Burmese Cats: History, Types, Characteristics and Care

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Burmese cats have a short-haired, glossy coat and are muscular with small, rounded heads and round wide-set eyes. Their eye color may be either yellow or golden. Their tails are straight and medium in length, and their coat is fine, glossy and has a satin-like texture. Burmese cats, as kittens possess a finely textured, glossy coat that darkens from an initial milk-chocolate color to a rich sable brown as adults. Originally all Burmese cats were a uniform dark brown color, but have been bred to include a variety of colors including Brown, Sable, Champagne, Blue, Lilac, Platinum, Red, Cream, Fawn, Cinnamon, Tortoiseshell and Chocolate. Their underside is paler than the coat; the ears, face, legs, and tail may be darker. The tail is pointed and may be either straight or kinked near the tip. These slight variations occur across different breeds. [1]

Burmese cats originated in Thailand, and experts believe they have their roots near the present Thai-Burma border- although Burmese cats were developed in the United States and Britain. Modern-day Burmese cats are descendants of a brown female cat named Wong Mau, which was imported into San Francisco by Dr. Cheeseman Thompson in the year 1930, who considered the cat’s build to be as different from the Siamese breed as to be considered a separate breed. So he bred Wong Mau with Tai Mau, a seal point Siamese, and then bred with her son to produce a litter of dark brown kittens that become the progenitors of a new distinctive strain of Burmese cats.

Six years later, in 1936, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) granted the breed formal recognition. Continued extensive outcrossing with Siamese cats to increase the population, the original type was overwhelmed and the CFA suspended breed recognition a decade later. American breeders persisted in their attempts to refine the unique Burmese standard and in 1954 the CFA lifted the suspension permanently and four years later the United Burmese Cat Fanciers (UBCF) put together an American judging standard that has since remained unchanged.

Burmese cats are generally healthy animals but then every animal has its health issues and possible challenges, the Burmese cats are no different. Specific health challenges to watch out for include diabetes mellitus, acute teething disorder, and hypokalemia which is a genetic disease characterized by low potassium levels. Interestingly enough, certain breeds of Burmese may be susceptible to a particular disease or disorder, while completely disregarding the other. For example, the Burmese cat breeds in Europe and Australia bear a greater risk of contracting diabetes mellitus, and some Burmese bloodlines in the United Kingdom suffer from the aforementioned acute teething disorder and other British bloodlines also suffer from hypokalemia – although the causative gene is recessive, and both parents need to be carriers before kittens develop this problem.[2]

Symptoms of hypokalemia include skeletal muscle weakness, occurring from time to time and affecting either the whole body of the cat or its neck muscles. As a result of this, the cat may experience some difficulty in walking and holding their head correctly and in extreme cases, the condition may result in death if left unattended. Hypokalemic cats can usually lead a normal, healthy life if they get the proper potassium supplement as recommended by a veterinarian.

Burmese cats generally have low grooming needs. They have a soft, low maintenance coat that does not shed much and with a weekly brushing session, their coats will look shiny and lovely. Cat owners may also wish to trim their nails and clean their ears. A grooming session should start with the use of a soft brush to remove loose hair. When this is done, give the cat a final polishing with a soft chamois cloth. Also, trim the nails weekly and clean the cat’s ears when they look dirty. Use a gentle cleanser, preferably one recommended by your veterinarian. Brush the teeth often with vet-approved toothpaste for overall health. The earlier you start the weekly grooming sessions, the quicker your kitten becomes accepting of it. [3]

Burmese cats are a small to medium-sized breed and generally measure between 10 – 12 inches in height. Burmese cats are muscular, packing a lot of dense muscles in a short, compact body and as such, they do have a lot of weight and feel heavy for their size. Burmese cats may weigh between 6 – 10 pounds [4]

Kittens are active and curious and will adapt quite easily to changes. They love climbing and jumping and can be trained to fetch and sit, and may display some distinctly puppy-like characteristics. However, the adult Burmese will often resort to watching instead of getting involved with any activities. Their love of activity remains though, and they can be oftentimes found sitting by a windowpane, where they can easily observe the world outside.

The lifespan of the average Burmese cat is variable, and a cat owner should expect that their feline companion may live for a period of nine to thirteen years, although some cats may live up to seventeen years if properly maintained. Unlike other cat breeds, Burmese are not to be left alone for extended periods or they may develop feline depression. Also, they need a specific diet to grow strong and healthy and must be cared for to reduce the risk of diseases and infections. Generally, these cats are a healthy breed, and you are more likely to get a healthy kitten than not.

You can get a Burmese cat from cat dealers and you may find one at your local pet shelter from time to time. However, it is better to patronize cat dealers, as they are more likely to have the animals in stock. Burmese cats are less expensive than other pedigree cat breeds, and the average asking price for pedigree cats was £580 and £498 for non-pedigree cats as at August 2019 [5]

Say you’ve decided to buy a Burmese cat. How exactly does one go about it? The first step in buying a Burmese is to find a cat dealer with Burmese stock. Depending on the availability of kittens, you may be put on a waiting list, and do ensure you go to a dealer that does health testing on the kittens. You should request for evidence of such testing and the results.

Also, you may want to test the parent cats before picking a kitten to detect any markers of Burmese Head Defect, hypokalemia and GM2 gangliosidosis so you can make an informed choice. Use the web to search for available Burmese cats in your area if you wish to, but note that it would be expedient to see the kittens up close before making a purchase. Also, you may want to reach out to other cat owners so you can know what to expect, and if possible, try to schedule a visit with a veterinarian or some other expert who can assess the general health and well-being of the kittens before purchase.

Apart from such basics as a litter box and cat food, raising a Burmese cat means you would have to be aware of certain risk factors specific to the breed. For example, you may need to monitor their eating, as they are more prone to developing diabetes and obesity than other cat breeds. Warning signs include increased drinking, increased urination, and inappropriate urination- the cat may start to pee where she shouldn’t. Also, you need to get your cat vaccinated against distemper, feline leukemia, and rabies. You should get your cat vaccinated against other diseases, and your local veterinarian would advise you accordingly. Also, ensure you deworm your cat and schedule regular checkups to monitor its health and growth.

Apart from the aforementioned, Burmese cats also require exercising to keep them in shape- interactive games and toys such as laser lights and fake mice would do. Ensure your cat is groomed weekly, to keep its fur shiny and clean and clean up her litter box too. Burmese cats need specific nutrients to avoid certain health issues, so ensure that your cat food has plenty of natural meat sources and avoid any food with meat byproducts or grains as ingredients.

Burmese cats are social and thrive on attention; as such it may be wise to plan accordingly if you intend to bring a Burmese home. They require time and attention, and if you will leave your cat for long periods, then consider getting another Burmese so it has a playmate. They enjoy been petted and cuddled and will follow you everywhere you go.

Burmese cats are like puppies. They play, run, climb, jump and follow their owners around. Their natural curiosity also means that they want to get involved with anything you’re doing and will most likely investigate when they see you occupied with a task. They also make frequent vocalizations and would respond if you talked to them, making it seem like they are carrying on a conversation. They are people friendly and would adapt easily to seeing strangers in the house, as well as the presence of dogs and children. They have a high activity level and get along easily with other pets.

They are not very independent, so you can expect that your cat will hang around you a lot, purring, playing and trying to get you involved in one activity or the other. After playing games of fetch or hide and seek, they are likely to lounge about and would find the top of whatever you’re occupied with at the moment a prime spot to do just that. Burmese cats have a unique rasp, a throaty voice and like to use it. So they will express themselves when something bothers them, they’re hungry or just want to play. [6]

They also love to gaze at and admire the outdoors and may spend some time at the windowpane doing just that. They don’t just love watching, they also love being watched, and will gaze at you while in the middle of some crazy antic or the other to ensure you’re watching and you had better be! If you happen to be otherwise occupied, they will walk up to you and stare, and stare, and stare, and if that doesn’t work, well there’s nothing else to it but they simply get in your lap, to get your attention. They are pretty good breeders, and the male cats would happily babysit its kittens if needed.

Quite uncommon among cats, Burmese cats tend to seek out their owners for affection and don’t like to be left alone for too long and are as a whole considered to be very affectionate, warm, social and loving pets. They will follow you about and cling to you whenever they get the chance, meowing as they do. They like to share their owner’s beds, and will jump in your lap the moment they see it’s empty, sometimes even when it’s not! With their boundless energy and curiosity, Burmese cats make great pets for families with children as they would play for hours on end if given the chance.

They seem to enjoy being watched and will often show off, displaying tricks and getting up to all sorts of hijinks if there’s an audience. They don’t mind being cuddled and kids may be allowed to pet these cats or brush their fur. They are child and dog-friendly as their sociable nature means they delight in making new friends. Burmese cats are amusing, playful and smart; more so than the average cat.

Females are intelligent and highly curious, quite active and emotionally involved with their owners; males share these traits as well but are a bit more moderate in temperament. Burmese cats are a playful breed, and their natural curiosity and desire to play is coupled with a lot of energy, and as such, owners should expect that the cats would have the full run of the house, exploring every nook and cranny and playing with items that catch their interest such as strings and ribbons. Burmese cats require periodic visits to the vet, weekly grooming sessions, good and healthy cat food, exercise and lots of time, love and care. They do well with active families or people with other pets.

There are two standard breeds of Burmese cats, the British breed and the American breeds. The British breed (also known as the traditional Burmese) has a slender body, with a wedge-shaped head. Their ears are large and pointed, and their muzzles long and tapering. Their eyes are shaped like almonds and they have long legs.

The American breed has a stockier build, a much larger head, round eyes, and a much shorter and flatter muzzle. Their ears are set wider apart than their British cousins and their legs and tails are proportionate to their body size. Burmese cats are different from other cat breeds in that they are the ultimate companion cats. While most cats may briefly tolerate your company and seem to adore being fed and promptly left alone, Burmese cats enjoy interacting with people and keeping them entertained. They are somewhat territorial and may get involved in clashes with other neighborhood cats if left unattended outdoors. Like other cats, they possess a measure of stubbornness and a strong personality.

In summary, getting a Burmese is no easy task, but nothing worth doing ever is. Burmese are stubborn and demanding, affectionate and social. They require a lot of time and attention, need exercise and grooming, and hate to be restrained, although they take easily to being leashed- it means they can spend more time around you of course! They tend to be very devoted to their owners and are sometimes jokingly referred to as Velcro cats, given their tendency to follow you around and stick close like they are attached to you through some means.

The Burmese aren’t blindly devoted to their owners though and often display a stubborn streak, engaging their owners in contests of wills, for example, you may not want to share your bed with your cat, but it loves to snuggle. In such instances, no matter how many times you take it out of the bed, it will find its way back until you give up, or a suitable compromise is reached.


  1. www.en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/burmese_cat
  2. www.gokitty.com/breed/profile/cat-breed-info/European-burmese
  3. www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-burmese-cat-before-you-buy-one
  4. www.vetstreet.com/cats/burmese#1_ui8palii
  5. www.veterinarians.com/features/a-guide-to-the-burmese-cat/
  6. www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/burmese/

Cite this paper

Burmese Cats: History, Types, Characteristics and Care. (2021, Jun 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/burmese-cats-history-types-characteristics-and-care/



What are the characteristics of Burmese cats?
Burmese cats are very intelligent and have a playful personality. They are also very affectionate and love to be around people.
What are the different types of Burmese cats?
There are three types of Burmese cats: the American Burmese, the British Burmese, and the Traditional Burmese. The American Burmese is the most popular type in the United States.
What can I expect from a Burmese kitten?
Burmese kittens are typically very playful and loving. They are also known for being very intelligent and curious, which can sometimes lead to them getting into trouble.
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