It’s one of the most fascinating and beautiful breeds of cats in the world.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Birman Cats.
1. They are probably from Birma, even though that’s not sure
The Birman cat is most probably native to Burma, a country now referred to as Myanmar in Southeast Asia. A legend tells that these cats were the loyal companions of the temple priests who were living on Mount of Lugh in the northern part of the country.
This story can’t be verified so it remains unclear what their true origin really is, even though it’s generally accepted that they originate from somewhere in Asia.
2. They got their name after they were recognized in France
The reason they are called Birmans is that they were originally brought to Europe via Birma to France. This happened in the 1920s and ever since 1925, the cat has been recognized in this European country by the “Cat Club de France.”
This means that their name simply refers to the country they probably came from as Burma is called “Birmanie” in French.
Because of the legend of their origin, they are also sometimes referred to as the “Sacred Birman” or the “Sacred Cat of Burma.”
3. Birman cats nearly got extinct during World War II
One of the most remarkable facts about Birman cats is that they were nearly completely wiped out during World War II. Remarkable, only 2 Birman cats were still alive in all of Europe, a pair named Orloff and Xenia de Kaabaa.
Through an extensive breeding program that lasted well over a decade and with a lot of crossbreeding with similar long-hair breeds such as Persian and Siamese cats, the breed was able to survive!
4. The breed was recognized in the USA and the UK in the 1960s
The breeding program took several years and finally started to produce pure Birman kittens again in the 1950s. It took well over 2 decades for the war to be finished though before the breed was officially recognized elsewhere in the world.
Birman cats were recognized by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in England in 1966, and by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in the United States in 1967. In Canada, it took even longer but the breed was officially recognized there too.
It wasn’t until the year 1979, however, that the breed was internationally recognized by the International Cat Association!
5. Birman cats were used to create a new breed of cat
One of the most amazing facts about Birman cats is that this breed of cat has some of the lowest levels of genetic diversity of numerous cats that were studied. This means they are very suitable for developing new breeds.
Because of this, a new breed of cat was created called the ragdoll, which was developed in the 1960s and is a combination of Siamese and Birman cats.
6. They are easily recognizable because of point coloration
One of their most distinctive features is point coloration, which simply means that they have an overall pale body with several extremely dark areas.
The clearest example of this is the area in the face of Birmans including their ears, as well as their tail and legs.
7. Birmans can come in a wide variety of colors
One of the most interesting facts about Birman cats is that even though they generally have extremely dark areas on their body, these dark areas can come in a wide variety of colors.
The officially recognized color variations of these pointed areas are seal, chocolate, blue, lilac (a version of light silver or grey), red, or cream, as well as a mix of any of these colors.
8. Not all of their body parts have point coloration
One of the coolest facts about Birman cats is that even though their legs are usually completely dark, their paws have the same pale color as their body!
This means that they appear to be wearing white gloves or socks, something that is considered to be the most unique characteristic of this breed of cat.
9. They have a particular type of nose and fascinating eyes
The point coloration and white gloves on their paws aren’t the only distinguishing characteristics of this breed of cat, they also have a special type of nose and extremely wonderful eyes.
These cats have a relatively broad face and a Roman nose, which means their nose has a relatively large bridge. Their eyes are rounded and have an amazing deep blue sapphire color.
10. Birman kittens are born completely white
The moment Birman kittens are born, they are completely white. It doens’t take too long before the kittens start developing their point coloration though, a process that starts just a week after they are born.
When they are just 14 days old, you can already clearly see the dark areas even though it’s still light-colored. It takes about 2 years before they reach maturity and the dark areas reach their permanent color.
11. You can know how old a Birman is if you know its name
One of the most intriguing facts about Birman cats is that many cat breeders follow the French way of naming kittens. This means that the names of the cats start with the same letter during a particular year.
In 2018, the names of Birman kittens started with the letter “P.” In 2019, they started with the letter “Q” and in 2020 with the letter “R” and so on. This allows you to easily know when a particular cat was born as all you need to do is count.
This also means that kittens born in the year 2026 will have fascinating names because then their names will start with the letter “X!”
12. They tell you when they require attention
So are Birman cats great pets?
If the legend is true and the sacred cats were the companions of temple priests, then surely they must be amazing pets, right?
Well, that’s most certainly true! They are not considered to be as active as short-haired cats, but not as relaxed and laid-back (or plain lazy) as many other breeds of long-haired cats too.
One amazing character trait about Birmans is that they come to you whenever they need some attention. Whenever they received enough, they will wander off until they need another dose!
They are just adorable creatures, aren’t they?