What to Know About Burmese Cats


In this Article

  • Burmese Cat Characteristics
  • Caring for Burmese Cats
  • Health Problems to Watch for With Burmese Cats
  • Special Considerations for Burmese Cats
  • History of Burmese Cats

Burmese cats are a purebred breed that was brought to the United States from Burma in the early 1930s. They’re known for their range of colors, bright, alert eyes, and distinctive temperament. 

Burmese cats don’t conform to the stereotype of the aloof and uninterested cat persona. They’re active, engaged, and social pets. They love to be around people and thoroughly enjoy attention, so a Burmese cat can be a great choice for an owner who loves to interact with their cat throughout the day.

Burmese Cat Characteristics

The Burmese cat size is medium to large. Males are usually larger than females, and you might find they’re surprisingly heavy or dense for their respective stature. 

Male Burmese tend to have relaxed natures, while females are more vocal. 

These cats can have two different builds: 

  • A rounder head and compact body
  • An elongated, more dainty figure 

This is due to different gene pools and breeding standards in the U.S. and the U.K. Both builds are considered purebred Burmese. 

Burmese cats can come in a range of brown shades. The first Burmese cat to set foot in the United States had a walnut brown coat (also known as sable) that can still be found on many Burmese today. 

More recently, they’ve become available in many different colors, both solid and multi-toned: 

  • Warm beige-brown
  • Medium brown
  • Honey-beige chocolate
  • Warm cream
  • Golden apricot 
  • Warm blue
  • Lilac with tinges of pinkish-red

Burmese cats might also have a mix of any of these colors. Multiple colors on one cat will be more pronounced when they are young and will even out as a blend as they age. 

Coat care isn’t an issue for these even-tempered felines. They have a short, silky coat that’s easily maintained. 

The Burmese cat temperament is well-known in the feline fanatics community. They are extremely affectionate, social, and vocal cats. They thrive on attention and interaction and may become sad if left alone for long periods of time. They are a true family cat. 

It’s not uncommon for someone who is a dog lover to become attached to a Burmese. They love to be petted and are intelligent and playful. They become attached to humans and tend to follow you from room to room, even sleeping in your bedroom if you allow it. 

They’re inquisitive and extremely tolerant toward children. A child and Burmese cat playing together is quite common. They love to learn tricks and stay stimulated. As a result, it’s not advised to let your Burmese go outdoors. They are up for anything and often fearless, which could spell trouble in the wrong environments. 

You can expect your Burmese cat to be around for quite some time. They have a life expectancy of 12 years or more and aren’t known to have major health issues. 

Caring for Burmese Cats

Most Burmese cats come from a breeder. It’s important to inspect their facility, though, and ensure all kittens and their parents appear healthy and cared for. Most breeders will have already given the kittens their first immunizations. They may or may not be spayed or neutered. 

Collect any vaccine records to show to your veterinarian on your first visit. Follow the recommended immunization schedule for your new pet. Your vet will also likely recommend a prevention plan to avoid infestation by worms, ticks, fleas, and other parasites. 

It’s easy to help your Burmese cat maintain its soft, glossy coat. Petting it daily will actually help the coat to become more shiny as your skin releases its oils onto the cat. You can also get a rubber brush to run through their fur once a day. This will help to remove any stray hairs and keep your cat looking immaculate. 

It’s important for your cat to follow a vet-approved diet that’s high in nutrition. The better quality of nutrition, the better the chance that your cat will live a long and healthy life. Proper nutrition can help prevent health issues like obesity. 

Follow a vet-approved grooming maintenance schedule for your Burmese cat. Nails should be trimmed and ears cleaned regularly. Your vet can prescribe a toothpaste for your Burmese cat to keep their dental health in tiptop shape, or you may be able to find one at your local pet store. 

These intelligent cats have lots of energy, especially as kittens. Make sure you or a family member has time to regularly help entertain them in the first few months. They love attention and interactive games. 

As mentioned, it’s not recommended to let your Burmese cat play outside. One of their many good qualities is having a trusting nature. That, and their natural curiosity, could get them into trouble. 

A scratching post is essential for any cat. Burmese cats have a natural urge to scratch often. Having a post can prevent your pet from taking out these natural inclinations on your furniture. 

Health Problems to Watch for With Burmese Cats

Burmese cat health issues don’t affect the majority of the breed. They can live up to 17 years with proper care. There are a few rare health issues associated with Burmese cats, though. 

Acute teething disorder. This can affect some kittens whose second set of teeth is growing in. The kitten will claw at its face due to the pain of the incoming teeth. This behavior will stop after the teeth have grown in, and there usually isn’t much a veterinarian can do. There’s a chance your cat will need some antibiotics, though, to heal or prevent infection if the wounds are severe enough. There may be some scarring.

Hypokalaemia. This rare condition means your cat has low levels of serum potassium. Symptoms include weakness of the skeleton and muscles, usually around the neck. If your cat is affected, these symptoms will start to show around puberty. Hypokalaemia is caused by a recessive gene. Both parents must be carriers of this gene for a kitten to be affected. 

Genetic testing is available to see, though, if your cat carries the gene, and there is treatment available in the form of a potassium supplement. Burmese cats can live normal lives even if they have this rare condition.

Special Considerations for Burmese Cats

Burmese cat traits are social, inquisitive, and good with children. They are game for just about anything. They love attention and are extremely loyal. 

Burmese cats are very vocal and can sometimes seem like they are talking to you. They are also accepting or tolerant of other animals in the house, like dogs.

These cats have a low shedding rate and short hair. This makes them less likely to provoke an allergic reaction in people with sensitivities.  

History of Burmese Cats

The first Burmese cat was brought to the U.S. through San Francisco in 1930. She was named Wong Mau, and she was owned by Dr. Joseph Thompson. 

She was dark brown in color and was gifted to Dr. Thompson by a sailor. The Siamese cat had already been established in the U.S., and she was thought by some to be a darker Siamese at first. 

She had different characteristics than a Siamese, though. Her body type was sturdier, and her head was rounder and more compact. Dr. Joseph Thompson believed she was her own specific breed. 

He decided to breed her with a Siamese cat named Tai Mau. After some time, she was bred with her son and produced walnut-colored kittens. This became the established breed known as Burmese.

Burmese cats also have a history in the U.K. Burmese cats were introduced in the U.K. as early as 1871. They were recognized as different from the popular Siamese cats but were continually crossbred. The Burmese breed temporarily died out in the U.K. shortly after.

As Burmese cats were gaining popularity in the U.S., the British renewed their interest in Burmese. They imported three Burmese cats from different locations, creating a small but relatively pure gene pool. 

In the early 1950s, the Burmese breed became recognized by the governing bodies in the U.K. Eventually, the gene pool for U.K. bred Burmese cats widened, and they became more popular across Europe. 

Today, U.K. Burmese cats are slightly more slender in build than American Burmese. They are recognized by some as the traditional or European Burmese cat. It’s important to note, though, that the International Cat Association doesn’t recognize the two strains as different.  

Show Sources

Photo Credits:

1. frankiefotografie / Getty Images


The Cat Fancier’s Association: “About the Burmese.”

Europetnet: “Burmese.”

The International Cat Association: “Burmese.”

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