The Birman Cat

By Elsie Fisher
Photography by Anne Cumbers
Copyright 1994, Cat World

The Birman is an exotic cat, majestic in its demeanour. It is extremely friendly, highly intelligent, and very loving in temperament. Although it originated in Burma, it should not be confused with the Burmese which is a shorthaired breed with golden eyes. The Birman is longhaired with the coluring of the Siamese -- deep blue eyes, seal mask and points or blue mask and points (according to colour) -- but with four white paws, which is their characteristic, the front paws being white to the first joint, and the back feet having the white going up the hind feet to a point, like a gauntlet, ending under the elbow about an inch.

The legend of the Birman is beautiful and is said to be true. The priests who own these cats think that when they die the cats take their souls to Paradise and, when they are reincarnated, they return in the shape of the cat. Several people have tried to find the origin of these lovely cats but it is still shrouded in mystery.

In 1965 I first saw the Birman in a show in Paris, France, and fell in love with the breed. As a result, that same year, I became the first person to import the Birman into England. CH. NOUKY DE MON REVE was followed by CH. OSAKA DE LUGH and ORLAMONDE DE KHLARAMOUR, all from France, and then one from Germany, CH. GHANDI VON ASSINDIA. Cats who enter England must go into quarantine for six months. My Birmans were in quarantine kennels in Jersey, Channel Islands, which is considered Great Britain domain.

From these imported Birmans, I have, by selected breeding since 1966, bred 36 Champions, International Champions and Grand Champions as far afield as Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Jamaica, Canada, U.S.A. and most countries in Europe.

The Birman was recognized as a pure breed in France in 1925, in England in 1966, and in U.S.A. in 1967.


A queen should not have more than two litters a year, preferably only one. The litters vary in size from three kittens to eight but the larger litters are seldom and rare. My queens usually produce from three to five kittens. The young should all be one size with no 'runts' in the litter.

When I mate a queen, I usually look for the good points in the stud as well as the pedigree, provided the latter is a true one. I have all the original French and German pedigrees of my bloodlines. It is vital to ascertain that there are no near relatives to the queen in the pedigree of the stud. If the queen carries the blue gene and blue kittens are desired, the male must carry the blue gene as well, otherwise there will only be seal kits.

The only pure Birman colours are seal and blue. Several breeders have used Himalayans to get chocolate and lilac but I consider that these are Hybrids, not pure Birmans. This has not been done in England and I am completely opposed to the mixing of the breed. One breeder in Australia has started to breed flame colour Birmans by using other breeds. One must alter the original breed by doing this. Birmans are a different breed to any other cat: they are not supposed to look like Persians, Balinese or Siamese, they are a breed apart, Birmans.


Diet for the Birman should be varied and consist of raw meat, boiled chicken, fish, vegetables (mashed up with the meat), vitamins and mineral supplement (such as Vionate or SR37). The adults get two meals a day and I always have plenty of fresh water (never milk) for them to drink whenever they like.

The kittens have Lactol with Farlene (a baby cereal mixed with hot water), glucose and Stress (a mineral supplement). I wean the kittens gradually starting at the age of four weeks. At first I give them two small extra meals working up to four daily.

I groom my Birmans once a week with a special spirit shampoo and powder. This, of course, has to be well brushed out. I examine their ears carefully as these must be kept absolutely clean. It is easy for any cat to catch ear mites from other cats who might have them and so it is most important to check the ears before and after a show.


The Standard varies in the different countries. As an example, the GCCF and CFA standards are printed overleaf for comparison.

Birmans love human companionship and would be unhappy without it. They are easy to handle, show well, make good breeders and, above all, ideal companions.

Britainís first Birman kittens were born in 1966. Sire and dam of the four Blue and four Seal Points were French imports CH. NOUKY DE MON REVE and ORLAMONDE DE KHLARAMOUR.

CH. PRAHA MI WA, Seal female bred by the author.

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Last Modified: Sunday, February 28, 1999 3:16:27 PM
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