Origin: Burma and Thailand
Coat Length: Short Hair
Body Type: Moderate
Appearance: The Burmese is a medium-sized cat with a solid and muscular body. Males weigh an average of 3.5kg to 5kg and females from 2.5kg to 4.5kg. The coat is soft and satin-like and it was originally a solid sable colour. Over time new colours have been bred, you’ll now find champagne, platinum, cream, blue, chocolate and other variations. Burmeses’ ears are medium in size with rounded tips, the eyes are rather large and set wide apart.
Grooming Requirement: Not a lot grooming needed
Activity Level: High
Affection: Very affectionate
Time Alone: 4 to 8 hours
Attention: Needs a lot of attention
Temperament: This is not the cat for people who want a calm and reserved animal. The Burmese is a friendly and high energy pet that will keep you on your toes and fully entertained. This is a smart and people-oriented breed, don’t leave them home alone for too long, they won’t like it and will find ways to make their displeasure known. These are playful and curious cats, they will explore the whole house and enjoy teaser or puzzle toys.
Interesting Facts: The breed has two versions, the British Burmese (also known as the European or “traditional”) and the American Burmese.
Behaviour Toward Other Animals and Kids: Burmese cats are great family pets and will happily play with your children. This breed does well with other cats or dogs too, as long as the other pets aren’t aggressive. Of course how well an individual pet, pets or children get along depends largely on how well they’re socialised together.
Common Health Problems: Some of the most common issues with the Burmese breed are: corneal dermoid, diabetes mellitus, gingivitis, lipemia of the aqueous humour, orofacial pain syndrome, dilated cardiomyopathy, endocardial fibroelastosis, flatchested kitten syndrome and hypokalemic polymyopathy. Some may have Burmese head defect or kinked tail.
Lifespan: Average 10 to 16 years.
The exact origin of the Burmese cat is still somewhat undefined. The breed, as suggested by the name, is native to Burma (now Myanmar). The cats are believed to have been bred for centuries by monks in monasteries across Burma, Thailand, and Malaya. A copper-coloured cat is mentioned in the ancient Thai Cat Book which was written during the Ayudhya Period, spanning 1350 – 1767.
In the late 19th century, attempts to develop the Burmese as a separate breed in Britain resulted in what was known as Chocolate Siamese rather than a separate breed. As cross-breeding between Burmese and Siamese conformed more with the muscular built of the Siamese, the breed was eventually lost in Britain.
The lineage of today’s Burmese cats can be traced to a small, dark-brown female named Wong Mau who was imported from Burma to San Francisco in the early 1930s by Dr. Joseph Thompson. Wong Mau was thought to be a chocolate-coloured Siamese and as it later turned out – destined to be the matriarch of two separate breeds: the Burmese and the Tonkinese. Dr. Thompson started selective breeding in conjunction with breeders Virginia Cobb and Billie Gerst and geneticist Clyde Keeler, which resulted in litters of beige, brown and pointed kittens. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) granted the breed formal recognition in 1936 only to suspend it a decade later as extensive out-crossing with Siamese cats had overwhelmed the original type. American breeders were persistent in refining the breed standard and the suspension was permanently revoked in 1954.
The breed was revived in the UK in the 1950s and recognised by the United Kingdom’s Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).
The first blue Burmese kittens appeared in 1955 and aroused interest among breeders in terms of other colour variations. Thus, in 1964 reds, creams and torties were introduced in Britain. In America light brown Burmese became known as champagnes and their blue-diluted counterparts as platinums, respectively chocolates and lilacs in Britain. The two versions of the breed are still kept genetically distinct. In Britain, registration of all Burmese imported from America is banned by the GCCF, while the British Burmese have been declassed as a breed by the CFA. Most countries in the Commonwealth and Europe have based their standard on the British model. Modern registries that recognise the dual standards as separate breeds refer to the British type as the European Burmese. Most cat registries, however, don’t formally recognise the two types as separate breeds. As of recent, both TICA and CFA clubs refer to the American breed standard at European select shows.
Provide a variety of high-quality dry and canned food and fresh water at all times. Feed young kittens canned food twice a day and adjust portions at growth stages to avoid obesity. You can leave a bowl or two of dry food available at all times unless your Burmese is an adult that has got on the heavy side. If that’s the case, access to food has to be limited to short periods of time. Dry and canned food have to be as high as possible in meat protein, and as low as possible in grain content. During the adjusting period to a new home, you can feed jarred baby food (only meat, no vegetables) to stimulate the kitten’s appetite but since it is not a well-balanced diet for kittens, you should discontinue it within a couple of days.
Keeping a Burmese at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to protect his overall health. The breed is generally healthy, with a long lifespan, averaging about 15 years. Some lines may be susceptible to diabetes mellitus, and young Burmese cats have been occasionally diagnosed with inherited hypokalaemic polymyopathy. Other conditions recorded among Burmese include cranial deformities, glaucoma or feline hyperaesthesia syndrome, which results in an increased sensitivity to touch or painful stimuli. It is always best to buy from a responsible breeder who provides health clearance.
The satiny short coat of the Burmese is easily maintained clean and shiny with weekly brushing. Use a rubber curry brush to remove tangled and dead hair and finish off with a soft chamois, not chemically treated. Baths are rarely a necessity. Brush the teeth frequently with a veterinarian-approved toothpaste and clean the ears with a gentle cleaning solution and a soft cotton ball.
Outgoing and confident, the Burmese love spending time with their owners, be it watching TV or following them around as they tend to their daily chores, and will greet guests at the door. Burmese kittens are very active and playful, and usually retain their frisky disposition into adulthood. Provide them with cat trees, scratching posts, interactive toys, and fresh grass to chew on. Burmese cats fetch their favourite toys and generally take well to walking on a harness.