A Pet Owner's Guide to Birman Cats
Distinguished by their soft, luxurious and full coats, piercing eyes and white-gloved paws, Birman cats are steeped in myth and legend dating back to their origins as the sacred cats of ancient Burmese Kittah priests. These long-haired cats have colorpoint coat patterns, and the breed is known for being exceptionally sociable.
Numerous legends swirl around these cats, as they once served as temple guardians in their native Burma. While the exact facts are disputed, it's generally held that Birman cats made their way west in the early 20th century, when French colonialists shipped a pair from Burma to Europe. The male perished during the journey, but the pregnant female survived and gave birth to a litter of kittens. Birman cat breeders took it from there.
Size: These large, stocky cats tend to weigh considerably more than nimbler breeds like the Egyptian mau. Adult males can weigh up to 15 pounds or more.
Coat: This breed's luxurious coat tends to be thick, especially in the forequarters, which gives the face a full, rounded appearance. The body fur should be white or slightly off-white in color, with color points in seal, chocolate, blue, cream, red or lilac hues. Some cats have colorpoint masks on their faces, and every true Birman kitten is born with white paws and lower legs, called "gloves."
Eyes & Ears: Intense sapphire-blue eyes are the standard among Birman breeders. The ears are spaced far apart and relatively small, with rounded tips and broader bases.
Tail: Birman breeder standards dictate that these cats should have medium-length tails that are proportional to the length of their bodies.
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Birman kittens are easily excitable, but adult cats tend to carry themselves with more dignity and refinement. That said, they crave affection and attention from their owners. Inquisitive and curious, these cats are playful by nature, even into old age. They're also purring machines, content to lay with their owners and purr for hours on end.
Health and Care
Feeding: Given the thickness and richness of their coats, Birman cats need to eat quality, nutrient-rich dry food. They are large-bodied cats with greater caloric needs than smaller breeds.
Grooming: Despite their full coats, Birman cats don't require excessive grooming. An occasional brushing should suffice to keep their fur looking healthy and attractive.
Activity Level: Though playful, these cats exhibit only a moderate overall activity level. Their dignity is important to them, and they're perfectly happy to strut about, observing the things and people around them without getting too rambunctious.
Health Problems: A heart condition known as feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can pose problems for older cats. Birman breeders have otherwise found these cats to be relatively healthy and largely free of breed-specific issues. As with all cats, watch closely for signs of common problems like worms and be sure to stay up-to-date on your cat vaccinations.
Average Lifespan: The Birman cat breed shows exceptional longevity, frequently surviving beyond the 15-year mark.
Locate Birman Cats for Sale
Look for breeders that offer a health guarantee and pedigree certification. Most breeders with Birman kittens for sale charge between $600 and $800 for a healthy, vaccinated companion cat and $1,000 or more for a breeding- or show-quality cat.