The Birman is a magnetic cat known for their enchanting blue eyes and calm disposition. Also called the “Sacred Cat of Birma,” this breed looks like a fluffy, toasted marshmallow and is just as sweet. Birman are mid-sized cats with long, silky coats. They are great family pets and require lots of love and affection.
Not everyone has heard of the Birman cat breed, but once you meet one, you will fall in love. This sweet kitty is a perfect pick for a feline companion.
Whether you’re a veteran cat lover or new to cat companionship, there’s a lot to learn about this breed. Learn more about breed history, temperament, care, and more in our comprehensive Birman cat breed profile.
Originating in western Burma, the mystical history of the Birman remains unclear to this day. Numerous folk tales describe how the Birman obtained their unique coloring, but the actual story is still a mystery.
One legend says the Birman’s ancestors served as feline companions for Kittah priests. When a high priest was fatally injured while robbers were attempting to steal the golden statue of the blue-eyed goddess Tsun-Kyan-Kse, his white cat—named Sinh— stayed by his side as he died. Sinh put his paws on the priest’s body, facing the goddess as if to pray.
At this, the priest’s body turned from white to gold, the cat’s fur turned golden, and the eyes turned blue, like the goddess. The paws, where the cat touched the priest, turned white to symbolize devotion and purity. Sinh stayed with the priest for seven days before dying as well. It is said the cat carried the priest’s soul to heaven. To this day, legend says that when a temple cat dies, they are taking the soul of a priest to paradise.
We know that the Birman breed arrived in France in 1919 and in the United States in 1959. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) recognized the Birman breed in 1967. Today, all major cat registries accept this breed.
Personality & Temperament
Birmans are known for their sweet, quiet demeanor. This cat is gentle and affectionate. They love people and enjoy following you everywhere you go. The Birman is a fantastic choice for your home if you desire a loving, friendly cat.
This breed is curious about new people and situations and doesn’t get spooked easily. They are very active and will want to spend time with everyone in the house. A Birman will likely follow you around the home, monitoring the house happenings.
Overall, the breed is relatively quiet, preferring small chirps to all-out vocalization. Make sure to give your Birman cat plenty of attention and playtime to avoid behavioral issues. Your Birman may become depressed if left alone too often.
Appearance & Size
This feline reaches full maturity at around age three. You can recognize the Birman by their colorpoint coat, white feet, and striking blue eyes.
Birmans may weigh seven to 15 pounds, with males slightly larger than females. This cat looks well-proportioned. From tip to end of the tail, the Birman can measure 15 to 18 inches long. This breed has a strong jaw and a medium-length Roman nose. They have medium-sized ears and round blue eyes that are set well apart, giving them a sweet expression.
Birmans display four colorpoint patterns: chocolate point, seal point, blue point, and lilac point. Some Birmans show tabby and tortie patterns.
Shedding & Hypoallergenic
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic cat breed. People with cat allergies are actually reacting to substances that cats produce: saliva, skin flakes called dander, and urine. For this reason, if you’re allergic to one cat, you’re allergic to all cats. Still, you might notice your allergies flare up more around certain felines.
Cats groom themselves using their tongue, causing their fur to land around the home. If a cat sheds more than others, there is more opportunity for their saliva and dander to get on furniture, carpet, or in the air. As all cats are fastidious groomers, a cat that sheds less puts fewer substances into their environment, making them more allergy-friendly.
Despite the Birman’s long coat, they are relatively low shedders. Birmans have a single coat, which means their fur doesn’t matt like other long-haired breeds. Birman coats require minimal grooming, so they’re easy to care for. Ultimately, the Birman is considered more hypoallergenic than other breeds.
If you have cat allergies and would like to introduce a feline into your home, there are additional steps you can take to prevent your kitty’s fur from irritating your allergies:
- Cleaning: Regularly dust and vacuum your home to remove fur from your environment.
- Invest in an air purifier: Buy an air purifier that uses a HEPA filter, which is most effective at removing allergens and other airborne particles from the air.
- Baths: Bathing your cat removes saliva from their fur while loosening up hair that is ready to shed. Regular baths encourage dander to go down the drain rather than on your carpet.
- Grooming: Brushing your cat will help remove fur before it sheds.
- Keep them away from clothes and bedding: Keep your cat away from items on your body all day or night to prevent an allergy attack.
- Wash your hands: Wash your hands after handling your cat, and avoid touching your face after you’ve petted your cat.
- Keep your cat in good health: Many factors will cause your cat to shed more: stress and anxiety, poor nutrition, excessive grooming, infections, allergies, and more. Talk to your vet or work with a cat behaviorist if your cat may have an underlying health issue causing excessive shedding.
While the Birman has a long coat, it lacks an undercoat and requires much less grooming. To keep your Birman’s coat glossy, give them a brushing once a week with a soft-bristle brush.
Trim your cat’s nails regularly. Most indoor cats need their nails trimmed every few weeks. If your kitty’s nails get stuck on the carpet or blankets, it’s a sign they need a cut. The nail may crack or break without regular trimming, leading to pain or infection. In the long run, nail overgrowth can lead to mobility issues and chronic pain. Use a quality nail trimmer to make the job quick and painless.
If your cat despises the process, provide plenty of treats to make the experience more positive. You may need to find someone to hold your cat while you do the trimming. For extra feisty cats, use the burrito method, where you wrap your cat in a towel to prevent them from biting and scratching. If your cat refuses to be trimmed, talk to your vet. Most veterinary clinics offer services for nail clipping. Your vet may also prescribe a medication to calm your cat’s nerves before trimming at home.
When grooming your cat, check their ears for signs of debris or infection and treat them as needed. Prevent damage to teeth and gums and fight dental disease with regular brushing using cat-formulated toothpaste and a feline toothbrush. While not required, you may also choose to bathe your Birman. Always use a cat-specific shampoo that won’t irritate your cat’s skin. Avoid your kitty’s face, eyes, and ears. And don’t forget to reward your cat for a successful bath.
The Birman requires lots of love and attention. They can be clingy, so be ready to have a shadow following you around the home. Give your cat plenty of playtime and provide a variety of toys, especially interactive toys. In addition, the Birman would be an excellent candidate for a puzzle or slow feeder that will keep them busy.
Keep your Birman inside to protect them from traffic, predators, and diseases. Consider building a catio to allow your cat outside safely. Provide plenty of hiding spaces for your cat when they need a safe resting spot. Consider cat trees, wall steps for climbing, and teaching them games to keep them active.
All indoor cats need an easily accessible litter box, preferably in a quiet location. Avoid moving the litter box or changing litter too often. You should also provide your cat with various sturdy scratching options. Scratching posts are essential for nail help and prevent your cat from damaging furniture—a win-win.
Birmans are medium-sized cats who are playful and active. An active cat will require more food for energy, so ensure you give your Birman the appropriate amount of food for their age and size. Feed your Birman a high-quality food that lists a meat source as one of the first ingredients.
Avoid food that contains meat byproducts or anything with the word “meal,” as these are low-quality filler ingredients that won’t give your cat adequate nutrients. Consider feeding your Birman wet or fresh food to keep your cat hydrated. This also allows you to monitor your cat’s food intake.
Provide your feline access to fresh drinking water, whether it be a bowl of water by their food dish or a cat drinking fountain. Cats are notoriously bad at hydrating, which can lead to health problems down the line.
While not required, you may also wish to give your Birman vitamins and other supplements. Nutritional supplements can help your kitty live a longer, happier life. All cats require protein, fats, and carbohydrates, which can be found in high-quality, well-balanced cat food. From there, consider supplementing any of the following nutrients:
- Multivitamin: Gives your cat additional micronutrients for overall health. Look for a formula with vitamin A, vitamin D, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and chloride.
- Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids: Supplement fatty acids to keep your cat’s fur healthy and glossy. Omegas also support joints, the brain, the eyes, and the immune system.
- Probiotics: Improve your cat’s digestion with healthy bacteria called probiotics. A healthy microbiome can reduce digestive issues—like vomiting and diarrhea—and support the immune system.
Any cat owner can tell you that cats have a mind of their own. While training a cat can be difficult, the Birman is intelligent and responds well to training. The Clicker Learning Institute for Cats and Kittens has a fantastic guide that walks you through implementing clicker training into your cat’s life. With patience, you’ll be surprised how much your Birman learns.
Health & Lifespan
While considered a healthy cat breed overall, the Birman is susceptible to developing certain health conditions throughout their life, including:
- Gastrointestinal disorders: vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation
- Mouth and gum disease
- Kidney disease
- Urinary conditions: Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), infections, and bladder stones
- Heart disease
You can ensure your Birman lives a long, happy life with exercise, a quality diet, and regular checkups with the veterinarian. The life expectancy of a Birman is 12 to 16 years.
When purchased from a breeder, pedigreed kittens can cost $600 to $3,000. Birman cats are rare, and you are unlikely to find one at a rescue organization.
As Family Pets
The Birman makes a good family pet. This cat is loving and affectionate and needs plenty of attention and play to be happy and healthy. Birmans are patient, even-tempered, and tolerant. They are safe to have around young children, but you should always show your kids how to respect an animal’s needs and treat them with respect.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does A Birman Cat Differ From A Siamese Cat?
Often confused with the Siamese, the Birman has a look that’s all their own. Like Siamese, Birman kitties have colorpoint markings and striking blue eyes; however, the Siamese has short hair, while the Birman has medium-length to long hair. You can also recognize a Birman by their white paws, which are not found on Siamese cats.
How Does A Birman Cat Differ From A Ragdoll Cat?
You can spot a Birman from a Ragdoll using a few physical indicators. First, Ragdolls grow much larger than Birmans. While both cats have long fur, the Ragdoll has an undercoat and will feel plusher than the silky coat of the Birman. Both breeds can be pointed, but Ragdolls don’t always have face points. Finally, pay attention to the paws. Birman always has white gloves. If their feet aren’t white, the cat isn’t a Birman.
The Birman may be a perfect fit if you are looking for a loving, fluffy cat to introduce to your family. Because of the rarity of this breed, expect to pay a pretty penny for a Birman kitten. Once you have this cat, you will certainly have a built-in best friend who is the perfect companion pet.