Burmese Cats. Full Breed Guide

The Burmese cat is a breed of domestic cats originating from Burma, now known as Myanmar. They are medium-sized cats, known for their muscular and compact bodies. They have a distinctively short, shiny, and silky coat that comes in a variety of solid colors such as sable, champagne, blue, and platinum. One of the most striking features of Burmese cats is their expressive, round golden or yellow eyes. They are renowned for their playful, affectionate, and social nature, often described as “dog-like” due to their tendency to be loyal, to fetch, and to stay close to their human companions. This breed is intelligent and curious, making them highly interactive pets that thrive on attention and engagement.

Appearance

The Burmese cat is medium in size, well-muscled and compact, giving them a surprising weight for their size. They have a rounded and solid appearance with a short back and deep chest. The breed’s head is also rounded, but with a distinctly short, blunt, and broad muzzle. Their medium-sized ears are set wide apart, further enhancing their round facial appearance.

One of their most striking features are the large, expressive eyes which are almost round and always gold or yellow. The short, fine, and glossy coat of the Burmese is known for its satin-like texture and comes in various solid colors. The most traditional is a rich, warm deep brown known as sable, but other recognized colors include champagne (a warm honey-beige), blue (a medium blue-gray), and platinum (a pale, silvery-gray). The coat color is always solid and even throughout, and is often darker on the face and back.

Their medium-length tail tapers to a medium or rounded tip. Burmese cats typically mature at around 2 years old, with males being larger than females. The males usually weigh between 8-12 pounds, and the females range from 6-10 pounds.

Champagne Burmese kitten.
Champaigne Burmese Kitten

History Of The Breed

The Burmese cat breed has a fascinating history that dates back to Southeast Asia. The breed originated in Burma (modern-day Myanmar), and Burmese cats are believed to have lived in temples and been worshipped as sacred animals.

The journey of the Burmese breed to the Western world began when a female Burmese cat named Wong Mau was brought to the United States in 1930 by a sailor named Bill Thompson. Wong Mau wasn’t simply a domestic cat; she exhibited a unique dark brown color that was different from any recognized cat breeds in the West at the time.

Thompson gave Wong Mau to Dr. Joseph Thompson, a San Francisco physician and cat fancier. Intrigued by her unique color and traits, Dr. Thompson spearheaded a selective breeding program with Wong Mau and a seal-point Siamese. This breeding program resulted in kittens that resembled modern Burmese cats. Over time, breeding among these cats solidified the traits of the Burmese breed we recognize today.

The breed was officially recognized in America by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in 1936. However, further outcrossing to Siamese cats in the 1940s caused controversy due to changes in breed appearance, leading to a temporary de-recognition in 1947. The breed was later split into two types: the traditional “European” Burmese and the more slender, Siamese-like “contemporary” Burmese. The CFA began recognizing both types in the 1950s. The Burmese cat breed remains popular today, renowned for its rich coloring and friendly, active nature.

Personality

Burmese cats are renowned for their affectionate, playful, and sociable temperament. They are highly interactive and enjoy being a part of daily activities, often following their owners around the house. Some even describe Burmese cats as being “dog-like” because of their loyalty and their love for playing fetch.

These cats are known for their intelligence and curiosity. They love to explore their surroundings and can often be found in high places, as they are excellent climbers. Despite their active nature, Burmese cats also appreciate a good cuddle and are known for their love of human laps.

These cats are known for their intelligence and curiosity. They love to explore their surroundings and can often be found in high places, as they are excellent climbers. Despite their active nature, Burmese cats also appreciate a good cuddle and are known for their love of human laps.

In general, a Burmese cat makes for a charming and affectionate pet that will actively seek out and participate in family activities. They’re perfect companions for those willing to provide them with the time and attention they need.

Two curious Burmese cats.
Two Curiois Burmese Cats

Health

Burmese cats are generally a healthy and robust breed, but like all breeds, they can be predisposed to certain health conditions. Hypokalemia, for example, is a hereditary disease that can occur in this breed, causing episodes of muscle weakness due to low serum potassium levels. In certain regions, particularly in Europe, some Burmese cats have suffered from a severe genetic disorder known as the Burmese Head Defect or Craniofacial Defect, where kittens are born with severely deformed heads and usually die shortly after birth.

Another condition that may affect Burmese kittens is Flat Chested Kitten Syndrome, where the chest is flattened, which can be life-threatening in severe cases. Diabetes Mellitus is also a concern for the breed, particularly for Burmese cats in Australia and New Zealand, which show a higher incidence compared to other breeds. Regular monitoring of weight, diet, and overall health can help manage this risk.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a common heart disease in cats, may also be a predisposition for Burmese cats, underlining the importance of regular veterinary check-ups. Dental disease is another potential issue, requiring regular oral hygiene and veterinary dental check-ups. To ensure the health of a Burmese cat, it’s crucial to maintain regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, and adequate exercise. Furthermore, if purchasing a Burmese kitten, it is recommended to choose a reputable breeder who provides health clearances for the kitten’s parents.

Care

Taking care of a Burmese cat involves paying attention to their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. They are an active and sociable breed, so regular interaction and playtime are essential to keep them mentally stimulated and physically fit. They love to explore and climb, so having cat trees or shelves can be beneficial.

Given their sociable nature, they don’t do well with loneliness and prefer having company, whether it’s human or another pet. If you’re away from home for long periods, you might consider having another pet to keep your Burmese cat company.

Their short, fine coat doesn’t shed much and is easy to groom. A weekly brushing to remove loose hair and distribute skin oils should suffice. Regular dental hygiene is also important, as the breed can be prone to periodontal disease. Brush their teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health.

Monitor their diet to prevent obesity, a risk factor for diabetes, which Burmese cats can be prone to. A balanced diet that’s appropriate for their age, size, and activity level is necessary. Always have fresh water available for them.

Regular vet check-ups are crucial to catch any potential health problems early. Keep their vaccinations up-to-date, and regularly check their ears and eyes for any signs of infection.

Finally, Burmese cats are known to be intelligent and curious. They’re likely to get into everything and anything, so make sure your home is a safe environment for them. This might include securing loose wires, ensuring windows have secure screens, and keeping potentially harmful substances out of reach. By ensuring your Burmese cat’s physical and emotional needs are met, you’ll have a delightful and affectionate companion.

About The Author

Jennifer Terell, a valued author at Allpetsville, is an experienced cat owner and breeder. Her deep understanding of felines, coupled with a passion for writing, contributes to her insightful and engaging articles.

Her expertise in cat behavior, health, and breeding offers readers a comprehensive guide to feline care. Through her writings, Jennifer’s love for cats resonates, making her a reliable resource for cat owners and enthusiasts on their pet parenting journey.