July 11, 2013 PetGuide
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  • Height: 10-12 inches
  • Weight: 6-10 lb
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Physique: Small-medium,compact
  • Best Suited For: Active household with older children, singles with other pets
  • Temperament: Intelligent, inquisitive, playful, mischievous
  • Comparable Breeds: American Shorthair, Exotic Shorthair

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In 1930, Dr. Joseph Thompson of San Francisco acquired a female cat in New Orleans from a sailor newly returned to the United States from Burma. Wong Mau was a walnut brown, small-bodied female that Thompson bred to Siamese cats. The first coat color to be isolated in selective breeding was Sable. Wong Mau was likely herself a Burmese-Siamese cross, but her kittens bred true for the dark brown coloration. The breed achieved pure pedigree status in the U.S. in 1956, and the CFA accepted a breed standard for the Burmese in 1959. By the 1970s, the Burmese was the third most popular breed in the U.S. after the Persian and Siamese.

The Burmese is a highly affectionate and charming cat that seems to convey an endearing quality of innocence.

burmese-cat-1The Burmese is a highly affectionate and charming cat that seems to convey an endearing quality of innocence. They bond deeply with their humans, and like to spend as much time with them as they can, but they are not demanding cats. That being said, they should not be left alone for more than a few hours, or they will get very lonely. Most will willingly fetch toys, or happily engage in other games of their own creation. The kittens are especially fearless and spirited, retaining those qualities well into adulthood. Over time, however, the breed’s rare intelligence and confidence surfaces until, before you know it, they are running the house (females even more so than males). Although very soft-spoken, this cat is quite capable of getting his opinion across. They follow their people around the house, and seize any opportunity for lap time. They are far too trusting to ever go outside, and should be kept exclusively as indoor pets.

The Burmese is especially well known for its large, round, golden eyes, which are charmingly expressive. They are small to medium cats, with rounded, compact, and solid bodies. This not a delicate or dainty cat. He’s broad chested, with the hard muscles of a feline athlete, and is often compared to a little bulldog. He has oval paws and slender legs. Its tail tapers slightly to a point. While neither long nor slender like other cats of Oriental descent, the Burmese is still elegant and has a heartbreakingly sweet and open countenance.

burmese-cat-2There are four colors recognized for Burmese cats: Sable (a rich, dark brown), Champagne (a warmer beige), Platinum (a pale gray with fawnish undertones), and Blue (medium gray with fawnish undertones.)

The Burmese has a short coat, which lies close to the skin and is silky to the touch. Little grooming is required, and often loose hairs can be effectively removed just by stroking and petting the cat daily. If more care is needed, a plain rubber brush should do the trick. It should be noted for all aspects of care that a Burmese is a “less restraint” cat. They do not like to be held down, and they should be gradually trained from kittenhood to adapt to their carrier for trips to the vet.

Photo credit: Jagodka/Shutterstock

Comparable Breeds

Go to American Shorthair

American Shorthair

  • Height: 8-10 inches
  • Weight: 10-15 lb
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Physique: Medium boned, muscular
  • Best Suited For: Families with children or pets, singles, first-time cat owners
  • Temperament: Easy-going, curious, active, playful
  • Comparable Breeds: Ocicat, Egyptian Mau
Go to Exotic Shorthair

Exotic Shorthair

  • Height: 10-12 inches
  • Weight: 10-12 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Physique: solid body, flat face
  • Best Suited For: Families and singles with or without children and other pets
  • Temperament: Affectionate, intelligent, involved, but not insistent
  • Comparable Breeds: Norwegian Forest Cat, Bengal