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The Korat is a very ancient breed of cat originating from the Korat region of North East Thailand where it is still fairly rare and highly prized by the Thai people who consider it to be their national cat. It has appeared on postage stamps in Thailand in recent years and there is an illustration of the stamp hanging in the main Post Office of Korat. The cat has a slate blue coat, which was thought to have developed so that it would blend in with the granite landscape of its natural habitat, and to help it escape from danger. This cat is first mentioned in 'The Cat-Book Poems' of the Ayutthaya Kingdom between 1350 and 1767, an important book now kept in the National Library, in Bangkok. However, the picture accompanying the text is not sufficiently detailed to illustrate the definitive look of the cat at this period in history. In Thailand, the Korat was originally known by its native name 'Si-Sawat' which can mean grey-blue - the word 'sawat' on its own means prosperity or good luck, and it is said that these cats used to be given in pairs to newly-weds or those who were highly-esteemed, to bring them luck. At that time Korats were only ever presented as gifts, and never for sale. It is said that King Rama V of Siam (1858-1910) asked where the cat originated from, and then gave it the more modern name of Korat.
It is thought that the first Korats were imported into Britain between 1889 and 1896, but at that time they were considered to be Blue Siamese, in much the same way as Russian Blues were, as nobody really knew what breed the newly imported blue cats were. However, as Siamese breeders insisted that they did not conform to Siamese type, the Korats had largely disappeared by 1901 - the one or two remaining did in fact turn out to be carrying Siamese or Russian Blue as was demonstrated by the kittens that they produced. At this point in their modern development, Korats were thought not to be a proper breed, but rather a variety of Siamese or Russian Blue, or even a cross between the two. It is very likely that a certain amount of interbreeding of blue cats of foreign type took place at this time. The first documented Korats in the West were sent from a registered breeder in Bangkok to a breeder in the USA in 1959. A pure Korat breeding programme was established in the USA, and in 1972, registered Korats were imported to the UK, both countries introducing a policy of no out-crossing in order to preserve the pureness of the imported cats. Within 2 years, there were over 20 pure Korats in this country and in 1975 the breed was given preliminary recognition. However, as they were slow to gain popularity it was another 10 years before they gained Championship status at UK shows, and they are still considered to be a minority breed.
The Korat is a medium sized cat of foreign type, slow to mature, and distinguished by its distinctive heart-shaped face, with very large, almost luminous, green eyes, and large ears set high. Kittens often have amber eyes and fluffy coats - this breed can take a couple of years or more years to fully mature. The body is sturdy, muscular and firm, heavier than it looks, with a single blue coat very well tipped with silver. The colour should be pure, without any patchiness or tabby markings, although the lightness or darkness of the blue can vary slightly. The cat we know as a Korat today is only ever blue, although it has been discovered that the breed carries recessive colour genes from its early native breeding in Thailand, and, very rarely, Korats can produce Blue Point and Lilac variants, which were first recognised in the UK as a breed in their own right in 2002, and given the breed names of Thai Blue Point and Thai Lilac.
The Korat is a highly individual cat, full of personality and winning ways. They are very intelligent and gregarious, loving to be with their human family and frequently 'helping' around the home! They have a very innocent expression, but the Korat is a very determined cat, and knows exactly what it wants, expecting to get its own way with a strong-willed personality. They need quite a lot of attention, and without it can become demanding, stubborn and more territorial than many other breeds. However, they thrive on human company, and are not the best breed to be left alone if owners are out at work all day or away a lot, as they will suffer from lack of attention. Korats love to play, and will appreciate plenty of toys, and they enjoy retrieving objects that are thrown for them. They are a very athletic breed and love to chase round the home, often leaping on and off shelves. Korats are also very vocal cats, often with quite loud voices, though not as strident as the Siamese, but they are just being chatty, not aggressive, despite their wide vocabulary.
Korats are not known to have any breed-specific health problems and many live to a very good age in the mid to upper teens. As with all other breeds, they need annual vaccination boosters against the common feline ailments of flu and enteritis, as well as against Feline Leukaemia if they go outdoors.
Caring for a Korat
This breed will eat most good quality proprietary brands of cat food, but will also enjoy treats of cooked chicken, ham and grated cheese. However, cows' milk will probably give them a stomach upset, and a bowl of water should always be available. They have very short glossy coats, which need little grooming, and any loose hairs can normally be removed hairs simply by stroking, which the Korat will adore!
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