The Birman is said to have originated in western Burma, and cats with similar markings are recorded in documents from ancient Thailand. One story claims that a pair was given as a gift to an Englishman named Major Gordon Russell and his friend August Pavie by the priests of the Khmer people. The exact year that he and his friend, Auguste Pavie, were actually in the Far East is a matter of dispute. It appears to have been 1898, which agrees with the historical record of certain tribal revolutions related to Buddhism and other religious factions. Some sources quote 1916 or 1919 as the dates of the revolution, but confirming any of these dates has proved questionable. It is acknowledged that Birman cats were first sent to France in 1919, therefore 1916 and 1919 may be more accurate, as the priests gave the men two Birmans in thanks for saving their sect from decimation by the Brahmins. The story is relatively hazy, but claims that two cats were sent to France in 1919 to August Pavie and Major Russell Gordon, and breeding started immediately. The male died on the voyage, but the female survived and was in kitten. However, if the revolution of the Brahmins had been in 1898 there would have been a 21-year gap before the two men received the Birmans, which seems too long to be credible.
Many years ago, before the birth of Buddha, the Khmer people of Burma built wonderful temples to Tsun Kyan-Kse, the Goddess with the sapphire eyes, who presides over the journey of souls, and authorize the priests to live again in a holy animal for the term of its natural life, before taking again in a divine body of a great priest. The most beautiful of these temples, built on the sides of Mount Lugh, contained a dazzling solid gold statue of the Goddess. The priests of the temple also kept one hundred pure white cats not only to guard the temple, but also to exist as companions. The elderly head priest, Mun-Ha, had a particularly loyal feline friend, Sinh, whose eyes were yellow in the reflection of the golden body of the Goddess with the serene eyes.
One tempestuous night, Phoums from Siam attacked the temple overwhelming the Kittahs, and killing the priest Mun-Ha. As he sat dying in his golden throne, Sinh leapt onto his head, and, as he sat rigid before the statue of the Goddess, a miracle transpired. His appearance was transformed to one of immense exquisiteness. His impeccable white coat became creamy and golden tinted, his ears, nose, tail and legs became dark, like the colour of the earth, but left his paws white, and his eyes glowed the same sapphire as the Goddess. He then stared at the south door. The priests, acting upon his direct look, rushed to close the heavy bronze doors.
Eventually, temple was devoid of invaders once more. Sinh, however, stayed upon Mun-Ha’s head for the next seven days with neither food nor water, before, facing the Goddess, he died – carrying Mun-Ha’s soul to Tsun Kyan-Kse… and when, Seven days later, the amassed priests consulted the statue on the succession of Mun-Ha, the remaining ninety-nine cats of the temple ran up, all of which had been transformed like Sinh, surrounded the youngest of the priests. Therefore, the reincarnated ancestors were chosen by the Goddess’s heavenly spirit.
The legend also dictates
that when a priest died, his soul was channelled into the body of a cat
and upon the cat’s death the priest’s soul had entered heaven–
although, according to Major Russell Gordon, ”But woe also to he who
brings about the end of one of these marvellous beasts, even if he did
not mean to. He will suffer the most cruel torments until the soul he
has upset has been appeased.”
Birmans have semi-long,
silky hair, a semi-cobby body and relatively small ears compared to
other cat races. In order to comply with breed standards, the Birman's
body should be of an eggshell colour or golden, depending on the
intensity of the markings colour. The markings can be pure seal,
chocolate, blue, red, lilac or cream. Tabby variations are also allowed.
Tortie cats can be seal, chocolate, blue or lilac. Birmans have sapphire
All Birmans are born white (as other colourpoint kittens are) and they start developing their colours at the age of 1 week if they have a dark colour (as seal-point) and at the age of 14 days, or more, if they have a clear colour (as lilac-point). The first part which develops the colour are the points of ears, nose and tail. The real colour is complete at two years old and after a wintry season.
Points of Sacred Birman are: Seal-point, Blue-point, Chocolate-point, Lilac-point, Seal Tortie-point, Cream-point, Blue Cream point, Chocolate Tortie point, Lilac Tortie point. The same colours in Tabby version (Lynx): Seal Tabby point, Blue Tabby point, Chocolate Tabby point, Lilac Tabby point, Red Tabby, Cream Tabby point, Tortie Tabby point, Lynx or Red Factor colors on the legs, tail and face. Birmans differ from conventional colour-point cats by their white paws called gloves. The coat is medium-length, not as long and thick as a Persian's, and does not mat. A notable feature is their clear blue eyes, which remain blue throughout their life.
The only white area are gloves. A spot of white in other area is a fault in a Sacred Birman cat. Gloves are symmetrical in all four feet. The white must stop at the articulation or at the transition of toes to metacarpals, all fingers must be white too. Behind of the back paws these gloves finish with an inverted V extend 1/2 to 3/4.
Care of Birmans
Birmans have been bred for their temperament, and companionship, and they form a great affinity with their owner and their family. As all cats, they are highly intelligent creatures, and seem to take a genuine interest in whatever is taking place around them. They are also very inquisitive, and playful, particularly when young, and require plenty of stimulation and attention.
Copyright © 1999-2008 Cats'n'Kittens. All Rights Reserved.