Birman cat walking in front of a white background

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Shrouded in legend, the Birman cat, also known as the Sacred Cat of Burma, originated from Asia and nearly faced extinction at the end of WW2 before becoming one of the most popular cat breeds in the world. Known for their long hair, color-pointed fur, white glove-like paws, and deep blue eyes, they are as affectionate and fun to be around as they are beautiful. 

Generally speaking, they are easy going cats that don’t require difficult training and have minimal shedding, yet there are a few things to know before becoming a Birman cat owner. This guide will give you everything you need to know about the Birman cat breed, covering its complicated history, physical and behavioral characteristics, typical health risks, and the best way to care for one. This article will cover:

History & Origin of Birman Cats

Where exactly the Birman came from is shrouded in myth, but they likely emerged from Burma — hence the name the Sacred Cat of Burma. They are said to have originated as temple priest companions from northern Burma on the Mount of Lugh. 

Competing stories exist as to how they traveled from Burma to France. One legend attests that they were given as a reward for defending a temple. Another says that they were smuggled out of Burma by a member of the Vanderbilt family. Others say that a pair of Birmans were simply stolen. 

Despite these conflicting myths, they can be traced in Europe back to a breeder named Mme Leotardi in southern France in 1925. A Birman named Poupée was unveiled to the world a year later at the 1926 Paris Cat show. Due to their extreme rarity, it was once the most expensive cat in the world. 

The Birman cat nearly became extinct in Europe by the end of World War 2. There is evidence to suggest that there was only one pair of Birmans left in the United Kingdom. Thankfully, these cats managed to survive and repopulate the bloodline, before Birmans were sent to the United States of America in 1959. They were finally recognized in the USA by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1967.1  

The first Birman cats were characterized by their seal-point fur. The blue point color emerged in 1959 by using blue Persian lines. Later, English breeders added additional colors, such as chocolate, red, and tabby-lynx points. This exotic and complicated history makes Birmans one of the most coveted breeds in the world.

Physical Attributes of Birmans

Physical Attributes of Birmans

Typically, Birman cats are medium to large, with males being slightly bigger. They usually weigh around 12 pounds, although they do have the tendency to become overweight2. Longer than their height, they are also heavy-boned with a stocky look. They also have long broad heads and wide, full cheeks. These heads come with medium-sized ears. 

Birman coat colors

When Birman are first born, they are completely white. As they get older, they develop their color. The types of colors you can expect a Birman to come in include: 

  • Cream
  • Blue Point 
  • Lilac
  • Seal Point 
  • Red Point 
  • Chocolate Point 
  • Blue 
  • Chocolate 
  • Chocolate Tortie 
  • Seal Tabby2

One thing that makes a Birman unique is its cute white paws, which are affectionately known as “gloves,” as well as their beautiful and deep blue eyes. Their coat is also highly distinctive, with a single coat of medium-to-long fur. Groomed properly, their coats can be silky smooth, with the coat flaring out around the neck and an extra fluffy tail. Their pointed coloration means they look rather pale with darker spots around their face, ears, tails, and feet. 

Birmans are usually healthy cats, reaching full maturity over three years old. They have a similar lifespan to a regular cat, living on average between 9 to 15 years2.

Behavioral Characteristics of Birmans

While the personality of every pet is different, there are still a few broad assumptions that can be made about the average Birman cat personality. 

  • They are often friendly and affectionate cats, enjoy nothing more than cuddling and lying on your lap. 
  • Birmans are prone to meowing and growling when they aren’t being attended to. 
  • They are known as “velcro cats” due to their willingness to follow you around; no matter if you’re working, doing the dishes, or folding laundry, they will be there! 
  • They often get along well with other cats and even dogs, making them an easy addition to any multi-pet family.
  • While curious and explorative, they are often remarkably laid-back.
  • Birmans are often easy to train.
  • They are soft meowers, meaning they might chirrup or trill their voice when they are calling you.

As Birmans can be clingy animals, it’s worth making sure that they are always entertained. For example, if you are going to leave them alone, give them plenty of toys to play with. It’s worth bearing in mind that any Birman cat characteristics will also depend on external factors, such as its upbringing, reaction to external stimuli, and nutrition, meaning that you should certainly take extra care to discover its classically precious and adorable nature. 

Birman Cat Health Risks

While, for the most part, Birman cats are healthy animals, there are still some diseases that you should be on the lookout for. They can include: 

  • Kidney disease in cats descended from Persians. 
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (heart issues) affects most cats.
  • Obesity due to over-eating and lack of exercise. 
  • Eye problems, including cataracts.
  • Feline infectious peritonitis is higher in Birmans than in other cats.
  • Hemophilia, a blood clotting disorder that can lead to your cat bleeding too much2.

By staying vigilant and taking your cat to regular vet check-ups, you should be able to make sure that they stay healthy. You should also make sure to brush your cat’s teeth regularly in order to prevent dental disease. And like any cat, they should typically be vaccinated against preventable infections, including rabies, calicivirus, panleukopenia, and rhinotracheitis. 

Caring For a Birman Cat

Birman cats are prone to becoming overweight, which means good weight management and regular exercise are absolutely crucial. Thankfully, they are naturally playful, so if you give them the right toys or exercises, they will be sure to join in. You should also make sure to regulate their feeding and make sure that they have proper diet and nutrition

Due to their affectionate nature, they are also prone to developing separation anxiety if they spend too long alone, which means that they fit best when bought in pairs or are coming into a household with other animals or people continuously at home. If you do leave them at home, make sure that you greet them and play with them when you’re back so they know that you still care. 

Although Birmans have long hair, they require less grooming than cats with similar hair. This is because they don’t have a dense undercoat. This means that you only really have to groom them two to three times a week to remove matted fur. You also don’t need to engage in any complex grooming but can use a simple de-matting comb or brush. Additionally, like with any other cat, you should brush its teeth to ensure good dental care, trim their nails, and keep their litter box clean.  


Do Birman cats make good pets?

All cats have their own unique personality, this means that not every Birman cat is alike. Broadly speaking, however, Birman cats are known for their easygoing and affectionate nature, as well as their affinity for cuddling. They are also some of the prettiest cats in the world.

Are Birman cats rare?

Due to the fact that the Birman cat nearly went extinct, they are a relatively rare breed. 

Are Birman cats expensive?

Due to their distinctive features and natural beauty, Birman cats can be rather expensive, with an average Birman cat price from a breeder costing between $400-$3000. Adopting at a shelter can considerably reduce costs, with a price between $75-$400 in fees, but the likelihood of finding a rare cat like the Birman in a shelter is considerably less. There are also common costs of pet ownership, such as spay/neutering fees, vaccination costs, and ongoing care expenses3. Other factors that may increase the fee are the bloodline, genetic issues, and having a rare coat, such as the Silver Birman Tabby. 

Woman holding her Birman cat

Final Notes

If you want a cat that both amuses and comforts you, that likes to entertain and cuddle while looking absolutely gorgeous as they do it, then a Birman might be the right fit for you.

No matter whether you choose a Birman cat or another breed, Dutch is here to support you every step of the way. With unlimited telemedicine consultations, an online pet pharmacy, and insurance plans, providing the best life for your cat has never been easier.  



  1. L., Alain. “The Birman Cat or Sacred Cat of Burma.” Historical Facts | The Birman Cat or Sacred Cat of Burma | Alain L.,

  2. “What to Know about a Birman.” WebMD, WebMD,

  3. Eck, Christina. “Birman Cat Prices in 2024: Purchase Cost, Vet Bills, & Other Costs.” A, 14 July 2023,

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