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A Personal Story About the Khao Manee

Thailand and Back
by Antoinette Smith Clark 08/2010©


AdultFemale1From Thailand
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AdultFemale2FromThiland AdultFemaleFrom THiland
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I have been a breeder of Siamese and Oriental Shorthairs for 25 years and came across my first photo of a Khao Manee in March of 2007. I instantly fell in love with it; this was such an incredibly beautiful cat I could hardly take my eyes off the photos. After researching the breed, on the internet, it was only a matter of days before I decided that I wanted to add Khao Manee to my breeding program.

I found a male kitten and in April of 2007, my first Khao Manee arrived. He flew into the Cleveland airport and I found him calmly sitting up in his carry cage and looking as though he simply could not be bothered with all the goings on around him. I have since found this look to be a common trait with the breed.

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My First Khao Manee - AJ


When the kitten and I arrived home, he literally took over the house. I found that I could not even scold him for getting up on counter tops, because he would look at me with total distain as though I were terribly beneath him. He never fought with the other cats, but would look down his nose at them, posing as though he were sitting on a throne, clearly indicating that he felt superior to them in every way.

He was incredibly affectionate; another trait of the breed. My Siamese and Orientals have always been sought after because of their very loving personalities but here was a breed that would literally put his front legs around my neck, lick my chin and ear and purr, refusing to be put down.

My little boy was a total delight; he slept on my pillow at night purring until I fell asleep.

As he got older, I realized it would soon be time for him to have a wife (or wives) and it was time to do something about locating a suitable female. After much thought, and a review of my bank account, I decided make a trip to Thailand to find suitable females for my now, not so little boy.

My Delta frequent flier account had enough air miles for a free round trip ticket to Thailand and, thanks to the internet, I located a ‘western’ style hotel in Bangkok which was quite reasonable, yet offered all the amenities one could want. I booked my trip and began to wonder what I was letting myself in for.

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Museum Kittens 1 MuseumKittens2 TwoNeuteredBoysFromThailand

My journey began in October of 2007; the actual process of getting to Thailand was horrendous. I discovered that free air miles may get you where you want to go, but not necessarily in comfort or in the most convenient way. Delta scheduled me to leave Cleveland, going to New York with a 12 hour layover, then flying to Seoul with another 12 hour layover and then on to Bangkok the next day. The plane from New York to Seoul was packed; not an empty seat to be found.

When I finally arrived in Bangkok it was around 5:00 pm, horribly hot and humid to the point where I seriously considered getting on the next plane back to the States. It was pouring with rain; in my brilliance I had selected the monsoon season to arrive. After waiting for what seemed hours to find my luggage, which had not made it on the same plane from Seoul, I found a taxi and was driven to my hotel. I stepped out of the taxi directly into water more than ankle deep and was completely drenched before getting inside. My adventure in Thailand had begun and at that point in time, my impression was not favorable.

After the dreadful journey and the nasty weather, I had no desire to venture out into the city that evening and had dinner sent to my room. I unpacked, rested and prepared to begin my hunt for Khao Manee the next day.

I had breakfast at the hotel and, carrying a rain poncho, hailed a taxi to take me to one of the largest outdoor markets in Bangkok. It was covered over with canvas and was at least the size of a football field. Everything you can imagine is sold at these outdoor markets from fabric and food, to furniture, electrical equipment, clothing, jewelry and live animals of every description. The temperature outside was 95, the humidity near 98% and under the canvas it must have been close to 120. It wasn’t long under that canvas before I looked as though I had been in a shower with my clothes on. I had a lot of stares from the locals, who no doubt found it amusing that I was soaking wet from perspiration while they all looked as cool as though they were in air conditioning. I walked around looking for kitten sellers and was fortunate enough to locate several but none had any Khao Manee and did not know where I could find one. After a few hours, I made my way back to the hotel, a cold shower and a much needed nap.

KittensFromThailand MarketCat3 Neutered male from Thailand
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The next day was Sunday and I stayed in the hotel recovering from my close call with heat exhaustion while I made phone calls to various breeders around Thailand. I also phoned an American woman who was working as a reporter, for the only English language newspaper in Thailand and an Englishman (Martin Clutterbuck) who wrote two very excellent books on the Siamese cat. Both of them were cat lovers, spoke Thai and had agreed (through a mutual friend) to provide an alternating service as tour guide and translator.

Although there is a very efficient overhead rail system in Bangkok, it required climbing staircase after staircase, which I was not inclined to do in such extreme heat and humidity so we took taxis around the city, which was not as quick as the rail system, due to heavy traffic congestion, but it did not require climbing steps.

My first day out was with Martin. We visited the cattery of a well known Thai breeder who was not in, but his daughter happily showed us his cats and said we would need to speak to her father if I wanted to purchase any. There were two female Khao Manee for sale, at exorbitant prices, and some truly beautiful Korats. We had lunch in the Thai equivalent of an American greasy spoon and afterwards I went back to my hotel, to shower and cool off.

The next day I went with the newspaper reporter, who took me to her home to show me what a typical Thai house looked like. Later we toured a series of open markets around Bangkok, had lunch in a nice Thai restaurant and then visited more markets.

We asked vendors questions about locating Khao Manees and they referred us to other markets and the search went on. My reporter friend had a tip about a pet shop in an up market area of Bangkok which supposedly had Khao Manee so we went there and luckily they did have two and I bought a female from the shop. My first purchase, I was incredibly excited.

We took the cat to a Veterinarian to be checked for AIDS, and Leukemia and to have the usual cat injections done. I had to leave my Khao Manee girl at the Vet’s office (to be boarded) because I could not take her back to my hotel.

On an outing with Martin to Namdee Witta’s Cat Museum I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a female kitten. It was delivered to my hotel the next morning and I immediately took her to the Vet’s office for the same tests and injections and she (too) was boarded there.

AdultFemaleFromThailand4 AdultFemaleFromThailand5
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Another day, on a trip to another outdoor market I found one female Khao Manee, who was lovely and, with translation assistance, enquired if the stall holder had any more. He said he did and went off on a motorcycle coming back with another girl, who seemed totally undisturbed by her motorcycle ride. I bought both of the girls and made the trip to the Vet once again.

Martin took me to see the Thai breeder (whose cattery we had visited), at his office in Bangkok, where I made arrangements to purchase one of his girls. She was extremely overpriced but he refused to negotiate and she was truly lovely.

My last purchase, which was unplanned but extremely fortunate, resulted from a visit to a Thai breeder approximately a two hour drive from Bangkok. He had kittens, which were too young to leave their mother, and a beautiful stud boy, who had been the top Khao Manee in Thailand the prior year. I fell in love with him, he was so sweet and let me hold him and he purred and purred. It took a couple of hours of negotiation but I managed to purchase him (the breeder kindly included the Trophy he had won) and off I went with a stud boy to add to the one I had at home. Things were definitely looking good.

Once I had completed all my Khao Manee purchases, it was time to arrange for the trip home. All of the cats I was boarding at the Vet’s office had to be cleared through Thai animal control, which was located at the Bangkok airport. The clearance had to be done 24 hours prior to my departure. I made arrangements with the Vet to pick the cats up, ordered a taxi and early in the morning the day before the flight we made the drive to animal control at the airport.

I unloaded the cats and waited in line with them for almost an hour. When it was my turn at the export desk, I had dozens of export documents to complete (thank goodness the clerks spoke English). Once that was completed I waited for a government Veterinarian to examine all the cats and approve them for export. After the Veterinarian gave his approval, I paid the export fees, waited for my completed export documents, then loaded the cats back into the taxi and headed to the Vet’s office to leave them until the following day.

The next day I ordered a taxi, loaded my luggage and went to pick up the cats. When we arrived at the airport the taxi driver unceremoniously dropped me, my luggage and the cats and drove away; I had to fend for myself. After a few strong words (under my breath), I finally managed to find two luggage carts and with cats and suitcases stacked high made my way to the Delta counter which was closed. It was a three hour wait before it opened. I stood in line and when it opened I was told that there was no reservation for the cats to travel on the plane with me. By that time, I was exhausted, hot, hungry and somewhat out of patience. My discussion with the Delta clerk became a bit heated and after I made several requests, a supervisor was finally called who was able to get the cats on my flight, but only at the cost of another $1,200 to get them all the way to Cleveland.

AdultFemaleFromThailand AdultFemalesFrom Thailand1
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The return flight was somewhat better, although the plane was just as crowded as the flight out and it was hot and stuffy because the air conditioning was not working properly. We flew from Bangkok to Seoul with a four hour layover and then straight to Chicago to change planes for Cleveland. It was a very long and tiring flight to Chicago, and after getting through Passport Control, Customs, and Animal Control I headed to the Delta counter with all my documents (cats and suitcases in tow) to arrange for my luggage and the cats to be loaded on a plane for the trip to Cleveland.

A not so helpful clerk told me that the plane flying from Chicago was too small to put the cats on and that it did not have a climate controlled animal compartment in the baggage hold. I hadn’t slept in 36 hours and was a little more than irritable as I enquired what I was supposed to do. The clerk told me to take the cats to cargo and arrange to ship them to Cleveland at $250 per cage. I was furious, especially considering that I had already paid $1,200.

I was so tired; I almost started crying, but managed to pull myself together enough to find a bank of telephones. I called car rental agencies until I found one that had a van available to drive one way from Chicago to Youngstown... A cab got my luggage, the cats and I to the rental agency, where I completed all the required paperwork. They kindly loaded everything in the van, gave me a map with directions to get out of Chicago and I drove out of Chicago headed for Youngstown.

It was a long drive and I was tired, but I knew the cats needed to get settled, eat and rest and were no doubt more stressed than I was. When I finally reached home, I was so happy I could have cried. It took a few hours to get everything unloaded and the cats settled into individual cages in a room I had set up to keep them in quarantine and then I could finally have a shower and fall into bed for some much needed sleep.

In the days following, all the Khao Manee had to visit my Veterinarian, where they were re-tested for various diseases and parasite and given Rabies injections. I kept them in quarantine (at home) for two months before allowing them to mingle with my other cats. It was a long time, but having come from Thailand, I wanted to make certain that they were totally germ and disease free.

When I finally allowed them out of quarantine, they were totally at home and behaved as though they had always lived here. I found that the Khao Manee does not seem to react as negatively to change as do the Siamese and Orientals. As much as I love Siamese and Orientals, I must say that the Khao Manee is one of the most loving cats I have encountered. Now that I have experienced the magic of owning them, I could never be without a Khao Manee in the house.

AdultMaleFrom THailand FemaleFromTHailand4a Groupof CatsFromTHailand

The experience of visiting Thailand was successful but anything but enjoyable. This is probably due to my being almost solely in Bangkok, rather than some of the outlying cities, the unfortunate season I choose to make my visit, and my frantic hunt to locate Khao Manee before I had to leave... I am not sorry that I went, but I do not think that I would be willing to make the trip again. Very much a "been there, done that" kind of thing.


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