~ burmese breed description ~

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 pinkish cast.
  • 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 red.
  • 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 adulthood. 

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 enthusiast.

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 questions. 

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 sources:


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