Did you know that there is a cat breed whose genes are present in many other breeds? I am talking about a Burmese cat breed. Closely related to Siamese cats, Burmese cats have been quite popular among cat lovers for many decades now.
That is hardly surprising, as these cats are absolutely gorgeous while also being highly intelligent. Many people choose them as their pets, and I think this article will show you why. Keep reading!
Burmese Cat Characteristics
|Fur color||Champagne, sable, blue, platinum|
|Fur pattern||Solid, mild colorpoint|
|Eye color & shape||Large, round, widely set apart, yellow, green, or blue|
|Weight||Males 6-14 lbs|
Females 4-12 lbs
|Expected lifespan||16-18 years|
|Temperament||Very intelligent, curious, playful while younger, placid when older, devoted, loving, determined, and vocal.|
|Kids and other pets||Moderately friendly towards children and other pets|
|Sociable and cuddly||Sociable and cuddly with their owners, cautious around strangers|
Requirements & Traits
|Feeding||Meat-based cat food rich in animal protein and moderate in animal fat. Kittens should eat more often than adults. Both dry and wet food is recommended.|
|Grooming||Weekly combing, nail trimming, regular dental hygiene|
History and Origins
As its name suggests, this breed originated in the country of Burma, today known as Myanmar, somewhere near the border with Thailand. However, while these cats have roots in Burma, the breed was officially developed in the UK and the US.
In 1871, British cat enthusiast Harrison Weir organized a cat show in Crystal Palace. A pair of Siamese cats that resembled American Burmese cats were displayed at that event. At the same time period, British breeders attempted to develop a new Burmese breed, but the result was known as the Chocolate Siamese, hence not a separate breed.
Getting out of Siamese Cats’ Shadow
These Chocolate Siamese cats were often bred with regular Siamese cats, and eventually, they assimilated. However, several decades later, there were similar efforts to develop the Burmese breed across the pond in the US.
A female cat named Wong Mau was taken from Burma to the US in 1930, and most modern Burmese cats are her descendants. Once in the US, Wong Mau and her descendants were bred with Siamese cats. This practice enabled the development of the new breed, but it almost caused its downfall too.
In 1936, CFA officially recognized the Burmese breed, but only a decade later, in 1946, it suspended this decision because Burmese cats were outcrossed with Siamese cats too often, resulting in the overwhelming of the original type.
For years, breeders tried to refine the breed and thus reverse the suspension. In 1954, CFA finally gave in and lifted the suspension. Burmese cats have been officially recognized as a separate breed again. In 1958, the United Burmese Cat Fanciers (UBCF) organization compiled American breed standards that remained mostly unchanged until today.
At the same time, Burmese cats experienced a revival in the UK. Some were imported from the US, but the British breeders started a new breeding program that produced Burmese according to British breeding standards. Since the countries of the Commonwealth started importing only the British-standard Burmese cats, most other countries in the world, except for the US, followed.
British vs. American Burmese
From then, both British and American breeders kept developing the breed, and they had different breed standards from each other.
This means that British Burmese cats are a bit different than their American cousins. However, most cat organizations and associations don’t recognize these two versions as separate breeds. Both British and American Burmese cats are considered one breed.
There are some organizations, however, that separate them into two different breeds, and they refer to British Burmese cats as the European Burmese breed.
Burmese Cat’s Role In Developing Other Breeds
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, many cat breeds carry Burmese genes. This is because Burmese cats were used for developing other breeds, such as Bombay, Burmilla, and Tonkinese cat breeds.
Tonkinese cat breed is a crossbreed between Siamese and Burmese cats, and it is believed that Wong Mau was also a mix between Siamese and Burmese.
Burmese Cat Personality
Burmese cats are well-known for their intelligence and curiosity. They are playful, amusing, and people-oriented. Even when they grow up, most Burmese cats retain their playfulness. However, as they grow old, they become more placid, which is understandable.
They certainly thrive on attention and will do anything to get it. That includes jumping, climbing, and loud meowing. They certainly inherited their vocalness from Siamese cats, but their voices are usually softer and more gentle.
Burmese cats aren’t as independent as other breeds, and they are full of affection and love for their owners. When it comes to children and other pets, Burmese cats aren’t as friendly as some other breeds, especially towards other pets. This means you will have to put in more effort to socialize your Burmese cat properly.
There is also an interesting gender disparity among Burmese cats. Female Burmese cats are more intelligent, playful, affectionate, and active than their male counterparts. This doesn’t mean that females are better or worse than males; it just means that male Burmese cats have moderate temperaments.
Burmese Cat Appearance
Burmese cats share a similar appearance to Siamese cats, but there are still some traits that make them unique. Let’s take a closer look at these traits:
Burmese cats have short furs that are close-lying to the body. The texture of the fur is silky, smooth, and soft, which makes it less prone to tangling. The only accepted fur pattern is solid or mild colorpoint, and originally, all Burmese cats were sable. The cat associations accepted blue, champagne, and platinum fur colors only later on.
Some Burmese cats will also come in other colors, such as lilac, red, fawn, cream, chocolate, and cinnamon, but cats in these colors aren’t recognized as “true” Burmese cats. As a result, such cats can’t compete at cat shows. Additionally, even though Burmese cats have solid furs, some have a tortoiseshell fur pattern. Of course, these cats are also disqualified from being considered “true” Burmese.
Interestingly enough, some Burmese cats with Australian and New Zealand lineages are developing new fur coloring as they age. This fur coloring is called russet, and it manifests as increasing amounts of red pigmentation of the cat’s head and dorsal areas.
This is an autosomal recessive trait, which means both parents have to carry the trait in order for their kittens to inherit the trait. It is an extremely rare trait, present only among several lineages.
Burmese cats have large and round eyes that are widely set apart. Their eyes should be yellow or gold, but some cat associations accept Burmese cats with green and blue eyes.
Burmese cats are medium-sized cats, and males are slightly larger than females. Male Burmese cats are usually 15-18 inches long, and they weigh between 6 and 14 pounds. Females are usually 12-15 inches long, and they weigh between 4 and 12 pounds.
Other Body Characteristics
The body is muscular and compact, with an ample and rounded chest area. The legs are proportionate to the rest of the body. The paws are rounded and strong, with five toes in the front paws and four toes in the back paws. The tail is also proportionate to the rest of the body, medium in size, and straight.
The head is rounded, with a full face, well-developed, short, and broad muzzle, firmly rounded chin, and a strong neck. The ears are medium-sized, widely set apart, broad at their base, and tapering, with rounded tips.
Daily Life With Burmese Cat
This cat breed is perfect for future cat owners that are looking for undemanding pets. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have to fulfill some basic care requirements if you get a Burmese cat, but they don’t have some special needs or care requirements.
All cats, domestic and wild, are obligate carnivores, and Burmese cats are no exception. This means that they should only eat meat-based foods that are rich in animal protein and moderate in animal fats. There are plenty of commercial cat food brands that you can choose from.
Choose only high-quality foods for your cat. Feed it with both wet and dry cat food. Wet cat food will help your cat stay hydrated, while dry cat food keeps its teeth clean. Of course, your cat should always have access to fresh drinking water.
You can also feed your cat raw meat, but only if it is fresh and comes from a reputable source. Otherwise, you are risking exposing your cat to various parasites and other contaminants that can endanger its health.
To avoid this, you can cook the meat and then give it to your cat. Make sure not to season it because cats shouldn’t eat salty and spicy foods. Occasional treats and snacks are welcomed, especially if you are in the process of training your cat.
Regarding portion size and feeding frequency, you should consult your vet. The general rule of thumb is that kittens and juvenile cats need to eat more often than adult cats because they are growing and need more calories.
This means that kittens and youngsters should eat 3-4 times per day, while adults should eat 2-3 times per day. Still, consulting your vet is the best way to determine optimal feeding practices.
Another great thing about Burmese cats is that their grooming needs are minimal. Their silky soft furs rarely tangle, and they can go for prolonged periods of time without being brushed. However, you should still gently comb your Burmese cat’s fur once a week, just in case.
Regular nail trimming (every two weeks) is important to prevent your cat from scratching the furniture and walls. Teach your cat from a young age to put up with nail trimming, and the whole procedure will be 100x easier, especially when your cat grows up.
The same goes for teeth brushing. If you teach your cat to put up with it while it is still a kitten, it will allow you to brush its teeth once it grows up. Regular teeth brushing is an important aspect of your cat’s hygiene, and it can prevent many dental issues.
However, if you didn’t manage to teach your cat to put up with nail trimming and teeth brushing, you should take it to a professional cat groomer. You can also buy some teeth-cleaning snacks that will help clean your cat’s teeth.
Burmese cats are active and playful, so they need some exercise to stay fit, healthy, and happy. That’s why you should provide your cat with enough toys, a cat scratching tree, and a climbing tree. You should also play with your cat because just throwing some toys at it isn’t enough to keep it entertained. Fetch and hide-and-seek are only some of the games you can play with your cat.
Your Burmese cat can also play outside, but only under your strict supervision. Indoor cats should never be left outside unsupervised. Alternatively, you can leash train your Burmese cat and take it for a walk or jogging session.
Most Common Burmese Cat Health Issues
Burmese cats are generally healthy, but they can still be prone to some health issues. This doesn’t mean that your Burmese cat will necessarily get sick, but it is good to be familiar with potential issues. That will make you ready to help your Burmese cat if the need arises. Here are some of the most common issues that you should look out for:
This condition is prevalent among UK and Australian Burmese lineage. American Burmese cats aren’t so prone to developing diabetes, but this doesn’t mean they are completely immune.
As you already know, diabetes is characterized by abnormally high blood sugar levels. Too much sugar in the bloodstream for prolonged periods of time negatively affects cardiovascular organs, kidneys, eyes, and many other organs.
If your cat exhibits excessive thirst, increased urination, vomiting, lethargy, and weight loss despite increased appetite, it might be suffering from diabetes. Take it to the vet as soon as possible. The vet will be able to prescribe a treatment that will keep your cat’s blood sugar value in a normal range.
This is a serious health issue that doesn’t affect only us humans but also our pets. As a matter of fact, obese cat owners are more likely to have obese cats because they share similar unhealthy eating and exercise habits.
Obesity can decrease your cat’s mobility as well as cause various other health issues, including aforementioned diabetes. Some other health issues that often go hand n hand with feline obesity are joint problems, breathing difficulties, cardiovascular problems, and many others.
If you notice your cat has gained some excess weight, or if you can no longer feel its ribs under the skin, you should consult your vet. The vet will be able to determine whether your cat is obese or not, and they will recommend you the best diet and exercise plan.
This is a condition that can affect basically any cat breed, including Burmese cats. It is characterized by the abnormal thickening of the heart’s wall muscle. As a result, the heart becomes less effective, so it needs to make more effort to pump blood into the body.
Over time, this additional effort weakens the heart and makes it even less effective. This becomes a vicious cycle that can lead to numerous health issues, including fatal heart failure and death. If your cat is lethargic, has trouble breathing, faints, and has an unusually fast heartbeat rate per minute, it might be suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Needless to say, if you notice any of these symptoms, you should take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. The vet will determine whether your cat suffers from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or not and how serious the condition is. Depending on the severity of the condition, the vet will prescribe a therapy that will help manage the symptoms and increase your cat’s life quality.
This is a genetic disease characterized by low serum potassium levels. It is found in British Burmese cats and can be traced to particular bloodlines. Both parents need to carry the gene mutation for their offspring to develop any issues. In cases in which only one parent is the carrier, the condition can stay unnoticed for several generations.
Hypokalemia causes skeletal muscle weakness, which usually happens in episodes. As a result, the cat can experience problems with walking or holding its head properly. In more severe cases, Hypokalemia can end in death.
If you notice your cat suddenly has difficulty walking or holding its head, take it to the vet immediately. With some potassium supplements, your cat can lead a normal and long life.
Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome
This is another condition that mostly affects certain UK bloodlines. The condition occurs during the cat’s first months when its second set of teeth starts to grow. For some Burmese kittens, the discomfort and pain are extreme and unbearable, and they start to scratch their faces in an attempt to alleviate the pain.
This can, of course, lead to severe injuries and even mutilation, so it is important to take your kitten to the vet. The vet will prescribe some painkillers that will reduce the pain and hence prevent your kitten from further self-injury.
Fortunately, this condition is only temporary. Once your kitten grows its second teeth, you will no longer need to medicate it with painkillers, and life will go back to normal.
Burmese Cat Name Suggestions
Burmese cats are one of those breeds that people consider to be exotic. That’s why many people try to choose exotic names for their cats. However, you can also give your Burmese cat a more common name or any other name that you like. The most important thing is that you like the name. Here are some of my picks, most of them are hinting at Burmese appearance:
Buying or Adopting a Burmese Cat
Burmese cats are relatively rare, so the chance of finding one in an adoption shelter is slim. However, it might possible to find one for adoption if you are patient enough, and the adoption fee typically ranges between $75 and $150.
If you decide to buy your Burmese cat from a reputable breeder, it will cost you anywhere between $500 and $2000. The price can even be higher if you decide to buy a show-quality kitten.
Frequently Asked Questions
They are renowned for their high intelligence, curiosity, and playfulness.
Yes, they are good pets, even for first-time cat owners.
Burmese cats are vocal, so expect frequent meowing. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing: look at it as a way for your cat to communicate with you.
Yes, Burmese cats are cuddly and affectionate.
In normal circumstances, no. However, if you often leave your Burmese cat alone and for prolonged periods of time, it will become destructive. Also, if you don’t stimulate your cat by playtime, it can become bored and destructive.
Burmese Cat Alternatives
Since Burmese cats are so similar to Siamese cats, if you can’t get yourself a Burmese cat, a Siamese is a perfect alternative. There are so many shared traits, both physical and personality-wise, that these breeds are almost the same.
Tonkinese cats are a cross between Burmese and Siamese cats, which makes them another great alternative for both of these breeds. Finally, instead of Burmese cats, you can get yourself a Bombay or Burmila cat, because these breeds have Burmese ancestors.
Burmese Cat Fun Facts
- People often compare Burmese cats to dogs due to their loyalty, affection, trainability, and intelligence.
- Due to their loving personalities, Burmese cats sometimes work as therapy animals.
- While most cat breeds despise water, Burmese cats are drawn to it and they even enjoy swimming and playing in the water.
Burmese cats are one of those breeds that had rocky beginnings but became extremely popular over time. When you consider how beautiful these cats are and how lovely their personalities are, it makes no wonder that Burmese cats conquered the US and the rest of the world.
So, if you are looking for a gorgeous, intelligent, affectionate, and trainable cat that is easy to care for, look no further, and get yourself a Burmese cat. You will acquire a loyal companion and a funny friend that will fill your life with joy and laughter.