Birman

The Birman communicates in a soft voice, mainly to remind you that perhaps it’s time for dinner or maybe for a nice cuddle on the sofa.

See all Birman Cat characteristics below!

Breed Characteristics:

Affectionate with Family5More info +

Some cat breeds are typically independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since kittenhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; cats who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.     

See Cats Less Affectionate with Family

Amount of Shedding3More info +

If you're going to share your home with a cat, you'll need to deal with some level of cat hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary among the breeds. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.   

See Cats with Low Amount of Shedding

General Health2More info +

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems. This doesn't mean that every cat of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're looking only for purebred cats or kittens, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in.   

See Cats Prone to Health Problems

Potential for Playfulness4More info +

Some cats are perpetual kittens — full of energy and mischief — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful kitten sounds endearing, consider how many games of chase the mouse-toy you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other animals who can stand in as playmates.   

See Cats with Low Potential for Playfulness

Tendency to Vocalize4More info +

Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the cat vocalizes and how often. If constant "conversation" drives you crazy, consider a kitty less likely to chat.   

See Cats with Lower Tendency to Vocalize

Kid Friendly5More info +

Being tolerant of children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a nonchalant attitude toward running, screaming youngsters are all traits that make a kid-friendly cat. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual cat will behave; cats from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences and personality.   

See Least Kit Friendly Cats

Easy to Groom2More info +

Some breeds require very little in the way of grooming; others require regular brushing to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a cat that needs daily brushing.   

See Cats That Need to Groom

Intelligence4More info +

Some cat breeds are reputed smarter than others. But all cats, if deprived the mental stimulation they need, will make their own busy work. Interactive cat toys are a good way to give a cat a brain workout and keep him out of mischief.   

See Cats with Less Intelligence

Pet Friendly5More info +

Friendliness toward other household animals and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some cats are more likely than others to be accepting of other pets in the home.   

See Least Pet Friendly Cats

Vital Stats:

Life Span: 12 to 16 years
  • History

    A beautiful cat deserves a beautiful legend of origin. The Sacred Cat of Burma, as the Birman is sometimes called, is said to have acquired his striking appearance through the intervention of a blue-eyed goddess, who rewarded a temple cat’s love for and devotion to his priest by turning his white coat golden and changing his yellow eyes to blue. His paws remained white as a symbol of his purity. Ever since, the temple cats have borne the goddess’s marks of favor, and it was said that priests who died were reborn into the cats’ bodies.

    How the cats really came to be is unknown. Theories include crosses of Siamese with Angoras or Persians, but when or where those original meetups occurred is unknown. They may have taken place in southeast Asia, between various cats who carried the genes for a pointed pattern, long hair and blue eyes, or the breed may have been created in France from cats imported by two Europeans, a Frenchman named Auguste Pavie, and a Major Gordon Russell, who were given a pair of temple cats in 1919 as a reward for aiding the priests. The cats were shipped to France, but the male did not make it there alive. Before he died, however, he had impregnated the female, and her kittens helped to establish the breed in Europe. It was recognized in France in 1925 as the Sacre de Birmanie, from which comes the current breed name, Birman.

    The cats were first imported to the United States in 1959 and were recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1967. They are also recognized by the American Cat Fanciers Association, the Canadian Cat Association, the Cat Fanciers Federation and The International Cat Association.

  • Size

    Birmans typically weigh 6 to 12 pounds.

  • Personality

    If you like the pointed pattern of the Siamese but not the yowly voice, a Birman might be the cat for you. He is a docile, quiet cat who loves people and will follow them from room to room. Expect the Birman to want to be involved in what you’re doing, and be grateful that he’s not as bossy as the Siamese.

    Docile doesn’t mean dumb. The Birman is a smart cat and, of course, curious. He likes to explore his environment and has been known to get trapped underneath floors that are being replaced or to accidentally (maybe on purpose) go for a ride on top of a car. It’s a good idea to always keep tabs on where he is.

    He communicates in a soft voice, mainly to remind you that perhaps it’s time for dinner or maybe for a nice cuddle on the sofa. He enjoys being held and will relax in your arms like a furry baby.

  • Health

    Both pedigreed cats and mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic in nature. 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. Fortunately, these conditions are rare.
    • Corneal dermoid, the presence of skin and hair on the surface of the cornea (the clear front of the eye) of one or both eyes. It can be corrected surgically.
    • 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. The cause is unknown and recovery occurs spontaneously. 
    • Unusually high concentrations of urea and/or creatinine in the blood, which may or may not indicate kidney dysfunction.

     

  • Care

    Despite the length of the Birman’s coat, it has a silky texture that doesn’t mat easily. Comb it weekly to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. 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.

    Brush the teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is best, but weekly brushing is better than nothing. Trim the nails every couple of weeks. Wipe the corners of the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge. Use a separate area of the cloth for each eye so you don’t run the risk of spreading any infection. Check the ears weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball or soft damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using cotton swabs, which can damage the interior of the ear.

    Keep the Birman’s litter box spotlessly clean. Cats are very particular about bathroom hygiene, and a clean litter box will help to keep the coat clean as well.

    It’s a good idea to keep a Birman as an indoor-only cat to protect him from diseases spread by other cats, attacks by dogs or coyotes, and the other dangers that face cats who go outdoors, such as being hit by a car. Birmans who go outdoors also run the risk of being stolen by someone who would like to have such a beautiful cat without paying for it.

  • Coat Color And Grooming

    The Birman has a silky, medium-length coat in the pointed pattern of the Siamese (meaning that the color is darker on the face, ears, legs and tail), a broad, rounded head topped with medium-size ears, bright blue eyes that give him a sweet expression, and four white feet that give him the appearance of wearing little white mittens. This is a medium-size to large cat with a stocky, powerful body that belies his gentle demeanor.

    The medium-long to long coat has a silky texture and little undercoat, which means that it rarely mats. It forms a heavy ruff around the neck and is wavy on the belly.

    A pale body, which varies in shade depending on the cat’s color, is set off by darker points. For instance, a seal point Birman has a body that is a pale fawn to cream color with a warm tone, gradually shading to a lighter color on the belly and chest. The points are a deep seal brown. On the front and back paws are white “gloves” ending in an even line across the paw. On the back paws, the gloves extend up the back of the leg (called laces) and end in a point or an inverted V shape. In the show ring, the symmetry of the “gloves and laces” are an important factor and may mean the difference between a kitten going on to a career as a show cat or as a pet.

    Besides seal point, Birmans come in blue point, chocolate point, lilac point, and various parti-color point and lynx point colors. Lynx point Birmans have a clearly defined M marking on the forehead, light markings that resemble eyeglasses around the eyes, spotted whisker pads, solid-colored ears with no stripes, and “thumb marks” on the back of the ears. The legs and tail have stripes and rings.

  • Children And Other Pets

    The friendly, laidback Birman  is a perfect choice for families with children and cat-friendly dogs. He loves the attention he receives from children who treat him politely and with respect, and he doesn’t mind playing dress-up or going for a ride in a baby buggy.

    He is happy to live with cat-friendly dogs, too, thanks to his amiable disposition. Introduce pets slowly and in controlled circumstances to ensure that they learn to get along together.

  • Rescue Groups