All About Birmans

The Legend of the Birman
To appreciate the legend which is about to be told, one much visualise the beautiful temples in the ancient land of Burma.

The magnitude of the Buddha idols helps to impress upon us the deep religious faith the people have. Their belief in the reincarnation of souls and their deep respect and love for their priests provide a setting for this legend. their belief is that the priests are returned to the temple in the form of the sacred ctas of Burma known today as Birman cats. The origin of the white gloved feet and colouring goes back to before the birth of Christ.

Centuries ago the Khmer people of Asia built beautiful temples of worship to pay homage to their Gods. The temples of Loa-Tsun housed a beautiful golden goddess with sapphire blue eyes, who watched over the transmutation of souls.

Mun-Ha, one of the most beloved of the priests, whose beard had been braided with gold by the great god Son-Hio, often knelt in mediation before the golden goddess Tsun-Kyan-Kse. Sinh, a beautiful and faithful white temple cat, was always at his side, and shared his mediations. As the holy priest prayed, the sacred cat would gaze at the brilliant goddess.

One night, as the moon rose and Mun-ha was kneeling before the sacred goddess, raiders attacked the temple and Mun-Ha was killed. At the moment of Mun-Ha's death, Sinh placed his feet upon his fallen master and faced the golden goddess. Immediately the hairs of his white body were as golden as the light radiating from the beautiful golden goddess, her beautiful blue eyes became his very own, and his four white egs shaded downwards to a velvety brown, but where his feet rested gently on his dead master, the whiteness remained white, denoting their purity.

The next morning, the temple radiated with the transformation of the one hundred white cats, which like Sinh, reflected the golden hue of sunset. Sinh, the golden cat of Burma, never left the throne after his master's death. Then seven days later he too died, carrying with him into paradise the soul of Mun-Ha his beloved master.

Modern History

Since the time of Mun-Ha's death, the followers of Buddhism guard very carefully and gently the sacred ones within whose bodies live their beloved prients. Only a few (and they must be worthy in deed and manner) are permitted to possess one of these beautiful creatures. The people lived peacefully till the advent of Brahminism. The Brahmins felt that the Kittahs (priests) were practising a false religion, so they raided the temples and killed many venerable priests.

At this time two men, August Pavie and Major Russell-Gordon, journeyed from France to Burma. They were able to penetrate and bring protection to the lost Kittahs against the aggressive Brahmins. They were then able to see the one hundred sacred cats and learn their legend.

Many of the Kittahs escaped and crossed the mountains of Burma into Tibet, taking with them their sacred cats. There they formed a new subterranean Temple of Lao-Tsu, the dwelling place of their gods. This temple is a marvel of marvels of Indo-China. Not far from a lake, it is hidden in a mass of immense peaks.

The two men returned to France and because of the great love the Burmese people had for August Pavie and Major Gordon-Russell, who whad protected them against their enemy, a pair of sacred cats were sent from the beautiful Temple of Loa-Tsn to France, as a gesture of gratitude in 1919. The ocean trip proved tragic however, for the male died. But it was found that the female was pregnant and thus the breed survived and became recognised in France in 1925. It is believed by some however, that the original Birman was taken by a servant and smuggled aboard the boats of the Vanderbilts. The male did actually die on the voyage on the voyage but the female survived and was with kitten. It seems that one of more of the kittens landed in France and a couple went to America. They were not as we know them today as they have been improved by selective breeding. Breeding has resulted in seal, blue, lilac and chocolate points.

The French breeders also had troubles of their own as, at the end of the second world war, only one pair of the sacred cats of Burma was left.

The name "Birman" is derived from the French "Sacre de Birmanie". Burmese cats are totally unrelated.

Birmans in Australia

In 1967 I, along with my good friend Mrs Judith Starky of the "Pinaroo" cattery, imported the first pair of Birmans into Australia. These were Gr. Ch. Stacpoly Kharma (Ch. Pipo du Clos Fleuri x Paranjoti Nefrettiti) a sealpoint male born 23rd October 1967. These two cats formed the foundation stock of Australia's Birmans and from this first outcrossed pair Metinka Cattery obtained our first Birmans. As there was not an established gene pool, I imported five more kittens from the UK to build the foundation for the Birmans we have in Australia today.

The first Birman cat club in Australia started in Sydney NSW in 1969. Founded by Judy Starky and Judy Lewis. The first show was held in 1976 in the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee. At this show the Birman Cat Club of Australia incorporated were granted the Royal Silver Jubilee logo, that we are now fortunate to use on all letterheads and official documents. This club meets once a month and willingly helps new members and pet owners.

Living with Birmans

For those enthusiasts who like to have their feline with long fluffy coats, yet dislike the chore of continual grooming and daily de-knotting ... then a Birman is for you.

Owning a cat is a responsibility but in return for your care, a cat will more than reward you with its loyalty and love.
The Birman is intelligent, intuitive, inquisitive, charming, curious, polite, playful, people orientated and dignified. It is classified as a semi-longhaired breed.

Birmans are people oriented cats. When you come home, they will always greet you at the door, thrilled to see you again. By the time the kittens are 8 to 10 weeks old, they have fully functioning PURR motors, easily started just by being picked up. This continues through life, with the motor starting up with a kind word, pat on the head, or just being picked up. Some will sit next to you for an hour or so, purring softly the whole time, just happy to be near you. Kittens will race to the sound of your voice, but in adulthood this is modified by the cat's inherent dignity. If you are in one room, and the Birman in another, in a very short time it will saunter in with the expression "How nice to see you". If you are busy and one decides it needs attention (it will let you know by sitting on your papers), all you need do is give it a few minutes to tell it that it is the most beautiful, wonderful cat in the world, and you can put it down to curl up nearby and leave you to your work. But it does get the final word with a long look as if to say "Well, it's your loss, but I'll leave you to it".

It is a restful breed, mostly relaxed and easy going, but they are certainly curious. A paper bag to climb into turns a Birman into a mad creature. An open cupboard or closet raises an immediate exploration expedition. Anything new is just wonderful, to be sniffed at, then slept on or in if feasible. Birmans love new things. They are playful, even in adulthood, chasing pens and pencils, ping pong balls, felt mice, digging through an entire box of Kleenex and unrolling toilet paper. Kitty-tease type toys are enjoyed by all ages from kittens to dignified matrons. Birmans are very polite. As mentioned above, they will allow you to pursue your own devices, as long as they can be near you.
An unusual characteristic of the Birman is its walk. It has a slightly swaying, "tiger like" gait. This is due to the back legs being slightly longer than the front legs. The back remains level, but the hind legs move like a tiger. The Birmans conversational voice is soft and quiet, some have described it as "bell like".

Unless you have owned a Birman, you will never realise what qualities this cat possesses ... the temperament of the Birman at home is something one would have to experience to appreciate. They are extremely communicative; their life revolves around those they love. They will follow you around the garden or house, and will be content just to be near you. They are fascinating and humorous cat to live with ... a Birman never seems to grow up, and it is a fine sight to see one bounding across the lawn in full flight, with coat and bushy tail flying in the breeze.

To be owned by a Birman is an unforgettable experience of unstinted love, affection, trust and loyalty. A true blending of beauty and brains all combined in one remarkable bundle of soft fur and melting blue eyes called a...Birman

Training and Play

Kittens and adults like to play. Generally, the morning or early evening is the best time if you want an enthusiastic response, especially in an adult.

We try to discourage rough play, as this can make the kitten too aggressive,

Soft toys with no small, easily removed and swallowed pieces are good toys.

Twisted paper attached to string tied to a stick is wonderful…….but do not leave your kitten unattended as it could become tangled in the string.

If your kitten is left alone during the day, it will be very pleased to see you of an evening and demand quite a bit of attention.

Be firm and patient with your kitten…….By teaching it the house rules now, you can avoid future behavioural problems. If the kitten scratches its claws where is shouldn’t, say "NO" take it to its scratching post, and make scratching motions with its feet. Kittens respond well to a firm voice and patience. They are naturally fastidious and want to behave.

The spray bottle method…….Problems that don’t respond to "NO" can usually be modified by giving the kitten a quick shot of water from a spray bottle, during the moment it is naughty. This method removes you from the punishment in the kitten’s mind. The kitten does not begin to fear you as a source of punishment.

Why Tabby Wears An M

One of the most touching legends tells the story of a simple Tabby cat, and her gift on the very first Christmas day to a special mother and child.

There was no snow that night in Bethlehem. Instead, the small cat watched a star-spangled sky from her perch in the window of a stable. She liked the stable, for it was a warm safe place to raise her furry babies, and the innkeeper sometimes left scraps out for her to nibble. Tabby wasn't particularly distinctive, and most humans didn't look at her twice. After all, her short gray/black fur was quite common. But Tabby's striped coat hid a heart bigger than cats twice her size.

This night, though, Tabby was out of sorts, for she'd not been able to hunt and catch dinner. Travelers had poured into town for days, so noisy they disturbed decent cat-folks' rest. Why, they'd even invaded Tabby?s quiet stable, a place she had before shared only with other furry creatures. Tabby hadn't minded the human couple-they were calmer than most. She'd left that morning for her usual rounds, but when she returned, the stable was packed with people.

From her perch on the window, Tabby watched the last of the strangers leave. She slipped from the window, and padded silently inside-and froze!

"Meewwww, meewww, meewww," cried a tiny voice.

A kitten? Tabby's ears turn this way and that to find the sound of the kitten's voice. It came from the manger, the very place Tabby often made her own bed. A woman knelt beside the manger, intent on the small mewling that arose from within. Tabby was drawn by the kittenish sound, though she knew her own furry babies were grown to cat-hood. She tiptoed forward very slowly, and passed by a wooly burro, a warm cow, and all the other animals.

The woman looked up, and saw the striped cat. "Oh, little cat," she murmured, "my baby cannot sleep, and nothing calms him this night." She sighed, and turned back to the manger. "How grateful would I be to anyone able to bring him sweet dreams."

And, as Tabby watched, each stable animal stepped forward in turn and tried to soothe the woman's baby. But the kittenish sounds continued, and finally Tabby could contain herself no longer.

Quickly, she washed herself-paws, face, behind the ears, to the very tip of her tail (so as not to offend the child's mother)-and then shyly stepped forward. She leaped gracefully to the manger, and stared into the face of the most beautiful baby (human or kitten!) she'd ever seen. He cooed and smiled, waving his tiny hands at Tabby, and she very carefully drew in her claws and settled beside him. Forgotten was her empty tummy; she could only hear her heart calling out to this sweet human-kitten.

And Tabby began to purr.

The wondrous cat-song filled the stable with overwhelming emotion. The animals listened with awe, and the child's mother smiled as her baby quietly went to sleep.

The child's mother placed her hand gently on the purring Tabby's forehead. "Blessings upon you, Tabby-cat, for this sweet gift given to me and my child," she said. And where she'd touched Tabby's brow, there appeared an M-the sign of the Madonna's benediction.

From that day forward, all proper tabby cats are honored with an M on their brow for the great service they performed that first Christmas night. And Christmas nights often find Tabby cats staring into the night, purring as they recall a very special child their ancestor once sang to sleep.


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