Also known as the “Sacred Cat of Burma”, the Birman cat is an ancient breed of cat. With a striking pale coat with dark points and stunning blue eyes the breed really is one of beauty. The actual background of the breed is not known however there are many legends as to the breed’s origins. The most famous of which is that there was a colony of yellow eyed, white cats living in a Burmese monastery as the guardians of the Temple of Lao Tsun. The golden goddess of the temple Tsun-Kyan-Kse was said to have deep blue eyes. Every night the the head priest Mun-Ha would kneel and pray in front of the goddess, a cat by the name of Sinh by his side. One night the temple was taken over by Siamese invaders and the priest killed. Sinh stood guard over the body with his front paws on Mun-Ha’s head. It is said his fur took on a golden colour, and his eyes turned blue. The cat’s paws, which had touched the priest’s head remained white, as a symbol of purity.
The Birman cat arrived in France in 1919, most historians agree that the original two cats were shipped to France and that the male died on the way. The female, named Sita, is said to have been in kitten and to have produced a kitten named Poupee de Madalpour. The arrival of the Birman in France was the beginning of the breed becoming established in Europe.
In 1925 it is recorded that the Federation Feline FranSais recognized the Sacre de Birmanie as a championship breed. A photograph taken in 1930 shows a male of the day named Dieu d’Arakan which became the blue-print for the breed. He was owned by M. Baudoin- Crevoisier, well known as a breeder of Birmans at that time. Later Dieu d’Arakan was sold, together with six other Birmans, to Princess Ratibor and she subsequently left them in her will to the Duke d’Aosta. Eventually their ownership was transferred to the Countess Giriode Panissera and their pedigree line became famous worldwide. During the war M. Baudoin- Crevoisier managed to keep a few cats entire. His champion male Orlaff de Kaabaa and his female Xenia de Kaabaa became the breed’s foundation cats.
The Birman is a moderate sized cat who is well proportioned.
Birmans are one of the few cat breeds in the colourpoint coat that has paws in pure white colour. The coat is unusual with its coloured face, ears, legs and tail with white ‘gloves’ on each paw. Their coat of medium length and extremely dense, the texture is silky and as such is less likely to get matted than in other semi-longhaired breeds, therefore is not high maintenance with grooming.
A full and fluffy tail of medium length. The head is round with full cheeks and a Roman nose. The ears are set high on the head, at a slight angle.
One of the most striking characteristics is their beautiful sapphire coloured eyes.
Like human beings, each cat inherits some genetic factors and traits from its ancestors. Behaviours are learned from parents, siblings and milieu, at a young age. But, likewise, each individual has its own personality, unique in the family.
Being bred for almost a century now, and by selection, Birmans have acquired a stable personality that defines its general traits. They could be defined as middle of the road cat. Some like to come on your lap, others don’t, but are always beside you and with you.
A Birman cat is like a little dog, always following you everywhere you go. Some can be rather talkative and let you know what they think. Others are more discrete, but always behind you, keeping track of what you’re doing and following you from room to room. Birmans have a very unique posture that makes them look like hieratic temple statues and feed in their legend.
Birmans are extremely sociable. They welcome your guests, at the door and inform you when someone is there. They have a very sensitive ear, I am always surprised when they know when I am waking in the morning, while I am not even making any noise. Knowing the sound of my car when I come home they rush to the door, waiting to welcome me. They are also the welcoming committee for any visitors a pat is expected.
With a birman in the family you are never alone.