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Sacred Cat of Burma Breed Description

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Breed Organization

TICA Executive Office

The Cat Fanciers' Association

Native Country

Other Names
Birman, Sacred Birman

Coat Length

Life Expectancy
No Information Available

General Description

Birmans have semi-long, silky hair, a semi-cobby body and relatively small ears compared to other cat breeds and a Roman nose. In order to comply with breed standards, the Birman's body should be of an eggshell color or golden, depending on the intensity of the markings color. The markings can be pure seal, chocolate, blue, red, lilac or cream. Tabby variations are also allowed. Tortie cats can be seal, chocolate, blue or lilac. Birmans have sapphire colored eyes. The Birman's coat is unusual due to the white 'gloves' on each paw. They are one of the few cat breeds in the colorpoint coat that has fingers and toes in pure white color. The genetics of this feature may not be fully clear, though a gene conferring the white 'gloves' has been identified.

Points of Birman are:
Seal-point, Blue-point, Chocolate-point, Lilac-point, Seal Tortie-point, Cream-point, Blue Cream point, Chocolate Tortie point, Lilac Tortie point. The same colors in Tabby version (Lynx): Seal Tabby point, Blue Tabby point, Chocolate Tabby point, Lilac Tabby point, Red Tabby, Cream Tabby point, Tortie Tabby point. Lynx or Red Factor colors on the legs, tail and face. The same colors exist in Silver/Smoke version while not yet recognize by all clubs. Birmans differ from conventional color-point cats by their white paws called gloves. The coat is medium-length, not as long and thick as a Persian's, and does not mat. A notable feature is their blue eyes which remain blue throughout their life. Australian breeders have been recently working on new colors like: Cinnamon point, fawn point. The only allowed white areas are gloves. A spot of white in another area is a fault in a Birman cat. Gloves are symmetrical in all four feet. The white must stop at the articulation or at the transition of toes to metacarpals; and all fingers must be white too. The posterior gloves on the back paws finish with an inverted V extended 1/2" to 3/4".

Breed Standard

Head: Large, broad, fairly round. Slightly longer than it is wide. Fairly rounded skull. Slightly domed forehead. Full cheeks, high, prominent cheekbones. Roman nose of medium length with a defined or absent stop. Well-developed muzzle. Strong, firm chin.
Eyes: Large, nearly round, well-spaced. Color: blue, as dark as possible.
Neck: Medium-sized, muscular.
Body: Fairly long, fairly heavy (semi-cobby). Strong boned; powerful, firm muscles.
Paw: Moderately long, strong. Heavy-boned, muscular. Round, firm paws. Tufts of fur between the toes.
Tail: Moderately long, carried erect. Plume.
Coat: Silky hair, semilong to long on the ruff, body, flanks, and tail. Short on the face and limbs. Sparse undercoat. Coat pigmented only on the extremities or points (mask, ears, paws, and tail), as in the Siamese. A good contrast between the color of the points and the rest of the body is required. White markings, or gloves, on the paws. These absolutely pure white gloves must stop at the joint or transition between the toes and the metacarpus, which they should not go past. On the plantar surface of the hind paws, the gloves end in a point (gauntlets) at 1/2 to 2/3 the distance between the large paw pad and the hock. The darker markings can be seal point (dark brown), chocolate point (light brown), blue point (gray-blue), lilac point (pinkish steel gray), red point (reddish-brown), or cream point. The rest of the coat varies from white to cream. The paw pads are pink or pink with spots of color. Kittens are born almost entirely white. The points and gloves do not appear until around 1-2 months. The color of the body and markings is not final until adulthood. In addition, the coat darkens with age.
Fault: White or colored markings on the chest or belly. Disqualify: a non-gloved toe. White on the points.


Very impressive, with dark blue eyes and white gloves Having appeared recently in Europe, this cat's origins are still mysterious. British travelers are thought to have brought back a pair of cats from the so-called Lao-tsun Temple in Burma. A certain Ms. Leotardi in southern France owned Poupée de Madalpour, a seal point Birman shown in Paris in 1926. This cat's parents, from Burma, were given to Leotardi by a certain Ms. Thadde-Haddish. Actually, the first specimens resulted from a cross between a Siamese with white markings on the paws and a longhaired cat (Angora or Persian) made in the 1920s in the Nice region of France. By around 1930, a male seal point named Dieu d'Arakan was the star of the shows. The breed nearly disappeared during World War II. After the war, colorpoint Persian blood was added to limit inbreeding. In 1950, the breed was named Chat sacré de Birmanie (Birman in English) in order to avoid any confusion with "Burmese", the adjective form of the word Burma. Introduced to the United States in 1959-1960 and to Great Britain in 1965, where it was officially recognized, this highly prized breed has become very popular.


Halfway between the Persian and the Siamese, the Birman is calm, well-balanced, and neither passive nor exuberant. He is friendly toward other cats and toward dogs. Playful Birmans are good companions for children, but they also like peace and quiet. Gentle, affectionate (especially males), and often somewhat possessive, Birmans do not tolerate indifference and are even less fond of solitude. They have a soft voice. They require daily brushing during the shedding season. Otherwise, weekly brushing and combing are enough.


The most severe threat is feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the most common heart disease seen in cats. In Birman cats, it is thought to be inherited as an autosomal dominant trait. HCM is a progressive disease and can result in heart failure, paralysis of the hind legs due to clot embolisation originating in the heart, and sudden death.

Paltrinieri, Giraldi, Prolo, Scarpa, et al. (2017) found that Birman cats have a high serum concentration of creatinine and symmetric dimethylarginine, but most Birman cats have higher concentrations of creatinine than SDMA. Creatinine is a creatine phosphate and is produced during metabolism of creatine, and is excreted through urination. SDMA is a methylated form of the amino acid arginine and is released during normal catabolisms of body proteins. Levels of creatinine and SDMA are found when Birman cats are tested for chronic kidney disease, for which they are at high risk. Birman cats are also at risk of developing feline infectious peritonitis; a disease that alters the renal function (creatinine levels in blood and urine) in the cats.

Feline audiogenic reflex seizures (FARS), a recently discovered type of epilepsy in cats, is believed to be particularly common in Birman cats.

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