The Birman (The Sacred Cat Of Burma)

The Birman CatThe Birman Cat originated in Burma, where legend says that they were the guardians of the Temple of Lao Tsun. It’s said that Birman’s were once solid white cats with yellow eyes. The head priest of the temple was named Mun-Ha and his companion was a cat named Sinh. The legend says that the temple was attacked and Mun-Ha was killed. As Mun-Ha lay dying, Sinh sat with him and at the moment of his death, the cat placed his paws on the priest’s face and looked at a statue of Tsun-Kyan-Kse, the golden goddess of the temple. As he did this, his eyes turned blue like that of the the goddess, his white fur turned golden, and his face, legs, and tail turned the color of the earth. Only his paws, where he touched Mun-Ha remained white as a symbol of purity. The rest of the temple cats changed in similar ways. Sinh lived for seven more days and then died taking his master to paradise.

There are several stories about the history of the modern day Birman. What’s known is that they were likely smuggled out of Burma to France around 1920. They prospered in Europe and were recognized by the French Cat Registry as a breed in 1925. Unfortunately, in WWII Birman’s were almost entirely wiped out. Only one male and one female survived. Breeders were able to revive the breed but it required help from cross breeding Persians with Siamese. Outcrossed breeds need at least five generations to be considered purebred again, so it was not until 1966 that the Birman was again recognized as a separate breed. To this day, breeders in Europe and the United States still practice the tradition of picking a letter for each year and naming all kittens born in that year with a name that starts with that letter.

The Birman is a medium sized cat with females weighing 6-10 lbs and males 10-15. They have medium length hair that is silky to the touch and does not mat like a Persian. Birman’s are very similar in appearance to Siamese or Ragdoll cats, and come in all the same color combinations. They have a semi cobby body, small ears, and a Roman nose, but the features that most stand out on Birman’s are their round eyes that are a very deep piercing blue, and their white feet, which are called gloves.

Birman’s are very social yet unobtrusive cats. They love people and love to be around them. They are very inquisitive and are always trying to find out what’s going on. They are great with children and strangers. They get along well with other cats and dogs, so they’re perfect for multi pet families. Although Birman’s are social, they are not demanding cats. They rarely use their soft voices, and when they do it’s generally to remind you about feeding time. They are very intelligent and love to play, but will leave you alone if you are busy.

Ancient Birman’s were sacred temple cats. They were aloof and used to being admired, but were comfortable around people. Modern Birman’s are no different. They are not cats to be left alone all day. They are social cats and are perfect for busy families with children, so if this describes you, the Birman could be your perfect companion.

Birman Image via Wikipedia

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  1. I have a female chocolate-tortie Birman. She is the love of my life! Beautiful, soft, and full of sass. Birmans are fabulous cats 🙂

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