Other names: Malayan
Despite the similar name, this breed bears no resemblance to the Birman (also known as the “Sacred Cat of Burma”). It is also called the Malayan, particularly in the United States. All Burmese have the same ancestor, a brown-coated cat, whose coat was darker on its extremities, which was brought back from Burma. So now you see where the name comes from! Note that there are two lineages of Burmese: one of English origin and the other American. It is only by a few facial morphological differences that we can distinguish between them.
Key facts about the Burmese
Life expectancy :
Type of coat :Naked Short Long
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Origins and history
From as early as 1350, a collection called "book of cat poems" which extended over the following four centuries already described a cat resembling this breed. But the certainty of this breed’s birth rests on their ancestor, a Tonkinoise cat called Wong-Mau that a man by the name of Thompson brought back from Burma one day. She was mated with a seal or chocolate point siamese. One of the kittens in the litter was then crossed with Wong-Mau in order to obtain this all-over brown colour with yellow eyes. This is how the first Burmese kittens were born, along with the breeding programme for the breed. It took six years for this breed to be recognised by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in its sable colour variety.
In Europe, the first cats of this breed appeared in Britain in 1947. These first Burmese were crossed with typically oriental Siameses, which allowed the development of a more triangular head than their American counterparts. It is also through this breeding programme that other colors (red, cream tortoiseshell) were recognised in Europe over the years.
Physical characteristics of the Burmese
Female : Between 10 and 11 in
Male : Between 11 and 12 in
The English Burmese will reach adult size around the age of 9-10 months, while the American cat will take a little longer due to its denser bones. They will reach adult size around the age of 12-13 months.
Female : Between 7 and 11 lb
Male : Between 9 and 13 lb
For the English Burmese, base colours of sable, blue, chocolate and champagne have been recognised since the origin of the breed. New colours have been added to the breed standard over the years, such as red, cream and tortoiseshell.
The American Burmese differs slightly from the English variety: while red, cream and tortoiseshell colours are associated with the Malayan breed, the colours sable, blue, chocolate and lilac are also recognised as part of the breed standard for the American variety.
Type of coat
Golden yellow to meet the breed standard. However, some cats of this breed have golden or coppery eyes.
The American version has a round-shaped head and the structure of its body makes them weightier cats than their slimmer English triangular-headed counterpart. All other body features are identical.
The musculature of these cats is well developed and toned, which makes them very agile at moving their medium-sized yet heavy body. These little athletes always have their eyes on you: they are large and round, and shine a deep gold. Their silky fur lies flat against their body and is reputed to be one of the nicest to touch out of all the house cats.
Good to know
Burmese kittens are born with grey/blue eyes and a light coat, but as they grow, the eye colour will change to yellow and the coat will darken on the coldest parts of the body.
The Malayan enjoys being close to humans and you will see that they are not only elegant but also very loveable.
These domestic cats are captivated by things that move. It is wise to provide them with toys hidden in their environment, so that they can be constantly stimulated and keep themselves occupied. But nothing beats a toy like a fishing rod, which you can move to make your cat run all around your home: it will be delighted!
After exertion, these cats will appreciate the opportunity for a little rest. They may or may not share this time with you, depending on whether they need to freshen up and relax in a space of their own.
Malayans are renowned for being clever and very curious, so they will follow you around the house and take an interest in what is going on all around you both.
Fearful / wary of strangers
These cats are more curious than they are wary with strangers, and will be able to adapt to new people in your life, as long as they are introduced gradually, giving your cat a chance to take an interest in them.
These felines are solitary animals, able to keep themselves occupied if they’re offered a diverse range of activities. This means your cat will need some time to be left alone, but will just as well be able to include you in their routine.
Behaviour of the Burmese
These are hardly the chattiest cats. But if you encourage them to answer you when you speak to them, they might just show you the power of their voice, which will surely win you over.
Need for exercise / Sporty
These cats need to occupy their time. Mix up their activities, and your relationship, along with their wellbeing, will only improve!
Tendency to run away
Why not take them for a little stroll outside in your garden? Something to occupy all their senses. If not, rest assured, the Malayan can equally adapt very well to simply looking out the window of your home.
Greedy / Gluttony
Their heftiness may suggest that these kittens enjoy their food. And since the American variety of these cats are bulkier than their English counterparts, it will be easier to mistake a healthy appetite to feed a bigger body for greed. Given the Malayan is a curious cat that needs stimulation, if you do not provide enough activities, they may get bored and resort to going to their bowl to eat. It’s a good idea to combine food with activity by offering games and an interactive bowl to meet their need to play and eat!
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Burmese and cats
This animal does not need a feline companion to alleviate boredom. But if you want to get another cat, Malayans will adjust if you give them time to adapt to their new companion and if you introduce them correctly.
Burmese and dogs
At first, getting along with a dog will not come naturally to this cat. It is essential to find the right way to introduce them to one another in order to give them the best chances of living together harmoniously - which is entirely possible!
Burmese and children
This cat will get used to children and be gentle with them as long as you stress the importance of respecting the animal. From there, a beautiful, trusting relationship of trust can develop.
Burmese and the elderly
A cat as lively and curious as the Burmese, may not be suitable for a person who needs calm. So the ideal would be to find an adult Burmese who already has plenty of years of life and experience behind them, so that the needs of the two converge naturally.
The purchase price of this cat can vary from £400 to £700 depending on its origin (breeder), pedigree, age, etc. Then for the maintenance budget, it takes about £25 per month to offer this breed a good quality of food and litter.
Given their fur is short with very little undercoat, a weekly brush will be enough.
Their spring moult is very light, so brushing will not need to be more any more frequent at this time of the year.
Nutrition of the Burmese
These cats will need a quality diet throughout their life, with adjustments to suit their changing age and slightly above average activity level.
Health of the Burmese
The life expectancy of the Burmese is around 14 years.
Strong / robust
Being without an undercoat, the Malayan’s magnificent, shiny fur that sits close to its skin will not adequately protect it from the cold.
Tendency to put on weight
The Malayan’s strong, solid body tends to give them a large appetite, especially if they are a particularly energetic and active individual. It is therefore important to make sure that this appetite of theirs does not turn into greed!
This cat is susceptible to develop the same illnesses as any other non-pedigree cat, as well as those listed below:
Craniofacial abnormality of the American Burmese (it is possible to test for this using genetic screening)
Hypokalemic myopathy causing weakness as well as muscle pain (can also be screened)
Gangliosidosis GM2 where the cat presents with a deficit of a particular enzyme that causes brain damage (can also be screened)
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the annual screening for which is carried out by ultrasound examination using a doppler.
Puberty occurs around the age of 9 months in the Burmese cat. An average litter may contain 6 kittens, meaning its prolificacy is slightly higher than the average of other cat breeds.