Korat



Korat
"The eyes of the Korat are like those of no other cat; expressive and oversized for the face with a depth and intense gaze that takes your breath away...as sparkling as the ‘dewdrops on a lotus leaf.' " Like all newborn kittens at first the eyes are blue, changing to amber with a green tinge around the pupil during adolescence. Then, when the cat reaches approximately two to four years of age, the eyes are luminous green.

Korats have extraordinary powers of hearing, sight and scent. They are gentle pets, moving softly and cautiously, disliking sudden, loud or harsh noises. Those destined to be shown must be trained from birth to accept noise and handling, possibly by keeping a radio on in the nursery, and by lifting and posing the kitten as judges do. Korats form an exceptionally strong bond of affection with their owners and respond warmly to cuddling, setting as close as possible. They mix well with other cats but tend to want to have the upper hand and will not let the others keep them from their rightful place at their owner's side. They have been cherished for centuries in their native Thailand and they naturally expect this tradition to be maintained wherever they go. Korats are active in their play, but are very gentle with children.


Their hair does not float off when they are being stroked and petted, so many people with an allergy to cat hair find their proximity tolerable. The roots of the hair are a light bluish color, darkening before the ends become silver-tipped. This silvering over the whole body should make a halo, or aura, effect and the close lying fur shines like a polished silver dollar.



Thai "lucky" breed with silver-tipped blue fur, modified oriental build and distinctive heart-shaped face which differentiates it from Russian Blue and Foreign Blue Shorthair. Also called Si-Sawat or Royal Cat. It was once believed that the gene for the Korat's blue color was dominant and distinct from the gene for blue in other cats. Blue-pointed and Lilac Korat variants occur naturally and there are unconfirmed reports of "fawn" Korats and longhaired variants.

They are considered a symbol of good fortune by the Thais. Many good luck traditions surround the Korat: they are the color of silver, signifying wealth; they are the color of rain clouds, with eyes the color of young rice, meaning good crops. The gift of a pair of Si-Sawat cats to the bride ensures a fortunate marriage.

The Korat, from Thailand, is highly honored in that country. It is also known as the Si-Sawat. Pictures found in a book in the National Library in Bangkok take the Korat back to the Ayudhya Period of Siamese History in 1350 through 1767.
The first pair of Korats came to the United States in 1959 and was recognized for show in 1966 in the U.S. and 1975 in Britain.


The Korat's body is muscular, The head is shaped like a heart and it is very broad across the eyes. No other breed has this feature. The eyes of the Korat are quite large and bright. They will become a a luminous green although it can take up to four years for the color to be fully developed. The legs are thin but proportionate to the body. The front legs are shorter than the back legs. The coat is short and shiny. Regular combing or daily hand grooming should keep hairballs at a minimum. This cat does need a warm climate.


The only color variety for the Korat is blue. Each hair is tipped with silver giving the coat a silvery blue appearance.

The overall impression of the Korat is very different from that of other blue breeds. The body is excellently muscled and has a surprising heft, and the fur has the texture and sheen of silk- results of good health, exercise and excellent nutrition. The Korat is a gentle cat that likes play but is not fond of loud noises. They are known to be good with children. It is said they have exceptional hearing and a keen sense of smell and sight.

History

The Cat-Book Poems, a manuscript of verses and paintings written some time between 1350 and 1767 A.D. in Thailand, includes the earliest illustrations and descriptions of the Korat. The artists and writers of the document, whose names have long been forgotten, describe the Korat as a good luck cat, with eyes the color of new rice that shine like dewdrops on a lotus leaf, and a body the color of rain clouds and silver. Unlike Siamese cats that were primarily owned by Thailand's royalty, Korats were the cats of the common people, and were highly prized as living good luck charms. Called Si-Sawat (si meaning color and sawat being the name of a fruit plant with a silver-blue seed), Korats were rarely sold, but rather were given as special expressions of respect and esteem. New brides were given a pair of Si-Sawat cats to ensure their happy marriages.

Whether the Cat-Book Poems was produced during the mid-fourteenth century or the mid-eighteenth makes little difference. Either way, the Korat can be deemed one of the oldest domestic cat breeds, along with its compatriots, the Siamese, Burmese, and Havana Brown, also described in the manuscript. The Korat is also considered one of today's purest breeds; it looks very much like its wild ancestors that roamed the jungles of the Malay Peninsula.


Jean Johnson is credited with bringing the first Korat cats to America. Johnson, who lived in Bangkok with her husband for six years, tried unsuccessfully to buy a pair of Korats. In 1959 she was finally given a pair of Korats by the Thai government. The pair, Nara and Darra, became America's foundation Korats. To avoid inbreeding, Johnson crossbred Nara and Darra to Siamese cats that she had also brought back from Thailand. She then carefully eliminated from her breeding program any kittens with Siamese characteristics. (Some researchers believe that the Korat returned the favor to the Siamese. The blue point is theorized to have originated from a cross between the seal point and the Korat, since there's no actual record of the ancestry of the first blue points.)


In the 1960s more Korats were obtained from Thailand. In 1966 ACA became the first U.S. association to recognize the Korat, followed by the CFA later the same year. Today the Korat is recognized by all the U.S. registries and, while still rare, is being promoted by a growing and dedicated group of breeders and fanciers.


Today, in its native land, the Korat is hard to find and harder to export. In recent years numbers have dwindled and those that remain are prized by the Thai people, who still consider the cat a symbol of good luck. A recent anecdote tells of a Thai man who used his Korat's cat show entry number when choosing numbers for a lottery ticket, and won.


Personality

Korats are not as vocal as their Siamese comrades; they have other ways of getting their wishes across. At dinnertime they'll wrap themselves around your ankle, clamber up onto your shoulder, and perhaps give you a nip on the shin if you don't hurry up with the cat food-but given something important to say, they speak their minds.


On the cat activity level scale, they are an 8: social, playful, and full of life, but not bouncing-off-the-walls hyper. They are also reported to possess high intelligence.


Like the Siamese, Korats are fetchers of tossed toys, cats whose favorite game is the one in which you take an active part. Korats crave affection from their humans, and will scheme to gain possession of your lap, your arms, and your heart.



The earliest known picture of a Korat, or Si-Sawat, cat is to be found in the ancient book of paintings and verses known as The Cat-Book Poems in Bangkok's National Library. It is believed by the Fine Arts Department, a division of Thailand's Ministry of Education, to have been produced some time during the Ayudhya Period of Siamese History (1350-1767).

A high-ranking monk, Somdej Phra Buddhacharn Buddhasarmahathera, was commissioned by King Rama V (1869-1910) to copy The Cat-Book Poems on special Khoi paper. Known as the Smud Khoi of Cats, it hangs in a high glass case in the Minor Arts Room of Bangkok's National Museum. Books were folded, not bound as is a more recent version, known as The Book of the Cat, also in the National Museum, which is apparently a twentieth century version of the cats and their accompanying verses. This shows seventeen cats, whose ownership brings good fortune and six with boding of the very reverse. Among the Good Luck cats is the Korat.


King Rama V is said to have named the breed when he remarked, "What a pretty cat - where is it from?" and was told "Korat." Presently in Thailand the Korats are generally referred to as the Si-Sawat cats (see-sah-waht) and are found in other provinces as well. There's no changing the color of the breed. Korats are silver-blue from their first day until their last; a cat of any other color is not a Korat. Their coats are soft and close-lying, with each blue hair tipped with silver.

In 1959, the first known pair of Korats (Nara and Darra), were imported into the United States. The Korats were accepted for competition in CFA in the championship category in 1966.



Conformation

Coat and color, as well as a muscular and semi-cobby body type, set this breed apart. The coat is a solid, even, silver-blue color with no tabby markings or shading, but the hair shafts themselves are lighter at the roots and shade to a darker blue just before the tips. The fur is tipped with silver, giving a silvery sheen or "halo effect" to the coat. The Korat goes through an "ugly duckling" phase and doesn't attain its true beauty until two to four years of age. The eye color is not usually true until the cat matures.



GeneralThe Korat (Koh-raht) is a rare cat even in Thailand, its country of origin, and because of its unusually fine disposition, is greatly loved by the Thai people who regard it as a "good luck" cat. Its general appearance is of a silver blue cat with a heavy silver sheen, medium sized, hard-bodied, and muscular. All smooth curves with huge eyes, luminous, alert, and expressive. Perfect physical condition, alert appearance.
BodySemi-cobby, neither compact nor svelte. The torso is distinctive. Broad chested with good space between forelegs. Muscular, supple, with a feeling of hard coiled spring power and unexpected weight. Back is carried in a curve. The males tend to be larger than females.
HeadWhen viewed from the front, or looking down from just back of the head, the head is heartshaped with breadth between and across the eyes. The eyebrow ridges form the upper curves of the heart, and the sides of the face gently curve down to the chin to complete the heartshape. Undesirable: any pinch or narrowness, especially between or across the eyes.
ProfileWell-defined with a slight stop between forehead and nose which has a lion-like downward curve just above the leather. Undesirable: nose that appears either long or short in proportion.
Chin/JawStrong and well-developed, making a balancing line for the profile and properly completing the heartshape. Neither overly squared nor sharply pointed, nor a weak chin that gives the head a pointed look.
EarsLarge, with a rounded tip and large flare at base, set high on head, giving an alert expression. Inside ears sparsely furnished. Hairs on outside of ears extremely short and close.
EyesLarge and luminous. Particularly prominent with an extraordinary depth and brilliance. Wide open and oversized for the face. Eye aperture, which shows as well-rounded when fully open, has an Asian slant when closed or partially closed. Undesirable: small or dull looking eyes.
Legs/PawsLegs are well-proportioned to body. Distance along back from nape of neck to base of tail appears to be equal to distance from base of tail to floor. Front legs slightly shorter than back legs. Paws are oval. Toes: five in front and four behind.
TailMedium in length, heavier at the base, tapering to a rounded tip. Non-visible kink permitted.
CoatSingle. Hair is short in length, glossy and fine, lying close to the body. The coat over the spine is inclined to break as the cat moves.
ColorSilver-tipped blue all over, the silver should be sufficient to produce a silver halo effect. The hair is usually lighter at the roots with a gradient of blue which is deepest just before the tips which are silver. Adults should be without shading or tabby markings. Allow for ghost tabby markings in kittens. Where the coat is short, the sheen of the silver is intensified. Undesirable: coats with silver tipping on only the head, legs and feet. Nose leather and lips: dark blue or lavender. Paw pads: dark blue ranging to lavender with a pinkish tinge. Eye color: luminous s green preferred, amber cast acceptable. Kittens and adolescents can have yellow or amber to amber-green eyes; the color is not usually achieved until the cat is mature, usually two to four years of age.
DisqualifyVisible kink. Incorrect number of toes. White spot or locket. Any color but silver-tipped blue.
Allowable OutcrossesNone