Maew Boran Breed Group
The Maew Boran is the natural cat from Thailand, which occurs in many colours and patterns. Many of the different varieties are considered to be different breeds by the Thai people with names of their own, including the following;
Khao Manee, a white cat which can have blue, green, gold or odd eyes
Konja, a black self cat
Suphalak, a chocolate self cat
Lotus, or Lotus Petal is a lilac self cat - the native equivalent of the GCCF Thai Lilac
Si-sawat, a blue self cat - the native Thai Korat cat
Wichienmaat, the original name for the Siamese patterned cat - the native original Siamese cat
Bangkok (Wila Krungthep) Previously referred to as the Mocha cat, this is a more recent discovery among native Thai cats - a pale brown mocha coloured cat with blue or light aqua eye, thought to occur as the result of a mutation of the same gene that causes Siamese, Burmese and Tonkinese colour restriction.
Wila KrungSri, intermediate between the Bangkok and Burmese, with one Bangkok allele and one Burmese allele.
Others. There are also native Thai Tonkinese, native Thai Burmese, native Thai Oriental Shorthairs and various other colours and patterns including unusual white spotting patterns like gloving and white dorsal stripes.
Please note that, while these are ancient breeds, the work to coordinate breeding programmes and gain registration for them in Western cat fancy registries is relatively new so aspects of terminology and groupings could change with progress. The Western breeders are keen to work with breeders in Thailand towards common goals.
The ancient Tamra Maew book of Thai cat poem described many varieties of cat, most of which can still be seen among the native cat population of South East Asia, which is known for its distinctive characteristics of short, close-lying coat, elegant, slightly elongated body and head type and colours and patterns seen much less commonly elsewhere.
The Khao Manee is a “new” breed to North America and Europe arriving in the US in 1999, however it is not new to Thailand, its country of origin. The khao-plort, a white cat with mercury colored eyes (possibly a pale blue) was described in the 'Tamra Maew' (Cat Poems) of Thailand which are believed to be over 700 years old. The modern name for Khao-Plort is Khao Manee which means white gem.
The modern Khao Manee is small white cat with eyes of blue, gold, green or odd eyed (one blue eye and one either gold or green). Like all cats native to Thailand, Khao Manees are short-haired, a little lighter in build than cats of western origin, but not as light as the modern Siamese. Their litters tend to be small 3 to 4 kittens on average.
This cat makes an ideal pet. They are lively and personable loving the attention of people. Being people oriented they adapt to their human's schedule settling down when they go to sleep and becoming active when they do. If left for long periods of time they will let their human know it was a trial for them as they demand attention upon their human’s return.
An intelligent cat they have been known to play fetch or bring toys when they want more attention from their humans. They quickly learn to only scratch on appropriate places but are quick to explore any open cabinets or closets. The Khao Manee is an excellent pet for an owner who wants a cat that actively seeks out human company.
An Ancient rare breed, the Suphalak (sometimes also referred to as Thong Daeng) is the most rare of the Thai cat colours. The hallmark of this colour is the rich brown coat, just as dark on it's body, as it is on it's paws, nose, and tail. This cat is as brown as a Konja is black and the Korat is grey. In the sun, the coat develops an almost red cast, though in less severe light, the coat remains a more solid brown color.
In all the older Tamra Maew manuscripts the name Thong Daeng appears, or "Copper". The name Suphalak also appears within the Tamra Maew poem in reference to the cats characteristics as being magnificent. One poem makes reference to the rarity of this cat, in comparison to gold. The coat color is said to be a solid colour of thong daeng. While the translation to English is not completely clear, there is mention of 'ripe copper', perhaps better referred to as heated copper which takes on more of a red cast. In other manuscripts the hair color is simply described as solid red. The eye colour is compared to 'thuptim', translating to pomegranate, or Ruby. A cat with ruby red eyes seems unlikely, however the skin of pomegranates in Thailand have yellow-gold color, offering an alternative interpretation more accurate to the colour observed in suphalak seen today. The eyes are also said sparkle and shine, like shining rays.
The Konja (or Ninlarat) is a “new” breed to Western World and Europe, but it is not new in Thailand, its country of origin.
The famous Tamra Maew (Siamese Cat Poems) of Thailand are thought to have been created about 700 years ago, kept alive by oral tradition, and finally published perhaps 200 years ago. The poems described “good cats” deemed worthy of breeding and preservation, such as the Wichien-maat (ancestors of today’s Siamese and Thai), Tonkinese, Suphalaks, Burmese, Korat, and Konja.
It is important to introduce and breed the Konja internationally to keep these traditional cat breeds with their lineage pedigrees traceable back to Thailand to help preserve this unique Thailand breed. There is a distinct danger of extinction, especially if Western cat breeds become interbred with the the traditional Thai breeds.
In Thailand, the solid black cat is known as a Konja, or in some instances a Ninlarat. These black cats have the characteristic oriental physique and often have gold eyes. They have an unusually black coat that is such a saturated colour it shines. When you see a Konja for the first time, one immediately thinks of a panther! Black as night with eyes that almost glow in the dark.
While the Konja is described in the Tamra Maew (Cat Poems), only Kamnan Preecha continues to breed and preserve this colour of cat in Thailand to show visitors for educational purposes.
The Tamra Maew compares the color of hair to a black onyx gemstone, a rich black color with a glossy finish. In some manuscripts a description for the Ninlarat appears, in addition to Konja, as a separate Poem. Ninlarat, translating to "Onyx - Jewel / Gemstone)" is said to have black eyes, teeth, claws and tongue. A cat with a black tongue seems unlikely, and today the names Konja and Ninlarat are used interchangeably. It is important to note the Konja is both described, and depicted to have a white stripe from under the chin, down the chest, belly and ending at the start of the tail. Today this stripe is often forgotten, or ignored and a solid black cat is called Konja. Other manuscripts compare the color to black ink, also a glossy rich black color. The eye color is described as the color of a blooming Angled Gourd Flower or in Thai language Dok Baup (ดอกบวบ), an intense yellow / gold color. The Konja is said to walk with a beautiful and elegant stride, compared with the Singha - a mythological lion in Thai folklore. Anyone owning, feeding, or raising this cat is believed to have success in various aspects of life depending on the manuscript, ranging from health to achieving high rank.
The Bangkok cat, or Wila Krungthep, (sometimes referred to by the nick-name 'mocha') has generated interest among cat fanciers because it is a previously unknown colour and its genetic basis is still not fully understood, although genetic research is ongoing. The recessive gene which causes this variety is rare and it is thought to be a co-dominant allele of the albino series, meaning that additional varieties are also possible. In the same way that the intermediate between Siamese and Burmese is the Tonkinese, the intermediate between Bangkok and Burmese has been bred and named Wila KrungSri, while the intermediate bewteen the Bangkok and Siamese has been bred but has no official name yet, just the nick-name Si-Mocha. An unusual feature of the Bangkok cat is its blue or pale aquamarine eye colour. Breeders hope to produce more of these cats and to learn more about them.
Wila KrungSri ('Burmocha') kittens with one Bangkok parent and one Burmese parent. They are similar to Burmese with more pigment in their fur and eyes than Bangkok cats, but they are not genetically Burmese, as confimred by DNA testing.
Lotus or Thai Lotus Petal
The Lotus cat is the lilac variety of the Maew Boran, with a coat whose colour results from the combination of the genes for dilute and chocolate. It is a rare variety and is the native Thai equivalent of the GCCF Thai Lilac. They are a beautiful variety that deserves to be better known.
The Thai name for the Siamese patterned cat is Wichienmaat, however, in the Western cat fancy we have the Siamese breed which is based on this pattern gene and on cats imported from South East Asia, but which has been altered by selective breeding over the course of many decades to produce a cat with a more exaggerated version of the long elegant lines, longer more pointed muzzle and large ears. In more recent years a breed known as the Thai has been developed also based on the Siamese but with a more moderate, yet still elegant type. While some breeders have used old Siamese lines in these breeding programmes, others are now using Thai lines only, with the goal of protecting and preserving the native and natural pointed cat from Thailand.
The Wichienmaat is the original Siamese and progenitor for both of these breeds.