Birman: Cat Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

birman cat

Nico De Pasquale Photography / Getty Images

The Birman is a social, fun-loving cat who wants to be an involved member of the family. Kid and animal friendly, the Birman loves company and attention and fits in well with all different types of families. 

The Birman has a distinct look; his pointed coat comes in six colors and two patterns, but he should always have four white feet and blue eyes. The long coat is single length, which means it doesn’t grow continuously. It also doesn’t mat as easily, so twice weekly brushing is enough to maintain the Birman’s fluffy fur. Like his Siamese cousin, the Birman is a chatty cat with a softer voice who frequently chirps and converses with his people.

Breed Overview

Size: The Birman is a naturally medium to large cat, with both males and females averaging 10 to 12 pounds in adulthood.

Coat: Long and silky

Coat Color: The Birman is a pointed cat, and the CFA recognizes seal, blue, red, chocolate, cream, and tortie colors. The standard and lynx pattern points are both recognized.

Eye Color: Deep blue

Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Birman Cat

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs Medium-High
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Vocalize Medium-High
Shedding Medium

History of the Birman Cat

The origin of the Birman cat is not well known, with much of his history tied in with cultural legends. The Birman’s story was written by Vivienne Smith, author of “The Birman Cat - The Sacred Cat of Burma,” and comes from the CFA website. Here's a snippet:

"Near him was meditating Sinh, his dear oracle, an all-white cat whose eyes were yellow from the reflection of the golden whiskers of his master and from the golden body of the Goddess with the heavenly eyes; Sinh, the cat to advise, whose ears, nose, tail and extremities of his legs were dark like the color of the earth, mark of the stain and impurity of all that touches or can touch the ground."

Realistically, the Birman likely came into existence after being transported from Burma to France where they were bred with other cats (often Siameses) to produce the cherubic, mittened Birmans we have today.

Birman Cat Care

The Birman’s coat is single-length with no undercoat, which makes it easy to maintain even for a long-furred cat. Twice weekly grooming usually suffices to keep the Birman’s coat mat-free. Because the Birman can be prone to extra weight gain, he should be exercised daily. The Birman is a healthy cat with a great personality, and getting a kitten from a reputable breeder can ensure that you get a cat as close to the Birman’s standard as possible.

Common Health Problems

The Birman does not have any major breed-related health concerns. Like all cats, the Birman should have regular physical exams at the vet. Keep up with regular dental care to help prevent oral illnesses like gingivitis and dental disease and monitor your Birman’s weight to prevent obesity

Diet and Nutrition

The Birman is a naturally stocky cat that can easily become overweight. Like all cats, the Birman’s teeth and urinary tract can be affected by diet as well. Talk to your vet about what food is best for your kitty, as all cats are different.

Personality of the Birman Cat

The Birman is a social, friendly family cat who can get along with kids and other pets alike. Occasionally territorial, the Birman may be less likely to let stray neighborhood cats hang around his territory. The Birman’s fun-loving personality makes him a blast to play with, and daily play can help prevent excessive weight gain.

Showing Your Birman Cat

Showing the beautiful Birman is tempting to any owner of the breed; his irresistible blue eyes and silky, fluffy coat are a striking package to behold. Anyone looking to show their Birman should examine their cat for breed standard features.

Birmans should always have white gloved paws—this feature alone is 20 points in the ring. Breed-standard Birmans should have round blue eyes, full cheeks, and a Roman nose. The coat should be silky and kept at its natural length.

CFA judging will penalize Siamese and Persian head shapes, as well as cats with more delicate bone structure. Birmans should be stocky and long, with a strong facial structure.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

Interested in learning about other purebred cats? If you like the Birman, check out these breeds:

Otherwise, check out all of our cat breed profiles.