Copyright 2013. The Thai Cat Center. All rights reserved.
To begin with, it would be helpful to know what a natural breed is. A Natural Breed is a breed of cat that came into existence all on its own. It developed naturally, in the case of the Maew Boran or the Thai cat, in the streets, villages, and mountain sides of Thailand.
Are there other types of cat breed? Yes. The other type is a Man Made breed. A Man Made breed is a breed that was created by cat breeders through a selective breeding program.
Scientific research has determined that Thai cats are genetically distinct from cats from other parts of the world, and, anyone who has had one these cats, will attest to this fact. They are not the same as a European or Middle Eastern cat.
The unique appearance of Siamese, Burmese, Tonkinese, and Korats, is caused by a series of related mutations possessed by these unique cats. These mutations, called albinistic mutations, cause a reduction in coat color. In simple terms, these mutations cause the color of the coat to be lighter than it might be otherwise. Experts believe that these lightening mutations were adaptive. This means that as a result of the extreme heat in Thailand, over time, the cats developed lighter coats. They adapted to their environment. Grey is lighter than black and would be a more comfortable color to wear in the heat of Thailand!
A series of albinistic mutations are responsible for the truly unique to coat colors you see in the cats of Thailand, mutations that are exclusively from Thailand. These mutations causes a loss of color on the warmest parts of the cats body. So, a Siamese cat, as an example, is lighter on the body and darker on the paws, tail, and face. Sometimes they are called pointed cats, because, they have darker colors on their points.
The characteristic coat pattern of the Thai is one with a darker head, tail, feet, and tail represents an adaptive mutation. The warmest part of the body looses color. The trunk of the Siamese cat will always be a lighter color then its extremities. Scientist believe that this mutation resulted in the warmest part of the body reflecting more light and absorbing less heat...because it was a lighter color. The two mutations of this type would be the Siamese mutation(cs) and the Burmese mutation(cb).
The are other adaptive mutations that result in cats becoming lighter, or closer to albino. First there is the dilution gene(d). The grey cat from Thailand, known as the Korat and Blue burmese in the west, are made blue by a mutation that dilutes a black cats coat from black to blue. There is another mutation that makes coat color lighter, and that would be the champagne gene(b).
If you have ever been to Thailand, and experienced its inferno like heat, you can see why cats would adapt with lighter coat colors. Anything that makes the heat more livable would make life more livable.
Thai cats have other unique mutations. One is eye color. Eye color mutations cause blue, green, and yellow eyes. The other is a short coat mutation. They have an extremely short coat, also helpful when you live in the tropics!
Last but not least, they carry a personality mutation that results in them acting more like a dog than a cat. They are a physically beautiful natural breed, there is no denying that. But, what really makes them special is their unique personality. There are lots of pretty cats, but, there is only one cat that behaves like a Thai cat.
These cats from Thailand tend to carry a mixture of these genetic mutations, and a result, come in a wild collection of coat colors, from black to white, with varying degrees of points, or no points, and eye colors that range from blue to yellow.
Between their unique coat and eye colors, and their unmistakable personalities, Maew Boran, the natural cat breed from Thailand, are a natural breed unlike any other.
TIMBA (The International Maew Boran Association) is working to keep this natural breed alive, in Thailand and in the west. Though these cats are the national treasure of Thailand, they have also given rise to the most popular Man Made cat breeds in the world. Efforts to preserve this Natural Breed are many, they include a registration program for cats in Thailand and in the West; the development of a Natural Breed breeding management plan; and scientific study of the breed.