KORATS IN NORWAY
Our Scandinavian Korats
(written by Elfi Kleive in 1985 and updated in 1997)
During our family's seven years stay in Bangkok, I met a wonderful Thai lady: Khunying Ruen Abhibal Rajamaitri. After a long life as the wife of a diplomat/ambassador all over the world, she had returned to her Bangkok home and had started to breed the cats of her native country. Mme Rajamaitri became a very good friend of our family and the perfect tutor in Thai history and folklore for me. Amongst the many lovely Thai cats she bred under her cattery prefix MAHAJAYA (Great victory) there were the pointed Siamese, the Copper (or Burmese) and the Korats. The Korats were a breed I had read about but never seen before I came to her house in 1970. These cats fascinated us all and a year later we were the happy owners of a little Korat girl, Mahajaya Coco
Autumn 1974 we finally returned to Norway, bringing with us our Thai cats - two Siamese and Coco. I had been in contact with the Norwegian Cat Association, "Norsk Rasekattklubbers Riksforbun"» (NRR), and had been told there were no Korat cats in Scandinavia. Because of this, our Korat had been mated before leaving Bangkok.
While in quarantine in Oslo, Coco presented us with three kittens. At this point I realized that I was faced with a lot of problems, starting with my attempt to register my cats and my cattery name, PIMAI. Joining a cat club was easy, but there was no way I could register my Korats as a breed; Any Other Breed - No. 26, was the only option open to me.
To my great surprise, the Korat was not recognized as a breed in the Fèdèration Internationale Fèline (FIFe).
Moreover, nobody was interested in doing so, the reason being simply "we have enough blue cats already"! The fact that it was on old, original breed whose traditions had been preserved unchanged, for several hundred years in its native country was not considered to be of any importance. The Chartreux was recognized, and active and innovative breeders in the rest of the world had, in the last decades, developed the Russian Blue, British Blue, Blue Burmese and a Foreign Blue - what was the point of having another one - even if it was an original, traditional native blue cat?
When the joy of getting our cats home from quarantine calmed down a bit, I set about solving our Korat registration problems. I had joined Vestfold Rasekattklubb (VERAK), the NRR cat club in our district, and at the "Norsk Rasekattklubb" (NORAK) Spring Show 1975 in Oslo, Mahajaya Coco, Pimai Little Lord and Pimai Minni were present. They attracted a lot of attention, especially because one of the big newspapers had published an article about the Korats in advance. But that was all.
Now I had to concentrate on the most important tasks.
1) find a suitable partner for Coco
2) what I had to do to get the breed recognized.
A stud for Coco proved most urgent. Coco was calling at 2-4 weeks intervals. I wrote and telephoned all my Korat friends. Imports from the USA had to do four month quarantine in Norway, a thought that definitely did not appeal to me.
In England, from where we could import without going through quarantine, Miss B.Mumford and a few others had started breeding with Korats imported from USA. However, there was so little breeding material nobody there was interested in exporting.
Australia and New Zealand had no Korats to export at that time.
There was no chance of getting a male into Norway without going through quarantine. I realized the necessity for compromise and, for her health's sake, used Coco's son, Pimai Little Lord, for one mating while waiting for a male from the USA: In November 1975 we had three lovely kittens: Pimai Festus, Femina, and Kora.
Pimai Femina moved to Monica Lund (DONGALA), and Pimai Kora went to L.Sundfeldt in Stockholm, becoming Sweden's first Korat. Both girls were used for breeding. Festus stayed with us to take his part in Korat promotion.
Spring, 1976 Sonia Anderson, USA kindly offered me Solna's Mats. Again I found myself going to Oslo Quarantine Station to visit a cat several times a month, and again I counted the weeks and days until I could go and get him home. Mats came home, Coco was in heat, and two months later, in November 1976, we again had three lovely kittens.
Through VERAK I was informed that I must get the club to send a proposal to NRR's Annual General Meeting to apply for recognition of the Korat by the FIFe. The proposal was sent in Spring, 1977, but there was no reaction from NRR:
In the '70s it was still quite usual for FIFe to automatically approve all breeds accepted by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), the British governing body. GCCF stand alone but is recognized by the FIFe, who cooperates to some extent. Therefore, we were extremely pleased when, in 1976, GCCF accepted the Korat with the Breed No.34, without certificate status. But the way was not cleared: FIFe refused to follow.
Now I knew I had to get much more involved if I was ever going to reach my goal. So I became a board member in VERAK. The following year we re-set our proposal. This time FIFe refused. I contacted everybody I thought might be able to help, at the same time trying to advertise the Korat case as much as possible.
As both Pimai Femina and Kora were being used for breeding together with Coco, we were slowly increasing our numbers. We showed our Korats whenever we could, and we stood there for days explaining and answering questions. We talked to judges, club secretaries and breeders. We fought and we sweet-talked - whichever we found was suitable. Various clubs invited us to come and present the Korats at club meetings. R.Mathisen, who had bought Pimai Ekamai and Gamanit, accompanied me and we usually brought along Gamanit , Festus and Solna's Mats.
During winter 1978/79 we were told that FIFe demands judgements and recommendations from ten different judges in order to recognize a new breed. So we started to work on that. All Korats were shown as often as possible.
Spring, 1979 I had taken over the leadership of VERAK. Of course I did everything in my power to get as many Korats as possible present at our next show --- there were 32 Korats!
The TV show "Norge Rundt" visited and the newspapers wrote about the Korat again. Every officiating shorthair judge was asked to sign a recommendation acknowledging the breed, which all were very willing to do.
Autumn, 1980 VERAK arranged a show in Sandefjord. Ms.A. Hackmann (at that time vice-president of the FIFe-affiliated German club, 1.DEKZV and chairman of FIFe's Committee of Judges), was invited especially to judge the Korats, and she did so for hours. 38 Korats were shown on this occasion. But Ms.Hackmann told me that it was wrong to collect recommendations; that rule was applicable only to new varieties/colours of an existing breed. A NEW breed had to be presented to FIFe's Committee of Judges. A few weeks later, the same answer was given to NRR during FIFe's AGM. We had to start all over again ..
It was too late at this point to apply for a VERAK show permit for 1981 so we had to ally ourselves to another club. ADELKATTEN (another Norwegian district club) was first with an offer of help, but the timing was too short, most of the judges in the committee were already fully booked. Then NORAK offered their 1981 Autumn Show - that gave us enough time. Four important judges accepted our invitation and we again mobilized every available Korat. We also had time to arrange an attractive PR booth. Saturday morning, 28 Korats and their rather nervous owners were assembled. The cats were judges endlessly. All the committee members had to see and handle them. On top of all that, a German judge and member of the committee went around and photographed every blue cat at the show.
Then came the evening. Monica and I were to attend the gala dinner to talk more Korat. At Monicas', her husband dished out sedatives and we tried to relax for a while.
As we dressed up for the gala, we recited all the good reasons for approving the Korat. But, in the end it was all in vain. The judges had their minds made up, but NOT in favour of the Korat.
In November, 1981 I travelled to Vienna to attend FIFe's Annual General Meeting. The Committee of Judges had held their meeting on Friday and, after a long, long debate (one of them saying the Korats could only be accepted over his dead body!) they were asked to take a vote in order to end the discussion. 5 votes in favour and 4 votes against. We Norwegians celebrated this decision heartily. After dinner, a member of the committee invited us to a slide show of "blue cats" - most of the pictures taken during the NORAK show were there, together with some others! We were given a piece of paper and a pen and were told to write down which breed we saw on the slide as quickly as we could, because he was of the opinion that no judge could tell the difference between a Korat and any other blue cat just by a quick glance. Of course most of us present managed the test. I think 30 out of 35 was the lowest score. Most of us scored 32-33/35. Those who had voted against the Korat were quite sulky that evening, and we were delighted.
The vote at the AGM the next day gave the same result. The Korat was approved without certificate status, but that was normal at that time. I could not really believe it! We laughed and cried a bit and did not quite know what to do next.
From January 1st 1982 the Korat was recognized as Breed N. 34 in FIFe
After some celebration at home, it was time to start working again. Until now we had worked for the Korat, now it was time to work with the Korat. We had to breed good Korats and show them as often as possible to as many judges as possible - they had to learn to see the Korats, so we had to make sure to show them many good Korats at all ages. From kittens during their growing period to adults at their best age.
The number of cats had now increased to about 100, and we found that it was time to thank Solna's Mats for his fine contribution and send him back to the USA.
M.Sortodden and Rolf (both Korat breeders for a brief period) were willing to import a male. Kon Lek Lek Wat Arun arrived in 1982 from (Col.&Ms.O'Neill) the USA, and a little later, Monica took in Wyndenee Si Tara Sunee from (Ms. M.Watts) in Australia.
Championship status was awarded to the Korat on January 1st 1983. Not long after that we were able to celebrate our first Champion.
Everything seemed fine and I thought that now, finally, I could relax and enjoy. But of course it just does not work that way; somebody has to be the motivator. When I relaxed and stopped showing, many of the members relaxed too, and all of a sudden there were again only a few Korats at the shows.
Summer 1987 Larry and Peter Greuel, USA, offered me their famous Jena's Tai Pan of Petlar, so 1988 Kon Lek Lek Wat Arun was allowed to retire and Jena's Tai Pan (Tuffer for all who know him) continued, giving us many beautiful and famous kittens.
1997 - 15 years have gone since the Korat was approved as a breed by FIFe and it is time for me to continue the saga.
Today I can say that the years since I started to write this story have been wonderful for our cats. Interest in showing and breeding has grown considerably, along with the numbers of cats and breeders. Our cats are being shown, and today we can proudly present 35 European Champion / Premior as well as many rising stars of the ring. Outstanding among our winners are: EC Jena's Tai Pan DM who made "Best Shorthair Stud-of-the-Year 1992 and 1993", and EC Jona's Jai Lin DM who made "Best Shorthair Queen-of-the-Year 1992, '93 and '95". This award is given in the breeding class during the show year, here in Scandinavia.
The stud or queen has to be present at the show together with at least 3 of his or her progeny, and will be given points for every award received by these cats. Two queens and a stud carry the title DM.
Cristina Kronlund in Sweden imported new breeding stock from A.Pitt (RATAEKORA) in England, thereby restarting breeding in Sweden, together with G.Dahlin, A.Ericsson and K.Gunnarsson, who's Doklao Nai Ban (Emil) made his contribution to many good litters. All four ladies are well known Korat breeders in Sweden.
In Finland Korat breeding started in 1988 with stock from Norway and imports from A.Pitt, England and D.Langford (Jing Korats), USA. Today they are proud of more than 100 beautiful Korats that are successful at shows in Finland and elsewhere on the Continent, and a Korat Ass. that works very well to promote the Korat..
And to continue this, hopefully, never ending story, let me say that Denmark also joined us with at least one breeder and some very happy Korat owners..
Yang Cheng Ma Hoo Who's came to us from Maureen Cray, USA in 1994 after staying in Denmark and Germany for nearly one year, to bring us new bloodlines.
Kittens from our lines have gone on to help start the breeding of Korats in Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland.
Showing our beautiful Korats, seeing who beats whom, and experiencing the excitement when they go as far as the Best-in-Show panel, is exhilarating. The judges keep assuring us that our Scandinavian Korats are very good and are renowned in judges' circles. We now regularly see Korats in the Best-in-Show panel, and as "Best Shorthair/Somali" in Scandinavia. When one considers how many breeds compete at shows for the title of "Best Shorthair/Somali" it is really impressive.
Last but not least, it is also great fun to meet other Korat lovers at the shows. There are many good friends to be made through our cats. We have a nice time together at shows and meetings, and can happily look forward to celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Skandinavisk Korat Ring in 1998.
To think that just two of us started SK.KORAT RING in 1978 - and now there are almost 100 members!
GIC. JONA'S CRISTAL LIN
a beautiful Norwegian Korat
After the Korat was awarded Champion status in 1983, the breed has had good progress in the judging rings and panels in Norway.
In September 1987, we got our first Europa Premier, Pimai Gamanit. In March 1988, Pimai Eega was the first Europa Champion. Both cats were GIP and GIC in 1986.
Those who were in the cat fancy then, will remember how difficult it was to get Grand-certificates. When the Europa-title came the rules were simplified. The Grand-certificates were easier to get.
Since then 20 Korats have become Europa Champion and 11 are Europa Premier. 8 Korats are Best of Best, "Doklao Nai Ban" was the first in 1989. 61 Korats have become Best in Show Shorthair. 16 have been Best Opposite Sex Shorthair and 4 times Korat litters have been Best Litter Shorthair. There have been 229 nominations for Korats.
In 1992 and 1993 the Best Breeding Male Shorthair and Best Breeding Female Shorthair in Norway were Korats. In 1995 Best Breeding Female Shorthair in Norway was also a Korat.
Mrs. Elfi Kleive
Pimai Cattery - Norway