Burmese Cats

History

The first Burmese cat to be seen in the West was a small, brown female called Wong Mau, brought into America from the Far East in 1930. At this point, there was no similar male cat to mate her to and so it was decided that her mate should be a male of the breed with the closest resemblance to herself, a Seal-point Siamese. Her kittens from this litter were hybrids, close to what we now call the Tonkinese. Genetically, it is most likely that Wong Mau herself was a dark variation of  Tonkinese as when one of her sons was mated back to her, the progeny included dark brown cats like herself. These are generally regarded as the first real Burmese cats.

It was not until 1948 that Burmese cats found their way across the Atlantic to Britain. Burmese are not as instantly appealing, glamorous and recognizably pedigree as the Siamese; however, their intelligence and character combined with a marvellous temperament soon won them popularity. They also have the added advantage that their voices are not quite as loud as the Siamese.

As their popularity increased, and more kittens were bred, a great surprise occurred. In 1955, a silvery grey kitten appeared in a litter. It was the first Blue Burmese cat and was name Seal-coat Blue Surprise. This proved that Burmese cats had a similar genetic makeup to Siamese cats: Brown Burmese is genetically equivalent to Seal-point Siamese; Blue Burmese equivalent to Blue-point Siamese. This was just the beginning. In America, a diluted version of the Brown Burmese had been noted, which was called Champagne, and a much paler version of the Blue, which was termed Platinum. These colours correspond to the Chocolate- and Lilac-point Siamese cats, and in the UK they are known as Chocolate and Lilac Burmese.

Once the basic genetics of the Burmese cat were understood, a whole spectrum of colour possibilities could be created. If breeders had managed to introduce the sex-linked colour to Siamese cats then why not try to produce Burmese in these colours too? A sensible breeding plan was inaugurated by several breeders, and with the help of the Burmese Cat Club in the UK to implement this programme, we now have Burmese cats in ten different colours - all of which have the health, stamina, type and temperament of the original 'Little Brown cat', as Wong Mau was called - the little brown cat that came to the USA sixty years ago.

Burmese cats can now be seen in the following colours, although their titles differ in the UK and USA: Brown (USA, Sable); Blue; Chocolate (USA, Champagne); Lilac (USA, Platinum); Red; Cream; Brown-Tortie; Blue-Tortie; Chocolate-Tortie; Lilac-Tortie. In some American cat fancies, Burmese cats other than Brown, Chocolate and Lilac are known as Malayans; in other fancies, the sex linked colours are not recognized at all.

Character and Temperament

This is an enchanting breed, but possibly not one for the faint hearted. The Burmese have very out going personalities and in the past have been called the 'dog cat' due to their ability to retrieve their loyalty to their owners. Their voices are quieter than the Siamese cat, but in many respects their character is similar. Burmese do not like being left alone for long. Another cat, or even a dog, will provide entertainment during the day if you are out at work. There is no denying that Burmese cats are demanding - they will not tolerate being left out of the household hubbub, and they do like to be thought of as part of the family.

Type and Standard of Points

For any Burmese cat, the type and body shape should be the same. Burmese cats are a medium sized, sturdy and well-muscled breed; they should never be as large and heavily boned as the British, nor as long and slender as the Siamese. The head should have a well-rounded dome, both in profile and front-on, with wide-set ears of medium size. The nose should show a distinct 'break', and the chin should be strong and firm. The eyes should be an almond shape and the colour, for perfection, should be any hue of yellow, although in the UK a pale green-yellow is acceptable. A typical Burmese cat conforming to these standards will have what is called a typical 'wicked' Burmese look.

The tail should be in proportion to the body length - a simple guide is that the tail should just reach the shoulder blade of the cat. It should have no visible kink or fault.

The coat should be short, close lying and clear in colour. In Chocolate and Lilac Burmese it is acceptable for the points to be slightly darker, but it is preferable if the coat is of a uniform hue. In kittens, slight barring on the legs is permissible but in an adult cat this is considered a fault.

Coat Colour - Brown

Brown Burmese cats should show a deep, even, warm brown colour with no visible bars or stripes on an adult; faint 'ghost' markings are permissible on a kitten. The coat may be shade to a slightly lighter tone on the underparts. The nose leather and paw pads should be dark brown.

Coat Colour - Blue

A soft, silvery grey is the best way to describe the colour of a Blue Burmese, again allowing for a slight variation of shading to a lighter hue on the underparts. The paw pads and nose leather should be grey.

Coat Colour - Chocolate

Warm, milk chocolate is the colour that is called for, although the face, legs and tail can be slightly darker, but never as dark as a Brown Burmese. The nose leather and paw pads should be of a chocolate brown colour.

Coat Colour -Lilac

Lilac Burmese cats have a most attractive colouring which should be a pale dove grey, with a slight pinkish tinge for perfection. Like the other dilute colour, chocolate, it is acceptable for the extremities to be slightly darker. Nose leather and paw pads should be lavener-pink.

Coat Colour - Red

'Tangerine' is the best description of the Red Burmese; however, the colour should not be too hot and certainly not so cool as to be confused with a Cream Burmese. The nose leather and paw pads should be pink.

Coat Colour - Cream

Cream Burmese cats have a pale, clotted-cream colour, with a distinctive 'powdering' over their ears and heads - looking as if they have had a light sprinkling of talcum powder. Like Red Burmese cats their nose leather and paw pads should be a pale pink.

Coat Colour - Brown-Tortie

For this colour a combination of brown, red and cream colours, all intermingled, is required, with the paw pads and nose leather a combination of brown or pink or both.

Coat Colour - Blue-Tortie

Previously called the Blue-Cream, which exactly describes the colour required: a combination of blue and cream. Paw pads and nose leather should be the same, a mixture of blue and cream.

Coat Colour - Cream-Tortie

The colours of the coat should be a well mixed combination of chocolate and cream, with the nose leather and paw pads the same colour.

Coat Colour - Lilac-Tortie

Lilac and cream coat, with paw pads and nose leather a dove grey.

 


 

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