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About Burmese Cats

 Burmese cats

Purebred Burmese cats are medium sized cats with yellow or golden eyes, and have a gentle and playful nature that makes them a well-loved breed.  The breed is small and compact, with fur that is short, silky, and easy to groom.  Because of their muscular bodies and compact body, this breed is often decribed as being "a brick wrapped in silk."  They are very active and athletic cats, ready to play at a moment's notice.  Burmese cats have been know to exibit dog-like behavior, following their human family around the house and even learning how to play fetch at times. 

 Burmese history

American Burmese

The Burmese cat is one of the four national cats of Thailand. Its ancestors are thought to have been temple cats that were given to young  monks as part of their training.  The modern Burmese breed was started in America in 1930 when  Dr. Joseph G. Thompson , a retired Navy medical officer living in  San Francisco, obtained a young female cat named Wong Mau.  She was a “small, fined boned, walnut-brown” cat from the Orient – probably from Burma, a region now known as Myanmar. Unlike other breeders of the time, Dr. Thompson didn't believe that Wong Mau was  chocolate Siamese but rather unique new breed.  He worked with  two established cat breeders, Virginia Cobb  of the Newton cattery  and Billie Gerst  of the Gerstdale cattery and  a prominent  geneticist, Dr. Clyde E. Keeler,  to  develop a  breeding program  to isolate Wong Mau ‘s unique traits. As there were no other similar cat in the US, Wong Mau was first bred to an imported Seal Siamese cat from Thailand named Tai Mau. Their kittens were either Siamese and pointed in color or like Mau solid dark-brown. Successive breeding of the dark-brown kittens produced a true-breeding solid dark-brown colored cat, now known as the sable Burmese. The result of the breeding program was the establishment of the American Burmese cat and discovery of the Burmese color restriction gene, sepia (cb). *Most of the Burmese cats in the US can trace their roots back to  Dr. Thompson’s cat, Wong Mau.

European Burmese

In 1949, three Burmese  cats were imported  from the US to Brittan by Lillian France. Kittens produced from them were immediately popular in the UK cat clubs and the demand for them was high. Over the next 30 years only 21 American Burmese were imported to the UK. To expand the breeds numbers many European breeders decided to continue crossing Burmese to Siamese cats, resulting in a divergent line of Burmese cats now know as European or “foreign” Burmese which look different than their American counterparts.


Burmese colors

1955 the first blue Burmese cat was born in England, Sealcoat Blue Surprise. Earlier US Burmese cats had  produced kittens of a  lighter brown color (now called chocolate) as well as blue kittens  but most US Burmese breeders had decided to select and breed only the sable cats. In 1960, Blue Burmese were recognized with Grand Champion status and by 1980, four colors of Burmese  were being bred and recognized by the registration associations; sable, chocolate, blue and the dilute chocolate, lilac. In Europe, other colors were developed, some by chance and others by design, including cream, red and Tortoiseshell. Based on current feline genetics,  it is thought that Wong Mau carried both the blue and chocolate dilute genes and that she was  a Burmese-Tonkinese hybrid.  


* Sepia is a  mutation of the albino gene which  causes a genetically black cat to turn sepia brown by reducing the amount of pigment produced.  Because sepia is thermo-sensitive, the pigment is darker at the points of the cat like the tail and ears, where the skin is cooler, and slightly lighter on the body which the skin temperature is warmer. The first paper on Feline  genetics  by the original breeding group was published on the Burmese cat in the Journal of Heredity in 1943. Dr. Thompson died of a heart attack before it was published.




Harper's Illustrated Hand book of CATS.

Steve Crow – UK Burmese Breeding Policy – Version 3, Sept13

“Robinson’s Genetics for Cat Breeders & Veterinarians” by Vella, Shelton, McGonagle and Stanglein



Sables are classified by a rich dark brown coat color, that extends all the way to the roots.  Sable kittens are the most common of the four colors.



Generally light brown with a white undercoat, chocolate burmese cats look the closest to Siamese, the breed that they originated from.



Lilac cats are generally a silvery-grey color.  It is the lightest color for the breed.



Cats of this variation are generally a grayish blue color, solid down to the roots.


Burmese cats are by nature a very friendly breed.  They are very social cats, and form very strong bonds with their owner.  In many respects,

Burmese cats can be very dog like, even learning to play fetch.  Because of their strong gravitation towards humans, they do not like being left alone for long periods of time.  They are less independent than most cats, however this means they are more likely to spend their time cuddling or being near you.  They are a very good first time pet for young children.

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