Cat Breeds 101: Birman!

Cat Breeds 101: Birman!Photo – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0

The Birman is a domestic cat also known as the Sacred Cat of Burma. A common legend claims the Birman to be a descendant of sacred cats raised by priests in Myanmar. Their colors are thus regarded to be the result of mysterious supernatural powers. [1] The breed derived its name from “Birmanie” which is the French word for Burma. In 1919, a pregnant Birman was brought to France from Thailand and this litter became the basis for the breeding program. In 1925, the breed was officially recognized by the Cat Club of France. [2]

Oftentimes, Birmans are mistaken for Siamese cats or Ragdolls. Early Birman cats were seal points and it was only in 1959 when the blue color point was produced by crossing the Birman with the Blue Persian cat. Eventually, English breeders added new colors such as red, lynx, and chocolate.

Birmans are medium-sized domestic cats with rectangular bodies. They are distinguished by their broad face, and distinct Roman nose. Their eyes are normally Sapphire blue in color and Birman cat owners claim them to be extremely expressive.

Today, the recognized color points include silver gray, blue, red, cream, seal, and chocolate. The coat of a Birman does not reach full development until the cat is at least 2 years of age. In fact, all kittens of this breed are born completely white. Their feet should remain white and ideally their coat will have a gold tint to it. [3]

The Birman cat is known to meow softly in order to communicate with those around them. They love learning new tricks in a dignified manner and can master them quickly.

This breed is known to enjoy the company of humans and animals. In fact, they enjoy being in a household with several pets rather than being alone. These cats are also unique in that they prefer to stay close to the ground instead of climbing to high perches.

It is also worth noting that owners of this breed should carefully consider the amount of food given to a Birman cat. According to research, the breed is prone to getting overweight, especially when food portions are not monitored regularly. Also, their coat requires brushing about once a week.

A healthy Birman can live fifteen years or more. [4]


[1] Claire Bessant, Cat the Complete Guide (Barnes & Noble Publishing, 1999).
[2] Nicolae Sfetcu, About Cats (Nicolae Sfetcu, 2014).
[3] James Richards, ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats: Everything You Need to Know About Choosing and Caring for Your Pet (Chronicle Books, 1999).
[4] Joanne Mattern, The Birman Cat (Capstone, 2002).

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