Burmese cats are a beautiful breed with a lot to offer their owners. They have a fantastic origin story and unique personality traits that set them apart from many other cat breeds.
Whether you already have a Burmese curled up on your lap while reading this or are considering adopting one soon, you’ll want to keep reading. We have compiled a list of interesting facts about the Burmese breed, and we’re sure some will shock you. So come along with us as we look at 12 incredible facts about this amazing breed.
The 12 Facts About Burmese Cats
1. Most of Today’s Burmese Cats Are Descended From One Female Cat
The Burmese cat first arrived in America in the 1930s when a doctor named Joseph Thompson brought home a female cat named Wong Mau from Burma. He first bred this cat with a male seal-point Siamese named Tai Mau and then bred her with her own son to produce the dark brown kittens that soon became the basis of the Burmese we know and love today.
2. Burmese Cats Are Heavier Than They Look
Burmese cats are a medium-sized breed, but when you pick one up, you’ll realize they’re anything but. These stocky cats may be compact, but they’re very muscular with heavy boning. The breed is often described as “bricks wrapped in silk” for their deceiving weight. The average Burmese can weigh as much as 15 pounds, making them heavier than the average cat.
3. The American Burmese Is Not Very Genetically Diverse
A study from 2008 found that the American Burmese breed has the second lowest level of genetic diversity of all the cat breeds included in the study1. This suggests that the breed has intense inbreeding, and all Burmese cat breeders should be concerned about the genetic diversity of their litters. The Burmese breed council of the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) currently allows outcrossing using Tonkinese, Bombay, and Burmese cats to improve the breed’s genetic diversity.
4. European and Australian Burmese Cats Have an Increased Risk of Diabetes Mellitus
Studies show an increased risk for Burmese cats from the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia to develop diabetes mellitus2. This increased risk is not documented in American Burmese cats which may be because they are more genetically distinct from the Burmese cats in other areas of the world. A greater risk of diabetes mellitus was also identified in older cats and those with higher body weights.
5. Burmese Cats Are at a Higher Risk of Developing Hypokalemia
Hypokalemia is a genetic disease often found in Burmese cats3. This condition is characterized by low serum potassium levels and is often traced to certain bloodlines. The gene for this disease is recessive, and both parents must carry it for their kittens to develop it. That said, a gene carrier can mate with a non-carrier and may pass the problem down, though it may take several generations to take hold.
Cats with this condition usually show symptoms such as muscle weakness and muscle pain. In addition, affected cats often have trouble properly walking and holding their heads.
Genetic testing is available to test for the gene responsible for hypokalemia.
6. Burmese Cats Can Live Very Long
According to VCA Animal Hospitals, a Burmese cat’s average lifespan is between 15 and 20 years. It is not unheard of, however, for Burmese cats to live well into their 20s. Some lucky owners even have their cats live into their 30s!
7. Burmese Kittens Are More Likely to Develop Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome
Certain United Kingdom Burmese bloodlines can develop an acute teething disorder known as feline orofacial pain syndrome (FOPS). This condition can occur in any breed, but Burmese cats are more commonly diagnosed. It occurs due to teeth eruption causing extreme discomfort. Affected kittens will often self-mutilate their face or tongue to relieve the pain.
8. The CFA Recognizes Four Burmese Cat Colors
Burmese cats are known for their satin-to-the-touch coat. It is sleek, shiny, straight, and short. The coat is beautiful and requires very little grooming other than your daily pet sessions to help it maintain its shine.
The CFA only recognizes Burmese cats with eye colors ranging from yellow to gold – the greater the depth and brilliance, the better. In addition, their eyes are very sensitive to variations in light intensity and color, which allows them to appear a different color in various situations.
9. Burmese Cats Are Vocally Expressive
Burmese cats have Siamese traces in their lineage, which shows through when it comes to the breeds’ vocality. They can be very vocally expressive and do best in households that don’t mind much meowing. They will vocalize when they’re feeling playful or in need of attention.
10. Burmese Cats Were Once Controversial
Though the Burmese breed is highly sought after and well-loved in modern society, their beginnings were controversial. During the breed’s early years, there weren’t enough Burmese cats in America to supply the demand. This led owners to start mating them with Siamese cats and selling them as purebreds. Eventually, the number of crossbred “Burmese” cats prompted the CFA to suspend registration in the late 1940s and only allow “true” Burmese to register. Six years later, the CFA reinstated the breed and gave it championship status.
11. There’s a European Version of the Burmese
There are two Burmese cat varieties: European and American.
The American Burmese is stockier than its European counterpart. It has a broader head and more rounded eyes. In addition, the CFA recognizes just four color points (see fact #7).
The European standard recognizes ten colors: brown, blue, chocolate, lilac, cream, red, brown tortoise, blue tortoise, chocolate tortoise, and lilac tortoise. They have wedge-shaped heads and slightly slanted eyes.
12. They’re Dog-Like in Many Ways
The Burmese breed has many fantastic qualities that make it a great companion. They’re highly intelligent, affectionate, and loyal to their humans. They get along well with other cats and can live harmoniously alongside dogs.
One of the breed’s most enduring qualities is that they are dog-like in many ways. They are very playful and energetic and are known for their dog-like attachment to their owners. They love to play fetch and are smart enough to learn how to perform tricks.
Burmese cats are a very popular and sought-after breed for a reason. Not only are they strikingly beautiful, but their wonderful personalities make them unforgettable companions. Though they may be prone to certain health conditions, they are generally a healthy breed with longer than usual lifespans.
- You might also like: Sable Burmese Cat: Facts, Origin & History
Featured Image Credit: Ivanova N, Shutterstock
- The 12 Facts About Burmese Cats
- 1. Most of Today’s Burmese Cats Are Descended From One Female Cat
- 2. Burmese Cats Are Heavier Than They Look
- 3. The American Burmese Is Not Very Genetically Diverse
- 4. European and Australian Burmese Cats Have an Increased Risk of Diabetes Mellitus
- 5. Burmese Cats Are at a Higher Risk of Developing Hypokalemia
- 6. Burmese Cats Can Live Very Long
- 7. Burmese Kittens Are More Likely to Develop Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome
- 8. The CFA Recognizes Four Burmese Cat Colors
- 9. Burmese Cats Are Vocally Expressive
- 10. Burmese Cats Were Once Controversial
- 11. There’s a European Version of the Burmese
- 12. They’re Dog-Like in Many Ways
- Final Thoughts