Burmese FR

Description

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Get to know the Burmese Cat Breed

The Burmese is a breed of domestic feline originating in Burma. They originated near the Thai-Burma border and developed in Britain and the United States.

Most common Burmese are descendants of one female cat named Wong Mau, brought in 1930 from Burma to America and bred with American Siamese. British and American breeders developed distinctly diverse Burmese breed standards, which is uncommon among pedigreed domestic felines. Current feline registries do not formally recognize the two as different breeds, but they refer to the British as the European Burmese. However, They are both known for their different social, playful personalities and persistent vocalization.

Originally, every Burmese cat was dark brown (sable), but now, several colors are available; recognition of these also differs by the standard.

Details

Background

History beginnings

Harrison Weir created a cat show at the Crystal Palace in 1871. A pair of Siamese cats appeared at the show that closely resembled a modern American Burmese cats in shape, thus probably similar to the modern Tonkinese breed. The initial effort to deliberately produce the Burmese in the late 19th century was in Britain; and got the name of Chocolate Siamese. Nonetheless, people did not see it as a breed in its own right. While this opinion continued for many years, encouraging crossbreeding between Siamese and Burmese to conform to the Siamese build more closely. But the breed slowly died out in Britain.

Dr. Joseph Cheesman Thompson brought a brown female cat named Wong Mau into San Francisco in 1930. He estimated the cat’s build to be adequately distinct from the Siamese to have potential as an entirely separate breed.

At first, Wong Mau was crossbred with a seal point Siamese named Tai Mau and then later mated with her son to create dark brown kittens. It became the basis of Burmese’s new, distinctive strain. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) granted the formal breed recognition in 1936. But due to continued broad outcrossing with Siamese cats to expand the population, the initial lineage was overwhelmed. It resulted in the CFA suspending breed recognition after a decade.
Yet, efforts by several American breeders to perfect the unique Burmese standard persevered. Nevertheless, the CFA lifted the suspension permanently in 1954. Later in 1958, the United Burmese Cat Fanciers (UBCF) organized an American judging standard that it is still constant since its adoption.

Recognition

While in the UK, interest in the breed was growing. Cats that formed the new British breeding program were comprised of various builds, including some from America. Three generations had been produced in Britain by 1952, in which the United Kingdom’s Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) recognized the breed. Since the 1950s, the Commonwealth and European countries began importing British Burmese, resulting in most countries having based their standard on the British model.

Historically, the two variants of the breed were kept rigidly separate genetically.  The CFA declassed the British Burmese (known as “traditional”) as a breed, in the 80s. The GCCF established a ban on all imported Burmese from America to preserve the “traditional” bloodlines. Today, several cat registries don’t formally recognize these two standards as separate breeds. Still, some refer to the British standard as the European Burmese. TICA and CFA clubs have lately begun using the American breed standard at certain shows in Europe.

Throughout the early years of breed development, it became apparent that Wong Mau herself was a crossbreed between a Burmese type and Siamese. This early crossbreed was later exhibited as a separate breed, known today as the Tonkinese. Burmese cats have also contributed to the development of the Burmilla and the Bombay, among others.

Personality & Temperament

Burmese is a reputably people-oriented breed, which maintains its kitten-like enthusiasm and playfulness into its later years. They likewise possess many overtly puppy-like qualities, building great bonds with their owners and gravitating toward human activity. These cats often learn to play games such as ‘tag’ and ‘fetch.’ The Veterinarian Joan O. Joshua has said in the past that the “dog-like attachment to the owners” of the Burmese, as with the Abyssinians, creates “greater dependence on human contacts.”
They are very vocal, in a manner suggestive to their Siamese ancestry. Still, they have a softer, sweeter voice. Nevertheless, Burmese are not as independent as other breeds. Thus, we don’t recommend letting them alone for long periods.

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Characteristics

Body

Both standards differ essentially in body shape and head. The popular British ideal tends toward a slender, long-bodied cat with a wedge-shaped head, long tapering muzzle, large pointed ears, and moderately almond-shaped eyes. In comparison, the American Burmese (called “contemporary”) is stockier, with a much broader head, round eyes, wider base ears, and a much shorter, flattened muzzle.
In both cases, the Burmese are small to medium-sized cats but are essentially muscular cats that feel heavy for their size when held.
The coat should be short, fine, and glossy, with a satin-like coating in both standards. The color is solid and uniform over the body, with only gradually shading to lighter under the body. They have eye colors of green or gold, which depend on the coat color.

Coat colors

The breed’s primary standard color is a distinctively rich dark brown; also known as sable in the USA, seal in New Zealand, or brown in the UK and Australia. Additional colors have been developed from the initial base set, with ranging degrees of recognition and popularity. A cinnamon breeding program started in the Netherlands in 1989, with the first fawn kitten being born. Breeders developed caramel, cinnamon, fawn, and apricot color coats in New Zealand. There even is tortoiseshell variants of all these colors. Only recently, as in 2007, a new color mutation (“Russet”) appeared in New Zealand.

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Caring for your Burmese

The Burmese coat requires little maintenance. Weekly grooming with a rubber brush is excellent for removing the loose hairs and polishing their coat to a high gloss. Surprisingly, the oils from your hand by petting and stroking their fur will help maintain its balance. Keeping their nails trimmed, ears cleaned, and teeth brushed regularly with vet-approved pet toothpaste will help your cat maintain optimal health. Provide a nice tall scratching pole to help nurture their natural scratching instinct.

A high-quality diet and exercise are essential to keep your Burmese healthy. Make sure to give your cat fresh, clean water every day. Pure, clean water is ideal for inspiring them to drink enough. Filtered water fountains are also an excellent alternative instead of a water bowl.

They generally are a healthy breed, although they are also at risk for the most frequent heart disease in all cats, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This disease can end in heart failure and even death. Therefore it is paramount for breeders to diligently screen for this via echocardiogram (heart ultrasound), which a Veterinary Cardiologist performs. Since HCM doesn’t regularly appear in the first years of life, pet owners also need to screen for this disease.

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