The "sacred cat of Burma", as the Birman is popularly known, has a longer body and narrower face than a typical longhair, with markings reminiscent of a Siamese; giving it as oriental an aura as the legends that shroud its past.
Said to have originated in the temples of Burma, the Birman has a more recent history that is almost as colourful. In 1919 two of these cats were sent to Major Gordon Russell in France as a token of gratitude from the priests he had helped to escape from Tibet. The female of the pair subsequently gave birth to kittens, and may have helped found the breed in the West. Birmans were recognized for showing in France in 1925, in Birman in 1966, and in the US a year later.
Amenable, civilized, and gentle, the Birman enjoys family life and adapts well to other animals.
Varieties include the original, "sacred", Seal-point, and also the Blue-point, for which the UK and US standards differ.
A characteristic soft, golden hue to the coat, especially over the back, lends this variety a distinguished appearance.
Tradition has its own story to tell of the development of the Birman. Before the birth of the Lord Buddha, a sacred Burmese temple containing pure white cats was attacked, during which the high priest collapsed and died. His favorite cat jumped onto the old man's head and was suddenly transformed: its coat became golden with points the colour of the Burmese soil, and the eyes turned blue. Where the cat's paws touched the priest, the fur remained white - a symbol of goodness. Encouraged by the miracle, the remaining priests were able to successfully fend off the invaders. However true the tale, the development of this variety was definitely the result of modern selective breeding.
Strongly built, elongated but still quite stocky; neither svelte nor cobby.
Medium in length and silky in texture. The British standard calls for a colour that is beige-gold with blue-grey points; in the US, these cats are bluish-white with deep blue points. Coat is non-matting and stomach fur has a tendency to curl.
Medium in length and bushy, but longer and finer than in most Longhairs.
Medium in length and thick-set.
Paws are large and round, gloved in white. The rear pair should have white gauntlets, extending into "laces" up the back legs with pink paw pads.
Fairly round and broad with full cheeks and a medium-length nose. The US standard requires that the nose is "Roman", and that the forehead is slightly convexed and backward-sloping, with a small, flat area just in front of the ears. And slate-grey nose pad.
Almost round, set well apart, and slightly slanted. Colour should be sapphire-blue.
Should be medium in size, round-tipped and almost as wide at the base as they are tall.
Blue-point and seal-point Kittens
A more appealing group would be hard to picture.