BHOPAL: A 21-year-old wrestler from the Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh has found an odd-eyed wonder cat in the jungles of Madhya Pradesh.
The pure white cat which has one blue eye and a golden yellow eye resembles the rare Khao Manee or the Diamond Eye cat, which has for centuries been reportedly coveted by Thailand's royal family.
Considered one of the most expensive cats in the world with rich cat lovers ready to pay up to 11,000 US Dollars for it, the Khao Manee cat is considered one of the smartest and sociable cats in the world and often believed to be a symbol of longevity and prosperity.
"Two months ago while on my way from Bhopal to my aunt's house in the Sarani area of Betul district, I stopped in a jungle in Sarani and spotted a pack of dogs barking and baying for the blood of a small white cat hiding on a tree. I scared the dogs away and waited for the white cat to climb down from the tree and comfort in my lap," recounted the budding grappler Anubhav Singh, who won the bronze medal in the 55-kg Greco Roman class of UP State Wrestling Championship in 2017.
The young wrestler, who now trains in Delhi and also works as a part-time assistant to an advocate in the national capital, brought the cat to his aunt's house in Sarani (Betul).
Fairytale of sorts. Budding UP wrestler Anubhav Singh finds rare odd-eyed wonder cat in MP jungles. Youngster flooded with high-price offers for the cat resembling Thailand royal family's coveted lucky charm Khao Manee/Diamond Eye breed cats. @NewIndianXpress @TheMornStandard pic.twitter.com/vzgE8Ct3o9— Anuraag Singh (@anuraag_niebpl) February 1, 2021
"The cat named 'Hezel' by me couldn't walk properly when I found it, possibly due to acute chill, but once at my aunt's home, it started becoming healthy and responding to my calls of Hazy and Hezel. Now my two months vacations are coming to end and I'll return home not alone, but withHezel," Anubhav said on Monday.
The young Greco Roman wrestler since finding the Khao Manee resembling odd-eyed cat has not only become famous in the Sarani area of Betul district in MP but slowly getting calls and responses over social media from cat lovers all over the country.
"I'm already getting calls and offers from cat lovers willing to pay Rs 3-4 Lakh for Hezel, but I'll not give it anyone, as I firmly believe that it's the lucky charm ushered to me by God in the woods," said Anubhav.
The new Instagram account diamond_hazel created by Anubhav for his cat too is making the animal very popular.
A Betul-based wildlife enthusiast Adil Khan confirmed that Hezel has become a cynosure of most eyes not only in the Sarani area but for many in the entire Betul district.
"Such odd-eyed cats aren't only rare, but also expensive, particularly as they are believed to usher wealth and prosperity to their owners. They are most famous and cherished in countries like Thailand and Turkey. The different colours of eyes is possibly due to a disorder known as Heterochromia," Khan maintained.
Importantly, the Khao Manee (white gem) is a rare breed of cat originating in Thailand, which has an ancient ancestry tracing back to hundreds of years.
Reputed to be actively communicative and intelligent, the Khao Manee is also mentioned in the Tamra Maew, or Cat Book Poems.
Most coveted by the Thailand royal family for ages, the Khao Manee cat has only recently been adopted by Western cat breeders, gaining "registration only" status from The International Cat Association (TICA) in May 2009. On September 3, 2011, the breed was promoted to "Preliminary New Breed", effective from May 1, 2012, and on August 30, 2013, the breed was promoted to "Advanced New Breed", effective immediately.
On January 24, 2015, the Khao Manee breed was advanced to Championship level in TICA, effective May 1, 2015.
On September 8, 2010, at the meeting of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) Executive Committee, the Khao Manee was granted breed name in GCCF and was approved for exhibition only. The Khao Manee Cat Club was granted GCCF pre-affiliation at the Council meeting on October 26, 2011.
The breed gained acceptance also in Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA )on February 7, 2018, and has been welcome in their shows from May 1, 2018.
The CFA is the World's Largest Registry of Pedigreed Cats and this new achievement is placing now the breed as globally recognized.