Birman cats originated from the country of Burma, known as sacred animals and referred to as 'temple cats'. The modern story of their journey is that in 1919, two Birman cats were shipped to France (one male, one pregnant female), and this is how the breed became acknowledged. The male unfortunately died during the journey but the female and baby survived and became the origin of the Birman cat in Europe. There are also a number of myths relating to the Birman's origins; many believe they derived from pure white cats and that rituals involving spirits took over the cats and altered their appearances resulting in their golden shades and bright blue eyes. Obviously there is no factual evidence to back up this myth but it remains a popular theory.
Their name 'Birman' derives from the French saying Sacre de Birmanie and has stuck with them until this day. During 1925 the breed became extremely popular in France but the second world war almost wiped them out, along with many other cat breeds. Birmans in particular were left in an extremely dangerous situation and at one point there were only two left.The first cat brought to England was in 1955 and the breed was accepted as having championship status in 1966. The first Birman to arrive in America was in 1959 but wasn't recognised as an official breed until 1967.
Among longhaired breeds, Birmans are the third most popular cat and have been for a while. Their popularity in Britain appears to be increasing every year as more people become aware of these sacred, lovable animals.
Birman cats and kittens are unique and striking to look at. They are born pure white but as they get older they develop gorgeous dark markings on their points; these areas include ears, face, tail and legs. The dark areas on their legs take longer to develop than the other pointed areas and it is this area of colour that creates their four little pure white gloves. Birmans are well known for their white paws and it is an extremely appealing feature, but also one hard to perfect. Birmans' fur is long and silky yet requires less grooming than other long haired breeds such as Persians or Himalayans.
The Birmans' body is long and stocky and their heads are large and round. They have dazzling blue eyes that are set well apart and for showing purposes; the deeper the blue the better. Their ears are a medium length and quite wide with slightly rounded tips. Their legs are a medium length with large white paws and their tails are dark with rounded tips. Male Birman's tend to be slightly bigger than females.
Original Birman Colours
Other Accepted ColoursThe following colours are also accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA):
Birman Character and Temperament
Birmans are sweet, affectionate characters who like interacting and being around people. They are particularly comfortable and friendly around young children and other domestic pets and are very people orientated cats. They are also very inquisitive and want to be involved in what you're doing but they can also get themselves into mischief! They are quite intelligent cats and tend to bond strongly with their owner or family.
This breed of cat tends to have quite a quiet meow and wont speak up unless something is wrong like their dinner isn't on the floor! They are however rather talkative cats (males in particular) and will let you know when they want your attention. Birman cats are happy in the house but also love a garden to play and climb. They will however be happiest wherever you are and will follow you around to see what you're up to!
14 - 20 years