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Birman

Other names : The Sacred Cat of Burma

Birman
Birman
Kitten

Even if their origins are rather vague, it appears that the Burmese is a truly French cat. Their mid-length and silky fur has the benefit of not getting tangled. These placid cats like to spend their time being cuddled by their owner, whom they follow like a shadow. They are very sociable and get along well with humans and animals of all ages...

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Key facts about the Birman

  • Life expectancy : Between 12 and 15 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Calm
  • Type of coat : Long
  • Price : Around £500

Physical characteristics of the Birman

Adult size

Female cat Approximately 12 in
Male cat Approximately 12 in

They usually reach their adult size around the age of 1.

Weight

Female cat Between 4 and 9 lb
Male cat Between 9 and 13 lb

Coat colour

Black / seal, blue / chocolate, lilac / lilac, cinnamon / cream / fawn, red

All the above colours are only possible as part of a colourpoint coat. Their coat is only coloured in certain places, such as the ends of their tails, their faces, their ears and above their paws. The rest of their fur is white. A particular quirk is the little white ‘sock’ on each of their paws!

Coat patterns

Tabby / striped, silver/smoke colourpoint.

Type of coat

Their fur is longer around their necks and on their backs and sides. They have a very light undercoat.

Eye colour

The blue should be as piercing as possible!

Description

Birman are a medium-sized cats with broad bodies. They have a strong bone structure, round heads and ears that are as wide as they are long. They have beautiful full cheeks which line their distinctive Roman noses (which are hooked, short and straight). Their faces are neither pointed (like a Siamese) nor squished (like a Persian). Their bushy tail is average sized and is well proportioned to the rest of their bodies. Their mid-length fur is silky and whatever their coat colour, their legs are tipped with pretty white ‘socks’ that cover their big round paws.

Temperament

Affectionate

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Both very loving and gentle, they absolutely love cuddles and will communicate their enjoyment with a deep purr.

Playful

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Birman are lively and playful, and love to play games with their owners (who they’ll follow everywhere!).

Calm

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This calm breed prefers to chill out rather than make mischief.

Intelligent

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Birman are curious creatures, and can learn how to do tricks if you train them regularly.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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Although they are sometimes a bit shy, Birman cats are generally curious and get along with everyone. Their socialisation with others during the first few months of their lives are key in the long run.

Independent

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Generally a clingy breed, they absolutely love their owner’s company, and even the company of other animals. They don’t like being left on their own.

Behaviour of the Birman

Chatty

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They liven up their households with their soft voices that attract the attention of their owners.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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Like all cats, to be kept happy, they need to be stimulated both mentally and physically.

Tendency to run away

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Even though they quite like a little wander outside, these clingy cats will rarely venture far from home.

Greedy / Gluttony

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In general, this breed is picky rather than greedy!

Compatibility

Birman and cats

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Even though most cats are independent, the Birman absolutely loves the company of other cats.

Birman and dogs

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As long as the initial introduction goes well, Birman get on very well with dogs.

Birman and children

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The Sacred Cat of Burma is an excellent pet as they get along very well with children. Just so long as the child has learnt to be respectful towards cats.

Birman and the elderly

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Their calm and gentle nature make them an excellent companion for an elderly person. They will love to be pampered and cuddled in their owner’s lap, just as long as they get a chance to play everyday.

Price

On average, a Birman kitten costs approximately £500. This price may vary depending on their breeder, lineage, age at purchase and even their sex. 
It costs on average £25 / month to keep a Birman in good health.

Grooming

Other than a weekly brushing, their fur requires no special attention. It is also a good idea to keep their eyes and ears as clean as possible.

Hair loss

This breed can moult a lot, however regular brushing avoids too many issues.

Nutrition of the Birman

In general, they are quite picky about their food. Therefore it is key to offer them high quality food (wet or dry).

Health of the Birman

Life expectancy

The Sacred Cat of Burma has a life expectancy of around 12 to 15 years.

Strong / robust

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Their mid-length coat allows them to withstand both hot and cold temperatures.

Tendency to put on weight

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This breed doesn’t have a specific tendency to get fat, however they do need to expend some energy in order to maintain a normal weight. To help the cat avoid gaining weight, their diet should be adapted to their age and levels of activity.

Common illnesses

Like many breeds, the Sacred Cat of Burma is predisposed to develop certain hereditary diseases which are detectable by blood test or oral smear:
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the thickening of the heart muscle. This disease can lead to heart failure due to arrhythmias, lung oedema, arterial thrombosis etc. Screening is done by means of an echocardiography examinatination, which is usually renewed annually. Treatment can be administered according to the results of the echocardiograph to improve the cat’s quality of life. 

Polycystic kidney disease is a disease that results in the development of cysts that prevent the kidney from functioning normally, and lead to incurable kidney failure. Veterinary care and a specialised diet can delay the disease and improve the quality of the cat’s life so that they can live longer. 

Mucopolysaccharidosis type VI is genetic disease that causes skeletal abnormalities.
Birman can also develop the same diseases as all other cats (oral diseases etc).
 
Once a Birman reaches the age of 7, it is advised that they have an annual check up with the vet to monitor their health.

Reproduction

Birman kittens are born entirely white and develop their colour after just a few days. This colour will continue to darken for the next 2-3 years, until it reaches its final shade. 

No cross breeding is permitted.

Good to know

The texture of a Birman’s fur is quite special. In fact, their hair never gets tangled. This makes them the perfect cat for those who love silky fur but hate daily brushing sessions!

Origins and history

No one really knows about the Birman’s origin...but there are plenty of rumours. 
One rumour has it that a pair of sacred cats were imported to France by an American billionaire, who had stolen them from the temple of Lao Tsun, in Burma. The male died during the trip, but Sita, the female, gave birth to several kittens including Maldapour Doll, the ancestor of the Western Birman. Maldapour Doll was presented at the Paris exhibition in 1926, but, despite much research, it is impossible to confirm this breed’s origin.

The most likely story is that they originate from crossbreeding between a Siamese (from which it derives most of its characteristics), and a Persian. Today, the Birman is one of the 10 most popular breeds in the world.

Names

Good names for a Birman cat: Rapunzel, Taz, Velma, Xavier