Candy bars aren’t the only things that are chocolate colored and sweet! The Burmese cat breed is beautiful, playful (even as adults), and a bit fearless. These days, they are even accepted by cat fanciers in colors other than their traditional dark brown. Whether you are looking for a silky lap cat or a feline friend to chat about your day with, one of these cats could be right for your family.
Title Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr
Burmese cats have beautiful, striking golden eyes. Their wide-set, round eyes and round head give them an angelic expression that can hide all of the mischief they have planned. They also have muscular medium-sized bodies that are deceptively heavy. Some have called them “bricks covered in silk” for this reason.
Traditionally, these Burmese angels have a dark side – literally. In fact, all of their sides are dark. They are most well known for their rich chocolate brown coats (a color known as “sable”) with even darker point colors. As kittens, the darker points are visible. However, as these cats mature, the main color of their coat grows darker until the points may not be distinct anymore. The coat is short, dense, and lies close to the cat’s body with a very silky texture.
Today, cat fancy associations recognize multiple colors of Burmese cats. Which colors are acceptable varies based on the association. In the CFA, there are 4 colors that are currently recognized:
- Champagne (warm beige)
- Platinum (light gray with fawn undertones)
- Blue (medium gray with fawn undertones)
TICA recognizes coat colors including red and lilac as well. The CFA tends to separate these cats into the European Burmese category.
An Ancient Breed Rekindled
The Burmese cat breed originated naturally in southeast Asia. Written between 1350 and 1760 AD, the Cat Book Poems of Tibet describe dark brown cats along with Siamese and Korat cats. These poems were written by Buddhist monks describing the cats living in the area and their relationship with the people. According to these poems, the local shorthaired brown cats with golden eyes were worshiped as the embodiments of the gods.
In 1930, Dr. Joseph Thompson brought Wong Mau, the cat that would begin the Burmese breed, to San Fransisco, California. Thompson had been living as a Buddhist monk in Yangon, Myanmar (then known as Burma) when he became interested in brown coated cats known to locals as “copper cats”. Many cat fanciers that saw Wong Mau believed that she was a dark Siamese cat, but Thompson, already a breeder of Siamese cats, saw something special in her.
Once in the United States, Thompson began breeding Wong Mau with a Siamese cat. The offspring began to show some interesting results as some kittens would be more typically Siamese and some would have Wong Mau’s darker features. After several litters, Thompson was able to determine that Wong Mau was really a cross between a Siamese cat and a Burmese cat.
From the kittens that showed the Burmese traits, Thompson began developing the modern Burmese breed. These cats were darker in color to their Siamese relatives. As it turns out, the Burmese gene is a member of the albino series of genes. This gene makes black hair appear brown by reducing the pigment in the hair. Other differences include a stockier body and a rounder head shape.
Since some breeders were selling Burmese/Siamese hybrid cats as purebred Burmese cats, the CFA withdrew their recognition of the breed in 1947. It wasn’t until the CFA redefined the breed, accepting only the sable colored coat, that they were reinstated in 1953. Breeders still continued to have disputes about whether or not Burmese cats were really their own breed or just Siamese cats with poor coloring.
In Europe, Siamese cats with varied coat colors were used in the Burmese breeding program. That is why some cat fancy associations accept more coat colors than the CFA does. The European cats tend to look a little more like their Siamese relatives with narrower heads and narrower muzzles. The CFA simply decided to create a separate category for these cats calling them European Burmese.
Cute and Conversational
A Burmese cat is a great choice if you are looking for a feline best buddy! These kitties love their people and always want to be by their sides. Whether they are just following you from room to room or engaged in a game of fetch with you, they enjoy your company. These cats get along well with children and will even get along with dogs – or at least tolerate them.
It is best that these cats are not left alone for long periods of time. They will become bored and lonely. It may be best to have two of them so that they always have someone to keep them company.
Burmese cats are very trusting in nature. It is important to keep these kitties indoors for their own safety. They are likely to trust people that may harm them and be a little over-confident in their own abilities. That fearlessness can be really cute when they are playing with their toys indoors, but it can spell trouble on the streets.
These cats quickly become adorable domestic executives that know just how everything in their home should be done. Females tend to take a more active role in running their home while the males are more laid back. In a soft-spoken way, they will let you know everything that is on their mind. They are great conversationalists!
Considering adding a Burmese cat to your family? Check out these adoptable kitties on Petfinder!