Birman cat breed information and advice

The Birman is also known as the Sacred Cat of Burma. The breed name comes from the French name for Burma, Birmanie. However, there is no clear record of the origin of the Birman breed. It may be that the cats were kept by temple priests in Burma (now Myanmar). Legend has it that a pair of breeding cats were given as thanks to two soldiers for defending the temple. The soldiers returned to France in 1919 taking the cats with them. The breed was almost wiped out during World War II, but was rebuilt through breeding with Persian and Siamese cats. Birmans were introduced into the UK in the 1960s.

With their silky coat, blue eyes, white paws, and bushy tail, Birmans are a beautiful breed of cat. They’re also affectionate, gentle and make great companions. This breed guide will give you advice on how to care for your Birman cat.

Birman cat facts

Lifespan 12-16 years
How much £500
Size medium to large
Weight 5+ kg
Grooming moderate
Temperament affectionate, gentle, curious
Exercise low


Birman cats have sapphire-blue round eyes with white gloves and socks. They’re known as a pointed breed, so colour develops on their face, ears, legs, and tail. Birman kittens are born white with their point colours gradually developing after they are a week old. Twenty coat colours are seen, with the original and most popular being the seal-point. But they also come in blue point, lilac point, white, tortie point, chocolate, red, and cream.


Birman cat insurance

The Birman is generally a healthy breed of cat. But it’s always a good plan to protect your Birman cat with insurance. Having Birman cat insurance can help cover the cost of vet bills for surgery and medication. It can also help with any ongoing expenses and vet visits.

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance

With Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance, you can take out a cat insurance policy as long as your Birman is over 8 weeks and less than 10 years old. If you take out an insurance policy before they’re 10, the cover will be continued year after year. So, no need to worry about mounting health bills as your cat ages.

Vet nurses are on hand 24/7 to answer any of your pet health queries. And you can also manage your policy online with My Pet Portal.

How to care for your Birman cat breed

Birman cats are an easy breed to care for. Provide them with a balanced diet, daily exercise, weekly grooming and lots of attention and you’ll both be fine.

Burmese cats should be fed a high-quality cat food that matches their age, activity levels and health needs. Ask your Burmese breeder which cat food they used and continue with this brand. If you want to change their cat food, do so gradually to avoid any tummy upset. Feed according to the recommendations on the packet so you don’t overfeed them.

BBirmans are semi-longhaired cats. Their silky coats have no undercoat, which makes it less prone to matting. All they need is a weekly brush or comb to keep their coat in good condition. Birmans are not known to like water so, if you want to bath your cat, try to start bathing them when they are young so that they get used to it.

There are no special exercise needs for the Birman cat, but regular playtime will help to keep them at a healthy weight. They’re suited to being indoor cats.

Birmans are intelligent and will be interested in whatever you are doing. You can train your cat to do tricks such as playing fetch, which is a great form of exercise. They will also enjoy interactive play and puzzle toys. And after playtime, they’ll happily curl up on your lap for a nap.

As an intelligent breed, you’ll also find your Birman will pick up toilet or litter training quickly.



Temperament and behaviour

With a laid-back, sweet nature and a soft, quiet voice these cats love human company. And they don’t like to be alone all day so consider getting a littermate or another companion cat – they’ll get on with cat-friendly dogs as well. The good news is they don’t have a high prey drive, so you’re less likely to be left any unexpected presents.

Common health problems

Birmans can be affected by the usual health problems such as obesity, hyperthyroidism and kidney problems seen in many other cat breeds. However, there are a few conditions associated with the breed that you should be aware of. Make sure your cat has regular vet health checks. Taking out Birman pet insurance will take care of the costs associated with these health conditions.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM is the most common heart disease in cats and can be inherited in Birmans. The heart muscle becomes thick and leads to heart failure. Screening using ultrasonography can identify cats with the condition, and affected cats should not be bred from.

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease or AD-PKD is an inherited condition that has been known to affect Birmans. This causes cysts to form in the kidneys. Affected cats usually develop signs of kidney disease between 3-10 years of age. There’s no cure, but there are treatments that may help to improve the cat’s quality of life. Affected cats should not be allowed to breed.

Congenital hypotrichiosis is a rare condition that can be inherited in Birman cats. Affected kittens will be born hairless or with a less than normal amount of fur. They’re more susceptible to infections and have a shortened life expectancy. A genetic test is now available so that cats carrying the mutated gene can be identified.

Birmans can be affected by a congenital defect known as a corneal dermoid. This is a condition where hair grows on the cornea or on the conjunctiva in the eye. Surgery may be needed to remove the hair.



Can Birman cats go outside?

Birmans are usually kept as indoor cats and most are happy to be just that, a house cat, but some may enjoy going outside. If they’re allowed outside, make sure that the space is enclosed and safe for them to explore.

How long do Birman cats live?

Birman cats will live to 12-16 years.

Do Birman cats shed?

Birmans have a semi-longhaired coat but have no undercoat. This makes their coat less prone to matting. They’re also less prone to shedding which is good news if someone in your family has an allergy.

How much is a Birman cat?

The average price of a Birman is £500, but make sure that you buy one from a reputable breeder. Ask to see the queen and stud cat if possible, to check that they are healthy and friendly.

So, is a Birman cat right for you?

Birmans are suited to most households. These sociable and easy-going cats will fit in with families with children and other pets. However, it’s always wise to supervise young children around pets. Birmans enjoy company so if you’re out all day, they may need a littermate or companion cat to keep them from getting lonely and bored.

Vetstream Ltd (online) Birman. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://vetstream.com/treat/felis/freeform/birman

Serena Brownlie, Phil Fox, Philip K Nicholls, Penny Watson (online) Heart: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/treat/felis/diseases/heart-hypertrophic-cardiomyopathy.

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Dennis E Brooks, Peter Renwick, David Williams (online) Cornea: dermoid. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://vetstream.com/treat/felis/diseases/cornea-dermoid. 



Content provided from Vetstream's Vetlexicon Felis www.vetstream.com/treat/felis