Living heritage
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Living heritage

PP Thai Cattery owner Sumet Ubonvirattana is on a mission to preserve indigenous breeds

SOCIAL & LIFESTYLE
Living heritage
Sumet Ubonvirattana, left, founder of PP Thai Cattery, with his mother Bunyapha Ubonvirattana.

Seven years ago, Sumet Ubonvirattana, a well-known breeder of Thai cats and the founder of PP Thai Cattery, received two Korat cats from his late grandfather. Due to his fondness for local breeds, he took great care of them and thought that they were exceptionally beautiful. He later decided to take his cats to a show organised by The International Maew Boran Association (TIMBA).

At the competition, Sumet was embarrassed when a fellow participant pointed out that the cage in which he put his cats was a rabbit cage. His first failure inspired him to find beautiful felines which could win a competition. As a result, he opened a cat farm, PP Thai Cattery, to breed Thai cats.

A few years later, not only was Sumet able to breed five authentic Thai cat breeds — the Korat, Wichianmat or Siamese, Khao Manee, Suphalak and Konja, he also successfully bred two new Thai cat breeds — the Thai Lilac Cat and Wila Krungthep. He is currently attempting to breed Wilas, another authentic Thai cat which is hard to find.

The Thai Lilac Cat was the first breed to be developed at PP Thai Cattery after he received one from the owner of Thai Wila Cattery.

“At that time, there were fewer than 20 Thai Lilac cats in Thailand. Lilac kittens are the result of breeding the Korat, Suphalak and/or Konja cats, which have Lilac genes. The first litter of Lilac kittens were born at Thai Wila Cattery. After I received a Lilac cat from Thai Wila Cattery, I went to many provinces to search for more Lilac cats and bred them,” Sumet explained.    

Wila Krungthep is a new breed which can be purchased only at PP Thai Cattery. The colour of its fur is a unique golden-brown and its eyes are blue. The first Wila Krungthep was a stray discovered on Silom Road. Due to its unusual fur, that Wila Krungthep cat caught the attention of people from TIMBA. 

Wilas.

A Wilas, with the long white stripe on its back.

“The DNA of that Wila Krungthep cat was sent for testing at a lab in the US. Surprisingly, its DNA did not match any in the world, so we realised that it was a new breed. However, there was no further study, so we have no knowledge whether it is a mutation or not. Wila Krungthep cats at PP Thai Cattery were bred from the last remaining sire and dam of Wila Krungthep I received from TIMBA,” he said.

With his dedication and effort, Sumet achieved his goal of winning a cat show in 2022. At a TIMBA Cat Show, he won his first award ever for the category of “Thai Cat With Unusual Colour” for his Thai Lilac, and also won the award for “Best of the Best” for his black cat, Konja.  

“Best of the Best was a proud moment since it is an award that is given to the most outstanding cat among winners of all the cat breeds. Moreover, it was the first time that a black cat like Konja won over other breeds. Many people have a misconception regarding black cats due to their portrayal in TV series and movies. They often believe that black cats bring bad luck, but not me. I believe Konja brings me good fortune,” said Sumet.  

Among all the different kinds of cats in the world, Sumet said Thai breeds are popular since they are easy to care for. Moreover, some people believe that Thai breeds bring luck to owners.

At PP Thai Cattery, there are eight Thai cat breeds. The prices range from 8,000 to 25,000 baht. Five breeds are authentic and are mentioned in samut khoi, Thai traditional folding books from ancient times which recorded names and descriptions of cat breeds. The most well-known feline book was written by Prince Bhanurangsi Savangwongse who documented 23 Thai breeds.

Siamese.

“The book by Prince Bhanurangsi Savangwongse included descriptions of 23 breeds which are divided into 17 breeds of auspicious characteristics and six inauspicious breeds. Currently, five breeds remain from the original auspicious 17 — the Korat, Siamese Cat, Khao Manee, Suphalak and Konja,” explained Sumet.  

According to the samut khoi, Korat cats must have yellowish green eyes and charcoal fur all over. Meanwhile, the Khao Manee must have white fur and two different eye colours — one blue and one yellow. 

The Suphalak breed has copper fur and pink paws. Many people believe that Suphalak will bring its owners power and prestige. The Siamese Cat must have a slender figure, short fur, a long tail and nine distinct marks on its ears, nose, paws, tail and genitalia. Konja have black fur and what looks like a long parting on its belly and a slender tail.     

Among five authentic Siamese breeds, PP Thai Cattery is renowned for a Khao Manee named Tri-Ned, which has three shades of colour in its eyes. Tri-Ned’s right eye is green while the left is a combination of blue and orange copper.

Thai Lilac.

“Tri-Ned gained attention from the public after media representatives visited PP Thai Cattery. Due to its uniqueness, I was offered 400,000 baht for Tri-Ned, but I turned it down. I believe Tri-Ned brings me great fortune,” said Sumet. 

In addition to buyers in Thailand, international customers from France, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan discovered PP Thai Cattery through social media and contacted Sumet to purchase Thai cats.  

“International customers are interested in Thai breeds because they are outstanding and unique. Due to more international customers, I plan to open a cat hotel since there are a lot of requirements before cats can be shipped abroad, including a six-month quarantine and vaccinations. 

Apart from his job as an interior designer, Sumet established PP Thai Cattery out of his love for Thai cats. His next goal is to breed an authentic Thai cat, a Wilas. In samut khoi, Wilas are described as having black fur with a white stripe from nose to forehead, and trailing down its back all the way to the end of the tail. Its four white paws made it look like it is wearing white socks, and its ears are white.     

“Creating new breeds like the Thai Lilac and Wila Krungthep is challenging and a test. I believe if I can breed them too easily, I will not have stories to tell and wow people” he said.

“However, breeding Wilas will be difficult. Success may not be achieved in my generation because so far only eight Wilas can be found, and six of them have already been neutered. For Wilas, I do not breed to sell. Thai cats are a living heritage and I just hope that the first litter of Wilas’ kittens will be born at PP Thai Cattery.”    

Wila Krungthep.

Tri-Ned, a famous Khao Manee breed with eyes in three shades.

Korat.

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