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CFA Pedigreed Breed: Birman

The Birman cat is believed to have originated in Burma, where it was considered sacred, the companion cat of the Kittah priests. Legend has it that the Birman's coloring is symbolic: golden body and blue eyes for the blue-eyed sun goddess Tsun-Kyan-Kse; brown face, legs, and tail represent the Earth; and white paws for purity.

The modern history of the Birman is almost as shrouded in mystery as its legendary origin. What is known for certain is that, probably around 1919, a pair of Birman cats were clandestinely shipped from Burma to France. The male cat did not survive the arduous conditions of the long voyage, but the female, Sita, did survive; happily, she was pregnant.

The ideal Birman is a large, long, stocky cat. It has long silky hair, not as thick as that of the Persian, of a texture that doesn’t mat. The color of the coat is light, preferably with a golden cast, as if misted with gold. The points -- face, legs, and tail -- are darker, similar to the Siamese and colorpointed Persian color patterns of seal point, blue point, chocolate point, and lilac point. The almost-round eyes are blue, set in a strong face with heavy jaws, full chin, and Roman nose with nostrils set low. The very distinctive white feet are, ideally, symmetrical. The gloves on the front feet, if perfect, go across in an even line, and on the back feet end in a point up the back of the leg, called laces. It is very difficult to breed a cat with four perfect white gloves.

The Birman personality is marvelous -- gentle, active, playful, but quiet and unobtrusive if you are busy with other things.

Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc. (c) 2011