The History of The Birman Cat

Hovis Our Birman Cat


The unusual coloring of the Birman is the subject of a charming legend. Centuries ago, the Khmer people of Asia built the Temple of Lao-Tsun in which to worship a golden goddess with sapphire-blue eyes, Tsun-Kyan-Kse. Mun-Ha, a much-loved priest, often knelt in meditation before the goddess with Sinh, a beautiful white temple cat, beside him gazing at the golden figure. One night raiders attacked the temple and Mun-Ha was killed. As Mun-Ha died, Sinh placed his feet upon his fallen master and faced the golden goddess. As he did so, the hairs of his white body turned golden, and his yellow eyes to sapphire-blue, like hers; his four white legs turned earthy brown – but where his paws rested gently on his dead master, they remained white as a symbol of purity. Next morning, the hundred white cats of the temple were as golden as Sinh, who did not leave the sacred throne until, seven days later, he died, and carried his master’s soul into paradise. Since that time, whenever a sacred cat died in the Temple of Lao-Tsun, the soul of a priest was said to accompany it on its journey to the hereafter.

At this point legend ends and history begins. The temple was left in peace until it was raided at the beginning of this century. Two westerners, Auguste Pavie and Major Gordon Russell, came to the aid of the priests; as a gesture of gratitude the priests later sent to the two men, then living in France, a pair of Birman; this was in 1919. Unfortunately, the male did not survive the ocean trip; but the female by then was pregnant, and the survival of the breed in the West was ensured. The earliest pedigrees were lost; the breed as we know it, and which was recognized in France in 1925, stems from one pair, Orloff and Xenia de Kaabaa. But the Birmans were to suffer further setbacks in Europe – after a relatively prosperous period in France in the 1930’s, by the end of the Second World War, there was once again only a single surviving pair, and it took many years for the variety to recover. – excepted from a English cat book from the 1970’s

Recognized as a breed in Britain in 1966, the Birman was not recognized in the United States until 1967, when the CFA approved the Standard. They had, however, been shown in “experimental” classes for several years before this, and appeared in championship competition in 1965. Mrs G Griswold owned two, Phass and Klaa Khmer, sent to her from Cambodia, and others were imported from Britain, but the Birman is, nevertheless, a relatively rare cat in America. – from Heinemann’s ‘The Complete Cat Encyclopaedia’ (1972)


The Birman is a cat with a wonderful balance of many characteristics. Ranging from wonderful temperment to striking appearance. The Birman is a cat of balance – never too extreme in any direction.

Birmans have soft voices – when they do decide to talk, its usually to remind you that they are waiting for dinner or your attention.

Birmans are also well known for laying down and showing off their white paws!


The Birman has a wonderful balanced temperament. They are very intelligent and bond to their people very strongly. Birmans also are curious, they like to find out what you are doing or about anything that is new.

The Birman is a person-cat – they love to be around their people.

You will also usually find that a Birman will adjust his schedule to yours. You typically will find your Birman waiting to say ‘Hello’ as soon as you get home.


The Birman is an average size cat (males generally ranging from 8 to 12 pounds, females a little smaller). A Birman has a medium length coat that has a consistency which requires very little grooming. Birman cats are pointed cats (have darker colors on their faces, ears, paws and tail) with white paws. The eyes of a Birman are always blue.


8 thoughts on “The History of The Birman Cat

  1. Pingback: The History of The Birman Cat | 28roads

  2. I’m a new Birman cat owner of 2 beautiful males we recently inherited. ( We already had one Calico of 18 years of age..she’s not too happy about the additions!) They belonged to my sister-in-law, whom we lost last January. She knew I loved her cats!!! But I do have a few questions!!! I’ve always had a cat, but never had a cat that consistantly throws up hair balls…big ones! However, I’ve never had long-haired cats either. I’m feeding them the same food she did. Should I be concerned?? Also…is there a reason Birmans can’t spend time outdoors??? My cats have always come & gone as they liked…lived long lives. I almost feel like I’m keeping them captive! But I was told they were ‘indoor’ cats! One would love to visit the outdoors, but I’m afraid to let him out! Other than safety reasons, are there reasons Bimans can’t safely spend time outside…in the grass???
    I’m loving this beautiful breed of cats and enjoying surfing the net to learn more about them. Thanks!

  3. Hi Valorie…

    Thankyou for visiting my blog.

    Congratulations on your new additions, I’m sure they will provide you with hours of fun and be fantastic companions.

    Hopefully I can answer as many of your questions and be of some help to you ….

    Q : I’ve always had a cat, but never had a cat that consistantly throws up hair balls…big ones!

    A: Birman’s do throw up fur balls quite a bit, this is just due to their constant grooming and long silky coats, one way to cut down on this, would be to groom them regularly.

    Q : I’m feeding them the same food she did. Should I be concerned??

    A: Not at all, as long as they are enjoying it then they should be ok… are they on any special dietry requirements? If they are not, then you could always gradually introduce them to the same food that your own cat eats, this would save you buying different kinds of cat food.

    I usually buy a special dry cat biscuit it is especially designed for with cats who sick up furballs all the time, our birman seems to be fine with this and he is only sick every now and again, when he has a fur ball that he needs to get rid of.

    Q: Also…is there a reason Birmans can’t spend time outdoors???

    A: There is no reason why your new birman’s can’t venture outside, if you introduce them to it gradually they should be fine, your sister-in-law must have been worried incase they got stolen or was concerend for their safety, as you mentioned. I do not let our birman outside at all, because it freaks him out. On the odd occassion where he does manage to sneak out without us looking, he ends up coming home growling spitting, hissing, huffing and grumpy as hell, so for this reason we don’t let him go out.

    Another thing to note about birmans is when they are not happy with you they huff at you… this is where they blow air down their nose, not sure if any other breed does this, I have owned cats all my life, all of which were not pedigrees and I have never known any of them to do this..

    I hope that I have helped you in some way, if you need to know anything else, just let me know and I will help in any way I can..

    It would be lovely to see pictures of your new Birmans

    Take Care

  4. Hi there.. I made an search for Sacred Birman on wordpress and found your blogg. It’s very nice and you have wonderful birman cats 🙂
    One of our females gave birth to two little birman-babies yesterday – life with cat’s and dogs are wonderful, aren’t they?

    Greetings from a cold and wet Sweden 🙂

    • Hi Ulrika..

      Congratulations on your new arrivals 🙂 it must be lovely to have baby birmans around 🙂

      It is just wonderful to have the dogs and cats around, I just wouldnt be without them.

      The weather here has been very cold and wet too 🙂

      Thank you for visiting my blog and for leaving a lovely comment it was very nice of you.

      I’d love to see a picture of your kittens once they are a little bit older.

      Take Care xx

  5. Here Here… Birmans are literally THE BEST breed of cat. We got our 2 guys (Bowie and Peaches) because we couldnt have a dog, but wanted a great companion pet (since we were in an apartment)… they are so fantastic, and very dog-like… so much character, and of course stunning looking… anyone considering getting a cat, you cannot go past this breed! I wont go on… btw we always keep ours indoors for a couple reasons:

    1. theft – they are beautiful….
    2. disease (being pedigree – they are not as resilient to some domestics etc)
    3. nature, they are a bit too friendly and at times docile, i.e cars, roads etc etc…
    4. they are great for indoors, they love being with humans, (but when we are outside they sometimes make it vocal, only to be with us)
    5. Probably most importantly, Wildlife , as much as we love them , they may get a bit eager with som native wildlife i.e kills birds, and other precious native fauna…
    We think this (and many vets) is future for keeping cats, and being responsible.


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