The origin of this breed has been laced with the legendary account of how there was a magical change in the appearance of the Birman cats in the Lao Tsun temple after the death of a priest. There have been different takes in the true history and origin of this cat. However, this pure white cat had indeed been known as the sacred cat of Burma and had supposedly originated deep in Asia where it was the companion of Burmese priests.
In the early 1900s, a pair of Birman cat was transported to France from Burma. There were two different accounts with a slight variation to the purpose of this journey. One suggested that the Lao Tsun temple was being attacked and two westerners, Major Russell Gordon and Auguste Pavie, came to the aid of the priests and the Birman cats. In respond of gratitude, the priests sent over the pair of Birman cat to France, where the westerners had previously returned.
Another account varies in such a way that the pair of Birman cat was actually bought over by Mr. Vanderbilt from a dissatisfied servant of the Lao Tsun temple. He then brought the pair back with him to France. On both accounts, the male Birman, Madalpour, passed away during the voyage, and only Sita, the female Birman managed to survive through with a pregnancy that was already underway. With the successful delivery of her litter, Sita was considered the matriarch of the Birman breed in Europe.
The popularity of the Birman breed continued to be propagated and in 1925, it became officially recognized in France. However, the breed then faced the threat of extinction during World War II when a great number of them were destroyed. Fortunately, a few survivors had managed to ensure the breed’s continuity. Careful and selective breeding spell the beginning of a stronger comeback for the Birman breed which has thus seen its exportation to England in 1955. Its strength continued when it made its introduction into America in 1959 and was formally recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1966.
The Birman cat has since established itself as a breed, gaining the championship status in all associations and being one of the most popular breeds to have won the hearts of many who have laid their eyes on it.
Physical appearance and attributes
The Birman is an average-sized cat that weighs between 8 – 12 pounds. Covering its long, heavy body is a beautiful soft, medium to long coat. There is low level of matting for the hair due to its silky texture. It has a full, rounded face and head that is balanced off with a rounded muzzle. On top of its head is a pair of medium ears, each is as wide as it is tall and set at a slight angle.
The Birman has a rounded pair of huge arresting eyes that reflects a blue in varying saturation; from the lucidity of the azure sky to the vividness of the sapphire gem. Its neck is characterized by a heavy ruff or puff, giving the cat an august disposition. Usually having a contrasting color to its body is the tail that is medium in length and in good proportion to the body. The plume-like characteristic of the tail added an element of elegance to its stance as it swishes beautifully in the air or around the body.
Thick-set of medium length legs support its body and the paws are round and strong. What made the paws the defining feature of the Birman breed is how they are gloved in taint-less white. Birman cat’s coat can come in various pointed color patterns of chocolate, blue, seal and lilac. The pointed color patterns are usually apparent only on the face, ears, legs and tail.
Personality and attributes
Having an extremely affectionate and high adaptability nature has made the Birman cat to be bred as an excellent companion. This cat loves to spend time with people around and seeks to participate in most household activities. It displays its love and tenderness towards the owner with its sweet attachment and enjoys being held and cuddled.
However, it is not as highly demanding of attention as some other cat breeds. It has been described as the middle of the road cat with a nature that is neither as active as some of the shorthair breed, such as the Abyssinians nor as laid back as some of the longhair breed, such as the Persians.
This disposition has added to the docile, quiet and sweet personality of the Birman breed, for which care can be given more easily. Quiet does not equate lassitude; in fact, the Birman has a great sense of curiosity and playfulness. Its enjoyment in the different types of stimulating and interactive games and toys lasts into its old age.
One of the reasons can be due to its slow rate to maturity, which usually takes around three years. This cat also knows how to delight in other pets at home, and can make a good companion to other cat or cat-friendly dogs.
Care and health issues
Expect a general good health from this breed that has an average life span of 12 -15 years. Selecting the breed from a qualified and reputable breeder will ensure that the cat is free of hereditary purebred diseases.
Having a silky texture coat makes grooming more effortless since it does not matt easily. Weekly brushing to remove any dead hairs and distribute skin oils will keep the coat healthy.
Basic hygiene care for the teeth, nails, eyes and ears is necessary if the cat is to stay in the pink of health. An annual vet visit would also help to keep the cat from any undesirable health issues. Keep its litter box spotlessly clean to prevent staining of its flawless white paws and also to satisfy its love of good hygiene.
The ideal home
This gentle and sociable breed is a delight to have as a pet and should to be kept indoors only to protect it from any undesirable dangers. Though it can adapt well to indoor and apartment living, outdoor plays and explorations would be ideal in providing the cat with an active and balanced growth.
Being a child and pet friendly breed has made the Birman one of the most ideal pet to have for any homes, provided that the child has been taught to handle it well and that integration with other pets has been carried out properly.