Khao Manee: A Rare Gem

Close-up image of a Khao Manee cat looking at the camera
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when we mention the words “princely kitty?” Perhaps you’ll start to imagine a pure white cat that’s graceful and charming, but at the same time, pretentious. We can’t fault you for thinking that; cats are famous for being an independent and wilful being after all. If even the normal cats are like that, what kind of horrors can you expect from a royal one? Luckily, the Khao Manee understands that it’s what’s inside that’s important—not the outside (although they have the best of both worlds).

The name, Khao Manee, means ‘white gem,’ and their striking good looks give this cat an elegant, royal aura. Sociable and friendly, you’ll find that the Khao Manee has no qualms about mixing with both adults and children. The Khao Manee are low-maintenance cats; they only require some occasional grooming to maintain those good looks, and there are no known particular illnesses that plague this attractive white cat. Also, the cat is hypo-allergenic.

khao-manee-cat sitting and looking up

In this article, we’re going to provide you with lots of useful information about the Khao Manee. We will discuss the cat’s alluring personality, their health, size, grooming habits, what the cat loves to eat, and generally what you can expect if you are lucky enough to be able to adopt one of these rare gems.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High
  • Grooming: Low Maintenance
  • Health: Good
  • All Around Friendliness: Very Good
  • Exercise Needs: Above Average; requires daily exercise
Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Natural Breed
Weight8 – 10 pounds for both male and female
Lifespan10 - 15 years

Thailand is a country that has produced a number of much-loved and popular cat breeds such as the Siamese. It was in 1999 that the first Khao Manee cat left Thailand and was brought to the United States by Colleen Freymouth. This is an old cat breed; their ancestry dates back centuries.

Colleen Freymouth imported a male and female Khao Manee to the United States in 1999, becoming the first person to breed these beauties outside of Thailand. The first litter of Khao Manee kittens was bred in North America, and today, even though the breed isn’t yet accepted by a number of cat registries, they were granted the Preliminary New Breed status by TICA in May 2012.

Khao Manee Cat looking up to the camera

Today, breeders in the US are promoting this beautiful white cat. Other cats may well have a reason to be envious of these beautiful cats as they possess a beautiful, white coat which is fine and smooth. It’s tempting to run your fingers through the silky fur and see the heart-shaped, high cheek-boned face with erect, slightly large ears turn to look at you with smug delight.The diamond-eyed beauty holds the title of one of the most expensive cat breeds. The odd-eyed ones—the rarest variety—are even more sought after and costly.

The Khao Manee has an excellent temperament—social, extroverted, and affectionate. The cats tend to be quite vocal and will let you know what they want. The cat loves company, which means that you can’t just lock your furry friend up for hours or let them stay in the house alone without any other pets or toys to keep them company.

The Khao Manee cat lying down near a wall

If you’ve got kids, the Khao Manee won’t disappoint and will keep up with them in terms of fun and games. They are very much into interactive activities; you won’t find these cats easily passing up a game. They will even play fetch with you, much like a dog.

The Khao Manee will eat most of the quality proprietary brands of cat foods available. Although, they shouldn’t be fed a mixed diet like a dog as they cannot process carbohydrates. Eating foods like this can make them seriously ill. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian for recommended food. Of course, a bowl of fresh, clean water should always be available.

Main Highlights

  • Although this breed is centuries old, the cats were only brought to the United States in 1999. They received the New Breed Status by TICA in 2012.
  • Owners love this undemanding cat breed whose silky white coat only needs a good brush every other week to keep it shiny and healthy.
  • They’re not prone to any particular diseases, so medical costs should be kept to a minimum. The cats will, however, require their usual vaccination boosters against common feline ailments—such as the flu and feline leukemia.
  • Don’t allow your Khao Manee to get too much sun exposure. With that pure white coat, the cat’s skin is prone to burning, and this can lead to cancer.
  • The Khao Manee shares much of their DNA with wild cats. As such, they love meat.

Breed History

The Khao Manee is a naturally-occurring breed. This means that they didn’t require human intervention to become what they are today. The breed has already been around for centuries and is looked upon as a unique, royal breed.

They originated in Thailand along with the Korat, Burmese, and Siamese cat breed variants—arriving in the United States in 1999. The breed has also been recognized in the UK by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).

The Khao Manee kittens in a basket

The breed is still fairly rare in other parts of the world. It is perhaps also why you won’t yet find a great deal of information available on the breed outside of Thailand. Still, with their distinctive looks and having a super personality to match, it’s no wonder that many attempts are being made to promote the breed. Certainly, this is happening in the UK as well as the USA.

As previously mentioned, in 2012, the International Cat Association recognized the cat for registration as an advanced new breed. Cat lovers—and breeders—are now waiting for the cat to get the full formal TICA recognition as a pedigree breed.


Khao Manee cats are medium-sized with muscular, athletic bodies. When full grown, both males and females will weigh between 8 and 10 pounds. The legs are fairly long, and the cat also has a medium-length tail.

Personality and Character

Full of life, there’s never a dull moment with the sociable Khao Manee. These cats will be a true companion for you—even going so far as to follow you around. Of course, they’re hoping you’ll pick them up and stroke them while they purr away with contentment.

The amusing thing about these cats is that they like to get up to hijinks; and while they’re at it, they will be looking at you to see your reaction. And that’s another fascinating aspect with them; they seem to want to please you. They would often look you in the eye to gauge your feelings.

Khao Manee cat lying in bed

Provide your Khao Manee with the love they crave, and you’ll have an affectionate, sociable feline friend who will purr their contentment the whole time they are with you as you share a special kinship together.

Health and Potential Problems

The Khao Manee is generally a healthy cat and has no known specific health issues. However, because of their white coat and blue/green eyes, you don’t want to leave your cat out in the sun for too long. This can lead to sunburn and cancer. Also, it is quite common for blue-eyed cats to be deaf. Having said that, cat experts tell us that this deafness isn’t a feature of the Khao Manee; it is just a possibility.

Pure White Khao Manee male and female kittens

Even though this particular cat breed is generally healthy, your kitty kat will still require vaccinations in order to keep away common infectious diseases that can cause fatalities in cats. Vaccinating your pet also ensures health and longevity. Failing to inoculate your pet against some of the major diseases can put them at risk. Your kitten will certainly require regular vet appointments.

Here, we take a look at some feline diseases that you need to be aware of:

  • Dental Problems. Just like humans, dental problems set in more frequently as cats get older. Dental diseases are associated with dental plaque—bacteria which forms on the surface of the teeth. You will want to protect your Khao Manee by investing in pet toothpaste and toothbrush to keep their teeth and gums clean and healthy.
  • Diarrhea. Once-off loose stools aren’t a cause for concern, but long-term diarrhea is as it can lead to dehydration. Diarrhea can be brought on by something as simple as a change in diet, but it can also be an allergic reaction or brought about by a bacterial or viral infection, cancer, or even parasites. Get your cat to the vet if you detect dehydration, fever, lethargy, vomiting, and weight loss on top of loose stools.
  • Feline Distemper. This vaccine FVRCP is recommended for all cats. Calicivirus and herpesvirus can result in respiratory infections for your cat. While these two flu-like viruses are not necessarily life threatening, panleukopenia—which is inflammation of the airways—is highly contagious, and can often be fatal. This is because the airways swell and the cat can’t breathe.
  • Fleas. Fleas are parasites found on cats, and you’ll know your cat has these when they are constantly licking or nibbling at their skin. This can lead to another problem—hair loss. Fleas can cause skin allergies, and worse, they can transmit other parasites such as tapeworms. Flea problems can be managed by preventing them with different methods of control. Speak to your veterinarian for advice on flea treatment.
  • Rabies. This viral disease affects the spinal cord and the brain of the cat. The very word evokes fear in people, and the disease is all but 100% fatal. Vaccination against rabies is required by law in some states. Vaccinate your cat for peace of mind.
  • Rhinotracheitis. This is a sudden herpesvirus disease. Pus and discharge from the nose are two of the main symptoms of this virus. Your cat will also have an eye infection. The virus enters the cat by way of nose inhalation, ingestion, or contact with the eyes. A queen can infect her kittens. The incidence of FHV-1 is high in cats that haven’t been vaccinated properly.
  • Ringworm. Caused by a fungus, this is a highly contagious disease that infects the cat’s skin, resulting in patchy red rings with hair loss. Known as dermatophytosis, the lesions are usually found on the ears, head, and legs, but can spread over the entire body.

Khao Manee cats are generally healthy and low-maintenance, especially if you keep up with their vaccination schedule. Caring for your delightful Khao Manee properly will ensure that your feline pet gets to live to their average lifespan of 12 years, and even beyond.

Care Features

The Khao Manee isn’t a demanding cat. Lots of love and attention and a hearty brush each week are enough to help keep their short white fur glossy and healthy. Playfulness is built into the Khao Manee cat’s nature, so playtimes are important for this active breed. Exercise is also important if you want to maintain the lean, athletic, muscular body of this elegant-looking cat.

Side view of a khao-manee cat

If your cat is fortunate to have a place to go outdoors, you’ll see your feline friend rolling on the grass or running up a tree. If your cat is essentially an indoor pet, make sure you provide scratching posts, climbing frames, and an assortment of cat toys, as these will all help with them releasing some of their energy. Because the Khao Manee is so intelligent, you can train them easily and involve them in cat shows—allowing their dazzling looks and personality to be in the limelight.

Feeding Schedule

To ensure your Khao Manee stays healthy, proper nutrition is imperative. Speak to your vet when in doubt. You’ll notice there are dry and wet feeds available, but your vet can recommend some quality brands which have the right amount of fiber and vitamins in them.

Some feeds are appropriate for older cats and others for younger cats. All cats are essentially carnivorous, and every cat requires specific nutrients, but kittens require feed with more fats and protein to promote growth.

A close up of a Khao Manee cat's wonderful pink ears

The best cat food manufacturers know the exact proportions of these ingredients for good health, so you can also follow the directions available on the packaging. Some homemade foods such as soft, cooked chicken can be added in to complement your cat’s diet.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The Khao Manee’s coat is mesmerizingly white, and with blue/green or yellow eyes, this is one hell of a beautiful cat. The Khao Manee cat’s hair is short. Keeping it sleek and groomed is no trouble at all. The short fur requires nothing more than a brush each week. The low-maintenance short hair is a perk for many cat owners as it leads to minimal shedding.

Image of a Khao Manee cat playing outside

As with all cat breeds, to keep your cat’s good looks, ensure that you keep up to date with all vaccinations and health checks. Remember to keep a check on your cat’s teeth too and make use of special pet dental products.

These grooming rituals are important because not only do they strengthen the bond between you and your feline friend, they also stimulate blood circulation for a shiny coat and prevent any kind of matting.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Khao Manees are such sociable, adaptable cats that even if they do change owners, they make it their business to adapt. They’re such sociable cats that meeting new people isn’t intimidating for them one bit. This white gem of a cat loves to ‘chat’ and interact with people, and they love children too, as this means extra games! The Khao Manee is simply a wonderful companion for both the young and the old.

Image of a Khao Manee cat playing resting in bed

You’re not going to have much trouble either when introducing your Khao Manee to other cats and dogs, although, with boisterous dogs, introducing your cat should be done slowly and with caution. Because these cats require activities and stimulation to be happy and content, they love to be in families where there is always a buzz of activity with children and other pets.

Wrap Up

A large number of different types of cats can be found throughout the world. The Khao Manee from Thailand is a wonderful ‘find’ for serious cat lovers. With a sociable, energetic nature and super good looks to match, cat lovers are displaying overwhelming awe at this rare find. The cats have proven to be a great addition to any cat-loving family looking for a reliable pet.

Their white fur and mesmerizing eyes may make them look like royalty, but this charming cat doesn’t mind getting rough and dirty during play. Cat owners who have had other breeds are discovering a whole new side to cat ownership with the Khao Manee—not an aloof being, but rather, an interactive, amusing, social member of the family. The delightful Khao Manee is a beautiful cat in their natural simplicity. The cat simply confirms people’s belief that this is one cat you can own with spectacular success.

Khao-Manee cat lying down and resting

Do you think the snow-white Khao Manee is the right cat for you? Or perhaps you would be interested in learning more about the royal kitty lineage from Thailand by reading up on another breed that’s not quite white in color, but no less princely? Why not share your thoughts with us in the section below? If you’re already living with a Khao Manee, we’d love to hear about your encounters with them too!

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.