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Section 5 – BURMESE – Group 1

Playful, energetic, acrobatic and highly intelligent, the Burmese cat is the extrovert of the cat world. Despite their very sweet expression, they are very mischievous but they love – or should that be adore – people and human company. The most charming of cats, with their big gold eyes and spoon-shaped velvet paws, Burmese will win your heart. Once you have known a Burmese, you will have a lifelong passion for the breed.


The Burmese, as we know it today, was developed in America from a single cat. The name ‘Burmese’ originates from the country of Burma where Wong Mau, who is considered to be the mother of the breed, came from. According to folklore, Burmese ancestors were kept as sacred animals in the temples and monasteries of Burma. They even had personal servants! Burmese were discovered in England in the late 1800s but they were not as popular as the favoured blue-eyed Siamese and the breed gradually died out in England and Europe. It was revived in 1930 using the first true Burmese and it is said that a wartime sea voyage of three Burmese cats from Burma into America in the 1940s lasted five months, during which time they survived attacks by bombers. The breed was eventually recognised by the GCCF in 1952.

Appearance and Colours

Burmese are strong, athletic and elegant cats, of foreign (but not extreme) type which is distinctive and quite individual to the breed. They have a close, even coat with a glossy, almost polished quality. They are quite heavy, muscular cats with slender legs, neat oval paws and a straight tail of medium thickness which tapers to a rounded tip. The head forms a short wedge with a slightly rounded top and the ears are rounded at the tip. The eyes are large, lustrous and golden yellow in colour, without any trace of green. Burmese come in an array of ten pretty colours – brown, blue, chocolate, lilac, red, cream, brown tortie, blue tortie, chocolate tortie and lilac tortie.


Cuddly, confident and sociable sums up the Burmese cat perfectly.  If you are looking for an outgoing, lively cat who wants to be part of your family then the Burmese is for you.  Burmese cats love the company of people; they are very good with children, other cats and dogs and are said to stay close to home.  If you enjoy the quiet life, the athletic, fun-loving and mischievous Burmese probably isn’t for you! The Burmese has a soft, soft sweet voice and will enjoy a conversation with you if encouraged. Burmese are intensely social animals and assume that they are fully accepted in all aspects of human family life.  They do not like to feel ‘neglected’ and are always willing to help!  They are very playful and will appreciate an assortment of toys and games in which you will need to be fully immerse yourself!


At maturity, males are large and handsome; females are more delicate and graceful, and the difference in weight between them may be as much as two or three pounds. Males usually weigh around 11 to 14 lbs, with the females ranging from 6 to 9 lbs. Life span is 16 to 18 years. Burmese are low maintenance in terms of grooming. Their satin-like coats require weekly grooming with a rubber brush to remove loose hairs and polish the coat to a high gloss. The oils from your hand and gentle stroking of the coat help maintain its balance and a quick wipe with a chamois will give that final finishing touch. Most Burmese thoroughly enjoy this simple grooming ritual and may will insist upon it!


A simple DNA test for an inherited disease in Burmese cats called Hypokalaemia has been developed thanks to the identification of the genetic mutation responsible for the disease. The clinical presentation of the genetic disease, also known as Familial Episodic Hypokalaemic Polymyopathy, is skeletal muscle weakness which is episodic in nature and can affect the whole animal or may be localised to the neck or limb muscles.  As a result, affected cats tend to have problems walking and holding their head correctly. The new genetic test for Hypokalaemia allows cat breeders, owners and veterinarians to test for this disease.