A Beginner’s Guide to the Birman

Next up in our series of guides for popular cat breeds, we have the sociable and kind-hearted Birman. Often confused with a Siamese cat, this is one of the softest and most gentle breeds around. Birmans are known for their striking appearance and colourful coats, which were gifted to them by a Burmese goddess (or so the legend says!). This blog post will explore the history of the Birman, their loving temperament and some of the common health issues that every owner should keep an eye out for.

If you want to explore the similarities and differences between a Birman and a Siamese, click here to see our blog post on that breed!

What Is A Birman Cat?

The Birman is one of the most popular cat breeds in the UK and across the world. Their coat can come in 19 different colours but all Birmans have one trait in common – their paws are white. No matter how colourful their coat is, a Birman will always have white feet! It is said that this trait was given to Birmans to highlight their innocence and purity. You can always spot a Birman by looking down to see if they are wearing socks!

Birman Cat Guide

History Of The Birman

The history of the Birman is a relative mystery. Also known as the Sacred Cat of Burma, the legend says that this cat breed was given its distinctive appearance as a gift by a Burmese Goddess for their loyalty and devotion to priests. Whilst this breed has been around in Burma for at least a century, the Birman was first recognised in Europe in 1919 after appearing in France. This breed’s rise to prominence in Europe was almost lost during World War Two when just 2 Birmans were known to have survived the war. Thankfully, Birmans made a swift recovery and were soon recognised as an official cat breed in the 1960s.

The Appearance The Birman

Birman kittens are born pure white and will only start to develop their adult colouring when they are 1 – 2 weeks old. It will take another two years of growth for a Birman to develop their full adult coat. Similar to the Siamese cat, the Birman has a medium-length coat with darker markings around the face, ears, legs and tail. They also have penetrating blue eyes, which is another distinctive trait of this breed.

The full list of Birman coat colours can be found below:

Solid Point Birmans

  • Seal Point
  • Blue Point
  • Chocolate Point
  • Lilac Point
  • Red Point
  • Cream Point

Tortie Point Birmans

  • Seal Tortie Point
  • Blue Tortie
  • Chocolate Tortie
  • Lilac Tortie Point

Tabby Point Birmans

  • Seal Tabby
  • Blue Tabby Point
  • Chocolate Tabby Point
  • Lilac Tabby Point
  • Red Tabby Point
  • Cream Tabby Point

Tortie Tabby Point Birmans

  • Blue Tortie Tabby Point
  • Chocolate Tortie Tabby Point
  • Lilac Tortie Tabby Point

Birmans Are Intelligent & Loyal

Being intelligent cats, Birmans will often be involved in whatever is going on around them. They aren’t as vocal as their Siamese cousins but have the intelligence and wisdom to enjoy games and interactive play. They are excellent companion cats and, due to their affectionate nature, are suited to both younger and older generations of cat owners. Whilst a Birman will not demand attention, this breed does need to be kept stimulated inside the home with plenty of toys, games and opportunities to play out instinctive behaviours.

A Birman’s Health & Wellbeing

When compared to other popular cat breeds, the Birman has few hereditary health problems. For this reason, Birmans are relatively easy to keep although every owner should still be vigilant and attentive to their cat’s health and wellbeing. The average lifespan of a Birman is between 12 and 16 years, which is around the average lifespan for a cat. The only known hereditary health problem that Birmans are prone to is Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). As mentioned in every blog post in this series, regular check-ups at the vets will ensure that your Birman is in sound physical health throughout their life. 

Grooming a Birman

The Birman has a single coat so their fur is less likely to mat. A Birman’s coat requires less maintenance than most pedigree breeds but regular grooming is still necessary for every medium & long-haired cat. A grooming session once a week will be enough to ensure that a Birman’s coat remains soft and flowing. Birmans will shed the most amount of fur in the Spring and Autumn, so more frequent brushing will be required around those times of the year.

Birmans Are Well-Rounded Cats

Bred to be close companion cats, a Birman is an easy pet to have around and will gel into most households with ease. It is for this reason that Birmans are a popular choice for first-time cat owners. Their coats are some of the most beautiful of any cat breed and their temperament is difficult to beat. This is an exceptionally friendly breed that is laid back, sociable and will be a loving addition to any home.

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