- Origins: Myanmar (formerly Burma) and France
- Other names: Sacred Cat of Burma
- Lifespan: 12-15 years
- Eyes: Blue
- Energy: Medium
- Temperament: Intelligent, sweet-natured, gentle and playful
- Weight: Males 5-6 kg (11 – 13.2 lbs), females 4-5 kg (8.8 – 11 lbs)
- Colours: Seal, blue, chocolate, lilac are the traditional colours, other colours vary depending on the cat council
- Grooming: 1-2 times a week
- Good with children? Excellent
- Cost: $800-$1,200
Image claudiabirmans, Flickr
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 Birman is one of beauty.
The Birman is a playful but easygoing breed of cat who gets along well with people and other pets.
Birman history and legend
The actual background is shrouded in mystery, however are many legends as to the breed’s origins.
The most famous of which is that there was a colony of longhaired, 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 Siamese invaders took over the temple killed the priest. 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.
Desmond Morris speculates in his book Cat Breeds of the World that the reality is there likely was a colony of longhaired white cats who mated with Siamese cats producing longhaired, pointed offspring.
Arrival in Europe
In 1919 a pair of founding cats who consisted of a male called Madalpour and a pregnant female called Sita was sent to France (some suggest the pair were stolen). Sadly the male died during the journey; however, Sita survived and produced a litter of kittens. One kitten was named Poupee de Madalpour (Poupee), who as bred to Siamese or Siamese type cats (Laotian Lynx) and is considered the founder of the modern-day Birman breed. The French Feline Federation recognised the breed (called Sacre de Birmanie) in 1925.
The first Birman arrived in the USA in 1959 and Britain in 1965. The Cat Fanciers Association in America recognised the Birman in 1967.
Moderate and well proportioned. The Birman does not reach full maturity until around three 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 set high on the head, at a slight angle. The eyes should be a deep blue and oval.
Medium and extremely dense, it has a silky texture which makes it less likely to get matted.
Birmans come in several 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 from the white spotting gene which is responsible for the white feet on the mitted Ragdoll.
Image Jan Faborsky, Flickr
Birmans are a sweet-natured breed, and words used to describe them include gentle, playful, even-tempered, affectionate, intelligent, quiet and faithful.
Birmans love people and can form a close bond with one particular family member. They don’t do well if left alone for long periods. Consider two cats if you are out of the home for long stretches of time.
A quiet and laid back breed of cat, the Birman is in your face like some breeds of cat. They are an ideal companion for single people, families, and retirees and homes with children and other pets.
Image Corinne Benavides, Flickr
The semi-longhair coat requires regular grooming to remove loose hairs, once or twice a week should be enough.
Birman cats should be indoor only, preferably with access to a safe enclosure.
All cats need require regular dental care which may be with a cat toothbrush and toothpaste or feeding raw chunks of steak and raw chicken necks.
Annual veterinary checks to evaluate the health of your Birman, which increases to twice a year once the cat reaches seven years.
The Birman cat is a healthy breed of cat, but diseases the breed can be prone to include: