The Cat Source

Birman: The Sacred Cat of Burma

The Birman is one of the most renowned domestic cat breeds. It is a strikingly wonderful breed of cat with semi-colored coat of color-point pattern. It may come in a variety of colors similar to blue, lilac, chocolate, and seal with sapphire blue eyes and white feet. The Birman has been called the “Sacred Cat of Burma”, but it is not to be confused with the Burmese which is a distinct and unrelated breed of cat. It is believed to have originated in Burma and brought to France around 1919. It has been chosen by many since they are very affectionate, playful, not extremely vocal, gentle and faithful companions. Moreover, they are semi-longhaired—a good choice for those who love the look of a long-haired cat but do not want constant and excessive grooming associated with other breeds similar to Persians.

Birman Cat History

Just like other cat breeds, there’s no precise and clear record of the origins of the Birman. One folktale is that the Birman originated in Burma where they were kept by temple priests in Northern Burma in the Mount of Lugh. This folktale is accredited to the writings of Mme Marcelle Adam, a novelist and the president of the Federation Feline Francaise. She is the owner of Maldapour Birman Cattery and was first published in the French Review Minerva by Dr. Francois Mery. There are numerous of imaginative stories as to how these felines first came to France – including pairs of cats being a prize for helping defend a temple or being smuggled out of Burma by a Vanderbilt. Another story is that a couple of stolen Birmans were imported by Thadde Haddisch. The first traces of historical Birmans go back to a Mme Leotardi in the city of Nice in France.

During World War II, the Birmans were almost wiped out as a breed. At the end of the war, only two cats were alive in Europe, a pair named Orloff and Xenia de Kaabaa, both belonging to Baudion-Crevoisier. It was believed that the foundation of the breed in postwar France were offspring of this pair. They had to be severely out crossed with long-haired breeds similar to Persian and Siamese to reestablish the Birman breed. Pure Birman litters were once again produced by the early 1950s. In 1965, the restored breed was recognized in Britain and by the CFA in 1966.

The first Birmans were depicted as seal-pointed. In 1959, the blue-point color was introduced using Blue Persian lines. There were new colors added by the work of English Breeders in the 1970‘s – 1980’s including the red-point, chocolate, and tabby or lynx version. The Birman cat breed was also used to create new breeds similar to the Ragdoll cat in California.

Birman’s Physical Appearance

Birman cats are often classified as semi-longhaired cats. They have semi-long, silky hair with a semi-short body. The ears of these felines are relatively small compared to other cat breeds. They have a Roman nose and sapphire colored eyes. The color of their body may come in various hues but usually it they have an eggshell or golden color, depending on the intensity of the markings. The markings may include cream, pure seal, chocolate, lilac, red, or blue. In addition, Birmans have an unusual coat since they have white gloves on each paw. Because of this, they are one of the few cat breeds in the colorprint coat that have fingers and toes in pure white color. Birman males can be quite large; adults can reach up to 5 to 6 kilos while females can reach between 3.5 to 4 kilos. Birmans are one of the most attractive and marvelous felines in the world.

Birman Cat Characteristics

Birman cats are very affectionate, gentle, cute and faithful companions with a flair of dignity which seems to invite admiration by their human comrades. As former temple cats, they seem to have become accustomed to adoration. Aside from being gorgeous, they are very intelligent and are very people-oriented. They have active, playful, calm and sweet personalities. They have a soft voice which may give the impression that these felines are docile creatures. They are also curious and they will generally greet visitors with curiosity rather than fear. Because of their calm and gentle temperaments, this kind of feline is easy to handle, care for and show. They can be ideal pets for anyone who wants a quiet comrade that will offer love and great affection in return for just a little deserved veneration. To sum it up, Birman cats are well-balanced both physically and psychologically and its gaze gives it a soothing and dignified look.

How much grooming is needed for Birman cats?

Birmans have an easy care angora coat that requires little grooming. The fur of the Birman is long and silky and has no undercoat so does not tangle. Just like other semi-longhaired cats, regular weekly grooming with a brush is all that is needed for most of the year although your feline will love it if you decide to groom more regularly. Its coat is inclined to some changes during the hot months and at that time daily grooming may be necessary to eradicate extra dead hair. They can be bathed occasionally if desired.

How long do Birmans live?

The average life expectancy of the Birman ranges from 15 to 20 years. However, they may exceed from this age range if proper care and good nutrition is given to them. Regular visits to veterinarians, good grooming, giving them nutritious foods and keeping them indoors are also essential for these felines.

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