Only a few of the wonderful cats in Thailand have made their way to the West. The most notable being the Siamese, Burmese, and Tonkinese. There are many more to be found in Thailand. Below you will find photo arrays of the major types of cats you find in Thailand.
What you see below are all Thai cats. This gets a little confusing because TICA, one of the large cat registries, registered a breed they call THAI. TICA Thai cats are simply Siamese cats. The name of the breed would lead one to believe a THAI cat is a Siamese cat. Not true. Thai cats are the cats you will see below. TICA Thai cats are Siamese cats that may or may not have any imported Thai Siamese in them.
The Thai cats we are familiar with are all genetically black cats. This may be a bit perplexing as they do not look black. But, your basic Thai cat is black. They are called Konja in Thailand. Black cats are an early mutation from the stripey tabby cat. Stripey cats are called Agouti cats and black cats are called non-Agouti cats. The scientific short hand for non-agouti, or black cat, is (aa).
The cats you will see below are genetically black cats.
Something interesting happened in Thailand, long ago. A series of albinistic, or lightening coat color mutations developed. Probably to lighten the coat color. Its awfully hot to be running around Thailand with black hair. So, each of the Thai cats we know are black cats plus an albinistic mutation. Depending on which albinistic mutation they inherit, you will end up with a different looking cats.
The menu of albinistic mutations, found in Thai cats, is as follows.
So the Thai cats you know, are (aa) or black cat + some albinistic mutation. So, (aa) + cbcb= your basic burmese cat. The cbcb genes reduce a black coat to a brown brown coat. Below you will see how these albinistic mutations alter the black coat to an entirely different color.
The Korat is a very old cat in Thailand, mentioned in the oldest Thai cat texts. The Korat coat color, is created when you take a black cat (aa) and you add two blue genes to it. So the Korat is aa+ dd
The Suphalak, though mentioned in the ancient Thai cat poems, had largely gone extinct until recently. Nolan Betterly and Bew Panacharat worked to bring this really rare cat out of obscurity and back to day to day life. Its a black cat (aa) + bb or two champagne genes. .
The Thai Lilac is a fairly rare cat. It comes about when a black cat (aa) inherits two champagne genes (bb)and two blue genes (dd). Thus the genetic formula for a Thai Lilac is(aa) + bb+ dd
This is a rare cat because for two cats to come together that carry champagne and blue is statistically unlikely in random bred cats. But, it happens.
BB cbcb dd
You basic Burmese cat is a black cat (aa) that inherits two burmese genes. (cbcb) This genetic combination makes for a sable burmese cats. But oh wait, there are three other colors of Burmese cats. Thats because in addition to inheriting two Burmese genes, they can also inherit other albinistic mutations.
aa BB cbcb= .sable burmese
aa bb cbcb = chocolate burmese
aa BB cbcb dd= blue burmese
aa bb cbcb dd= lilac burmese
Siamese cats are probably the most famous and familiar of the Thai cats. They come into being when a black cat (aa) inherits two Siamese genes. (cscs). So the basic seal point Siamese formula is aa+ cscs. Just like with the burmese, a siamese cat can inherit other albinistic mutations. Here are the Siamese formulae
aa+BB+cscs= seal point Siamese
aa+bb+ cscs= chocolate point Siamese
aa+cscs+dd= blue point Siamese
aa+bb+cscs+dd= lilac point Siamese
Tonkinese cats, from what I have seen, are probably the most common cats in Thailand. They are a black cat that inherits one siamese gene and one burmese gene. (cbcs). In Thailand they are called Tong Dai. They are an intermediary between a Siamese and a Burmese. And when I was walking around the Temples, markets, and canals in Thailand, this was the cat I saw most.
In a classic piece of cultural ego-centricism, American breeders, in the 1950's, got the brilliant idea to make a new breed of cat by breeding a Siamese cat with a Burmese cat thereby creating an intermediary between Siamese and Burmese. Bravo. They created a cat that existed in Thailand for several thousands of years. And for reasons I have never understood, they called this intermediary cat, the Tonkinese. They are not from Tonkin. But, we get all caught up in facts.
Just like the other cats, Tonkinese cats can inherit other albinistic mutations, and you end up with other colored cats. Here is the Tonkinese menu.
aa+ BB +cbcs +DD= sable Tonkinese
aa+bb+ cbcs= chocolate Tonkinese
aa+ BB+ cbcs+ dd= blue Tonkinese
aa+ bb+ cbcs+ dd= lilac tonkinese
Bangkok Cats are very new to the west. They probably existed in Thailand for thousands of years, but, they were only recently noticed. Well, I accidentally noticed them. Nolan Betterly sent me some Burmese cats to be used in my Burmese program. When I had them tested, they tasted out as simple black cats. They were clearly not black cats. After an American University proved to be of no help explaining the situation, an English University explained to me that they possessed an albinistic mutation never before noted. Over the years, the mutation was identified and named cm. Some people call these cats Mocha's however, we prefer to call them Bangkok Cats because the first three were found in Bangkok.
The Khaomanee is a really startling cat. Its entirely white, and can have two blue eyes, two gold eyes, or one gold and one blue eye. As is true with all white whites, this mutation is associated with deafness, especially in the double blue eyed cats.
This cat does not fit into the Thai coat color mutation range. It is in every way identical to the white Angora cat of Turkey, the exception being its white coat. My personal theory is that Turkish Angoras brought from the Ottoman Empire with the traders as gifts to the Muslim community. Once in Thailand, it mated with the local short haired cats and became what we now call the Khaomanee.