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10 Interesting Birman Cat Facts For All Cat Lovers To Enjoy

Beth Crane

By Beth Crane

Birman Cat
Image Credit: Borkin Vadim, Shutterstock

Birman cats are a breed shrouded in mystery. From their deep blue eyes and alluring coats, Birmans have an allure of regality and mysticism, which may have given rise to their temple cat origin story.

Despite their lofty looks, the Birman is a sweet-natured and loving breed that adores their people. Loving nothing more than curling up on their owner’s laps, the Birman has an undeniably interesting history! Read on to discover it and more below as we discuss 10 interesting Birman Cat facts.

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The 10 Facts About Birman Cats

1.  Their Origin Is a Mystery

Birman cats have many origin stories, but they all seem to point to their namesake: Burma (now called Myanmar). Otherwise known as the “Sacred Cat of Burma,” the Birmans are said to have been the product of temple cats.

Legend tells of a white cat with yellow eyes who was the faithful companion of a temple priest in Myanmar. When the priest died, the cat lamented and placed his paws on his owner’s body in sorrow1.

A blue-eyed temple goddess saw this devotion and decided to bless the cat, transforming it with color and beauty. Golden coloring appeared on its coat, and its eyes turned sapphire blue. Only the cat’s paws stayed white where they touched the priest as a mark of purity.

Of course, this is only a story. However, the actual origin of the breed is still unknown. They likely originated in France, as “Birmanie” is French for “Burma.”


2. They Have Nine Coat Colors

birman cat in a studio
Image Credit: Nynke van Holten, Shutterstock

Traditionally, Birman cats are thought of as having a darker point coloring paired with snow-white fur, such as Seal-point mimicking the Siamese coat pattern. However, more colors have been introduced into the breed. Colors range from dark (such as seal point and chocolate) to light (such as lilac) and patterned points. The colors include the following:

  • Seal Point
  • Chocolate Point
  • Lilac Point
  • Blue Point
  • Red Point
  • Cream Point
  • Tabby Point (any of the prior listed colors)
  • Tortie Point (any of the prior listed colors)
  • Tortie Tabby Point (any of the prior listed colors)

3. They’re Intelligent and Calm

While Birman cats are well known for their beautiful coats and striking eyes, their temperament is what they’re famed for. Birmans have a calm, very gentle demeanor, which makes handling them a delight.

They’re very loving and always want to be close to their owners. Birmans are also intelligent and easy to train because of their willingness to learn.


4. They Have a Single-Layered Coat

birman cat lying on bed
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Birmans have fluffy, full, and beautiful coats similar to the Persians. However, the Birman’s coat is much easier to care for! Birmans have a single-layered coat, and they don’t have an underlayer of fur.

They don’t have intensive grooming needs like some other longer-haired breeds. Birmans only need a weekly brush to keep them in top condition and remove tangles, which also helps spread conditioning oils.

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5. They Are Susceptible to Some Health Conditions

Unfortunately, Birman cats are susceptible to specific health conditions. Like some other breeds, Birmans are susceptible to conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an inherited disease of the heart.

Birmans are also more likely to suffer from feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) and a newly discovered condition known as feline audiogenic reflex seizures. FIP can be vaccinated against, and while HCM is a progressive disease, it can be managed and slowed with medication.


6. They’re Loved by Celebrities

Birman cat eating
Image Credit: Patrik Slezak, Shutterstock

Birmans are beautiful cats with loving personalities, and it’s no surprise they’ve made waves in the celebrity world. The famous fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld owned a Birman named Choupette, who traveled with him everywhere.

She flew by private jet and made money by starring in a makeup commercial for Shu Uemura. Lagerfeld also quoted that Choupette was an “heiress” even though she made her own money. Some of Lagerfeld’s collections were also rumored to be inspired by the beloved Birman.


7. They Nearly Went Extinct in World War II

Birmans were first brought to Europe in 1919, arriving in France and formally recognized by an awarding body in 1925. They gained popularity quickly, but the arrival of the Second World War decimated the population. By 1945 and the end of the war, only a handful of Birmans were left on the European continent.

Luckily, a breeding program was reinstated, and the breed began to recover. Birmans were shown again and made their way to Britain thanks to Elsie Fisher, who fell in love with the cat at the Paris Cat Show in 1965. The Birman finally made their way to the US in 1959.


8. They Have a Unique Naming Tradition

sealpoint birman cat outdoor
Image Credit: Patrik Slezak, Shutterstock

Birman breeders have a unique naming tradition for their cats. Each kitten born in a specific year is named after the corresponding letter of the alphabet. For example, in 2007, Birman cats born were registered with names beginning with the letter “E.” In 2023, the letter is U! This continues and begins again with the letter A when 26 letters have been used.


9. Birman Kittens Are All Born White

All Birman kittens are born completely snow white, much to the surprise of first-time breeders! It is because their colors darken as they age. For example, dark colors like seal point or chocolate will begin darkening within a week, whereas lighter colors like lilac can take up to 14 days or longer to appear!

Like their colors, the Birman’s coat takes a while to mature fully. The coat’s full length, thickness, and furnishing can take up to 2 years to develop, making them look smaller and less fluffy until then.


10. They Can Display Compulsive Behaviors

Woman cuddling a birman cat
Image Credit: Stokkete, Shutterstock

Birman cats, for all their wonderful traits, can display rather odd behaviors. Compulsive behaviors are classified as repetitive, exaggerated behaviors that are usually caused by stress or anxiety.

However, exotic breeds like the Birman and Oriental seem more prone to behaviors such as wool-sucking or excessive vocalizations, which can be passed down through familial lines. Reinforcement of the behavior can exacerbate the problem, and distraction is sometimes recommended. If your Birman’s behavior seems excessive, you should speak to your veterinarian.

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Conclusion

Birmans are beautiful cats with many mysteries surrounding them. From their Sacred Cat of Burma status and the legend of the blue-eyed Goddess to the yearly letter naming tradition, Birman cats are as intriguing as they are beautiful. When you add their calm and gentle temperament, it’s no wonder they’re popular despite being rare!

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Featured Image Credit: Borkin Vadim, Shutterstock

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