Khao Manee (pronounced “cow-muh-nee”)—also known as White Gem, Khao Plort, and Diamond Eye cats—hail from Thailand, where they’re considered an ancient breed and harbingers of good luck. These cats are known for their snow-colored coats, jewel-tone eyes, and athletic bodies.
These lucky charms are outgoing, playful pets who are totally dedicated to their humans. These cats thrive on attention, and they usually get a ton of it, thanks to their striking appearance and social nature. Khao Manees make loving family pets and great companions for children.
Khao Manees are rare and considered a newer breed outside of Thailand. Because of their rareness and the cost of importing, a Khao Manee kitten from a reputable breeder can set you back somewhere between $7,000–$11,000.
Those looking to identify the Khao Manee should know the breed’s most apparent defining feature is their short, smooth, pure white coat. This breed can sometimes be born with black spots or dark markings on their fur, but any pattern will fade away by around 18 months of age.
Their big, vibrant eyes can be any shade of blue, green, or gold, though the most prized Khao Manee eye color is odd-eyed—meaning one blue and one green, or one blue and one gold. Their almond-shaped eyes are bright and expressive with a slight upward slant.
Khao Manees have long, lithe bodies with a muscular, athletic build. This breed usually weighs between 8–10 pounds and is graceful in appearance, with long legs and oval paws. These cute white cats have large ears that point away from each other and medium-length tails.
If their striking appearance doesn’t draw enough attention, the Khao Manee’s playful personality certainly will. The Khao Manee is an incredibly social cat and loves to be in the center of the action. This breed is curious, intelligent, and a little mischievous. They’re inquisitive creatures who love to inspect every inch of their space and scale the furniture to find the best view.
Khao Manees are known for being extremely talkative, so you can expect frequent conversations with this chatty companion. They’re not stranger shy, and usually feel comfortable approaching guests and new faces. This bold, aristocratic breed is confident, friendly, and incredibly loyal to their family.
Human affection is very important to your little Khao Manee. Since they need so much attention, it’s important to never leave your Khao Manee alone for too long. When left to their own devices these kitties can get lonely and feel neglected. A family with lots of time and attention to give is the best fit for this super social cat.
Speaking of social, don’t worry too much if you frequently host or have a rotating door of visitors. Khao Manees just want you at home, and they don’t really care who you bring along. They’re pleased to engage with new visitors, as long as they’re willing to provide him with some of the attention he craves so much.
Kids and other pets will be welcome playmates to your pet Khao Manee. They don’t mind sharing the spotlight with the ones they love, and they will quickly form a bond with everyone in the family. Because this breed is so curious and friendly, you’ll need to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t run off through an open door or window to explore the world.
The Khao Manee has a short coat that’s relatively easy to care for. Weekly brushing is recommended to help rid them of loose hairs, but otherwise, they do a lot of the grooming work themselves. Make sure to regularly trim your Khao Manee cat’s nails and clean their ears.
Khao Manees are very active, so you won’t need to do much at all to motivate them to get exercise. One way you can help keep your Khao Manee moving is to provide them with plenty of space to run and play, interactive toys, and a cat tree to climb.
Early socialization is the key to making your Khao Manee kitten feel at home. When this breed is introduced to children and other pets early, they generally get along well and form close bonds with their new playmates.
“Although they are a typically social and dependent breed, they aren’t always the best around children if not socialized properly,” says Kurt Venator, DVM, Ph.D., and Chief Veterinary Officer at Purina.
Your Khao Manee should be fed a diet of high-quality cat food recommended by your vet.
Khao Manees are a healthy breed with an expected lifespan of 10–12 years. Because they’re a natural breed, they are typically less prone to genetic issues. One health concern for the Khao Manatee is deafness. All-white animals of any kind and breed are actually more prone to deafness, due to a gene that links both pure white fur and problems with the inner ear. It’s not clear how much it specifically affects the Khao Manee breed, but cat clubs do recommend testing kittens for deafness.
“There is an established link between the white coat color, blue eyes, and deafness,” Venator says. “Not all blue-eyed whites will be deaf, but it is a possibility.”
Responsible breeders will test kittens for health issues, but it's important to keep regularly scheduled vet appointments and take the advice of your cat’s veterinarian. Diseases and other health problems can develop later in life and should be routinely monitored.
The Khao Manee is a naturally occurring breed that’s considered ancient. One of their earliest written references is in a 14th-century book of poetry about cats, known as the Tamra Maew. These bright-eyed cats were prized by the aristocrats of Thai society and were considered sacred and kept by the ruling class for centuries.
This breed wasn’t introduced to the United States until 1999, and the U.K. in 2009. The breed is slowly gaining popularity but remains very rare.