Korats are a slate blue-grey short-haired breed of domestic cat with a small to medium build and a low percentage of body fat. Their bodies are semi-cobby, and surprisingly heavy for their size. They are intelligent, playful, active cats and form strong bonds with people. Among Korats' distinguishing characteristics are their heart-shaped heads and large green eyes. They are one of a few breeds where individuals have only one color.
The Korat, a natural breed is one of the oldest stable cat breeds. Originating in Thailand, it is named after the Nakhon Ratchasima province (typically called "Korat" by the Thai people). In Thailand it is known as Si-Sawat, meaning "Color of the Sawat Seed". They are known colloquially as the "Good Luck Cat" and are given in pairs to newlyweds or to people who are highly esteemed, for good luck. Until recently, Korats were not sold, but only given as gifts.
The modern Korats now exist due to the diligent efforts of a few breeders inside and outside of Thailand.
The first mention of the Korat is in "The Cat-Book Poems" authored between 1350 and 1767 AD in Thailand, now in the national library in Bangkok. However, the illustration of the Korat in this book is not detailed enough to be definitive as to the breed portrayed. In recent years the Korat was on postage stamp in Thailand. An example hangs in the city of Korat's post office.
Korats first appeared in Britain under the name "Blue Siamese" in 1889 and 1896, but as these solid blue cats did not conform to the cat show judges' perception of a Siamese cat they disappeared by 1901. One early import, "Dwina" owned by Russian Blue breeder Mrs Constance Carew-Cox and mentioned in Frances Simpson's "The Book of the Cat" (1903) produced a large number of "Siamese" kittens, while the other, Mrs Spearman's Blue Siamese male, "Nam Noi", was declared to be a Russian Blue by cat show judges (WR Hawkins, "Around the Pens" July 1896). Mrs Spearman tried unsuccessfully to import more of these "Blue Siamese".
Korats first appeared in America in the 1950s and arrived in Britain from there in 1972. Jean Johnson introduced Korats to the US in 1959. She had lived in Thailand, where she encountered the breed. Her first pair were named Nara (male) and Dara (female). The Korat was introduced to the UK by Betty Munford of the High Street, Hungerford.
Although it is rare, Korats occasionally have striking or faint white markings or spots or even very faint gray stripes. Sometimes these spots increase in size with age. These are seen as flaws, and the cats are not allowed to be displayed in cat shows, although of course it has no effect on their personality or health.
The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy recognizes Korat type cats differing from the traditional solid blue appearance of the Korat. Such cats can be either Thai Lilacs, which are solid lilac cats, or Thai Pointed, which have the colour-point pattern also seen in Siamese. The official registration policy for Korats allows kittens to be registered as Thai if they are born to Korat parents, Thai parents or to one of each. It also requires genetic testing for gangliosidosis to be carried out to ensure that the breed remains free of this inherited disease which once existed in Korat and Thai breeding lines.
The genes responsible for Pointeds and Lilacs were introduced into the Korat breed when new Korat breeding stock carrying the recessive genes was imported from Thailand. The first recorded Thai Lilac kitten was born to the Jenanca line in 1989, when 'Jenanca Lilac Lillee' was born from two Korat parents in the UK. In 1990 Lillee's parents were re-mated with more lilac kittens resulting. More importantly, a young male lilac was born to another pair also in the UK. This serendipitous event allowed more crossings to occur without inbreeding too closely.