Burmese cats are a popular breed of pet cat, both in the UK and America, but the American Burmese has a few distinct differences to the British Burmese due to different breeding programs and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in Britain recognises several more color than the American Cat Fanciers Association.
Burmese Cat Breed Information
The name “Burmese” means fortunate, beautiful, and splendid in the Thai language, and is a very apt description of this lovely cat. The modern Burmese cat breed is split into two distinct sub-groups of cats: the British Burmese and the American Burmese.
Modern Burmese cats are descended from the descendents of a female cat known as Wong Mau who was brought to America from Burma in 1930. Cat registries do not normally recognise the American and British Burmese cat as two separate groups, but occasionally the British Burmese is referred to as a European Burmese.
British Burmese cat characteristics mean they are more oriental in appearance when compared to their American cousins and they have a distinctly triangular face. American Burmese cats tend to be stockier and rounder all over. The Siamese influence is now considered a fault in showing circles, as is the stocky quality often seen in the American Burmese cat.
Burmese cats are known for being extremely vocal and they will often call to their owner. Their meow is softer than that of a Siamese cat, but can be just as persistent when they want attention.
Burmese is a friendly cat and can be taught to fetch toys just like a dog. These cats enjoy being sociable and if allowed out, Burmese cats will soon seek out the company of other people to play with, which is a good reason to keep Burmese cats as house pets. Burmese cats are good with children and dogs, and are happy to play and be played with, even when old age finally catches up on them.
Unlike some other breeds of cat, Burmese are not known for their aggressive qualities and are usually fairly passive in nature. However, they will defend themselves against attack, even when the opponent is considerably larger than they are!
Burmese Cat Colors
When Burmese cats were first recognised as an official breed, they were predominantly a sable brown color, but due to selective breeding practices, there are now a wide variety of other colors found. Different breed registries have different rules as to which colors are acceptable.
In the UK, the Governing Council of Cat Fancy accepts the following colors: brown, blue, chocolate, lilac, red, cream, brown tortoiseshell, chocolate tortoiseshell, lilac tortoiseshell, blue tortoiseshell. In the USA, different cat registries recognise different colors, and some only accept the first four colors. All Burmese cats should have darker shading on their back that gradually lightens up beneath the body. Spots and stripes are not allowed.
Burmese Cat Characteristics
There are a number of Burmese Cats characteristics that make them very popular as pets. They are a beautiful cat and are known for their intelligent and affectionate nature. Very much a “people cat”, Burmese cats seek out human company and are not usually very happy being left alone for long stretches of time.
Burmese are a compact and muscular cat with a thick velvety coat. They are not terribly big, although the male is always larger than the female, but they are quite solid in build and are usually heavier than they first appear. Like Siamese cats, Burmese cats are very vocal. They are an affectionate cat that often develops a very close relationship with their owners.
A relatively small cat, Burmese cats are usually weigh around 4-6 kilograms, although they can be heavier than they first appear due to their muscular frames. A Burmese cat will often live to about 16 or 18 years old, which is older than many other pedigree breeds of cat.
Burmese Cat Behavior Problems
Burmese cats are extremely intelligent cats, which can sometimes lead to Burmese cat behavior problems. They can be a demanding breed of cat and they very much enjoy human interaction. Most Burmese cats live quite happily with their family and never cause any problems at all, but occasionally a Burmese cat behavior problem will manifest itself.
Like other pedigree cat breeds, Burmese cats are sensitive to changes in their home environment and do not always adjust to new pets or babies very well, particularly if they have been the only pet for a long time. Burmese cat behavior problems can take many forms. Some cats show aggression towards a new pet, whereas other will begin vigorously scent marking everything in sight.
What types of negative behavior can a Burmese cat show?
A common Burmese cat behavior problem is scent marking. Many cats exhibit this behavior as a response to the addition of a new cat or dog to the family. The Burmese cat will typically scent mark furniture or curtains in protest. Not only is cat urine extremely unpleasant, it is also very difficult to eradicate the smell due to its chemical composition.
Scratching furniture is another very undesirable trait. This can cause an enormous amount of damage and if you have expensive wooden furniture, you will naturally want to curtail the behavior.
Aggression towards the new pet or baby is a big problem. If the victim is another pet, the balance of power is very often shifted once the new pet is older and more able to defend itself, but if the target is a baby or young child, you have a serious problem.
All three problems can usually be cured by Feliway. This is a natural product designed to relieve stress in cats. Feliway is an artificially produced copy of a feline pheromone. A plug in Feliway diffuser disperses the liquid and within a short time, you should see a reduction in your cat’s behavior problems.
Excessive meowing is a less serious problem, but annoying nonetheless. Burmese cats have a rather loud meow and can be quite demanding when they want attention. The usual solution is to ignore the excessive meowing until the cat learns that meowing is not rewarded with attention.
If the behavior problem manifests itself as obsessive grooming leading to skin problems, you will need to seek the advice of your veterinarian.
Burmese cats are intelligent enough to train, so as long as you avoid rewarding negative behavior with attention, you stand a very good chance of eliminating the problem with patience and persistence. Just remember, your cat cannot tell you when he or she is unhappy, so try and be understanding with your Burmese cat.
Before buying a Burmese kitten, you need to give plenty of thought to whether owning a Burmese kitten is going to be right for you and your family. Burmese cats are not like other breeds of cats: they are demanding and need lots of human interaction.
If you work long hours and the kitten is likely to be left alone for long periods of time, this will not be ideal and you will probably end up with an unhappy Burmese cat. Worse still, if you allow your new Burmese kitten the freedom of roaming in the outside world, it is likely to go looking for companionship elsewhere, and since Burmese cats have very little road sense, that could end in disaster.
The other scenario is that your Burmese kitten will sleep all day while you are out, and then decide to play all night while you want to sleep! Or worse, seek therapy by destroying your home in new and inventive ways!
Burmese kittens are great fun. Like many pedigree cats, Burmese are very intelligent and have strong personalities. They will tear around and keep you amused for hours with their playful antics. One kitten will be playful on its own, but two will be exhausting to watch. You may need to place all valuable ornaments safely away in locked cupboards, or alternatively stick them down with sticky pads to avoid any unnecessary accidents.
Treat a Burmese kitten in the same way you would a small child: think ahead for potential danger zones and place them off limits or make them safe. Be particularly conscious of upper level hazards such as cooker tops, as Burmese cats are very prone to jumping up and seeking out high spaces to explore.
Burmese kittens will accept other animals in the home and are tolerant of dogs. However, this is on the assumption that the dog knows its place in the family hierarchy: Burmese cat—you—dog. The dog will always be bottom of the pack and as long as the dog is happy to accept that, you will have no problems.
Once you have made your decision and are ready to take on a Burmese kitten, always buy from a registered Burmese cat breeder.
Never buy a Burmese kitten (or any kitten) from a breeder who cannot show you the kitten’s mum, and ideally the dad as well (although this will be less likely as many breeders use stud cats from different owners). Ideally kittens should have been raised in a family environment and socialized well with people: beware the breeder who keeps their cats in outdoor pens with very little human interaction.
Burmese kittens should be friendly, inquisitive, and healthy looking, Never buy a kitten that appears to be sick in any way—you might feel sorry for it, but buying it will only encourage the breeder to continue with their irresponsible practices.
Once you have found your Burmese kitten, take him or her home, and look forward to your life-long love affair with the Burmese cat!
Burmese Cat as a Pet
Burmese cats enjoy human company and always prefer to have company. They are a very sensitive cat and are very good at interpreting human moods and feelings. Burmese are very good at picking up when you need some extra TLC and will immediately plonk themselves on your lap for a cuddle.
Whilst some cats do not mind being left alone for periods of time, Burmese cats are not suited to this and are likely to become distressed. This can manifest itself in many ways, including some destructive ones! If you leave your cat at a cattery for a week while you go on holiday, do not be surprised to find your cat refuses to talk to you when you return to collect them. Your cat will probably sulk for a couple of days as a protest for being abandoned.
Burmese cats are very intelligent and you will discover that you can teach your Burmese cat a few tricks. Like dogs, Burmese cats enjoy fetching and retrieving toys as part of a game and they still act like kittens even when they are quite elderly! They are usually quite tolerant of other cats and dogs, although they can sometimes object to the arrival of a new cat as they do tend to consider themselves “top cat”.
Not as temperamental as some pedigree breeds of cat, the Burmese cat makes a wonderful pet. They are great with kids and enjoy the interaction that children can offer, although as with all cats, you need to be careful when you have very young children.
They are a very friendly cat and if allowed outside, they are likely to make friends with everyone who lives nearby. Unfortunately, this can make then targets for theft and as a result, Burmese cats are better kept as house cats. They are usually quite happy to stay indoors, but if you have the space, you can always build an outdoor enclosure in your garden. If you wish to exercise your Burmese cat, they will tolerate a cat harness and lead, and you can walk the cat in the same way you would a dog.
Burmese Cat Lifespan
Burmese cats are fairly long-lived and often live to 15 years plus. If you are looking for a pet cat that is both affectionate and intelligent, Burmese are definitely a good choice. They make great family pets and will soon become a much loved part of the family.