The Birman Legend
The Birman beginnings are shrouded in legend and mystery. There are numerous folk tales describing how the Birman obtained its unique colorings and markings that offer explanations while real Birman history keeps everyone guessing. What we do know is that the Birman arrived in the USA in 1959 and most Birmans in this country can be traced to England, France, Australia and Germany. It seems that these countries that nourished the Birman cat have imparted some of their national traits to this mystical breed. The French have contributed their flair for drama. The Gallic added their loving and affectionate nature. The British added their dignity and reserve. The Germans instilled patience and practicality, the Australians their adventurous spirit and Americans their ingenuity. Add a touch of Far Eastern inscrutability, stir them together and what you get is a Birman.The striking and majestic coloring of the Birman is the subject of a fascinating legend set in Burma. Long before the time of Buddha, the Khmer people built beautiful temples in remote mountain retreats. One of these, the Temple of Lao-Tsun, honored the god Song-Hyo and the goddess Tsun-Kyan-Kse. Priests and monks dedicated their lives to worshipping the goddess symbolized by a golden statue with sapphire eyes. One hundred pure white cats lived with the priests. It was believed that after death, a priest returned to the temple as one of the white cats. These cats, therefore, were honored and beloved guests. One of the cats, Sinh, was the devoted companion of a very old priest, Mun-Ha, whose golden beard was said to have been braided by the god Song-Hyo himself.
1919, a pair of Birman cats were sent to France. Unfortunately, the male
died in transit. The female, already pregnant, survived and began the
pedigree Birman breed in Europe. The French recognized the Scare de Birmanie
in 1925. Loss of breeding animals during World War II led to a program
of outcrosses for several years after the war. To be recognized as Birman, most
registries require at least five generations after the out crossings.
Birmans were recognized for championship in England in 1966 and by the Cat Fancier's
Association (CFA) in North America in 1967
CFA currently recognizes the Birman for championship status in the following colors: Seal Point, Blue Point, Chocolate Point, Lilac Point, Seal Lynx Point, Blue Lynx Point, Chocolate Lynx Point, Lilac Lynx Point, Red Lynx Point, Cream Lynx Point, Seal-Tortie Lynx Point, Chocolate-Tortie Lynx Point, Blue-Cream Lynx Point, Lilac-Cream Lynx Point, Seal-Tortie Point, Blue-Cream Point, Chocolate-Tortie Point, Lilac-Cream Point, Red Point, and Cream Point.
Birmans remain relatively uncommon. Although their circle of admirers has increased steadily over the past decade, it is seldom possible to purchase one of these kittens on a whim. Good breeders will not sell kittens through pet shops. They prefer to meet potential buyers and assure themselves that the kitten will receive an excellent home. There is usually a waiting list for breeding and show quality kittens and depending on you area and the time of year, you may have to wait for pet kittens with show faults (ie. too much or too little white on the paws).
Most breeders will not sell a pet kitten until it is three months old, and breeding or show kittens are generally sold after four months. However, you may arrange to visit and see litters much earlier than that, usually after their six-week check up and first vaccines. Three months is considered the minimum time to completely "socialize" a kitten. It allows for a slow weaning period, veterinary health checks and first vaccines, litter box training, experience living underfoot in a busy household and the important scratch post training. The extra time with "mom" also assures that you will take home a happy, well adjusted kitten.
If you have lost your heart to the beauty of these extraordinary cats, you can obtain more specific information from the National Birman Fanciers.