By Cheryl Coleman
The Korat presents a unique appearance that can be attributed to its color. It is defined as silver-tipped blue, exuding an aura of shimmering effect. In Thailand, its country of origin, the people describe this color as "rain-cloud gray," and the silvering effect as "sea foam." The color appears to absorb light, giving a halo effect. It has a single coat, short and close lying. The roots are light silver blue, color increasing in shade up the shaft to a deeper blue, until it reaches the tips, which are silver; silver tipping being more prevalent on the muzzle and toes. The Korat comes in only one color, silver-tipped blue; no other color is accepted. As the cat moves, the coat appears to break, or separate, making the silver shimmer more prominently.
Another unique feature of the Korat that gives it a captivating mystique is the head structure. It is the cat with five hearts, three of which are on the head. Looking at the Korat straight on, you see the Valentine-shape heart of the head that can be gently traced around the head. The second heart is found by looking down over the top of the head, and the third heart being the nose. The other two hearts, that are not part of the head, is the muscular area of the chest when the cat is sitting; and the last one most commonly forgotten is the heart inside the cat. As the cat matures, these heart shapes on the head become more pronounced.
The remaining features of the head complete the overall beauty of the Korat. The eyes are large, wide-open, luminous, alert and always observant. Eye color is peridot green, a yellowish green in the mature cat (2-4 years of age), but kittens have an amber to golden-green eye color which gradually changes as it matures. The ear set is a continuation of the heart-shape face. The ears have rounded tips, with a large flare at the base. They give the Korat a very 'alert' expression, complementing the heart shape; not setting too low or too high on the head. The eyebrow ridge across the top of the eyes further accentuates and clarifies the heart-shaped face. The Korat, when viewed from the side, has a lion-like downward curve to the nose, giving it a more natural look.
The body of the Korat is semi-cobby, not long and lean as a Siamese, or short like a Manx, but with a tapered waist. It is heavier than it appears. When lifting the Korat, it has an unexpected heft, like lifting a stone. It is easy to compare the cat to a body builder; it feels like a firm, steel-spring. The bulk of the weight is carried towards the front, through rounded, well-developed muscular shoulders. The neck is fairly short and heavy, connecting to a broad chest, making the shoulders somewhat wider than the chest. In movement, the back of the Korat forms a slight arch, looking as though in a defensive mode. This body was designed by nature to create a surviving animal; graceful, even though it has the look of great strength, and agile enough to move quickly.
The Korat is possibly the only breed of cat that most closely resembles its original look. Comparing Karats from their earliest pictures to those of today one can see little difference in the cats. They are extremely expressive. You can look at a Korat and almost know what they are thinking; and the scary part is, they do know what you are thinking. It is almost a humanistic look that wins you over completely. Once you meet and live with a Korat, you will understand this.
Korats are very observant, and will watch everything you do and try to imitate you. They have been known to learn on their own how to open doors, turn on water faucets, and open closed lid containers. You may think it is funny, but once a Korat has learned something like that, you will never break them of the habit.
These cats are extremely loyal, giving you their total love and respect. They will greet you at the door when you come home, and follow you to wherever you go. They will race you up a flight of stairs, then wait for you if you have gone behind a closed door. They will trust you completely, knowing that you know what is best for them. One Korat was getting a bath, and was told to stay in the sink while the owner answered the phone. When she came back a few minutes later, there she sat saying, "Mom, I thought you'd never get back." How many cats do you know that would be that patient?
Korats are either going 100 mph around the house, or are in "Velcro-kitty" mode. They want to be with you, near you, and helping you all the time. Although they are not "in your face," they like to be involved in your activities. When in "Velcro" mode, the Korat will sit next to you while you are watching TV or reading a book. They have to be touching you, even if they have to lie on top of another Korat, who has already staked his claim on a lap, to be with you.
Playtime is a very serious activity for these cats. They have the mentality of "get the toy at all costs." Sometimes, they forget to land on their feet. When playing with feather toys, Korats make believe it's the real thing, stalking, chirping, and finally attacking the prey. Be forewarned, never leave a feather toy out or there will be nothing left of it when you come back.
Many Korats enjoy a game of fetch. They will run after a toy, bring it back to you, and will not stop even though they are panting and you are both exhausted. There was a Korat at a show in which the judge had lost a grip on the feather toy she was holding. It fell to the floor in front of the judging table and the Korat jumped after it. A spectator picked up the toy and put it back on the table, and the Korat hopped right up after it, back onto the table. It was her game, and she was not going to let it get away.
Korats are not very vocal cats, unless they have something serious to say, like "my food dish is empty," or "I know you didn't mean to lock me out of the room you are in." They sometimes make a chirping sound when in play mode, but will keep their opinions to themselves most the time. They do not need a special diet of any particular food, except that a high-quality food, like with any cat, will keep them healthy.
These are homebody cats. They would much rather be at home than in a car, at the veterinarian's office, or visiting a relative. They are most comfortable in their own environment; however, they adapt quickly and quite well to new places.
The Korat requires very little grooming. Because they have a single, close lying coat that does not shed, a soft cloth or a rubber brush used lightly, does the job. Bathing is not necessary unless you plan on showing your Korat. Bathing the Korat is usually done two or three days before the show. This allows the natural oils to return through the hair shaft.
Bathe the Korat using a shampoo for white cats - usually a blue shampoo. Unless the coat is greasy, one lathering is sufficient. A light conditioner is sometimes used to make the coat smooth and shiny. You can let the Korat air-dry. After it has completely dried, brush the coat lightly with a rubber brush to smooth it out, allowing it to lay flat against the body. Do not brush too hard to avoid creating bald spots. At the show, the only grooming you will need is to smooth the coat down with a chamois cloth or silk scarf.
The Korat does not need special handling unless it is being shown. As with cats that are destined for the show ring, they are exposed to a lot of handling and noise as kittens. However, with Korats, they have an extraordinary sense of hearing and smell. They can hear sounds far off in the distance such as a female in season across the show hall, or a male calling. They can also smell things that you may think no longer exist, such as the smell of another male or female cat. Even perfumes can sometimes get their hormones going. This sometimes adds to the challenge of showing a Korat, because they are aware of everything.
Korats always voice their opinion in the show ring. Although they are not very talkative at home, in the show ring, they tell you how they feel about the situation. "Don't lift me high in the air." "Keep my feet on the ground." "Give me a toy." "Put me back in the cage." "Take me home." A show judge once referred to them as the "mother-in-law" cat. They are just very "opinionated."
Show judges who have seen Korats frequently, enjoy handling and recognizing them when they see their quality. In the show ring, Korats do not tolerate being held up in the air; they like to keep their hind legs on the table, or have a secure feeling when being held. Their heftiness makes them uncomfortable when lifted in the air by judges. They should not be stretched because their bodies are semi-cobby, not long and lean and there is no need to over handle the head. A show judge can see the heart shape of its head quite easily by looking straight at it and over its top. An outline of the heart can be gently traced around the face, but if the Korat feels its head is being restrained, it may panic. They are extremely responsive to a gentle touch.
The most unique feature of the Korat is its head type. No other breed of cat has such a heart-shaped bone structure. Its distinctive head and its silver-tipped coat give it a special look that sets it apart from any other blue cat. It is a very slow maturing cat and the color of its eyes start out as blue, and then turns amber. It may not reach its peridot green color, for as long as four years. The silver-tipping of its coat slowly becomes more prominent as the cat matures.
As for the history of the breed, the Korat was discovered in Ampur Pimai of the Korat province in Thailand. The earliest known recording of the Korat is represented in the ancient book of paintings and verses known as "The Cat-Book Poems" or "Smud Khoi of Cats," in Bangkok's National Library. It was produced some time during the Ayudhya Period of Siamese History (1350-1767). The book presents seventeen "good luck" cats of Thailand, which include the Korat, and is presently located at Bangkok's National Library. King Rama V named the breed when he remarked, "What a pretty cat. Where is it from?" and was told "Korat." There is much tradition and folklore behind the Korat. One such belief states that Korats with kinks in their tails increase your luck in Thailand.
The Thai people refer to the Korat as Si-Sawat cat (see-sa-what), and is the "real" Siamese cat. Another Thai name and description of the Korat is as follows:
"Dok" means flower, and "lao" is an herb, like lemongrass, with silver-tipped flowers. The first Korats were imported into the United States in June 1959. They were a brother and sister named Nara and Darra. These cats were from the Mahajaya Cattery of Thailand.
In 1967 CFA accepted the Korat into championship status. The first Korat Grand Champion in CFA was in the mid 1960's, and the first Korat to receive a National Win in CFA was in 1981.
The Korat is a unique breed that is waiting to be discovered by the general cat-owning public. Who would not want a cat that loves, respects and trusts you unconditionally? The early breeders who gave them their start in the United States, and the breeders of today, are to be thanked for their efforts of maintaining the integrity and overall one of a kind, silver-tipped blue cat of Thailand. A cat with a lot of heart.
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This program is supported by
The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc.
This program is supported by The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc.