Khao Manee (Diamond Eye): Cat Breed Profile, Characteristics & Care

Appearance, Personality, History, Care, & Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Khao Manee
The Khao Manee is a very ancient and rare cat breed that comes from Thailand.

Getty Images/gopfaster

The pure white khao manee (pronounced "cow man-ee") is also known as the diamond eye cat because of its trademark jewel-like eyes, which may be blue, green, gold, or “odd” (two eyes of different colors). The khao manee developed naturally in Thailand many hundreds of years ago, and its name means "white gem." 

This petite cat with silky short hair is friendly and outgoing, so it adores attention and playtime. The only trouble is finding one—the khao manee is a rare breed in the United States.

Breed Overview

Other Names: Khaomanee, khao plort, diamond eye, white gem

Personality: Playful, curious, friendly, and outgoing

Weight: Up to 10 pounds

Length: About 18 inches

Coat Length: Short hair

Coat Color: White

Coat Patterns: Solid

Eye Color: Blue, gold, copper, amber, hazel, or green; eyes may also be odd (multiple colors or shades between eyes or within an eye)

Lifespan: Up to 12 years

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Thailand

Khao Manee cat

Getty Images/gopfaster

Khao Manee Cat Characteristics

The khao manee cat is playful and curious—some might even say naughty—but it’s all in good fun. This frisky feline's mischievous antics are always balanced by its good-natured temperament. The breed is known for its friendly and outgoing personality, even with strangers, and a khao manee will almost certainly run to greet newcomers with a joyful welcome.

The social khao manee cat needs abundant attention and interaction from its human family—this is not a breed that is content to be left alone for several hours every day.

Affection Level  High
Friendliness  High
Kid-Friendly  High 
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs  Medium
Playfulness  High
Energy Level  Medium
Intelligence  High
Tendency to Vocalize Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Khao Manee Cat

Thailand is the birthplace of many different cat breeds; some of them are now extinct, but others are still cherished pets today. The histories of some cat breeds are limited, but we know a lot about the various Thai cat breeds thanks to the Tamra Maew, also called Treatise on Cats or Cat Book Poems, which is a collection of illustrations and poetic descriptions of cats written sometime around 1350 A.D.

More than 20 different ancient Thai cat breeds are included in the Tamra Maew, but of those, only five breeds remain in existence today: the wichien maat (Siamese), suphalak (Burmese), the silver-blue korat, the all-black konja, and the all-white khao manee.     

According to the Tamra Maew, some cats were considered lucky while others were thought to bring ill-fortune. The khao manee was one of the cats believed to bestow good luck to those around it. Odd-eyed khao manees were considered especially lucky. Due to the inclusion of illustrations and physical details of cats, some believe that the Tamra Maew may have been an early book of breed standards, which are the written descriptions of the ideal cat of a given breed.

The khao manee cat is extremely rare outside of Thailand. The first khao manee was imported into the United States in 1999. The breed is recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) and the International Cat Association (TICA), which uses the breed spelling "khaomanee."

Tamra Maew Khao Manee Cat
The Tamra Maew, or Cat Book Poems, is a 14th-century book of illustrations and poetic descriptions of cats.

Wikimedia Commons/Robotkung

Khao Manee Cat Care


The khao manee cat’s smooth, short coat sheds only moderately and is easy to care for. Brush once or twice a week to remove loose hair and to keep the coat glossy and soft. A bath every few months also keeps the coat feeling, looking, and smelling nice. To keep the coat sparkling white, try using a brightening shampoo made especially for white cats.

Like all cats, the khao manee needs its nails trimmed every two weeks. Check the ears weekly for dirt, cleaning with a pet-safe ear cleaner if they look dirty. If you see redness or excessively dirty ears, make an appointment with your veterinarian for a checkup.


The khao manee is a very playful cat that loves climbing and exploring. Give your khao manee places to climb and perch like cat trees or towers, and provide plenty of fun toys like feather wands, balls with bells, fuzzy mice, and puzzle toys. Khao manees are reported to enjoy playing fetch. 

Common Health Problems

The khao manee cat is generally considered to be healthy, with few known genetic health conditions affecting the breed. However, all-white cats like the khao manee are sometimes prone to deafness, which can be unilateral (deafness in just one ear) or bilateral (deafness in both ears). 


The khao manee is a small cat with a slender build and large, perky ears. Its lithe, athletic body with medium boning is moderate in all ways—never bulky or extreme. The nose is of medium length, which is better suited to the hot weather of Thailand than a short or snub nose. 

Its coat is short, smooth, fine, and slightly "open" with a sparse to moderate undercoat. And, as its nickname notes, it usually has jewel-colored eyes, such as blue, gold, or green. Odd-eyed khao manees will have one of each, which is thought to be lucky.

Diet and Nutrition

Feed your khao manee measured meals at regular times (kittens usually need three to four meals a day, but adults generally eat twice a day—morning and evening). Scheduled mealtimes help to prevent unwanted weight gain, which can happen if you leave food out all the time (called free feeding).

Cats of any breed that are overweight or obese can develop weight-related health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Talk to your veterinarian or breeder for advice about the best type of food to feed your khao manee.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Khao Manee Cat

The khao manee cat is extremely rare, so it may be hard to find a khao manee breeder in the US. Your best option is to attend a local cat show, where you can meet many different responsible breeders. Because of its rarity and beauty, this breed is one of the most expensive in the world, with prices averaging around $11,000.

Khao manee cats are so rare that they don’t frequently end up in animal shelters. If khao manee cats find themselves in need of rescue, it usually happens via a network of breeders. Of course, if you do happen to find a jewel-eyed white cat in a shelter, consider yourself lucky!

Khao Manee Overview

The khao manee is a curious, friendly breed that is great for families with kids and other pets. These cats are small and delicately built, but they love to explore and interact with people, so they enjoy an active house with many toys and owners (kids included) that have the time to entertain them. In between play sessions, khao manees are happy to cuddle up on laps for naps.

If you're looking for a cat that can be left alone for long periods of time without attention, this cat might not be for you. The khao manee is an outgoing pet that needs consistent interaction.

  • Friendly and affectionate 

  • Moderate exercise needs

  • Social with kids and other pets 

  • Needs a lot of attention

  • Rare, hard to find in the US

  • Very expensive

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed profiles.

  • How much does a khao manee cat cost?

    This breed is one of the most expensive in the world; a khao manee kitten may cost as much as $11,000.

  • Are Khao Manee cats deaf?

    Not all khao manee cats are deaf, but solid white cats of any breed are prone to deafness to a genetic mutation.

  • Are khao manee cats friendly?

    Khao manee cats are very friendly and outgoing; they enjoy interacting with people—even strangers.