Cat Birman: traits, characteristics and origin

The breed name is derived from Birmanie, the French form of Burma. The Birman breed was first recognized in France by the Cat Club de France in 1925, then in England by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy(GCCF) in 1966 and in United States by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) in 1967.


CategoryMedium & large breed
Country of originFrance
Other namesSacred Birman, Sacred Cat of Burma

The Birman is a long-haired, colorpointed cat distinguished by a silky coat, deep blue eyes and contrasting white "gloves" on each paw. Birmans have a medium sized, rectangular body with a broad face and distinct Roman nose. Their ears are ideally as wide on the base as they are tall and should be set as much on top of the head as on the side. The eyes are rounded and should be a deep sapphire blue.


There is no clear record of the breed's origin. They are most often claimed to have originated as the companions of temple priests in Northern Burma in the Mount of Lugh. There are many stories extant of how the cats first came to France, including pairs of cats being given as a reward for helping defend a temple, or being smuggled out of Burma by a Vanderbilt. Another pair of Birmans (or a pregnant female called Poupée de Maldapour) were said to have been stolen and later imported to France by Thadde Haddisch. The first traces of historical Birmans go back to a Mme Leotardi in the city of Nice in France. Birmans were almost wiped out as a breed during World War II. Only two cats were alive in Europe at the end of the war, a pair named Orloff and Xenia de Kaabaa, both belonging to Baudoin-Crevoisier. The foundation of the breed in postwar France were offspring of this pair. They had to be heavily outcrossed with long-hair breeds such as Persian and Siamese to rebuild the Birman breed. By the early 1950s, pure Birman litters were once again being produced.


Birmans have marvelous dispositions. They are friendly, self-assured, extremely inquisitive and playfully outgoing, without being overly pushy. They are known to follow their owners around the house like puppies! Birmans need and appreciate human companionship, and are especially fond of children. This is a happy, trusting and adaptable breed. Its incredible beauty is just icing on the cake. Birmans are quieter and less vocal than their Siamese cousins, but they are not as docile or placid as the Persian. Birmans are moderately active cats, but at the same time they are fairly quiet and gentle in nature.


Birmans are extremely loyal to the people in their lives. This is not a cat to be left alone for prolonged periods of time, because they crave attention and affection.

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