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May 17, 2013

Meet the Cat Breed: The Birman

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Overview:

The Birman is a gorgeous cat to behold, but the beauty extends inside as well with a charming, sweet personality, making this kitty a delightful companion.

Physical Characteristics:

The Birman is a medium-sized cat with striking sapphire blue eyes, smallish ears, a Roman nose, and a round face. The coat is medium-long and single without an undercoat. Even though this cat has a light-colored body with dark color points, the paws have white "gloves." There is a fluffy ruff around the neck and the tail is fluffy as well. As with all colorpoint breeds, the kittens are born white.

History of the Breed:

The Birman's history is full of legends and very few of them can be substantiated. The most repeated legend is that the cat originated in Burma and was kept by temple priests. Some of the legends state the first Birmans were either smuggled into France or were given as gifts after the monastery was offered protection by a Westerner. Some reports indicate a pair of Birmans were sent/smuggled and the male cat died, but the female happened to be pregnant and her offspring started the foundation of the Birman stock in the Western world. Eventually the breed made it to England, and then were first imported to the US in 1959. Birmans were nearly wiped out during World War II, and the remaining stock was crossed with Siamese and Persians to reestablish the breed. Originally, the Birmans were all seal points, but introducing the blue Persian to the line created blue-point Birmans. Other colors have been developed since the 1970s including the chocolate point, red point, and the Lynx point (tabby points.) The Birman was foundational in creating the Ragdoll cat.

Temperament:

The Birman is a very affectionate cat and seems used to and suited to admiration. Perhaps this trait stems from their history as temple cats. They do demand quite a bit of attention but do it in a very sweet, charming way. They are social with both people and other animals. Because the Birman is patient, even-tempered and tolerant, they make an excellent choice for families with children and/or other pets. Birmans are fairly quiet cats, making their needs known with soft chirp-like voices. They love to help with and supervise household chores. 

 

  • Best suited for: Anyone who desires not to be alone in the house, families with children and other pets.
  • Preferred living conditions: This cat is not well suited to living alone, being of a highly social nature. Either another cat or dog should be introduced if the guardian works outside the home. 

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy-care coat in spite of its appearance. The coat doesn't mat.
  • Exercise needs: Enjoys interactive play
  • Life expectancy: 15+ years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to kidney problems, obesity, and hairballs.

Breed Club Links:Sacred Cat of Burma Fanciers

BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: Pet Naturals Hairball Cat Supplement

Have any stories about a Birman? Please share!

Ready to adopt a Birman? Visit Petfinder.com to see available Birman cats!

Photo courtesy of Lisa Campeau

 

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