The Burmese Cat
Playful, affectionate, active and at times noisy, the Burmese (sometimes known as a Copper Cat), is a popular pet in the United States and Europe. However, it is a relatively recent addition to the west, having been first introduced to the United States in 1930.
The History of the Burmese
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Burmese originates from Myanmar, which was formerly called Burma. Today, in Myanmar, the Burmese continues to be known as the Copper Cat. The breed was popular in Myanmar for hundreds of years prior to their transportation into Europe and across to the United States. In fact, it is believed that the cat was worshipped in Burmese temples. Moreover, the breed is mentioned in a manuscript entitled The Cat Book of Poems, which was written in Siam (now Thailand) and is thought to have been created between 1350 and 1767.
As mentioned above, it was not until 1930 that the breed was introduced to the United States. Today, all Burmese cats in the U.S. and Europe have a common ancestor named Wong Mau. Wong Mau was brought to Europe and the States by Joseph Thompson who, as a retired doctor, had traveled to Tibet and lived as a Buddhist monk. During this time, Thompson became fascinated with Eastern cats and decided to breed a Burmese and Siamese to determine the Burmese as a distinct breed rather than a variant of the Siamese.
When Thompson attempted to establish the breed in the U.S., he faced opposition from Siamese breeders who believed that Wong Mau was nothing more than a Siamese with peculiar coloring. The Cat Fanciers' Association awarded recognized status to the Burmese in 1936, but, in 1947, retracted recognition due to continued opposition and poor breeding practices. After improvements had been made, the breed was reinstated in 1953.
Appearance and Color
The Burmese is noted for its strong muscular body and short smooth coat. The breed is sometimes affectionately described as a 'brick wrapped in silk', due to the heaviness of the body. All Burmese have round faces and full golden, or amber, eyes. The fur can be a solid color or pointed (markings on the legs, tail, ears and face).
There are three basic types of Burmese cat: Contemporary, Traditional and European. The Contemporary Burmese is currently the most popular. Traditional Burmese, as its name suggests, most closely resembles the original Myanmar breed. The European Burmese, sometimes name as 'Foreign' is slimmer and more elegant in shape than the other variants of the breed are.
Character and Temperament
One of the main reasons for the popularity of the Burmese is that they have extraordinarily appealing personalities. They are very active, playful, intelligent and, most importantly, affectionate. Unlike some cats, the Burmese loves to spend time with its human family, which means the breed is not suitable for those who spend all day at work or school.
The female Burmese tends to be more curious and adventurous, whereas the male of the species is known to be laidback and unfazed by life. However, both genders can be noisy, issuing a wide variety of cries and meows. Nevertheless, the sound of a Burmese is generally more pleasing than the sound of a Siamese, as it is lower in volume and pitch.
Health Problems in the Burmese
The most common health issue among Burmese is gingivitis, so it wise to take preventative measures in the form of good dental care. It is also fairly common for Burmese kittens to be born with a condition called 'cherry eye', which is an issue with the third eyelid. The good news is that 'cherry eye' can be corrected with a simple surgical procedure.
The Contemporary variant of the breed is at risk of cranial deformities, weeping eyes and breathing difficulties, due to a genetic predisposition. However, these issues do not arise as frequently with the Traditional or European Burmese.
The Burmese makes a wonderful companion, but it is important that it has adequate stimulation and is not left alone for extended periods. In addition, if you are interested in acquiring a Burmese, it is wise to find a reputable breeder to reduce the risk of genetic health problems. Alternatively, you may like to consider adopting a Burmese from a rescue service.
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