According to Legend, Priests Have Reincarnated Into Birman Cats

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January 08, 2016 | 24,586 views

Story at-a-glance

  • The Birman cat is also known as the Sacred Cat of Burma and there is quite a legend surrounding how the breed originated
  • Birmans are beautiful creatures with two distinctive features: sapphire blue eyes and white paws or “gloves”
  • This friendly, playful cat is a good choice for families with kids and multi-pet households
  • If you’re thinking of adding a Birman cat to your family, be sure to check your local shelters and rescue organizations for adoptable cats

By Dr. Becker

The Birman cat is also known as the  “Sacred Cat of Burma,” and there is quite a legend surrounding how the breed originated. Birmans are beautiful creatures with two distinctive features: sapphire blue eyes and white paws or "gloves."

This friendly, playful cat is a good choice for families with kids and multi-pet households. If you're thinking of adding a Birman cat to your family, be sure to check your local shelters and rescue organizations for adoptable cats.

8 Fascinating Facts About Birmans

The Birman Is Also Known as the ‘Sacred Cat of Burma’

The mythical legend of the stunning Birman breed, according to Cattime.com:

"The Sacred Cat of Burma, as the Birman is sometimes called, is said to have acquired his striking appearance through the intervention of a blue-eyed goddess, who rewarded a temple cat's love for and devotion to his priest by turning his white coat golden and changing his yellow eyes to blue. His paws remained white as a symbol of his purity.

Ever since, the temple cats have borne the goddess's marks of favor, and it was said that priests who died were reborn into the cats' bodies."

The Real Origin of the Birman Remains a Mystery

The Birman is a domestic cat breed whose name is derived from the word Birmanie, which is the French form of Burma. The breed was first recognized in France in 1925, followed by England in 1966, and the U.S. Cat Fanciers' Association in 1967.

There is no clear record of the breed's origin, but the Birman is most often reported as having originated in Northern Burma. The breed nearly disappeared during World War II, with only two cats remaining at the end of the war.

The offspring of that pair were bred with Persians and Siamese to reestablish the breed.

The Birman Is a Gorgeous Cat

The Birman is a medium-sized cat of 6 to 12 pounds with a rectangular body and a broad face. Her ears are as wide at the base as they are tall, and her eyes are a deep sapphire blue.

The Birman's coat is medium-long and silky to the touch, and there's no undercoat. The coat color is pointed except for pure white paws that are a hallmark of the breed. Point colors include seal, chocolate, blue, a soft silver-grey, red, and cream. There are also tabby and tortoise shell coats.

Birman kittens are born white and their points begin to show at one week if they're dark, and two or more weeks if the points are a lighter color. The coat doesn't reach full development until the cat is 2 years old.

Birmans Resemble Siamese … Except for the Yowling

Birmans look similar to Siamese, but without the distinctive meow. This kitty is calm and quiet, and loves people. Birmans like to be included in whatever their humans are doing, and enjoy being held.

The Birman is intelligent and inquisitive, so it's a good idea to keep a careful eye on him.

The Birman Is a Good Family Cat

Birmans are outgoing and relaxed, which makes them a good choice for families with gentle, respectful kids. They also enjoy the company of cat-friendly dogs and other cats, and do best in multi-pet households.

The Birman Is a Generally Healthy Cat

Genetic health issues seen in Birmans include congenital hypotrichosis (born without hair), an immune deficiency disorder called thymic aplasia, corneal dermoid, spongiform degeneration (a disease of the central nervous system), and feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (heart disease).

The Birman Coat Is Easy to Maintain

The silky texture of the Birman coat means it doesn't mat easily. A weekly combing to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils will keep your cat's long coat in good condition.

This breed sheds their winter coat in the spring, so more frequent combing may be required during shedding season.

Birmans Prefer Terra Firma to High Perches

Birmans like to keep their paws on the ground, so yours isn't likely to climb your drapes or perch atop your fridge.

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