Birman Cat Breed Characteristics

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Image Credit: Nico De Pasquale Photography/Moment/GettyImages

Birman cat quick facts

Length‌: 15 - 18 inches

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Weight‌: Females: 6 - 10 pounds, Males: 9 - 15 pounds

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Lifespan‌: 9 - 15 years or more

Coat length‌: Long

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Coloring‌: All pointed colors with white paws and blue eyes

Grooming needs‌: Medium

Friendliness‌: Breed alone is not an accurate predictor of individual cats' personalities. However, Birman cats are generally regarded as loving and loyal.

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The Birman cat is a stunning breed with a long, silky coat, sapphire blue eyes, and a Roman nose. These cats are not only beautiful, but they are also affectionate companions. Whether you are a single person looking for a companion or you are looking for a family cat to fit in with your children and pets, the Birman cat may be the breed for you. Consider the breed's personality and care requirements before welcoming a Birman kitten into your home.

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Birman cat history

The full history Birman cat breed, also referred to as the Sacred Cat of Burma, is not fully known. Legends say that the breed is descended from Burmese temple cats which were raised by Kittah priests. In 1919, Major Gordon Russell and Auguste Pavie assisted the temple of Lao-Tsun and they were given a pair of Birman cats by the priests. The cats were taken to France in the 1920s.

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The breed nearly went extinct after World War II, but a couple of Birmans survived the war in Europe. Breeders outcrossed the cats with other breeds, possibly Persian cats to rebuild the breed. The cats eventually arrived in America and they were recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) in 1967.

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The Birman cat has a long coat and a color point pattern in colors including:

  • Seal point
  • Lilac point
  • Chocolate point
  • Blue point
  • Tabby point

Burmese kittens are born with all-white fur and the color comes in over time. Adult cats keep their white feet. Birman cats may have been one of the cats used to develop the ragdoll cat breed.

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Birman cat personality

The Birman cat is a sweet, docile, and loving cat. They are friendly and laid back with family as well as strangers. The cats are sociable and will do well with children and other pets. They can be chatty and often reply with a soft meow when you talk to them.

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The cats are affectionate and love to cuddle. They want your attention and may follow you around the home as you go about your day.

Birmans may love being lap cats, but they are also playful, curious, and intelligent. They love to chase toys around the home. They also enjoy playing with interactive toys or participating in a game of fetch.

Image Credit: Nico De Pasquale Photography/Moment/GettyImages

Birman cat lifespan and health issues

Birman cats tend to be a healthy breed that can live for 15 years or more. They don't tend to have genetic health problems that breeders need to be concerned with, although some Birman cats have developed:

  • polycystic kidney disease (PKD):‌ A condition that causes cysts to form in the kidneys
  • hypertrophic cardiomyopathy:‌ A condition that causes the wall of the heart to thicken
  • hypotrichosis and short life expectancy:‌ This condition causes loss of hair and a shortened life span of approximately eight months.

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These conditions are not common in the breed. Though responsible breeders will avoid breeding any cats that are known carriers of the genes that cause these health problems.

However, the Birman cat breed is prone to obesity, which can increase the risk of developing other health problems such as diabetes.

Birman cat grooming and care

Birman cats are long-haired cats but they don't have an undercoat. Brush their single coat at least once per week to keep it free of tangles and matting. You may need to brush them more often when they are shedding in the spring. Other grooming tasks include:

  • checking the cat's ears and cleaning them as needed
  • checking the nail and trimming them as needed
  • Brushing the cat's teeth with toothpaste that is veterinarian approved for use in cats.

Feed the cat a high-quality commercial cat food in the amount recommended by your veterinarian and make sure there is fresh drinking water available at all times. Avoid free feeding the cats as they can easily become overweight and obese. Limit the number of treats you feed the cat each day. Make sure to play with your cat daily to keep them active and to maintain a healthy weight.

Schedule regular annual appointments with your veterinarian for an examination and recommended vaccinations.

Image Credit: Nico De Pasquale Photography/Moment/GettyImages

Welcoming a new cat into your home

Bringing home a new Birman kitten or cat is an exciting day. To make the move as easy as possible for your new cat, take a few steps to prepare for their arrival. Set up a quiet room where the cat can get acclimated to the new environment. Make sure it has everything your cat may need including:

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  • Food and water dishes
  • Litter box
  • Cat toys
  • Scratching post
  • Cat tree

In addition, take the time to catproof the room and your entire home. Check all of your houseplants to make sure they are safe for pets. Discard or give away any that may be toxic to your new cat. Put cleaning supplies in a cabinet, and ensure your cat can't access them. Keep harmful foods, such as chocolate, in the pantry rather than out on the counter.

When your cat first arrives, allow them to explore the room at their own pace. It may be tempting to pick up the cat for cuddles right away. But it is best to wait and allow your cat to come to you when they are ready. It can be helpful to sit and talk to your cat. Offer to play with a toy or teaser wand and use plenty of positive reinforcement.

If you have other pets or small children, introduce them slowly. Monitor their interactions to make sure everyone stays safe and has a good experience. Once your cat is comfortable, you can open the door and allow them to explore the house. Before you know it, the loyal and affectionate Birman cat will be helping you around the house and lounging in your lap.

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