The Burmese Cat - History
The Burmese cat is named after it's country of
origin, Burma (now known as Myanmar). In the early
1930's, Dr. Joseph Thompson of San Francisco
acquired an attractive walnut-brown female from
Burma which he named Wong Mau. There are several
theories as to how the first Burmese came into Dr
Thompson's possession. Wong Mau went on to be the
"founding cat" for the Burmese breed as we know it.
A breeding programme was established in an
attempt to produce offspring which bred true. Dr
Thompson enlisted the help of Virginia Cobb (Newton
cattery), Billie Gerst (Gerstdale cattery), and Dr.
Clyde E. Keeler. Wong Mau was bred to a Seal Point
Siamese called Tai Mau in 1932 & the resulting
litter consisted of two colours, some just like
Siamese kittens & brown kittens with darker points
(like Wong Mau). Wong Mau was mated to a son from
this litter (Yen Yen Mau) & this litter contained
three colours, again, some like Siamese kittens,
brown kittens (again like Wong Mau), and dark brown
kittens. The dark brown offspring did indeed breed
true & became the foundation cats of the Burmese
breed. Wong Mau continued to produce kittens with
three colour variations & it is now accepted that
Wong Mau was in fact a Siamese x Burmese hybrid.
The Burmese cat has ten recognised
colours in South Africa:
- Brown - the original Burmese color, a rich
warm seal brown.
- Blue - a soft blue-gray with a silver sheen.
- Chocolate - a warm milk chocolate.
- Lilac - a pale delicate dove gray with a
- Red - tangerine.
- Cream - cream with a distinct bloom on the
head and back, giving a powdered effect.
- Brown Tortie - brown with shades of red.
- Blue Tortie - blue with shades of cream.
- Chocolate Tortie - chocolate with shades of
- Lilac Tortie - lilac with shades of cream.
Burmese carry surprising weight for their size
and have often been described as 'bricks wrapped in
silk.' with a well muscled, athletic body Their
coats are very short, satin-like in texture, and
require little grooming other than daily petting.
As kittens, Burmese are lively. They often seem
clumsy as they attempt feats beyond their
capabilities. They will be playful well into
Many Burmese have delighted their 'humans' by
learning to retrieve. They love warm laps and
caressing hands and enjoy cuddling up in bed either
under the covers or on top of their favorite human.
Typically, Burmese are always with people. The
females tend to request center stage and take an
active role in ruling the household. The males
prefer to supervise from the lap position, are more
laid back and less opinionated. Burmese often
convert the most anti-cat person into a Burmese
The Burmese is a very friendly inquisitive cat
with an outgoing, loving nature. It has been said
that the Burmese are more like dogs than cats in
their behaviour. They will greet you at the door
when you come home and comfort you when you are ill
or unhappy - they give unconditional love.
They adapt well in large, noisy households
becoming part of the family. They are highly
intelligent with a boisterous, lively and alert
nature. They are also individual, playful, fun
loving, and even tempered. Burmese thrive on
company, adults, children and other pets alike. The
Burmese is an upfront cat, not left out of where it
is all happening. It's a participator - alert,
curious, intelligent, interfering and gregarious:
you cannot ignore it!
The Burmese is an ideal breed for families,
children and older people but for those who want a
less interactive pet, one that will spend its time
in relaxation, the Burmese is not the right choice.
Also, the social nature of the Burmese does mean
that they need company - human and feline. Toys
cannot replace this company. Therefore, if the
kitten is going to be frequently alone the owner
should consider buying two Burmese kittens, ideally
from the same litter. That way the stress of moving
is halved and the cats' temperament is much more
relaxed and loving in the long run. If left in the
home on their own they will want to play all night
and disturb the owner's sleep, also they will find
something to occupy their time. Unfortunately, what
they consider fun we call destructive. This
principle applies to all cats, but with the more
intelligent, social and active breeds such as
Burmese, it is particularly important that they have
company. A happy Burmese is a blessing to the home;
an unhappy one can disrupt the household.
Burmese should never be let outdoors as they are
entirely too trusting and have little, if any,
survival instinct. Their idea of survival is to turn
their soulful eyes on you to attend to all their
needs. This does not work for catching food,
fighting off enemies or avoiding cars.
A Burmese should be purchased only from a
reputable breeder; avoid pet shops. The kittens
should be energetic, curious, and easily handled.
They should also appear healthy, as should all the
cats in the breeder's home. Check for clear eyes and
noses, clean ears and healthy-looking coats. A
breeder should guarantee the health of the kitten or
cat for a reasonable length of time, provide
registration papers (often after the kitten has been
altered), discuss care, and be available to answer
If you be unable to visit the breeder's
home it is advisable to check with the SACC registrar
that the breeder is in good standing.
Information obtained from the following