What Is the Khao Manee Cat and Why Are They So Expensive?

Khao Manee
© Lunile / CC BY-SA 4.0

Written by Alanna Davis

Published: October 25, 2023

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Have you heard of the khao manee cat? Also called the “diamond eye” cat, this breed has a long and rich history that spans centuries. Originating from Thailand, these cats are most well-known for their striking looks. The khao manee has an all-white coloration. Two different eye colors is a hallmark of this breed, most commonly deep blue, gold, and green. Although this breed is relatively common in Thailand, it is considered very rare in the United States, and finding a breeder may prove to be a difficult task. Because of their rarity and unique beauty, khao manee kittens can fetch outrageous prices, sometimes between $7,000 and $11,000.

An Introduction to the Khao Manee Breed

Khao Manee

Khao manees live for roughly 10 to 11 years.

©Lunile / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

This breed is known for its even-temper and relaxed personality. Khao manees are highly sociable and prefer to spend most of their time with their owners rather than alone. These cats thrive in families with children due to their friendly nature. They are playful and mischievous and can sometimes get themselves in hot water due to their curiosity. However, the khao manee is a sweetheart and makes a wonderful addition to any household. Because this breed is known for being so social, it’s not recommended for owners who spend a large amount of time out of the household. Khao manees have minimal grooming needs and are able to take care of themselves for the most part. This breed is low-maintenance and self-sufficient, but at heart, they’re cuddlers who crave attention from their owners.

History of the Khao Manee

The khao manee has origins in ancient Thailand, where it is known as the “white gem.” Thai royalty favored owning these cats because it was believed that they were bringers of good luck and fortune. The khao manee stayed in Thailand for centuries before first being brought outside of the country. It wasn’t until 1999 that this cat was first introduced to the United States, and it was later brought to the United Kingdom in 2009. This explains in part why there are so few breeders. Compared to other cat breeds, the khao manee simply hasn’t been around for that long. As its popularity grows, so too does the demand for more kittens. For now, we can hope that growing public knowledge of this cat will inspire individuals to go into the khao manee breeding business.

Why Is the Kaho Manee So Expensive?

Khao manees are an outgoing breed, and they enjoy meeting new people.

©Janet Poulsen / CC BY-SA 3.0 – Original / License

It’s no secret that the khao manee is highly sought after for its unique beauty. Their jewel-toned bi-colored eyes are a staple of the breed, and many find this quality highly desirable. In addition, finding a reputable khao manee breeder in the United States is no easy task. Presently, there is only one TICA-registered khao manee breeder in the whole country. However, there are a few other khao manee breeders in America that aren’t associated with The International Cat Association, but it’s estimated to be less than 10 total. The scarcity of breeders is one major factor that influences the cost of a Khao Manee kitten. If you’re someone who wants purebred paperwork for your cat, it’s definitely going to cost you. There is a very high demand and low supply for this breed, and because of this, prices can soar as high as $11,000.

Finding a Reputable Khao Manee Breeder

Visiting The International Cat Association’s website links to the one TICA-registered khao manee breeder in the United States. Beyond this, finding a reputable breeder may be challenging. However, there are several online groups dedicated to the khao manee breed, where owners and enthusiasts alike discuss this cat with one another. Joining an online community will help connect you with people who have already gone through the breeder-vetting process. Don’t be shy and try to pick their brains about who they purchased their khao manee kitten from. Getting a word-of-mouth recommendation is likely the most sure-fire way to gauge a breeder’s trustworthiness and reputability. Be sure to stay away from new breeders, or breeders that don’t have a long history of positive reviews.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to see why the khao manee is one of the most expensive cats in the world. Between its incredible beauty and the shortage of breeders, prices have continued to climb. However, since the breed hasn’t been in America for long, it is possible more breeders will begin operations over the next few years. We can only hope that, with this, they become more easily accessible. Presently, finding a khao manee kitten will likely be a difficult search, but if you’re up to the task, you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful, though pricey, companion.


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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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