Also known as the Sacred Cat of Burma, the Birman cat is an ancient breed of cat. With a striking pale coat and dark points and stunning blue eyes, the breed really is one of beauty.
The actual background of the breed is not known however there are many legends as to the breed’s origins. The most famous of which is that there was a colony of yellow-eyed, white cats living in a Burmese monastery as the guardians of the Temple of Lao Tsun. The golden goddess of the temple Tsun-Kyan-Kse was said to have deep blue eyes. Every night the head priest Mun-Ha would kneel and pray in front of the goddess, a cat by the name of Sinh by his side. One night the temple was taken over by Siamese invaders and the priest killed. Sinh stood guard over the body with his front paws on Mun-Ha’s head. It is said his fur took on a golden colour, and his eyes turned blue. The cat’s paws, which had touched the priest’s head remained white, as a symbol of purity.
The reality is that there likely was a colony of cats and Siamese invaders likely did come along, but these were the feline variety who bred with the local cats, producing pointed offspring.
Arrival in Europe
A pregnant female by the name of Sita arrived in France in 1919. We don’t know much about how she got to France, more legends surround this story too, but that’s for another day. The arrival of the Birman in France was the beginning of the breed becoming established in Europe.
The first Birman arrived in the USA in 1959 and was registered in 1967.
Birman cat appearance:
Moderate and well proportioned. The Birman does not reach full maturity until around 3 years of age. Medium legs , with round paws and white gloves which are characteristic of the breed.
Round with full cheeks and a Roman nose. The ears are sit high on the head, at a slight angle. The eyes should be a deep blue and oval in shape.
Medium and extremely dense, it has a silky texture which makes it less likely to get matted.
Birmans come in a number of colours including the traditional four pointed colours; seal, blue, lilac and chocolate as well as red, cream, tortie, in addition to these colours, the Birman also can come with tabby (lynx) points in the above colours.
The paws are white due to the white gloving gene which is unique to the breed and is different to the white spotting gene which is responsible for the white feet on the mitted Ragdoll.