The Sacred Cat of Burma (or Birman) is one of the most fascinating of cat breeds, as is the history surrounding the origins of these stupendous felines.
According to legend, many centuries ago, in Burma (Birmanie in French, which explains the name of this breed), there used to be a monastery where Kittah priests adored Tsun Kyan Kse, a goddess with golden body and sapphire blue eyes. The monastery was also the home of Sihn, a white cat with yellow eyes that the high priest held as an oracle. One day, this sacred place was attacked by infidels, who killed the monks, including the high priest. When he was in his deathbed, Sihn climbed over his body and stared at the goddess’s face, who then transformed it: its fur became as golden as the body of the goddess herself, with earth-coloured points, while its paws, which were touching the high priest’s body, turned a pristine white, a token of purity. The goddess also gave the cat her most beautiful asset, her blue eyes, the colour of the purest of sapphires.
This is the myth that explains the origins of the Sacred Cat of Burma as a breed. It’s hard not to believe it, too, when we think of the fascination that issues from these cats, capable of bewitching everyone with their intensely blue eyes and Siamese-coloured fur. The prince of semi-long-haired breeds, this cat is elegant, carries himself nobly, is medium-sized and boasts a soft, vaporous coat.
Grooming a Birman is not particularly hard, as the absence of an undercoat means its fur is not prone to matting. It’s easy to comb, but be careful not to ruin its thin hairs with excessively energetic movements. The characteristic white gloves on its paws should be kept clean – simply wash them and dry them gently, then brush them to keep them candid white. Having very little undercoat may make grooming easier, but it also means your cat is more sensitive to lower temperatures, if left outside when it’s too cold.
The personality of Birman cats reflects their sweet, regal looks: they’re very calm and affectionate, and they love being cuddled and pampered by their families, suffering when left alone for long. With their calm demeanour, these cats are suitable for life in a flat, even better if a small garden or terrace is available (fenced, please), or perhaps a roomy play area with a scratching post they can use when they feel the need.
These cats are gorgeous, but they’re not really suitable for anyone looking for a bibelot cat. Birman cats have a strong personality and become very attached to their owners, but they’re not particularly sociable. This breed is perfect if you’re looking for a companion for life, who can give you their absolute affection in a low-key manner.