of the Siamese cat shine like rubies, while the Korat’s shine like emeralds.
In September 1964 the New York Times reported the appearance of two Korats at the Empire Cat Club show. The following year the Korat Cat Fanciers Association was formed. Its preliminary membership consisted of 26 breeders and/or owners in North America. These dedicated fanciers submitted a proposed breed standard to several North American registries, and the Korat Cat was accepted for championship competition in 1966 by a few of the minor cat associations. The following year CFA, the largest registry in North America, granted the Korat Cat championship status, and now the Korat Cat is universally accepted on this continent.
Such acceptance did not occur until the perseverance and enthusiasm of the breed’s earliest advocates had prevailed against the opposition of the sort expressed by a judge who remarked, “Why do we need another blue cat?”
To be sure the cat fancy already had at the time Russian blues and British blues (a color, not a breed, but a blue cat nonetheless). Daphne Negus provided one all-encompassing reason why there was room for another blue cat in the pedigreed heavens. “Those of us who live with Korats cats and love them find satisfaction and happiness in their companionship that we can never find in any other.” (What’s more, the Russian blue has a modified wedge-shaped head. The Korat has a heart-shaped face and larger eyes.)
The Bottom Lines with Korat Cat
The Korat’s universal acceptance was preceded by much discussion about whether the Korat Cat might actually be a blue Burmese. “There was a great similarity in body type between the two breeds at the time,” wrote Gebhardt, “and both had overly large eyes and close-lying fur.
Consideration was given to registering the Korat Cat as a Burmese color, not as a separate breed, but Burmese breeders would have rather died than accept any color other than sable into their breed.”
The Korat Cat has been a cat of good fortune indeed. There are no genetic deficiencies attached to this breed. Although some outcrosses were made to bluepoint Siamese in order to enlarge the Korat gene pool after it had first been brought to the United States, the overriding concern of the Korat Cat breed club has been to keep this cat as pure – and as true to its original look – as possible. The breed club further requires that anyone wishing to register a Korat must show proof that the cat originated in Thailand.
Korat Cat – The Building Code
The Korat Cat is a shimmering, silver-blue cat with a heart-shaped face and luminous green eyes. Viewed in profile the Korat Cat exhibits a slight stop between forehead and nose, and the latter is graced by a lionesque, downward curve just above the nose leather. While most registries count as undesirable a nose “that appears either long or short in proportion,” at least one group prefers a short nose.
Unusually prominent eyes invest the Korat’s expression with remarkable depth and brilliance. The eyes are well-rounded and oversized for the face, but the eye aperture assumes an Asian slant when fully or partially closed.
The Korat Cat has large ears, with rounded tips and considerable flare at the base. Set high on the head, the ears contribute to the Korat’s keen, intelligent appearance.
All registries agree that the Korat Cat is “semi-cobby, neither compact nor svelte.” Medium in size, the Korat Cat is broad-chested, muscular and supple, has ample space between its forelegs, carries its back in a curve, and may also carry in its tail a slight kink, as long as it’s not a visible one.
The Korat Cat is a single-coated cat with short or short-to-medium hair that is glossy, fine, close-lying and tipped with silver – the more liberally tipped, the better. The coat over the spine is inclined to break when the catwalks.
Personality Profile of Korat Cat
We get a tremendous amount of enjoyment out of our Korats,” said one Korat Cat fancier from Smithtown, New York. “If my husband is working at the computer, the cats have to help him print out. If I’m housecleaning, they have to help there, too. They’re into the swing of things by the time they’re two or three months old.”
For all their inquisitiveness – “wherever you don’t expect to find a cat, that’s where they’ll be” – Korats cats are not a talkative breed. “They seldom speak above a whisper, and that’s another thing I really appreciate about them.”