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Those eyes, those marvelous, luminescent, jewelled-green eyes ...

Perhaps, it was those eyes that first drew me to the Korat. Seeing beyond them to the rest of the cat was almost impossible. I knew I should be looking for the heart-shaped face, the muscular body and wonderful silver coat and all I could see were those eyes.

In Thailand, the color of the Korats eyes has been described as the color of young rice or dew on a lotus leaf. Unfortunately, most Americans do not relate easily to either description. The eyes are large, round and translucent at all stages of the cats development. As kittens, Korats have pale amber to light green eyes; as they mature, the color changes to an iridescent green.

The Korat originted in Siam, now Thailand. Today four different types of cats native to the country can be seen there: the solid brown, the blue point, the seal point and the Korat, a solid blue. Of these types, the Korat is the only one that can be distinguished easily at night: Its eyes glow emerald green instead of the ruby red characteristic of the other types of cats.

Many breeders look for what they call a heart upon a heart look in the head structure of the Korat. The first heart is formed by imaginary lines that extend from the rounded tip of the chin up to the top of the ears and then back to the top of the head. The second heart can be seen on the face, starting from the chin to the cats eyebrow ridges. Many judges look at yet a third heart, one that can be viewed by looking down at the top of the cats head. The Korats nose forms the point of the heart, and two lines flow from arches behind the ears. The lines are not entirely imaginary; they are suggested in part by a slight indentation at the cats forehead that runs to the back of the head.

Well-Coiled Spring

Korats are said to have guarded homes and villages in ancient Thailand, and I must admit I would not want to tangle with a Korat if it were guarding anything. This is a very powerful cat, described by many breeders as a well coiled spring. Females as well as males are well muscled and are much heavier than they appear. A friend of mine who bred Korats for many years describes the cats body as choice beef roast wrapped in luxurious silken fur.

The Korats luxurious fur is another mark of distinction. It is a single coat, which means all the fur is the same length and the cat has no undercoat. Because of the latter, shedding is minimal. Each hair shaft is a light shade of blue at the base, then a darker blue at a midway point and silver at te tip of the hair shaft. This color combination has given rise to a metaphor in Thailand that says the coat has the appearance of rain clouds before a thunderstorm. Where the fur is shorter, such as on the nose and legs, the intensity of the tipping can result in a color that looks like pure silver.

During kittenhood, the coat of a Korat sometimes appears to be faintly barred. Breeders refer to this period of barring as the stars and stripes phase. The barring is more prominent on kittens that have lighter colored coats and almost invariably disappears with maturity.

Although today the body of the Korat is medium in size, as few as 15 years ago the breed was quite small, with females weighing between 4 and 6 pounds, and males ranging from 6 to 8 pounds. Now most females weigh between 6 and 8 pounds and males from 8 to 10 pounds. Keep in mind, however, that the cat carries its weight in a highly compact mass, resulting in the appearance of a smaller animal.

The tail tapers to a rounded tip and is the same length as the rest of the body. The feet are small and rounded. When you watch a Korat move, you may notice a strange gait; this occurs because the back legs are slightly longer than the front. The back curves gently, and the cat has a molten-silver appearance as it walks.

In Thailand, the Korat is known as the good-luck cat because, as stated earlier, its eye color is similar to the color of young rice, and the coat is the color of clouds that bring rain. The emerald green that glows in the eyes at night is thought to be much more valuable than the ruby color characteristic of other cats. The molten-silver appearance that occurs when the cat walks or moves is thought to indicate wealth.

A pair of Korats given as a wedding gift is a sign of good fortune for the newlyweds. (Although Korats have graced my home for many years, I have yet to win the lottery, but I still feel lucky to have these special cats.)

Beware of Raiders

Extremely intelligent, the Korat can learn almost any trick and seems capable of clever reasoning. I have had to place food in top cupboards in very secure containers because of raiders. Two of my Korats have been known to get into a plastic container by removing the lid -- without spilling any of the food stored inside. On two occasions, they removed the lid of a large glass jar and did not break the glass.

Another cat I know learned how to work electric light switches and would flip the lights on and off to attract the owners attention. The owner had to lock the cat out of the bathroom when she wanted to take a shower.

Not enjoying the boredom of being alone while the owner was away at work, another Korat learned that all the water in the toilet bowl could be flushed away by the flip of a lever. Unfortunately, this took place in California during a drought, and the owner almost was fined for using too much water! She did not know her cat was the culprit until a detective sent by the water company caught the cat in the act. A wire had to be installed around the toilet lever to deter the Korat.

I am sometimes unnerved when the Korats seem to know something before I do. When I went to get my first Korat, the mother cat delivered the kitten I was to have by carrying her from another room and dropping her at my feet. Similarly, I have found that the Korats I own, as well as their kittens, have definite ideas about potential owners coming through the door. One entire litter of mine ignored a family that said they wanted a Korat kitten. Shortly after the family arrived, they became interested in an American Shorthair kitten that was in my living room. I guess the Korats preferred that the American kitten go home with the visitors.

As you may have already surmised, the Korat demands attention. It is a natural retriever and will often bring you an item to toss in a game of go fetch. Usually your arm will get tired before the cat wears out. A Korat even may try to fool you by pretending to lose the item, only to suddenly discover it after you have looked for it for some time. One of my Korats liked to steal items from visiting children so she could play with them later.

Good with Children

I have read that a Korat is not an animal to choose for a family with small children, but I cannot understand why that statement was made. I have placed many Korats with families, and the neighbor children come over daily to play with my kittens. One family adopted a Korat male when their child was 3 years old. The cat was so taken with the youngster that when the child went to school for the first time, the cat seemed beside himself with worry. He peered out the window the entire day, waiting for the child to return.

Korats bond with small children as well as with older people -- and the key word is bond. You do not own a Korat; it chooses you as its person. In doing so, you gain a faithful and loving companion.

Korats are happiest when they are with their owners. I have known Korats to live on sailboats, ride in backpacks and go camping with their owners. The less adventurous ones are content to snuggle on the sofa and watch television or curl up in the way of your good book.

Patience, Please

Now that you have fallen in love with the Korat and are determined to own one, be prepared to answer the breeders many questions. You will also be told that you will have to wait to take a kitten home until it is 14 to 16 weeks old, the usual age for a Korat to leave its mother and littermates. A Korat older than 1 year can fit in nicely in your home, too. All the cat needs is a person to care for it and keep it entertained.

A Korat is sold with a pledge that you will be asked to sign. In general, the pledge states that the kitten or cat will be given a good home and love. The pledge also says you will not allow the Korat to run unprotected, will not have it declawed and will not sell it at a pet store. Most Korat breeders are adamant about the restrictions of this pledge.

The Korat will come with proof of vaccination and will have health records. You will also obtain verification that the cats pedigree can be traced to the Korat plateau in Thailand; all Korats that are registered can prove this heritage.

Because the Korat is so intelligent, I suggest you think of it as a precocious child. Never, never let a Korat kitten do anything you would not want it doing the rest of its life, such as climb drapes or sit on the table. Define the socially acceptable things your cat can do in its new home, because if you do not, the Korat will set its own limits.

A good water spray bottle, for example, can work wonders with training, allowing the Korat to learn quickly what is acceptable and what is not. You may even find you cat looking for the spray bottle when it is considering doing an ill deed.

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