The Birman Cat or the "Sacred Cat of Burma"
The Birman, also called the "Sacred Cat of Burma", is a domestic cat breed. The Birman is a long-haired, colorpointed cat distinguished by a silky coat, deep blue eyes and contrasting white "gloves" or "socks" on each paw. This is a long and robust cat, built on rather heavy lines. The Birman is a medium to large cat and come in a number of beautiful colors, including: solid color points in seal, blue, chocolate, lilac, red and cream; parti-points in seal-tortie, blue-cream, chocolate-tortie and lilac-cream; and lynx-points in seal, chocolate, blue, lilac, red, cream, seal-tortie, chocolate-tortie, blue-cream and lilac-cream. This is a strikingly beautiful breed that gives an overall impression of power and balance.
There is no clear record of the breed's origin. The history of this sacred Burmese cat is immersed in legend. The story goes that pure white cats lived in temples dedicated to Lord Buddha in Burma (present day Myanmar). They were considered the sacred carriers of the souls of priests who had departed the earth for their heavenly abode. This process was called transmutation. Sometime in or around 1919, a pair of seal-pointed Birmans was shipped from Burma to France with a French explorer and an Englishman. Unfortunately, the male did not survive the voyage. Happily, the female did, and she was confirmed pregnant upon her arrival in Europe. Her offspring formed the foundation for all of today’s Birman cats. It was recognized in France in 1925 as the Sacre de Birmanie, from which comes the current breed name, Birman. Birmans have also been used in the development of new breeds, notably including the Ragdoll. The first Birmans apparently were exported to the United States in 1959 and to Great Britain in 1965. The breed was recognized by the British cat registry in 1966 and by the American Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1967.
Gentle and affectionate by nature, the Birman cat has all the makings of a loyal, faithful companion. The Birman is a smart cat and, of course, curious. He likes to explore his environment. It is one of the easiest cats to handle and gives the least cause for trouble. If you like the pointed pattern of the Siamese but not the yowly voice, a Birman might be the cat for you. Birmans have marvelous dispositions. They are friendly, self-assured, extremely inquisitive and playfully outgoing, without being overly pushy. Intelligent and curious, it is extremely responsive to training. Birmans are very helpful, need and appreciate human companionship, and are especially fond of children.
The Birman cat has an average lifespan of 12 to 16 years. Problems that may affect the Birman include the following:
- Congenital hypotrichosis, which causes them to be born with no hair, and thymic aplasia, an immune deficiency that leads to increased risk of infection and death.
- Corneal dermoid, the presence of skin and hair on the surface of the cornea of one or both eyes.
- Spongiform degeneration, a progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system causing signs that include hind-limb weakness and uncoordinated movement.
- Shaking and trembling in kittens. This condition begins in some kittens when they are about 10 days old and lasts until they are about 12 weeks old.
- Unusually high concentrations of urea and/or creatinine in the blood, which may or may not indicate kidney dysfunction.
One of the beauties of your Birman cat is that it requires comparatively little grooming to look it's best. Birmans love to be touched. Despite the length of the Birman’s coat, it has a silky texture that doesn’t mat easily. It does require a weekly comb through as no cat is maintenance free. Birmans shed their winter coat in the spring, so you may want to comb more frequently then to remove loose hair. A warm bath can also help to loosen and remove the shedding coat. To accomplish a Birman bath, wetting the cat with a hand-held shower nozzle is often preferable to immersing him in a tub of water. Also check the teeth regularly. Mouth problems are very common in some cats as they age, making meal times painful. Brush the teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is best. Don't forget to check your cats claws. If your Birman is an inside cat only, clip the claws every couple of weeks with nail clippers. Finally don't forget to feed your Birman cat with high quality food.
The friendly, laidback Birman cat is a perfect choice for families with children and cat-friendly dogs.
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