Feline Breed Spotlight: Birman
The Birman cat is also known as the The Sacred Cat of Burma. How this breed came to be is unknown, theories suggest they by may be a result of cross breeding various Siamese, Persian and Angora cats. These cats were imported from Burma to France, where breeding programs established the breed. This breed was almost completely wiped out during World War II, only 2 cats were alive at the end of the war. Breeding programs then started out-crossing with Persian and Siamese cats to rebuild the breed. Birman cats were first imported to the United States in 1959 and were recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1967.
The Birman is a not a solitary cat, they prefer to be with their humans and/or other pets in the house. They are a docile breed with a curious personality. This can lead to then easily getting locked in rooms, as you may not notice them if they follow you into a closet or room and shut the door behind you. Always keep tabs on where your Birman is in the house. These cats may have Siamese ancestry, but they did not keep the vocalization of the Siamese. They are very soft spoken and usually only become vocal if they need something, such as attention or food. Their meow is soft and not yowly like the Siamese. Birmans are very affectionate and make good lap cats. They enjoy cuddling on the couch and being held and carried your arms like a furry baby.
Both pure-bred and domestic mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be either influenced by genetics or environmental factors. The Birman generally a healthy breed and is not associated with many significant health problems, but occasionally the following health concerns may be seen.
Nystagmus is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary rapid eye movement of one of both eyes. This is a normal finding and is common in certain breeds such as the Birman, Balinese and Siamese.
Birmans can also be affected by inflammation of the entire mouth called stomatitis or lymphocytic plasmacytic syndrome (LPS). Feline stomatitis is thought to be autoimmune in nature. The treatment for a severe case of stomatitis is dental surgery with full mouth extractions.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease in cats, and can have a s lightly higher occurrence in Birmans. This disease causes a thickening of the heat muscle and can lead to congestive heart failure.