The Birmans also can be called as Sacred Burman Cat, however, it does not have relationship with the Burman breed. Birman is similar to the the Himalayan Persian breed with its dark colored markings (on the face, ears, legs and tails) and long hair, but the Birman can be clearly separated from this breed with its white mittens which are probably caused by a recessive gene. A lot of legends and tales were spreaded regarding the origin of the Birman.
Based on the legend, the Sacred Burman Temple Cat was created by a tragical but magical event happened in the Tibetian Lao-Tsun temple. The story goes back to the time before Buddha, when the Khmer people live in South-West Asia built beautiful temples for their gods, especially for the honor of Song-Hyo chief god and Tsun-kyan-Kse goddess. The zapphire blue eyed gold statue of the goddess was stood in the temple of Lao-Tsun and was guarded by 100 snow white cats. One of the cat called Sinh, who was the friend of the old priest, Mun-Ha – who’s silver white beard was spinned by Song-Hyo chief god. One night the temple was attacked by foreign warriors to rob it. They killed Mun-Ha when he was kneeling in front of the statues of the goddess. The soul of the priest moved to the cat, who’s eyes became zapphire blue, like the eyes of the goddess, his face, legs and tails turned to the brown color of the Burman land. The cat’s paws touched the beard of the priest, so they stayed white as the symbol of the purity. The transformation stunned the other priests and gave them enough courage to defeat the attackers. Seven days later Sinh died and carried also the soul of Mun-Ha into the paradise. All of the other temple guardian cats transformed on the next day. Since then the priests protected the golden cats as a saints, because they thought they are responsible for the soul of their dead brother, Mun-Ha.
According to an other story, the 1st Birmans were brought to France by August Pavie French discoverer and Gordon Russell English major in 1919. They were supposed to get a seal colored Birman couple from the priests of the new temple of Lao-Tsun who lived among the Tibetian mountains. The male cat died during the travelling, but the alived female cat was pregnant and she farrowed when they arrived to France. This female cat could be meant the beginning of the awared breeding in France, where the Siamese and the black and white bicolor Persian were also added to the breeding program.
At first, only the seal and the blue colors were well known and trendy. The breed was officially acknowledged in 1925.
Anyway, the Birman is a beautiful breed, which had been widely spread in France, while the population was decimated in the II. world war. After the war the number of the breed decreased only to 2 cats and the regeneration needed more time. The Birmans were brought to England in 1966, to the USA in 1967. The other colors were established there by the breeders involving Siamese and Himalayan cats carrying new color variations.
The variety type shows an intermediate state between the exrtemity of dumpy, heavy-boned and long-bodied fine-boned breeds. Birman is between the Siamese and the Persian with its habit and the length of the hair, but it is a separate breed. The Birman is similar to the Persian with its robust body, strong, stocky legs, round paws and huge, wide, round head. However, both the body and the legs are longer than the Persian’s. Birman has no defined appearance concerning the overall effect, it is more important to have aesthetic, balanced appearance and be calm and good-natured.
The body is long, but not heavy-boned, be strong and healthy. The body shall be solid, but due to the muscle not the fat. The males are bigger than the females.
The head is long, wide and rounded, the face is rather pointy than flat. There is a smaller flat part at the ears, the forehead is slightly cambers. The cheeks are full, the jaws and the chin are strong.
The nose is Roman, medium length, the nostrils are situated low.
The ears are medium sized, not too big, not too small.
The eye color is zapphire blue, the more deeper are they, the better are they. The eye shape is almost rounded, medium or big sized. The relevant is to be harmonic to the size of the head created pleasing look.
The legs are medium length and strong. It is advantageous, if the soles are pink, but they can be pink with the same color like the nose because of the bicolor property.
The tail is medium length, its hair is long and feathery.
The coat is not as fluffy as the Persians hair, but silkyer like the Turkey Angora’s. The hair is long on the body, short around the face, but long at the cheeks. A scarf appears around the neck in the winter, especially on the males. The hair is lighter, almost white and slightly wavy on the belly. The caring of the coat is easy, but needs a regular combing. The color of the coat can be depend on the age like any other breeds has the Himalayan gene (the effect of this gene is that the libs are darker than the body). Therefore the contrast is required between the limbs (ears, mask, legs, tail) and the body. This contrast is the most conspicuous at the younger cats, and fades on the olders. The golden tone is also liked on the back and both sides of the body. It can be seen mostly on the seal colored cats, but it is nice on any other colored Birmans. The mask covers the whole face and connected to the ears with a thinned line. The size and shape of the mittens is significant to define the quality of a Birman. The standard regarding the mittens influences the decision of the judges. Ideally the white mittens on the front legs have same size on both legs and cover the whole paws, and can be separated from the darker hair with a straight line. This description is referred to only the front legs. The best case is when the mittens are ended where the legs are started. As the white spotting is a genetic inheritance which does not depend on the breeding technic, it is hard to reach the ideal appearance.
The following order is preferred at the qualification:
– Corresponding mittens on all of the four legs
-Corresponding mittens on the front legs, but the size of the mittens on the front legs are different from the size on the back legs.
-Corresponding mittens on the front legs, different on the back legs
– Different mittens on the front mittens, corresponding on the back legs
Except that, the white parts (gauntlets) on the back legs must have an upside down V shape. This is a result of a rare recessive genetic property. Ideally both gauntlets must be ended at the same height on the back legs. It is not good, if the gauntlets are ended above the hocks. The judge can not give award or qualification to those cats, whose mittens are missing, or there is a white spot somewhere outside of the mittens/gauntlets. According to these, only the cats with relevant colour failure may be excluded from the breeding. For that the breeder has no effect on the mittens’ quality of the new borned kittens. However, there is a method to reach good results, it is the crossing of the cats with the best and most beautyful mittens. It is the main point of the selective breeding. It you mating cats with ideal mittens with the cats with bad mittens, the quality of the good mittens will be decreased, and the quality of the bad mittens will be increased on the kittens. Although, the second option can not be guaranteed, but the first one can be.
All Birmans are colored, that means their ears, face, tail and legs are darker. The kittens born with white color, the darker colors will be appeared and developed from the second week. At first, the color can be seen on the nose and it is very light on the other body parts. Related to the color variations, the two basic colors (blue and seal) were the average colors in the beginning, then the chocolate, lilac, red and cream color also appeared like at any other breeds contains Himalayan gene. The red color resulted the tortie as well (only the females can be tortie) in seal-, blue-, lilac-, and chocolate- tortie combinations. It was a matter of time to be tabby and tortie-tabby variations. A seal colorred cats have dark brown-, the blue ones has slate-, the chocolate has cinnamon, the lilac has lavender, the cream and red have pink colorred nose.
The Birman is very gentle, intelligent, extremely loyal cat. Their nature reflects the Persian and Siamese elements. Quieter and less active than the Siamese, but not as easy to manage as the Persian. The Birman females achieved the maturity earlier than the Persians – approx. at the age of 7 month – and are usually very provider mothers.