There had been moments in time when history was made out of an ordinary single event or through a seemingly irrelevant object to create what is of significance today. The revelation of the Burmese breed was considered to have developed in the United States in the 1930s, but can be traced back to a momentous event in Southeast Asia. It started with the importation of a brown female cat of Oriental type, named Wong Mau.
As recorded, Dr. Joseph Cheesman Thomson was the one who had brought Wong Mau into San Francisco from Burma (now known as Myanmar). Wong Mau was perceived by many breeders to be a variant of the Siamese. However, Dr. Thomson had observed that certain features of Wang Mau’s built are markedly different from the Siamese, which pointed to the possibility of it being a different breed.
Being the only cat of its type then, Wong Mau was bred with Tai Mau, a seal point Siamese from Thailand. Further breeding was carried out between Wang Mau and her son, which in time produced dark brown kittens that were proved to be of a distinctive breed.
The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) registered this breed as Burmese in 1936. However, the breeders went back to using Siamese as a cross in order to increase the limited breeding stocks. This created a large number of Burmese hybrids against the desired purebred, which cause the CFA to suspend the registration of the Burmese breed in 1947.
To reestablish the Burmese breed, breeders put in concentrated efforts to institute the three-generation pure pedigree. Finally, by 1957, there was a sufficient number of purebred Burmese for the CFA to once again grant it recognition. The formation of a United Burmese Cat Fanciers was conceived in 1958 with the goal of developing a single standard for Burmese which will be recognized by all cat fancier organizations.
The success of the Burmese breed in the show ring has accumulated ever since and it has reached its peak of popularity in the 1970s. This is made pronounced by it claiming the praises of being the third most popular breed behind Persians and Siamese.
A breed that had flourished from an ordinary importation of a single cat, the Burmese had been steadily established as a prominent and successful member of the cat fancy. It has also become the foundation for several new breeds, which include the Bombay, Tonkinese and the Burmilla.
Physical appearance and attributes
The Burmese breed is a medium-sized cat that weighs much heavier than it looks with the males at 9 – 11 pounds and females at 7 – 9 pounds. The compact body that composes of well-developed muscles is attributed for such weights underneath the lean athletic stature. The toned statuesque is complemented with an ample chest and a level back. Balancing the body is a straight, thick tail of medium length, tapering into a rounded tip.
The Burmese has a wedge-shaped head carried on a medium neck. Viewed from the front, its shape is formed with wide cheekbones that taper to a blunt finish at the muzzle. The overall face shape is rounded off with a strong lower jaw and chin. The ears are well-proportionate to its head. Tilted slightly forward, they are wide at the base, rounded at the tips and set well apart to continue the shape of the upper part of the face. In profile, the brow is seen to be slightly rounded and its nose break should be distinct.
Its otherworldly and hypnotizing gazes come from its large, rich golden eyes that are widely spaced with the top line slanting towards the nose. The Burmese treads with well-toned legs and neat, oval paws, accentuating its muscles with every move.
Burmese boasts a coat of short, fine hair that is close-lying to its body, gleaming like the burnish of polished brass andirons. Its coat colour can come in sable, lilac, red, blue, cream, sable tortie, chocolate tortie, lilac tortie, red tortie, blue tortie or cream tortie.
Personality and temperament
The Burmese has been cited as the most affectionate cat breed; extremely people-oriented and lavishly loving. It seeks to be involved and to participate in every household activity.
Also, it finds comfort in establishing close physical contact with people and would attach itself in every possible way to loved ones around. Unreserved in its opinion, it enjoys interactions with its raspy, rumbling and soft vocals.
Even though they are less vocal than Siamese cats, it retains their charm and determinations. It carries its playfulness and insatiable curiosity into adulthood and would often be seen exploring every nook and cranny in the home. It’s extremely intelligent mind can be teased with tricks and interactive toys.
Besides learning tricks fast, its love for attention will propel it to show it off. It’s love for company stays true for other dogs in the home and is able to get along well with them. Relationship with other cats might be a challenge for this breed that has the propensity to seek authority over other cats and the house.
Care and health issues
The Burmese is a generally healthy breed and can live up to an average of 14 years. However, health issues that need to be noted include cranial deformities, a genetic disorder that results in a deformed head and that is mostly confined to US Burmese cats; Feline Orofacial pain syndrome, a disease related to certain oral pain or distress and is reflected in exaggerated licking and chewing movements as well as excessive pawing at the mouth; flat chested, which might lead to weight loss and breathing difficulties; and Type 2 Diabetes.
Such health problems can be avoided when the Burmese is purchased from qualified breeders who will screen and test for hereditary conditions before breeding the cat.
Grooming the Burmese is effortless, requiring only weekly brushing of the coat to remove loose hair and distribute skin oils for a healthy gleaming coat.
Basic grooming for the nails and ears should be carried out regularly together with frequent oral care. Materials used for grooming should be vet approved and gentle on the pet. Hygiene is highly prized and efforts to keep the litter box clean should not be overlooked.
The ideal home
The Burmese cat will thrive in a home that can provide it with a great deal of companionship and activities. Even though it can adapt well to indoor and apartment living, a secured and escape-proof outdoor space would be ideal to keep the cat inspired through hunting and exploration.
Its friendliness is extended to children and other pets, making it an excellent companion to a lively household. Being a richly affectionate, remarkably intelligent and animatedly entertaining breed, the Burmese cat is sure to rub off much life and joy to any household that would shower it with much love and care.