THE KORAT IS ANOTHER cat that comes with a long legendary history. A natural breed, it comes in only one coat colour, silver-blue.
ORIGINS OF THE BREED
IT ORIGINATED IN the Korat province of eastern Thailand, on the border with Laos. The Korat’sThai name is Si-siwat and it is in this guise that it appears in The Cat-Book Poems, a Thai manuscript at least 300 years old and possibly older than 600, now held in the National Library in Bangkok. The poet describes the Korat’s smooth hair, ‘with roots like clouds and tips like silver’ and its eyes ‘like dewdrops on a lotus leaf’. The silver-tipped coat and vivid green eyes carried associations of good fortune. They were often presented to brides as a token of a prosperous marriage, and were invited into the rice-fields in the hopes of rain and a good harvest, the mature Korat’s eyes being the color of young rice plants. King Chulalongkorn of Siam, who reigned from 1868 – 1910, was very fond of cats and is said to have given the Korat its name after hearing the origin of an example he had particularly admired. In fact, Korats are, although rare, found throughout Thailand, not only in its easternmost province.
BREED IS ESTABLISHED
THE FIRST MENTION of the Korat in the west is a the records of the National Cat Show in London in 1896 where, described as a blue Siamese, it was exhibited by a traveler who had brought it back from Thailand. (Sadly, it was disqualified for being the wrong color.) Nothing more is heard of the Korat until 1959, when a pair named Nara and Darra were imported directly from Thailand to the United States. Interest in the breed grew from there, and more Korats were imported, the gene pool at first being enlarged by out-crossing with blue point Siamese. (This practice has now been outlawed.)
In 1964 the Korat made its United States debut at the Empire Cat Club show, and by the next year there were enough owners to form a breed club with the aim of achieving recognition. Within five years this had been granted by all United States cat fancy organizations as well as in Canada, South Africa, and Australia. The first Korats arrived in Britain in 1972 and British recognition in the Foreign group followed in 1975.
Breeding controls on the Korat, aimed at preserving the breed’s integrity, are unusually strict. There must be no out-crossing, and every Korat’s ancestry must be traceable back to Thailand. All imports are carefully documented.
THE KORAT IS a semi-cobby, medium sized cat, supple, and muscular, with a rounded back. The forelegs are slightly shorter than the hind legs and the paws are oval. Males should look powerful, and females smaller and dainty. The tail is medium in length, tapering to a rounded tip. The head is heart shaped with a semi-pointed muzzle, a strong chin and jaw, neither square nor pointed, and breadth between and across the eyes. The eyebrow ridges form the upper curves of the head, the cheeks gently curving down to the chin. There is a slight nose break, and the tip of the nose just above the leather has a downward curve. The ears are large, rounded at the tip, and set high on the head to give an alert expression. They should be open at the base, with little hair inside the pinnae. The eyes, a brilliant green, should be large and luminous, and set wide apart. They should be well-rounded when open but slightly slanted when closed.
The Korat’s coat is single-layered, short to medium in length. It should be glossy and fine and lie close to the body. The silver tipping should be without shading, markings or white hairs, and should be most intense where the hair is shortest, especially on the backs of the ears, the nose, and the paws. Paw pads and nose leather may be dark blue or lavender-pink.
KORATS MAKE AFFECTIONATE pets, enjoying being fondled and played with.They are quiet and gentle, moving slowly and cautiously. They dislike sudden loud noises, so are not a good choice for a home with young children or noisy dogs.
GROOMING IS MINIMAL. Korats seem unusually vulnerable to respiratory viral infections (‘cat flu’). Litters are usually three or four but may be up to nine. The kittens are born with an untidy version of their adult coats, and often have amber eyes after the first weeks.
The perfection of the adult coat and the correct vivid green eye color may take from 2 – 4 years to appear.