5 Things to Know About Birmans

Birmans are beautiful blue-eyed cats with coats that don’t mat.

Birman cats

1. Key Characteristics of Birman Cats

  • Weight: 10–15 pounds (males); 6–10 pounds (females)
  • Life Expectancy: 12–16 years

Birmans are medium to large cats with round blue eyes and muscular bodies often mistaken for Ragdolls or Ragamuffins.

Their coats light-colored, with darker points in varying shades.

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These cats also have distinctive white bottoms on their paws often referred to as “boots” or “gloves.”

2. Where Birman Cats Came From

The Birman comes from an enchanting myth originating in Burma.

The breed was said to be a favorite among priests and obtained its unique coloring when a Birman comforted their caretaker, a dying priest. The cat placed their paws upon the priest’s chest.

After the priest died, colors descended on the fur and the paws turned white to represent purity.

Exact dates vary, but Birman cats are believed to have arrived in France in the late 1910s. The breed was recognized in France in 1925, England in 1966 and the United States in 1967.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association awarded the breed championship status in 1972.

There is a tradition to naming a litter of Birman kittens that is still followed among breeders. Each year a letter is designated, and any kitten born in that year is given a name beginning with the specified letter — so the year for the letter X must be challenging, no?

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Birman cats
Birman cats are often mistaken for Ragdolls or Ragamuffins. Photos: Eric Isselee (Top: loganban)

3. How Friendly Are Birman Cats?

Birmans are active, playful cats who love company in the form of people, other animals and children.

Easy to train, Birman cats are even described as doglike in their behavior — they fetch, drag toys and blankets around the house, and greet you at the door as a dog would.

A word to the wise: Be prepared to get more than one Birman unless you already have existing pets or someone who stays home most of the day. As mentioned, they really like being social.

4. Is This the Right Cat for You?

Exercise Needs

LOW: Birmans do not have any special exercise needs. They are recommended as indoor pets. Their affectionate and friendly nature can make them an easy target for outdoor dangers.

Their physical activity should be similar to that of most cats (sleeping long hours, playing, running and jumping).

Grooming Needs

LOW: The Birman doesn’t have an undercoat and the fur doesn’t mat easily, so grooming is easy. It’s sufficient to brush your Birman just 1–2 times per week to maintain the coat’s softness.

Trim your cat’s nails as needed (usually once every 1–2 weeks), and clean the ears and teeth to promote good overall health.

Health Problems

MEDIUM: Birmans are fairly healthy but have a propensity to become overweight or obese. Regulate their food intake to prevent weight gain.

There is also a possibility of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) affecting the breed. HCM is the most common disease affecting the heart by thickening the heart walls and restricting blood flow.

Symptoms are rare but might include weight changes, difficulty breathing or an irregular heartbeat.

In the video below, watch how these adorable Birman kittens grow from Day 1 all the way to nearly 3 months later — so cute!

5. Where to Adopt a Birman Cat

If you consider getting a Birman for your next pet, please check adoption resources first — even purebred cats end up in shelters. Try Petful’s free adoption center.

Additional Resources

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