The Birman, also known as the “Sacred Cat of Burma”, is a unique-looking, medium-sized cat with a gentle expression and loveable temperament.

Birmans have a rectangular body, broad face and Roman-shaped nose. They have round, deep blue eyes. Their fur is relatively long and silky, and because they lack an undercoat their fur is much less prone to matting. The only accepted colour pattern is pointed or solid white. Point colours include seal, chocolate, blue, lilac, red or cream. There are also tabby and tortoiseshell variations available. Birmans are born all white and develop their colour as they mature.

The Birman typically weighs between 4 and 7 kg and stand between 30.5 and 40.5 cm tall. The lifespan of the Birman is 12 to 16 years.

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Personality and Temperament

Birmans are a great option for people who are fond of the Siamese pointed colour pattern but who are not as fond of its talkative nature. They are quiet, docile and loving cats. They love to follow their owners around and be involved, but are not bossy.

The Birman is a smart and curious cat who likes to explore its environment, and this can get the cat into all manners of trouble.

Birmans have a soft, quiet voice which it uses to alert you if it’s hungry or needs some attention. This cat loves to cuddle with its owners and is content to relax with you on the couch.

Common Birman Diseases & Conditions

Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Congenital hypotrichosis. This rare condition causes the cat to be born hairless and with an immune deficiency that leads to increased susceptibility to infection and can lead to death.
  • Corneal dermoid refers to skin and/or hair which grows over the surface of the cornea. It can be corrected with surgery.
  • Spongiform degeneration. This progressive degenerative disease affects the central nervous system, causing weakness in the back legs and lack of coordination.
  • Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This inherited disease is difficult to diagnose and often the first symptom is sudden death. It is caused by the thickening of the heart’s walls. It mostly affects older male cats, but can occur in younger cats too. Some cases may not be lethal and can be treated with medication if diagnosed via an echocardiogram. Signs of this disease include anorexia, lethargy, difficulty breathing, coughing, fainting and paralysis of the legs; however some cats may show no symptoms.

Not all conditions are covered by Pet Insurance. For details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover, refer to the Product Disclosure Statement.

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The Birman, also referred to as the “Sacred Cat of Burma” is one of the oldest cat breeds. Though its exact origins are not known, there are many legends surrounding this majestic cat.

The most famous legend speaks of a group of white, yellow-eyed cats living in a monastery in Burma as guardians of the Temple of Lao Tsun. The temple’s head priest Mun-Ha and his cat Sinh would pray in front of the temple’s blue-eyed goddess, Tsun-Kyan-Kse, every night, until one night Siamese invaders took over and Mun-Ha was killed. Sinh guarded his deceased owner, and he eventually took on a golden colour and his eyes turned blue. As a symbol of purity, the cat’s paws remained white.

In reality, it is likely that these “Siamese invaders” were in fact Siamese cats who bred with the local cats and the result was the Birman.

The first Birman, a pregnant female, was brought to France in 1919. It quickly established itself in Europe and was recognised in the USA in 1967, 8 years after its initial arrival. As of 2013 it is the 15th most popular purebred cat in the US.

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Birman Facts!

  • The Birman follows an interesting French naming convention that assigns kittens born in a certain year with a certain letter with which the name must begin – for example, the names of kittens born in 2013 would start with K and kittens born in 2014 would start with L, etc.

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