The Birman came from Southeast Asia (where they were kept by Burmese temple priests) and was introduced to Europe in 1916. Also known as the “Sacred Cat of Burma,” it should not be confused with the Burmese cat.
The Birman is a medium-long haired cat that comes in a variety of colors but is born white, with deep blue eyes and distinctive white gloves on all four paws. They reached a precariously low number after World War II, when only two remained. That pair, named “Orloff” and “Xenia de Kaabaa,” were heavily outbred with Persians and Siamese to increase their numbers and rebuild the breed.
The Birman is a gentle, playful breed and is great for families. They tend to be unobtrusive and will not bother owners if they are busy with something else. Their medium hair coat requires occasional maintenance.
Although great family cats, Birmans are nonetheless prone to hereditary and congenital conditions which can adversely affect their health – not to mention your family budget, something that the founders of Petplan in the United States, Chris and Natasha Ashton, understand all too well. Petplan was founded following the ill health (and subsequent large veterinary bills) of their Birman cat, Bodey. Some of the conditions and illnesses Birmans are prone to include viral diseases such as feline infection peritonitis (FIP); eye conditions such as cataracts and ocular dermoids; and kidney problems such as azotemia.
Thankfully, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your Birman has the misfortune of inheriting his father’s bad eyes or his mother’s kidney concerns, you’re covered.