The Korat cat
The earliest known picture of a Korat, or 'Si-Sawat', cat is to be found in the ancient book of paintings and verses, known as THE CAT-BOOK POEMS, in Bangkok's National Library. It is believed by the Fine Arts Dept., a Division of Thailand's Ministry of Education, to have been produced some time during the Ayudhya Period of Siamese History (1350-1767). Identity of the artist is lost. Cat, as well as dog and bird books, represent a cultural tradition in Siam (which became Thailand on June 24, 1939). Of the fifteen or so ancient MSS, in the National Library, nine contain pictures of cats.
A high-ranking monk, Somdej Phra Buddhacharn Buddhasarmahathera, was commissioned by King Rama V (1869-1910) to copy "The Cat Book Poems" on a special Khoi paper. Known as the SMUD KHOI OF CATS, it hangs in a high glass case in the Minor Arts Room of Bangkok's National Museum. Books were folded, not bound as is a more recent version, known as THE BOOK OF THE CAT, also in the National Library, apparently a twentieth century version of the cats and their accompanying verses. This shows seventeen cats whose ownership brings good fortune and six with boding of the very reverse. Among the Good Luck cats is the KORAT.
A translation of the verses by Khun Prasit Sahkorn says: "The cat 'Maled' has a body colour like 'Doklao'. The hairs are smooth, with roots like clouds and tips like silver. The eyes shine like dewdrops on a lotus leaf". 'Maled' means seed. 'Dok' means flower, and 'lao' can be translated as 'lemon-grass', 'pampas grass', or 'reed blossom'. All of these are silvery and silky smooth, so are applicable to the Korat coat.
King Rama V is said to have named the breed when he remarked: 'what a pretty cat - where is it from?' and was told "KORAT". A Mr. Robins, of New York City, attested to their existence in that Province in 1906. It is said that their coloring protected them, among the granite areas of Pimai District, from extinction in the constrant wars that raged between Siam and her neighbors.
Nowadays in Thailand, the Korats are generally referred to as the "SI-SAWAT" cats (see-sah-waht) and, of course, they are found in other provinces. 'SI' means color. SAWAT has several meanings, including good fortune or prosperity. Si-Sawat is also a compound Thai work meaning a mingled color of grey and light green. The seed (Maled) of the Look Sawat, a non-edible fruit that grows wild in Thailand is this mingled color, with a smooth, glossy shell. There's no changing the color of the breed. It can only ever be 'Si-Sawat'. Korats are silver-blu from birth until death; a cat of any other color is not a Korat.
KORATS REACHED THE USA
"....When I first caught sight of the enormous, luminous green eyes of a Korat, I stood riveted to the spot. The eyes that captivated me peered out from the silvery blue, heart-shaped face of a little Korat female named Cedar Glen's Kami. She stood gazing down the aisle, an oval paw resting on the cage wire, her body quivering excitedly in the effort to concentrate. Shortly after that California show in 1964, I received my first Korat as a gift and established a registered cattery under the name "Si Sawat". I soon made contact with breeders in the United States and Thailand and obtained my first Korat breeding pair. My life with Korats had begun...."
The first American cattery to breed Korats was Cedar Glen, owned and operated by Jean L. Johnson. In 1959, Jean received two imported Korats, Nara and Darra, from a friend in Bangkok. The cats originally had been obtained from the celebrated Mahajaya cattery of Khunying Abhibal Rajamaitri, an illustrous breeder in Thai cat circles. Nara and Darra are the first Korats known to have been imported from Thailand for breeding purposes. Korats began attracting the attention of cat fanciers in the 1960's. Their numbers were few and they had no championship status in the shows.
By 1962, a female named Mahajaya Dok Rak of Gala, also bred by Mme. Rajamaitri, and a sturdy male from Cholburi, Nai Sri Sawat Miow of Gala, had been imported from Thailand by Gail Lankenau Woodward. Gertrude Gecking Sellars imported a single female, Me-Luk of Tru-Lu, bred by Colonel Chompoo Arthachinda. These became the foundation cats of the Korat breed in the United States.
In May 1965 the KORAT CAT FANCIERS ASSOCIATION, an unaffiliated breed society, was founded. A proposed standard was compiled from descriptions of their Korats sent in by the members. This standard was submitted to the U.S. and Canadian cat associations in October 1965, for their consideration and acceptance. In a few months, the Korat was recognized and the standard adopted by most of these bodies. The first time the Korat competed for honors in Championship classes was June 1966, an American Cat Association show, in King of Prussia, PA. We attribute this extraordinarily rapid acceptance of the Korats to their intrinsic beauty and the united effort of a dedicated group bound together by a shared love of a highly prozed native cat, whose characteristics and traditions we all pledged ourselves to maintain.
The first Korat grand champions were imported cats or offspring of imported cats. They were the first of a long list of Korats to make show history. A group of dedicated breeders, including Rosemarie Voelker, Rose Meldrum, Norma O'Neil and Helen Basford, keeps the history of the Korat up to date by maintaining lists of each cat's lineage. Each year, the group mails special "census forms" to owners and breeders. Because of the group's effort, we can trace the lines of our cats back to their beginnings. Paperwork about the Korat doesn't stop there. Imported Korats have more paperwork to prove their country of origin than most human travelers do!
Breeders insist on such documentation because if a cat cannot trace its lineage to Thailand, it is not a Korat. Recentrly the Thai government officially recognized the Korat as a national treasure, making importation of the cat difficult but not impossible. One of our recent arrival is a handsome male from the Chiangmai cattery of Professor and Mrs. Mali Rose. His owner here, Nancy Wanwong, had to overcome many obstacles to get Chiangmai Chup home to Florida!
KORAT RECOGNITION IN THE USA
As KCFA secretary, the presentations I made in 1965 to each Board Member, set out the names and dates of each show and the name of each judge who had handled our cats, the extent of our Korat population, our proposed standard, the names and addresses of our breeder/owners, and some of our information sheets, accompanied by a letter of formal request for recognition of the Korat breed, and the lovely photo of Mali of Si Sawat standing between two plaster elephants that my husband took.
With Bertha Nuttall's assistance, I then compiled a further presentation and Formal Request for acceptance, up-dating and adding to our information on places, dates and judges where Korats had been shown, number of Korat breeders and their stock in each Region, including Alaska and Japan, the KCFA Officers and Board, Mali's photograph, sample of pedigree of a Thai-born Korat, and sample of a pedigree of a 4th generation American-born Korat, history and background, and I included proof of the real aims of the private listing, set up by Mrs. Robert A. Clark, to show origin of our Korats in Thailand. The way seemd open to our longed-for acceptance. At the ACA Annual Meeting in March 1966, Miss Marie E. Purdy, a Korat breeder who had been active in CFA for many years, moved that the Korat cat be accepted, and the motion carried with favorable recommendation.
We were producing litters of fine, all silver blue kittens. Inquiries were coming in from other parts of the world. We had already sent a pair of Korats to South Africa. Mrs. Clark attended the August meeting, taking with her the Preliminary Breeding Chart she had made for the Korats. In future years, this would be of tremendous interest - as it showed the first imports and their descendants, and the added imports - with the symbols to signify the silver blue and the outcross, the males and the famales. Other business precluded discussion of the Korats at the August meeting.
Then came the meeting of August, 1966. It was not quite a year since we had put in our first request for recognition. Mrs. John Bloem moved that the Korat be accepted for championship competition as an Estabilished Hybrid Breed. Motion carried. 11 Yes 4 No. Mrs. Louise Sample, CFA President, wrote us, congratulation us with "Best Wishes to you all, and I shall look forward to that glorious day when a Korat goes Best Cat in Show". I didn't dream mine would be the female first so honored! The joy for our silver Korats was somewhat tarnished at the news that they were to be registered as, and classed as, an Established Hybrid Breed, a comparatively new classification for which Jane Martinke was a prime mover. We were developing what was (still is) possibly the only natural breed being bred in the western world as well as in its native Thailand in its ancient, natural form!
In 1965-66, for the first time, Korats were included in the All-American lists. So honored were: Cedar Glen's Pichit of Si Sawat and Mali of Si Sawat, both belonging to me. Cedar Glen's Little Kay of Arcadia, who belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Ray Gardner. Mrs. Paul L. Gecking's (Mrs. Sellar's) Tru-Lu's Thai Koratie; Cedar Glen's Sukisan of Larlin, Mrs. Alayne Appel; and Cedar Glen's Kasem of Ab-Hi-Ko, Mrs. Bertha M. Nuttall.
Many of our Korats made CFA Championships. Among them were: Ch. Mali of Si Sawat (mine), Ch. Cedar Glen's DiDi (Mrs. Jean Johnson) Ch. Larlin's Sukisari (Mrs. Alayne Appel), Ch. Si Sawat's Maliwan of 3R's (Mrs. Marguerite Swift), Ch. Larlin's Kasuki of Margus and Ch. Leck of Margus (Mrs. Margery S. Hoff), Ch. Tru-Lu's Thai Timia (Mrs. Trudy Sellars), Ch & Int. Ch. Cedar Glan's Rajada (Mrs. R.D. Cooper and Mrs. J. Glen Brown, Canada), Ch. Cedar Glen's Kasem of Ab-Hi-Ko (Mrs. Bertha M. Nuttall).
The world's first male Grand Champion was born in Bangkok in 1965 bred by Khun Luang Paripon Pochanapisuti, a former judge and professor at law in Bangkok, the cat was named McPaws Miow Thai. He was owned by Mr. P.L. McMillen of Detroit, MI. and had been purchased on April 30, 1966. He was brought to America by Mr. McMillen's soldier son and shown extensively. Miow Thai was history's first male Grand Champion Korat.
A Thai-born female Saraphi Ra' (imp.) of Jalna, was dam of the world's first two Korat Grands. Bred by Dr. Kamol and owned by Robert & Jean Clark, New Jersey. Jalna's Ming-Ti of Chi'Un Ch'i was the first male Korat Grand Champion in CFA. First female to win a Grand Championship was Malaid's Doklao Noi of Si Sawat (imp.) owned by Richard Negus. Miss Catherine Barclay, Boulder, Colorado owned the fifth Korat Grand, Cedar Glen's Chalerm of Si-K'Iu. He was the world's first Neuter Grand Champion.
THE EARLY KORAT HISTORY IN FRANCE
The story of the Korat started in France in 1988. The friendship between Daphna Negus and Anne Kriese made this possible. Daphne never losts a chance to promote this breed, unknown in France at that time.
I was also soon fascinated by this mysterious cat preserved for centuries. Anne Kriese suggested me to breed them as I was just new in the cat fancy. We went both to find out about them in a UK show in London during summer 1988.
There we met Mr & Mrs Hard and their fabulous green eyed Korats. I got in touch with Helen Hawkins (Koorahk) and Doris Langford (Jing) in order to import cats from different lines. I was only fifteen at that time. So I had to work all summer long to save money for this project. But I was so determinated.
Unexpectedly, Anne Kriese received a pair of Korats as the thai tradition, thanks to Daphne. They were Muaythai Diwan Damrong and his full sister Muaythai Dussehra Dulcie. They were soon followed by Jing’s Phai Lin of Passaya, my very first Korat.
Muaythai Dussehra Dulcie and Muaythai Diwan Damrong have been shown for the first time at a FIFe show in Paris and it was the beginning of a succes story.
In july 1989, I had the joy of homing the first litter of Korats born in France: Passaya El Gu Chayon, Ejalma and Esrasena were born in our little village. Soon the Korats met the success all around. Another stud arrived at my cattery from UK : CH Koorahk Phra Kwahm of Passaya. He was born the same day as Phai Lin and myself: on the 18th of may.
Anne Kriese also continued her work by importing Jing’s Jessica and Jenanca Jeudi.
The same year Claudine Dotte (Yunagor) joined the venture and start breeding with Passaya Ejalma in the Paris area. Our Korats became more and more famous in the cat shows.
Some other imports followed from the US (GC Gentlegift’s Thai A Blue, Jing’s Sinn Chai II of Passaya and Soigne Ta-Le Louang of Passaya) and also Scandinavia (Jonas).
Our efforts brought us the success with Passaya Ginee-Bon achieving the Best Cat of the year in the International Division of the CFA. She was followed by Passaya Fudon Thani Best Korat worldwide during the 1995 CFA season, thanks to Judy Buckle-Ganoe.
In 1993, Alain Garrigues (Grisegura) starts breeding and welcomed my proven breeders as I had to stop from breeding because of my studies. Part of them also went to Anne Kriese’s and Judy Buckle-Ganoe’s.
Unfortunetly the following years caused many troubles in the French cat fancy. The venue of a central registry for all pedigree cats together with new laws forcing breeders to be licensed with higher costs changed the face of the cat fancy. Some breeders stopped. Some others turned to clandestinity, reducing dramaticly the number of litters. Meanwhile some new breeders started breeding again. Sylvie Robert (Cœurs de Muangthaï), Mme Gouny and M. Deljary (Jacatou) tried their best to go on.
With the help of Sylvie Robert I started again breeding a litter sired by her german stud Calypso of San-Chai in 2002. One of the girl from this breeding Passaya Rajsima Paramour became the source of a new era for our dearly Korats.
This time, Stephan Franke (Baan Thai) gave us CH Khy-Mook v. Baan Thai to start with. He was followed by a thai import Korathai Ton Narm and a lovely girl from Hewitt & Madeline Lovelace: GC Lovesumalee Lady Blueberry. Marjorie Laroche has also joined with a cat imported from Belgium with the assistance of Jean-Marie Vanden Bosch (Napha Naramit).
There is now an international program with the help of all other Korat fanciers. Let’s hope it gives the Korat the place it desserves in the heart of the french cat fanciers.
for KoratWorld website
THE PASSAYA KORATS NOWADAYS
The Passaya Korats is a family story shared with my parents and friends. Under a single name, several devotees are loving and caring for them. Marjorie, Muriel & Stéphane, Rémi, Elisabeth, Geneviève just to name a few of them contributed our success. We are keeping on serving the Korats in order to let each and everyone be able to cherish these adorable loving creatures.
We have shown constantly our Korats around the world and made them well known of the judges and the public especially in France and Switzerland. We have been honored to be able to place them in the best household in many American and European homes.
The Korat cats keeps on spreading its fortune around the world. Our cattery helped starting most of the Korat breeders in France and we have been able to keep them respected, cherished and more and more well known. As Pioneers, We have introduced and placed the first Korats in countries like Andorra, Bulgaria, China, Czeck Republic, Estonia, Italy, Koweit, Malaysia, Luxembourg, Monaco, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine.
I, Frederic, am a member of the CFA Breed Council for the Korat for years in order to look after the standard of our breed.
Our best Korats are shown mainly in Europe and we are proud to be honored with yearly awards. This succes would not be possible without the partnership of all the other Korat breeders in the world. The Korat has successfully faced one of the first genetic disease in the late 90's and the breed is now one of the healthier in the Cat Fancy with the widest genetic diversity. We keep on importing Korats from Thailand and we are looking for building up the best breeding program to benefit all together the breeders and the perspective new owners.
If you are considering sharing your life with a Korat, you may contact us. We can wisely advice you about what to expect from such a close relationship. All kittens are placed with a sale contract/pledge in order to clearly describe our mutual investments about the quality of life given and expected for your beloved one. We do not place any kitten without a personnal meeting. We can welcome you at our home to show you our Korats and kittens. We also can meet you at your home to advice you about how organising your environment to welcome your kitten and taking the best care of them.
© Frédéric Goedert 2003-2016