Centuries ago, pure white cats resided in the Buddhist temples of Burma (now Myanmar). They were revered as the feline carriers for the souls of priests who had “departed the mortal plain.” In essence, it was believed that the priests changed into cats once they died, through a process known as transmutation. According to the story, a riest named Mun-Ha and his faithful companion Sinh, one of the temple’s 100 sacred white cats, prayed each evening in the temple of Lao-Tsun. One day, marauders raided the temple for its riches and attacked the priest. As Mun-Ha lay dying, Sinh put his paws on the man’s head and faced the statue of Tsum-Kyan-Kse, the goddess of transmutation. Suddenly Sinh’s white fur transformed into a beautiful golden hue and his face, tail and legs darkened to the color of the earth. His eyes changed from yellow to a deep, sapphire blue. Sinh’s paws, however, remained white as a symbol of Mun-Ha’s pure spirit.
Body Structure:The body is neither svelte nor cobby, but somewhat in between: strongly built, but elongated and stocky. The distinctive head is broad and rounded with a strong chin. It has a full, somewhat rounded muzzle and heavy, powerful jaws. The nose is Roman in profile,and the nostrils are set low on the nose leather. In an ideal Birman,the ears are medium in length, rounded at the tip and almost as wide at the base as they are tall. The tail should be proportional to the body size.
Eyes:The brilliant blue eyes are almost round and are set well apart.
Coat:The lush fur of the Birman is medium to long and lacks the downy undercoat that causes matting.
Color:Birmans come in a range of coat colors, but some associations allow only a few of them. For example, CFA recognizes only the four original colors: Sealpoint, Bluepoint, Chocolatepoint and Lilacpoint,since these are the naturally occurring colors. An ideal Birman has matching white gloves on the front paws that should end at or between the second or third joints of the paw. On the back paws, the gloves should cover all the toes and may extend up higher than the gloves on the front paws. The gloves must taper and extend up the back of the hock. Birmans are born pure white and then develop color on the points.
Birmans are affectionate, gentle and faithful companions who display an air of dignity that seems to invite adoration by their owners. Because of its gentle temperament, the Birman is easy to handle, care for and show.