thai cat on sofa

8 Popular Cat Breeds from Thailand (With Pictures & History)

Cats are popular pets in Thailand, and they’ve even been revered temple guardians and good luck omens in the past. Thailand is home to several different cat breeds, and many of these breeds have traveled across the globe and grown to receive international recognition.

We’ll introduce you to some wonderful cat breeds from Thailand. We’re sure you know some of the more popular ones that are recognized around the world. However, even the lesser-known ones are still worth meeting.


How Are Cat Breeds from Thailand Classified?

Records of distinct cat breeds can be found in a manuscript known as Tamra Maeo, which translates to Treatise on Cats 1. The information in the Treatise on Cats suggests that cats have played a significant role in everyday life for centuries, as some were viewed as good luck charms and others were known to be unlucky.

These cat breeds continued to be bred in Thailand, and many were exported to other countries. Several international breeding programs have helped to develop consistent features, and many Thai cat breeds eventually received formal recognition from cat breed organizations. The following cat breeds have origins and ties to the Treatise on Cats.

The 8 Cat Breeds from Thailand

1.  Siamese Cat

applehead siamese cat lying on couch
Image Credit: LiliyaArt, Shutterstock
Origin: Ayutthaya Kingdom around 1351 AD
Lifespan: 15–20 years
Weight: 6–14 pounds
Temperament: Affectionate, loyal, playful

The Siamese cat is one of the most recognizable cat breeds around the world. Despite being an ancient cat breed, they’re still extremely popular and are amongst the top 10 most searched cat breeds around the world 2. They’ve also been the 13th most registered cat breed with the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in 2018 3.

Siamese cats are widely known for their seal point coats. They tend to be very loyal to their families and love playing and receiving attention from their favorite people. Siamese cats also don’t shed as much as other cat breeds, so they may be a better fit for allergy sufferers.

2. Khao Manee

Khao manee diamond cat with red collar
Image Credit: NaNae, Shutterstock
Origin: Bangkok around 1768
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Weight: 8–10 pounds
Temperament: Affectionate, social, active

Khao Manees are known as one of Thailand’s ancient cat breeds. However, they’re still quite rare as they haven’t gained much attention outside of Thailand until recent years. So, it’s no surprise that there’s much curiosity around them. This breed sits close with the Siamese cat amongst the top 10 most searched cat breeds around the world.

Khao Manees make wonderful companion pets as they’re quite affectionate and playful. They’re also pretty bold and don’t take too long to warm up to new people. Because they love receiving attention and tend to develop strong bonds with their families, Khao Manees don’t do well when they’re home alone for long hours.

3. Thai Cat

 Thai cat with blue eyes lying on the sofa
Image Credit: Linalyan, Shutterstock
Origin: Ayutthaya Kingdom around 1351 AD
Lifespan: 15–20 years
Weight: 8–18 pounds
Temperament: Curious, friendly, vocal

Thai cats often get mixed up with Siamese cats, and different cat fancier organizations also have different names for them. For example, the CFA doesn’t list this breed in its registry, while The International Cat Association (TICA) does.

In short, Siamese cats originate from Thai cats. Western cat breeders started to breed Thai cats with certain features, and these cats eventually became the Siamese cats we know today.

Life with Thai cats is often described as fun and entertaining. Thai cats love their humans and make excellent companion pets. They’re known for following their humans around the house and can also be very vocal. It’s not uncommon for Thai cats to have “conversations” with their humans.

4. Burmese Cat

Burmese cat with yellow eyes is sitting on window sill looking straight
Image Credit: Elena Kabenkina, Shutterstock
Origin: Burma and Thailand; breed as we know it developed around 1930
Lifespan: 10–17 years
Weight: 8–15 pounds
Temperament: Playful, social, curious

It’s believed that the Burmese cat’s ancestors resided in Buddhist temples located in Burma (present day Myanmar). One of these cats was eventually imported to the US, and efforts to preserve and develop this breed began in 1930. A cat by the name of Wong Mau was bred with a seal point Siamese cat to produce a litter of Burmese cats, and the breed was eventually recognized by the CFA in 1936.

Interestingly enough, Burmese cats are more popular and common in the US and some European countries than in their country of origin. The breed’s presence had faded in Myanmar, but efforts to reintroduce them to their home country were initiated in 2007.

Burmeses share similar temperaments as Siameses and Tonkineses. They’re known to grow strong attachments to their families, and they’re quite active and playful.

5. Korat

korat cat indoor
Image Credit: gd_project, Shutterstock
Origin: Ayutthaya Kingdom around 1351 AD
Lifespan: 10–15 years
Weight: 6–10 pounds
Temperament: Intelligent, laidback, adaptable

Korats have always been admired for their beautiful blue coats and were traditionally regarded as good luck charms. Because of their luck and good fortune, it was common for pairs of Korats to be given as wedding gifts.

Korats are fairly adaptable and can live in many different kinds of situations. They usually don’t mind living with other cats. They can be active and playful, but they’re also content with being a lap cat. It’s important to note that Korats grow strong loyalty bonds with people, so they don’t do well if they’re kept home alone for too long.

6. Mekong Bobtail

mekong bobtail cat on a leash outdoors
Image Credit: fotoliza, Shutterstock
Origin: Thailand around 1800s
Lifespan: 15–18 years
Weight: 8–10 pounds
Temperament: Loyal, active, friendly

Mekong Bobtails have lived alongside people for centuries, but the breed became more distinct and recognized during the 19th century. It’s believed that they were gifted to the Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II. From there, the breed was further developed and gained popularity in the 1980s.

Mekong Bobtails have pointed coats like Siamese cats, but they’re most known for their short tails. They tend to have very playful personalities and are known to get along with children and other cats with proper socialization.

7. Tonkinese Cat

tonkinese cat with blue eyes
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock
Origin: Thailand or Burma in 1300s
Lifespan: 12–16 years
Weight: 8–12 pounds
Temperament: Playful, curious, active

Tonkinese cats are often mistaken for Siamese cats, but they’re a distinct breed that was developed by crossbreeding Siamese and Burmese cats. The breed’s origins are unclear. However, many believe that they first appeared in Thailand and Burma, where it was more likely for Siamese cats and Burmese cats to mate. Wong Mau, the cat we mentioned earlier, was actually the first recognized Tonkinese. So, along with Burmese cats, many Tonkinese cats have ancestries that trace back to Wong Mau.

It’s no surprise that Tonkinese cats have temperaments that closely reflect Siamese cat and Burmese cat temperaments. They’re known to be extremely playful and retain kitten-like energy well throughout their adulthood. Tonkinese cats make wonderful family pets and often adjust well to living with other cats and dogs.

8. Suphalak

Suphalak Thai cat
Image Credit: Nattakorn Suphatheera, Shutterstock
Origin: Ayutthaya Kingdom around 1351 AD
Lifespan: 12–20 years
Weight: 8–15 pounds
Temperament: Energetic, loyal, friendly

Suphalaks are often mistaken as sable Burmese cats, but they’re a completely distinct breed. They’re extremely rare due to the difficulty of producing litters of Suphalak kittens and the confusion between sable Burmese cats and Suphalaks. Current breeding programs are working to restore the breed, and the first Suphalak was exported from Thailand to the US in 2013.

There’s still much to learn about this cat breed. What we do know so far is that they tend to be very active and energetic cats that love to play. They’re known to be very affectionate and enjoy being around people.


What Are Ancient Thai Cat Breeds?

Thailand is known for being the home of several ancient cat breeds. These cat breeds were identified and mentioned in a manuscript known as the Treatise on Cats, which is more commonly known as Cat-Book Poems.

Cat-Book Poems is believed to have been written sometime during the reign of the Ayutthaya Kingdom from 1351 to 1767. It has illustrations and descriptions of over 20 different types of cats, including the Thai Cat, Suphalak, and Korat. The manuscript also mentioned the believed effects of owning these cats. Some cats were regarded as temple guardians, while others were viewed as harbingers of luck and good fortune. Some cats were to be avoided as they were seen as unlucky.



Several popular cat breeds have roots in Thailand and the surrounding southeast Asia region. Many of these breeds were further developed in other parts of the world, which helped immensely in growing their international presence and popularity.

Along with having beautiful and distinct physical features, these cat breeds are known for being very affectionate and social. They make wonderful companion pets and often become beloved and integral parts of the family.

Featured Image Credit: Anastasia Martyshina, Shutterstock

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