With its gorgeous white coat, adorably fluffy tail, and bright blue eyes, the Birman is one of the most beautiful cat breeds in the world. It’s no wonder they are also one of the most popular!
But the Birman is more than its looks. The Birman cat is also known for being friendly, social, and easygoing. This cat is perfectly fine lounging on the sofa or getting carried and cuddled.
Even though the Birman is quite popular, cat lovers still don’t know where this amazing kitty came from. This cat is a mystery! But once you meet the Birman, it’s no secret how beautiful and lovable they truly are. You won’t be able to let them go!
Birman Cat Breed Origin & History
The history of the Birman is a mystery wrapped in colorful legends. There’s a centuries-old tale about pure white cats living in Buddhist temples in Burma. These felines were said to carry the souls of priests who passed away. Goddess Tsim-Kyan-Kse was worshipped in the temples.
One of those worshippers was priest Mun-Ha, who served at the temple of Lao-Tsun. He would be joined by one of 100 white cats for evening prayers every day. Mun-Ha and the sacred cats would pray to Tsim-Kyan-Kse before a golden statue with bright, sapphire eyes.
According to the legend, Siam raiders attacked the temple, attempting to steal its riches. In the process, the marauders beat Mun-Ha. As he lay dying, a white cat named Sinh put his paws on Mun-Ha’s head. All of a sudden, the cat’s eyes turned blue. His face, tail, and legs darkened to brown. The next morning, all the other cats at the temple took on the same appearance.
Modern Retelling of Birman History
Cat fanciers would never dare to deny such a beautiful tale of the Birman’s origins. Still, there are more recent records of the Birman’s history. It starts in 1919 when a pair of Birman cats arrived in France.
Some say that after the temple of Tsim-Kyan-Kse was raided at the start of the 20th century, two westerners allegedly helped priests escape to Tibet with their sacred cats. These saviors received a pair of Birman cats from the grateful priests when they returned to France.
A second story tells the tale of Mr. Vanderbilt, who brought a pair of Birmans to France, taken from a servant at the temple of Lao-Tsun. The male cat, Maldapour, died during the overseas voyage. The female, Sita, was pregnant and became the foundation of the Birman breed.
The Popular and Beautiful Birman
Once France was introduced to the Birman breed, cat fanciers were immediately captivated. The breed flourished and was formally recognized by 1925. World War II nearly extinguished the Birman, and only a single pair of cats remained after the war. But breeders were dedicated to reviving the cat over the next few years.
With help from the Persian and Siamese (and maybe the Turkish Angora), the Birman was successfully revived. By 1955, the breed’s numbers were restored.
Three years later, a pair of Birman arrived in the United States. The Cat Fanciers’ Association accepted the breed in 1967. From that point on, the Birman became even more popular all over the world.
Birman Cat Breed Personality
Birmans have a long history of being admired and revered in temples. And they expect the same treatment at home! Birman cats have a strong desire to be adored. You might even catch them posing when you take out your camera!
This cat will be in heaven being pet or groomed while laying on your lap or stretching out beside you on the bed.
The Birman is known for being gentle and easygoing. They are very easy to handle. Birman owners love carrying their spoiled kitties around like babies. This cat definitely doesn’t mind being picked up or cuddled. In fact, their favorite spot is usually being plopped right on your lap while you go about your work or watch your favorite television show.
Birman are loyal cats that love spending time with you. They will often greet you — and guests — at the door. Birmans will follow you from room to room, lounging casually on a nearby chair or atop a cat tree.
While they are people-oriented, the Birman will never demand your attention. They are known for being very quiet. Just make sure you take time each day to show them some love, even if they want to play coy. Birman cats are low maintenance cats — but they’ll never say no to a good cuddle session.
Related: Do Cats Get Lonely? Yes!
Birman Characteristics (Physical)
The Birman is like a teddy bear come to life. They’re impossibly soft and fluffy. They sport an innocent face with striking blue eyes. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) might as well write “the most beautiful cat in the world” in the breed standards!
The CFA describes the Birman’s body as “elongated and stocky, with a good muscular feel.” They aren’t as large as a Maine Coon or Ragdoll, but the Birman is a hefty 10 to 12 pounds on average. Their size is mostly that glorious fluff. Their tail is just as fluffy, in proportion with their body.
The Birman has a strong and rounded head. They have full cheeks and a rounded muzzle, giving them that adorable, wholesome appearance.
The Birman has round eyes with an expression the Cat Fanciers’ Association calls “sweet.” They’re not wrong! Their widely set eyes are always blue.
The Birman’s ears are medium in length, wide at the base, and quite tall. They are rounded at the tip.
Legs & Paws
The Birman has heavy legs that are medium in length. Their paws are large, round, and firm, with five toes in front and four in back. The Birman always has white paws. The paw pads are pink.
The Birman cat is known for its fluffy coat. It’s medium to long and silky in texture. They have a heavy ruff around their neck, and you’ll notice slightly curly fur on their stomach.
Birmans always have a pointed coat pattern. That means their mask, ears, legs, and tail are darker shades than the rest of their coat.
The mask should cover their entire face, including the whisker pads. Their front paws have white gloves, and the gloves on their back paws cover all the toes and sometimes extend higher than in the front.
The point patterns that Birman come in include seal point, blue point, chocolate point, and lilac point.
When a Birman cat is treated well and attends regularly scheduled vet visits, this breed lives up to 14 years old on average.
Birman Health Problems
Birman cats are a generally healthy breed. But like most purebred cats, Birman are prone to certain hereditary diseases and complications. Always adopt purebred kittens from a reputable and registered breeder who can guarantee the health of their litters.
Mouth and Gum Diseases
Like most breeds, the Birman can suffer from dental diseases. The most common include gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption. All of these can be painful and uncomfortable if your cat suffers from a severe case.
The most common heart disease in cats is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This condition causes gradual thickening and weakening of the heart muscle, which leads to your cat’s heart not pumping blood as effectively. If you notice our cat struggling to breathe or acting very lethargic, schedule a vet appointment immediately.
Like many cats, the Birman can have a pretty sensitive stomach. They can suffer from a common condition known as feline inflammatory bowel disease. This ailment occurs when a cat’s gastrointestinal tract becomes chronically irritated and inflamed. It will become difficult for them to properly digest and absorb food.
Birman Cat Breed Care
Since this fluffy and fancy kitty is prone to dental conditions, it never hurts to brush their teeth! Vets will recommend brushing their teeth with an approved brush once a day, if possible. Start when your Birman is a kitten to ensure they get used to this daily routine.
The Birman’s glorious and silky coat doesn’t mat too often. Still, you’ll need to brush their fur every other day to ensure it’s free of knots, tangles, and mats. This will remove any excess and dead fur, limiting their shedding and hairballs.
Related: Cat Hairball Home Remedies
You should keep your Birman indoors (they aren’t the most active felines, anyway). Outside, they become easy targets for predators, dogs, and feral cats. They risk getting injured or spreading disease. They might even be killed by predatory animals.
Your Birman’s fur can become easily filled with ticks and other pests. Birman might also not be fast enough to avoid traffic.
Keep plenty of toys inside your home and inspire your cat to engage in interactive activities. This could be puzzles with treats as the prize, or ribbons that you move for them. They will be more likely to play if it means spending time with you.
Birmans are not the most active kitties. Because of this, the Birman cat is susceptible to becoming overweight — even obese. Make sure to provide them with healthy cat food and never overfeed them. You’ll find the right serving size on the side of the bag.
Because of the Birman’s possible digestive issues, try feeding them throughout the day. Instead of one large meal in the morning, give them two or three smaller portions spread out each day. Try an automatic feeder if you’re unable to keep a strict schedule. This will ensure your Birman gets the right amount of food — and nothing more!
It’s always important to look for cat food brands with quality ingredients. What are quality ingredients to keep an eye out for? The first is a protein source. This should be turkey, chicken, salmon, etc. If the first ingredient is “chicken meal,” it’s probably not a high-quality brand. Cat foods with omega-3 fatty acids are also amazing for their health!
The second ingredient to look for is taurine. This is an amino acid found in animal protein. Cats curiously don’t produce it themselves despite needing it to stay healthy and active. The minimum daily taurine requirement is between 25 and 56 mg.
You want to avoid cat food heavy in carbohydrates, including wheat and corn. These ingredients are often called “fillers” because cats don’t need them in their diet. In fact, fillers often make cats overweight or allergic to their food.
A healthy alternative is wet food. Canned food has no carbohydrates. Instead, it contains over 70% water. Wet food is a great way to give your cat the liquids they need to ensure they don’t become dehydrated.
Children & Other Pets
Birman cats are easygoing lugs who aren’t as concerned about territory as other cats. Of course, you will still need to slowly introduce them to new cats and kittens with the utmost care and consistency. You don’t want them to feel threatened or anxious. But, you’ll notice your cats will become quick cuddle buddies once your Birman trusts them.
Birmans are also great with children. Still, always supervise younger kids when they are playing with this lovable feline. They might not know how to properly interact with a cat and end up pulling their long tail or fur. Make sure kids are gentle with this quiet, loving cat.
More About This Breed
Even though this kitty is known for its glorious fur, Birman kittens are born with a fully white coat. They don’t develop their points until they start maturing.
Once the Birman starts developing their beautiful points, you may notice they look a lot like the Himalayan—a sub-breed of the Persian (they’re basically the same except with a pointed coat pattern).
But, you can tell the difference between a Birman and a Himalayan in a few ways: The Birman has a pointed nose, unlike the Himalayan’s flatter face. The Birman also has a single-layer coat instead of the Himalayan’s long and fine fluffage.
Birmans also have a very peculiar behavior. They love to chew and suck on non-food items like wool and plastic! A study of 204 cats showed that Siamese and Birman cats were the most likely breeds to exhibit this strange compulsive tic.
This common and popular breed usually costs around $600 to adopt from trusted breeders. It’s well worth the moolah! The Birman is a loving, loyal breed that loves spending time with you. But unlike other social breeds, they aren’t clingy or needy. Instead, they are fine just lounging on your lap or flopping down on a nearby cat tree and enjoying some relaxing quality time.
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Written by Olivia Richman at www.holistapet.com