Khao Manee (Diamond Eye): Breed 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 cat is also known as the Khaomanee, the White Gem or the Diamond Eye Cat because of its trademark jewel-like eyes, which may be blue, green, gold or “odd” (two eyes of different colors; for instance, one green and one blue). The Khao Manee developed naturally in Thailand many hundreds of years ago. 

The Khao Manee’s body type is one that is appropriate for the hot, tropical climate of Thailand. Its lithe, muscular, athletic body with medium boning is moderate in all ways—never bulky or extreme. The Khao Manee’s coat is short, smooth, fine and slightly open, with a sparse to moderate undercoat. The nose is of medium length, which is better suited to hot weather than a short or snub nose. 

The Khao Manee cat is playful and curious—some might even say naughty, but it’s all in good fun. Khao Manee owners know their cat’s mischievous antics is always tempered by a good-natured comportment. The breed is friendly and outgoing, even with strangers, and will run to greet newcomers with a joyful welcome. They get along well with well-behaved children, and are accepting of friendships with other cats and even the family dog. In between exploration and play sessions, the Khao Manee is happy to cuddle up on your lap for a warm snuggle. 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 long hours every day.

Breed Overview

Other names: Khaomanee, White Gem, Diamond Eye

Personality: Playful, curious, friendly, and outgoing.

Weight: About 8 to 10 pounds.

Length: About 18 inches. 

Coat Length: Short, smooth and fine, with a sparse to moderate undercoat. 

Coat Color: Pure, glistening white.

Eye Color: Any shade of blue (including aqua), gold (including shades of brown, copper, amber, yellow and hazel) or green; eyes may also be odd (multiple colors or shades between eyes or within an eye).

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years.

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Thailand

Khao Manee cat

Getty Images/gopfaster

Characteristics of the Khao Manee Cat

The Khano Manee is a good fit for a potential owner who is looking for a petite companion; this cat only grows to be about 10 pounds. A highly playful breed with a friendly temperament, this cat is a good choice for a family with kids.

The Khano Manee will also get along well with another cat. It's still important to follow vet-approved guidance when socializing your cats, but the Khao Manee should adapt easily to life with other animals. 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.

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 now extinct and others 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 the Treatise on Cats or Cat Book Poems, which is a collection of illustrations and poetic descriptions of cats that was written sometime around 1350 A.D. More than 20 different ancient cat breeds are included in the Tamra Maew, but of those, only five breeds remain in existence today, including the Wichien Maat (Siamese), the Suphalak (Burmese), the silver-blue Korat, the all-black Konja, and the all-white Khao Manee.     

The Tamra Maew was likely created in the mid-14th century, and describes many different cat breeds, some of which were considered lucky and some that were thought to be unlucky. The white Khao Manee was one of the cats believed to bring good luck and fortune to those around it. Odd-eyed Khao Manee (one blue and one green or one blue and one gold) are 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.

Khao Manee Cat Care

Grooming

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.

Exercise

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 fun toys like feather wands, balls with bells, fuzzy mice and puzzle toys. Khao Manee are reported to enjoy playing fetch. 

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

Common Health Problems

The Khao Manee cat is generally considered to be healthy, with few known genetic health conditions affecting the breed. 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). 

Appearance

The Khao Manee are medium-sized cats with a slender build. They are white cats with large perky ears. As their nickname notes, they usually have jewel-colored eyes, such as blue, gold, or green. Odd-eyed Khao Manee will have one of each, which is thought to be lucky.

Diet and Nutrition

Feed your Khao Manee cat 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 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 cat.


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 who has kittens available. Your best option is attending a local cat show, where you can meet many different responsible breeders. Cat shows are lots of fun for spectators, who can view many different cat breeds all under one roof. To find a cat show in your area, do an internet search for “cat show near me” or visit http://www.catshows.us. Khao Manee cats are so rare that they don’t frequently end up in animal shelters. If Khao Manee cats might find themselves in need rescue, it usually happens via a network of breeders.

Breed Overview

The Khao Manee is a curious, friendly breed that is great for families with kids and other pets. They are medium-sized, slightly built white cats that love to explore and will do well in an active house with many toys and owners that have the time to entertain them. Khao Manee have a long history and are one of the earliest breeds recorded; the breed is mentioned in the Tamra Maew, an ancient recording of cat breeds.

Pros
  • Friendly and affectionate 

  • Moderate exercise needs

  • Social with other pets 

Cons
  • Doesn’t do well if left alone

  • Needs a lot of attention

  • Rare/hard to find

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you like the Khao Manee cat, you might also like these cat breeds: 

Burmese

Korat

Siamese