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.