A cat distinguished by a Golden Retriever’s personality, this magnificently beautiful, long-haired feline will stun you with its charm and piercing blue eyes! Not to be confused with the Burmese cat, this breed originates in the country of Burma, where many legends color its history.
One such story includes a pure white cat whose golden eyes watched as its holy master lay dying in the presence of a beautiful golden goddess. Upon his passing, the cat received his soul which transformed the cat’s colors, leaving immaculate white paws to represent the purity of his spirit. The cat’s coat was imbued with a lustrous gold sparkle to depict the scintillating glow of the master’s golden goddess and eyes like sapphires to match the color of her eyes.
Around 1919, a pair of Birman cats secretly sailed from Burma to France. The male cat did not survive the difficult conditions of the long sea voyage, but the stronger female, Sita, arrived happily pregnant. From this single source, the Birman was established in the western world. The French cat registry recognized the Birman as a separate breed in 1925.
By the end of WW II, only two Birmans were left alive in Europe, and a program of outcrossing was necessary to reestablish the breed. Most cat registries require at least five generations of pure breeding after outcrossings to fully accredit a cat for championship competition. The Birman was first imported into the United States in the 1960s. The breed was recognized by England in 1966, and by The Cat Fanciers’ Association in the U.S. in 1967. The Birman is now recognized and loved worldwide. This breed has consistently remained among the top ten most popular cats for many years.
The ideal Birman is a moderately large, long, stocky cat. It has long silky hair, not as thick as that of the Persian, and of a texture that doesn’t tend to mat, partly because it has no undercoat. The color of the coat is light, preferably with a golden cast, as if sprinkled with gold dust. The points – face, legs and tail – are darker, and similar to the Siamese and color-pointed Persian color patterns. The rounded eyes are a deep blue, set in a strong face with heavy jaws, a full chin, and a nose described as “Roman,” with nostrils set low. Wide at their base, the ears are proportionately tall. Ideally, the cat’s front white “gloves” should match in symmetry, while the rear paws include white “laces” which extend up the back of the leg. It is rare to find a Birman with four perfect paws.
Birman cats offer a wide variety of colors which are commonly described as points of chocolate; seal; lilac; blue; and similar variations of lynx points. There are also parti-colored points and solid points.
Kittens are born pure white (similar to many colorpoint cats) and will begin to manifest other colors after about a week of life. Final coloration usually requires a good two years of age.
Completely docile, good-natured and personable, this cat accepts most any residential scenario, whether with seniors, active children, or other pets – alone or in a houseful of cats. If you engage it in conversation, it will participate with its soft, provocative voice. If you tend to be quiet, the Birman will respect your preferences. Unlike some of the wilder domestic cat breeds, this one will stay close to the ground as opposed to swinging from the chandeliers.
In exchange for lots of love, good food, mutually pleasurable grooming, and proper health care, the Birman will serve as your best friend for life. Since Birmans come in all pointed colors, you can choose among your favorites. They are all beautiful...they are all Birman!
With a dog-like personality, they will follow you around as you go about your chores. Like some Bengals, they rival some of our greatest keyboard artists. Prone to stubbornly involving themselves in whatever you are doing, regardless of their proficiency, you can persuade them to sit back and watch with some gentle guidance.
Like most cats, Birmans tend to sleep twenty hours a day, and then unleash some crazy energy careening from one end of the house to the other during play time. Every Birman kitten develops its own distinctive personality and routines as it matures. Some of these cats just love to be held and cuddled, while others prefer a more independent stance. But all love attention and generous affection.
Also known as “the Golden Retrievers” of the cat world, the Birman mimics this dog’s agreeable, loyal, easygoing, and fun-loving personality. Quirky, nonetheless, they will occasionally pester you for attention if you’re otherwise occupied.
Health and Grooming
If an owner maintains a conscientious grooming regimen, stray hairs can be combed out weekly. Since Birmans love attention, this combing routine will be a pleasing experience for both you and the cat.
Easy cats to care for, they are not vulnerable to any particular diseases as a breed, and grooming is usually quite simple to keep their elegant coats looking lovely. The breed has good longevity, some living well into their early twenties with good care.
Barron’s Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds