Things you should
➜ Birmans don’t reach full
maturity until they are about 3
years old. By then, they weigh 6
to 15 pounds — males are larger
— and have a stylish ruff around
➜ Though Birmans’ silky single
coats don’t typically form mats,
you still need to groom them
weekly with a wide-toothed
comb to remove dead hairs and
stimulate blood circulation for
healthy skin and fur. Cats do a
good job of grooming themselves,
but the occasional bath helps
keep Birmans clean, fluffy, and
beautiful. Brush their teeth frequently for fresh breath and good
➜ Healthy Birmans can live
up to 14 years or older. They are
generally healthy, but watch out
for higher than normal levels of
urea, creatinine, or other waste
products in the blood, which can
be related to kidney disease; and
cardiomyopathy, a type of heart
➜ Birmans are from Southeast
Asia. They are said to have been
temple cats in Burma — now
Myanmar — and were once known
as the Sacred Cat of Burma.
Legend has it that when Buddhist
priests died, their souls went into
the bodies of the cats.
➜ Birmans supposedly first
came to the West in 1919, when
a pair was exported to France.
The male died en route, but
the female, who was pregnant,
became the mother of the breed
Birmans in the news
➜ Bentley, a Birman cat from
Lacey, Washington, became the
face of the state lottery’s Cats vs.
Dogs Scratch contest in 2013. His
headshot was featured on a limited edition Scratch ticket.
➜ Designer, artist, and photographer Karl Lagerfeld’s Birman
cat, Choupette, has her own book:
Choupette: The Private Life of a
High-Flying Fashion Cat (Thames &
➜ Miss Australia 2012, Renae
Ayris, enjoys showing off her
Birman cat on Instagram. They
share the same beautiful blue
E L L A T I Kim Campbell Thornton is an
award-winning freelance writer in
Southern California. Her subjects
include pet care, health and behav-
ior, and wildlife and marine life conservation.
➜ Birmans stand out for their pure white feet. These white areas, called
gloves, should end in an even line across the front paws; on the back paws,
the white areas cover the entire paw and taper up the back of the leg. The
white that goes up the leg is known as laces.
➜ It’s traditional for Birman breeders to give all kittens born in a particular year names that begin with the same letter of the alphabet. For instance,
the letter M is scheduled for 2015, so kittens born this year might be named
Molly, Mia, Mimi, Miranda, Marley, Merlin, Milo, or Marlowe. Of course, you
can rename a kitten anything you like.
➜ The Birman’s name comes from the word Birmanie, French for Burma
— now Myanmar — the country where the breed originated.
➜ The palatial Le Bristol hotel in Paris is home to two Birman cats:
Fa-raon and Kléopatre. They have their own suite but can be seen hanging
out at the concierge’s desk, exploring the gardens, or being petted by guests.
Birman kittens are
born white. Their
color develops as
See more ca T
Breed profileS a T
Le Bristol hotel’s resident cats Fa-raon and