The Birman Cat is known for its distinctive appearance, which is characterised by a fluffy angora coat and dark grey highlights on the head and limbs. It is not the same as the Burmese cat, despite the similar names. The Birman Breed may have originated in Burma, although the stories relating its origins may be apocryphal. Legend has it that the breed was brought into being by a goddess, and was transported to France when the breed’s owners, Buddhists monks, were forced to flee their homeland. Regardless of its true origins, the Birman breed was formally recognised in France in the early twentieth century. It was quickly accepted as a breed by a number of other countries.

The Birman Cat is popular in Australia, and there are many long-standing clubs dedicated to the breed.

Exquisitely photogenic
Birman cats have similar markings to a Siamese, but it’s there that the resemblance ends. Birman cats have a relatively long coat, and unlike Siamese cats have white feet. Birman cats always have blue eyes. They are available in a variety of different colours, but all have ‘points’ on their faces, limbs, and tail. These areas are darker in colour than the rest of the coat. Points, though grey by standard, may occur in several colours, such as red and tabby. White remains the most common colour of the Birman cat, but other colours include lilac, red, cream, chocolate, and seal. They have a soft and bushy coat that is particularly prolific in the tail and neck areas, and is especially pronounced on the male of the species.

All Birman kittens are born white, but will develop their points after a week or so. The time required to develop their points depends on the colour of the points: darker coloured points typically develop more quickly than lighter coloured points. It can take up to two years for a Birman cat to develop its true coat.

Grooming a Birman
Despite their appearance, Birman Cats are relatively low maintenance. Their coat is a simple angora-style coat that is soft and silky. The absence of an undercoat means that tangling and knotting are not an issue. For the most part, brushing on a weekly basis is sufficient, although some owners may wish to groom their pet more regularly after the cold months, when the winter coat is being shed. Bathing a Birman can be a good way of removing the excess coat during the shedding period. Owners should also be mindful that the pale fur of a Birman can stain easily, and should be careful when it comes to selecting a brand of cat shampoo or kitty litter.

Around the house
Because of their low maintenance coat and the fact that they typically don’t shed, Birmans are an excellent choice for a household pet. They have the same aesthetic appeal as a Persian, but aren’t plagued by the same grooming issues, so they are suited to household living. They are also a friendly and placid breed, and are surprisingly comfortable around people. Rather than being aloof or distant in personality, they are warm and loving, and often follow their owners around from room to room. They can be demanding in terms of attention, and may not be a good choice for owners who spend long periods away from home. In such cases, a companion cat may be recommended.

While Birmans are placid and relaxed, they are inquisitive by nature. This means that they will take any opportunity to explore new items or objects. Simple cat toys are much enjoyed by Birman Cats, although regular household items are usually sufficient, too. Birmans are quite playful by nature, making them a good choice for households with children.

Purchasing a Birman
Though there are many Birman Associations and Birman breeders in Australia, purchasing one can be a challenge. This is because Birman litters are usually very small, with only three to four kittens per litter. This, in addition to their relatively popularity, may mean that prospective owners face lengthy waiting lists for their Birman kitten.